Let’s get one thing clear, Champion Pickleball paddles are a “name brand” and you are about to discover the minute differences that you might be paying a premium for after you read this page.
Would you believe the considered granddaddy of all pickleball manufacturers - Pickle-Ball, Inc? Who are they you might rightly ask? Well, one of the three men who, in the summer of 1965, invented rules for a new game named pickleball, Barney McCallum. Way back then Barney ran a business called McCallum Envelope, an envelope and printing company which was his principal occupation. However, he also started a small side business called – you guessed it, Pickle-Ball, Inc. The company originally started out making wooden paddles of which it still offers as a low end sell even today.
TIME CHANGES THINGS
Then in the 1980’s, technology and construction materials changed things much like the tennis racquet industry. Graphite, fiberglass, aluminum and lightweight honeycomb and (Nomex honeycomb) became the building blocks of paddles. Not too surprisingly, the Champion paddle was invented and it has enveloped into their flagship high-tech paddle today. Barney has also now handed over the company reigns to his son David McCallum who runs the Seattle based company: Pickle-Ball, Inc.
Nomex honeycomb is a lightweight non-metallic composite construction made with aramid fiber paper coated with heat resistant phenolic resin. It offers excellent resiliency, low density, lower pricing and high strength to weight ratio.
Two Champion Pickleball Paddles Compared side-by-side
Before we make a direct comparison between two separately marketed Champion Pickleball paddles, it must be pointed out that all paddles used in USAPA sanctioned play must meet the specifications outlined in IFP Rule 2.E and in brief this says that the paddle may be made of any material judged safe and not prohibited by the rules.
The rules however govern the specifications of every aspect of the paddles such as the surface area, the surface face and its texture, depictions, writing or pictures, the length and width including edge guards and butt caps and even possible reflection from sun!
Incidentally, the most common paddle measurement is approximately 8 inches (20.32 cm) wide by 15¾ inches (40 cm) long.
There is no restriction on paddle thickness or weight.
Importantly to note is that the only alterations that can be made to a commercial paddle are changes to the grip, adding an edge guard, and adding name decals and/or other identification markings on the paddle face.
And in case you are wondering, homemade paddles are not permitted. Also, you cannot have anti-skid paint or any paint textured with sand, rubber particles, or any material that causes additional spin. (You might want to read about the best paddle for spin via the link below.) Nor can you have moving parts that can increase head momentum such as springs or spring-like material, flexible membranes or any compressible material that creates a trampoline effect much like what the strings of a tennis racquet do.
And while this summary of the paddle design rules and limitations is not totally exhaustive, importantly let’s cap this run down with the last of these very very governed rules.
The manufacturer must have a clearly marked brand and model name on the paddle and each unique model must have been submitted to the USAPA and naturally passed USAPA tests and, be offered for sale to the general public.
Violate any one of these rules and the Paddle cannot be used in a USAPA/IFP sanctioned tournament which means as a Paddle manufacturer, you are dead in the water with any paddle that does not meet with the rules and design specifications.
What it does mean however is that there are few differences between paddles and this is a very important point to note. It means that some of the wild claims of paddle performance that are seen by the marketers of these paddles should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism and that any paddle made by one manufacturer can be emulated absolutely. Again, this is made very simple by the very definitive paddle rules and design specifications of the USAPA.
With all of the above very restrictive and specific paddle manufacturing details in mind let’s now look at a direct comparison between two Champion Pickleball Paddles. I have researched the specifications and removed what I call sales fluff from the marketing sales pitches such as “Weight Range” and manufacture details.
Why weight range you might asking as an example? Because weight range accounts for differences that apply only to manufacturing and the tolerances provides for variation to a final weight of any individual paddle. This is why a “Weight Average” is stated. However remember, modern material paddles vary in weight by only ounces and in any double blind study, most users would find this weight variation undetectable between one paddle and another.
Sales Fluff also includes manufacturer details and “made in – (USA)” or “product of – (China)” etc.
Because apart from patriotism or perceived quality, they provide no value difference as each and every paddle MUST conform to very strict design specifications. Where it was made and who it is made by simply does not matter. The paddle either conforms to the rules and design specifications or it does not!
Vintage Champion Graphite Paddle
Weight Average: 7.6 ounces Weight Range: 7.1 – 8.0 oz Grip Circumference:
Champion Graphite 2.0 Paddle
Weight Average: 7.4 ounces Weight Range: 6.8 – 7.7 oz Grip Circumference:
Grip Length: 5”
Differences in reality – Absolutely not much
The weight difference is just 2 ounces. However, remember that this is in fact an average not that actual weight! The “Weight Ranges” provided means that both paddles could in-fact weigh exactly the same and varies in both paddle examples up to .9 ounces.
Note: “Are you starting to see the how touted weights of various paddles being an advantage or disadvantage can be seen more as a marketing ploy that in reality with such small weights bears absolutely not input to a players game”.
Grips (circumference): – small or medium or small. A grip is a grip is a grip is a grip? Most popular is medium however if unsure, a small grip for the cost of a few dollars can be overlaid with a grip which will immediately become a medium grip.
Grip Length: 4.5” or 5” – this is absolutely subjectively personal and one can reason that the bigger your hand the longer your length – but not always – hence, subjectively personal.
Paddle Face Finish: Graphite or Vinyl decal over graphite. Again, this is subjectively personal. Why? Refer to rule 2E above:
“The rules however govern the specifications of every aspect of the paddles such as the surface area, the surface face and its texture, depictions, writing or pictures, the length and width including edge guards and butt caps and even possible reflection from sun!”
It means that no paddle surface has any performance advantage!
Core Material: This is the same for both - Nomex honeycomb.
What is the Kicker in this Champion Pickleball Paddles comparison?
The price difference of $15! You will decide to either pay $15 more or $15 less not on any discernable performance characteristic of the paddle but on absolutely personal subjectively – period.
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