What Is a Delaminated Pickleball Paddle: Causes, Signs, and Solutions

A delaminated pickleball paddle is a paddle that experiences separation or detachment between its layers. Specifically, the core of the paddle, which

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of talk, tweets, debates, and challenges surrounding a concerning issue in the world of pickleball: delaminated pickleball paddles. This problem has caught the attention of professional pickleball players who are worried about its impact, especially in highly competitive matches.

Let's take a closer look at what a delaminated pickleball paddle is, how to recognize signs of delamination, why it poses a problem on the court, and explore potential solutions.

What Is a Delaminated Pickleball Paddle
 What Is a Delaminated Pickleball Paddle

What is a delaminated pickleball paddle? 

A delaminated pickleball paddle is a paddle that experiences separation or detachment between its layers. Specifically, the core of the paddle, which is made of thermoformed carbon, begins to detach from the outer layer. This occurs when the adhesive used to hold the layers together breaks down, becomes less effective, or was not adequately applied. As a result, a small gap forms between the core and the outer layers of the pickleball paddle.

To identify a delaminated pickleball paddle, you can look out for these signs:

1. Soft spots: Gently press on the surface of the paddle and check for any areas that feel softer than others. If you notice any, it's likely that the layers of the paddle are separating.

2. Strange sound: Give the paddle a tap with your finger or hit a ball with it and listen closely. A delaminated pickleball paddle may produce a hollow or dull sound upon impact. This can be an indication of delamination. You can see an example of this in the video provided below.

3. Bubbling or peeling: Inspect the surface of the paddle for any signs of bubbling or peeling. These visual cues can suggest that the layers of the paddle are starting to come apart.

4. Uneven surface: Run your hand over the surface of the paddle and check for any unevenness. If you feel bumps or lumps, it could be a sign that the paddle is experiencing delamination.

Why is a Delaminated Pickleball Paddle a Problem?

A delaminated pickleball paddle becomes problematic because it generates excessive power when striking the pickleball. The separation between the core and the outer layers creates a spring-like effect, similar to a trampoline, upon contact with the pickleball. This results in a greater amount of power than what is permitted by USA Pickleball, the governing body for the sport, during the testing and approval process. This increased power can be dangerous, especially considering how close players are to each other at the Kitchen line.

It's important to note that delamination usually occurs gradually over time as the glue between the layers wears down. Unlike traditional pickleball paddles that wear out and lose power over time, delaminated paddles actually gain more power and pace due to the springy effect. Consequently, a paddle may pass the initial testing and approval process but later delaminate, falling outside the parameters set by USA Pickleball.

Given that professional pickleball players compete for money and rely on the sport for their livelihoods, it is crucial to enforce consistent rules and standards for all players. Therefore, strict adherence to the rules surrounding pickleball paddles, throughout their entire lifespan, whether they are new or used, is essential to preserve the integrity of the professional game.

Potential Solutions for Delaminated Pickleball Paddles

To address the concerns surrounding delaminated pickleball paddles, various potential solutions have been proposed at the highest levels of the sport. These solutions include:

  • Establishing new rules: Crafting updated rules that focus on paddle testing and designing stronger testing methods to determine the appropriate power level for a pickleball paddle. This would address the root cause of the issue during the manufacturing stage.
  • Enhanced testing at professional levels: Conducting more comprehensive testing of pickleball paddles during professional tournaments and events. On-site testing would help identify delamination or other paddle issues before they cause problems on the court.
  • Encouraging proactive inspection: Urging both professional players and amateurs to regularly inspect their pickleball paddles for signs of delamination or wear and tear. If any issues are identified, it would be important to replace the paddle promptly.
  • Promoting proper care: Encouraging players to take better care of their pickleball paddles to prevent premature delamination and other types of wear and tear. This includes storing paddles in dry places away from moisture, avoiding exposure to extreme temperatures, and not subjecting the paddles to excessive tension.

By implementing these potential solutions, the sport of pickleball can address the concerns surrounding delaminated paddles, ensure fair play, and safeguard the well-being of players. Have you come across any delaminated pickleball paddles on the court? What other solutions do you think would be effective?

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