Pickleball Paddle Specifications – What are they?

Pickleball Paddle Specifications have come a long way since the very beginnings of this game being played with the good ole wooden paddle of no specific specifications. With the popularity and pace of this great game, the rules, regulations and specifications for equipment used obviously need to be developed, maintained, adhered to and updated as required.

The why of this is easily understood if we simply look at the pace of change in pickleball paddles. The governing body for the rules of pickleball is of course are the International Federation of pickleball. The pickleball Paddle specifications for this conversation are referenced to the section 2.E of the Official Tournament Rulebook in the edition Last Revised: June 15, 2016.

2.E. Pickleball Paddle Specifications

2.E.1. Material. The paddle may be made of any material judged safe and not prohibited in these Section 2: Court and Equipment rules. The paddle shall be made of relatively rigid, non-compressible material meeting the specifications of the “Paddle Material Specifications” document on the IFP website.

2.E.2. Surface. The paddle hitting surface shall not contain holes, indentations, rough texturing, tape, or any objects or features that allow a player to impart additional spin on the ball. Paddle roughness is determined using a Starrett SR 100 or its replacement testers such as the Starrett SR160 Surface Roughness Tester.

SR160 Surface Roughness Tester
This surface roughness tester is simple, accurate, and of high-quality.

The allowable limits for roughness shall be no greater than 30 micrometers (µm) on the Rz reading (average maximum height, peak to valley), and no greater than 40 micrometers on the Rt reading (maximum height, peak to valley). All readings will be taken in 4 different directions. The paddle hitting surface shall not be adversely reflective, such that it has the potential to obscure the vision of opposing player(s). (revised Apr. 15, 2016)

2.E.2.a. Paint. The surface may be painted but must otherwise adhere to the general surface requirements.

2.E.2.b. Depictions. Any writing or pictures on the paddle must be in good taste and non-reflective.

IFP Comment: A paddle surface is too reflective, if in the judgment of the tournament director or designee, it reflects IFP Official Tournament Rulebook sunlight or court lights in a way that is distracting to the players. (Added April 1, 2011)

2.E.3. Size. The combined length and width including any edge guard and butt cap shall not exceed 24 inches (60.96 cm). The paddle length cannot exceed 17 inches (43.18 cm). There is no restriction on paddle thickness. (Revised January 1st, 2016, effective July 1st, 2017)

2.E.4. Weight. There is no restriction on paddle weight.

2.E.5. Alterations. 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. These decals/markings can extend no farther than 1" (25.4 mm) above the top of the handle nor more than 1/2" (12.7 mm) from the outer edge of a paddle, or paddle edge guard if in place.

Altered paddles must meet all specifications.

Pickleball Paddle Specifications also state that:

Homemade paddles are not permitted. (Effective January 1, 2014) – However, there is no reference found as to what is determined to be classed as Homemade? (Maybe in the next rules update this might be stipulated.)

2.E.6. Prohibited Surface Features and Mechanical

Features:

2.E.6.a. Anti-skid paint or any paint textured with sand, rubber particles, or any material that causes additional spin.

Section 2: Court and Equipment

2.E.6.b. Rubber and synthetic rubber.

2.E.6.c. Sandpaper.

2.E.6.d. Moving parts that can increase head momentum.

2.E.6.e. Springs or spring-like material.

2.E.6.f. Flexible membranes or any compressible material that creates a trampoline effect.

2.E.6.g. Electrical, electronic, or mechanical assistance of any sort.

2.E.7. Violation. If a paddle violates the above rules, the Tournament Director has the authority to enforce a paddle change. If the player in violation refuses to change the paddle, the Director may declare a forfeiture of the match.

2.E.8. Model Designation. The manufacturer must have a clearly marked brand and model name or model number on the paddle. Paddles with different core material, surface material, or other significant differences must have a unique name or number. Each unique model must have been offered for sale to the general public and samples of each unique model must have been submitted to the USAPA and passed

USAPA Pickleball Paddle Specifications tests/rules

Paddles used in USAPA/IFP sanctioned tournaments after January 1, 2014 IFP Official Tournament Rulebook must conform to this rule. (Added June 23, 2012)

Again, these Pickleball Paddle Specifications are from the Official Tournament Rulebook – last revised June 15, 2016 and absolutely recommend that any clarifications should be reverenced to the latest update.

Having now read this page you can appreciate the specs of a paddle that manufacturers need to comply to, and if you would like to learn more about the paddles available click on over and learn more about the composite paddle. In brief, a composite Pickleball Paddle is simply a construction design of a paddle. It is a combination of 3 elements, a face, a middle and a back or two outer surfaces and one inner core. Click to learn more: Composite Pickleball Paddle – What is It?

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