The Never-Ending Pickleball Noise Issue

It seems like every time pickleball catches fire somewhere (woo-hoo!), there’s an immediate reaction from the community about the same thing: the noise. We’ve done a couple posts about noise reduction and suppression in the past (here and here), but we thought we’d shed a little bit of new light on the subject as well as update some outdated information.

Acoustical Fencing

Acoustical fencing that has been mentioned in both previous posts, and it’s a great choice for communities who have that ability.

Acoustical Fencing is one solution to the pickleball noise issue

Acoustical Fencing

However, it can be expensive, easily pushed around by wind, unattractive and unfeasible. If you want to look into the possibility of installing this around your pickleball courts to keep in the noise, this post does a great job of highlighting an example of courts in San Tan Valley, Arizona.

There’s a couple things that individual players can do to keep the noise down that they produce.

Quieter Balls

First, try using a foam practice ball rather than the standard hard plastic ball. These foam balls are typically a bit less bouncy and play differently than the average sanctioned pickleball, but they still get the job done at a much quieter decibel level!

We currently sell two different types of foam balls at PickleballCentral:

  1. The Gamma Foam Quiet Ball

Gamma Foam Quiet Ball

This ball is a tenth of an inch smaller in diameter than a traditional pickleball, and considerably lighter (0.71 ounces versus an average of 0.88 ounces). This makes the ball more susceptible to succumb to wind or other weather conditions. While it might be lighter, it still has a similar bounce height to a typical outdoor pickleball (31″ inches). Of course, it’s not USAPA-Approved but can be used for practice or recreational play!

2.  The Gamma Quick Kids Practice Ball

Gamma Quick Kids Practice Ball

This ball is fairly similar to its sister ball above, except it has a rough surface instead of smooth. This ball was designed for teaching tennis to kids, so it is a little heavier than the previous ball as well (just under 1 ounce). It also is slightly bigger, measuring 3-1/4″ in diameter. This ball has a shorter bounce than the Gamma Foam Quiet Ball, so it might be better used for drills. Again, this ball is not USAPA-Approved.

Quieter Paddles

If the sound of a foam ball doesn’t exactly tickle your fancy, you can try to purchase a quieter paddle. Poly-core paddles are typically a little bit quieter than their Nomex or alumimum-cored counterparts (aluminum is quieter than Nomex). Composite paddles (with a fiberglass face) are also a tad bit less noisy than graphite.

That being said, there are always exceptions to that rule of thumb. Here at PickleballCentral, we unfortunately do not have any means to measure the decibel ratings for all of the paddles we sell. Lucky for us (and you!) the Sun City Grand Pickleball Association in Sun City Grand, Arizona has measured the loudness of nearly every paddle. It is then ranked as being either in the “Green Zone”or in the “Red Zone”. You can see the list of paddles by clicking here.

Choosing a paddle in the Green Zone will keep your “pickleball pinging” to a minimum, which may ease the concerns of neighbors or other unhappy people.

(If you’re interested in the science behind the study, here’s the PDF of the Noise Study, conducted by Acoustics Group Inc.)

At the end of the day…

It does come down to the fact that pickleball is just a bit of a noisier sport. The paddles are solid and the balls are hard! The classic “pop” that paddles make is a beloved sound by players of the sport, and while we can take steps to minimize that sound, it will always be there.

Do you have any other tips or tricks that worked for reducing the amount of noise pickleball makes in your community?

7 thoughts on “The Never-Ending Pickleball Noise Issue

  1. Dura Fast 40 is the ball most of us in Chico, CA used beg. about two years ago for outdoor play. Then the Onyx 2 arrives and we all switched to that ball, why? First, it was the ball, up until now, that was being played in most tournaments, and 2. the breakage rate is far less than the Dura Fast 40 resulting in less expense. Also, the Dura ball gets out of “round” quickly making for inconsistent bounces.

    Like

  2. Have you ever taken a reading with a decibel meter? We live next to a rifle range shooting 7 days a week with recorded noise at our home of 110 dB.
    I’ll trade you homes anyday……………..

    Like

  3. Jeff, our community is in the midst of the same controversy. Please provide contact information for the wooden paddle supplier and/or the associations that are mandating this equipment. Thank you so much for alerting us to a possible resolution.

    Like

    • Hi Gary, I believe any supplier of PB equipment would have wooden paddles that you could have someone drill the holes into. A new development in our community is that the Board now allows the PB Club members to use composite racquets and drill holes in them. There is a white inner core that fills the inside of the racquet. The club bought racquets, had holes drilled in them and members use those racquets that are kept by the courts. The sound is a little louder than with the wooden racquets but the pooping sound does not happen even if the volume has increased a little. Neighbors are OK with the sound. Some members still grouse that they want to use their racquets without holes. It seems that they just don’t get how annoying the sound is for people who are not playing but live close to the courts even though there are dozens of articles highlighting complaints about the quality of the noise. Obviously, it companies are marketing “quieter” balls and acoustic fencing and if communities build courts in pits there is a widespread problem. It is not just a few cranky neighbors.

      Like

  4. The big noise controversy hit home in our 55+ community in NJ. I play pickleball a lot both in NJ and in Florida and have won a couple of trophies in tournaments. I love the game and while playing concur that the popping sound of the ball on the racquet confirms a good solid hit. Everyone on the court knows it is coming and it is not a bother. But I also own a home within 150 feet of the tennis/PB courts and had no trouble with tennis being played there for 10 years when I gardened in my backyard, read the paper or a book or ate a meal on the patio. When PB came along and began sharing the tennis courts and gaining more and more court time the high frequency sound became a real problem. One 2 hour session delivers over 2000 loud, piercing, penetrating, intermittent pops that is very bothersome and disturbing to the peace and quiet that people deserve to have on their own property in a retirement community. And then another session came in the afternoon and another could also come. For a while quiet foam balls were mandated but many players objected the the difference in the game. The game was still fun, competitive, good exercise and promoted camaraderie but it was, in fact, different like softball is to hard baseball.

    After much back and forth with the community Board of Directors A SOLUTION WAS FOUND. A member had traveled to the west coast and saw a wooden PB racquet there that was drilled with 64 holes about 3/8 inch each in diameter. RESULT–hardly any noise when that racquet hits the hard plastic balls (Onix Pure Outdoor 2 ball.) Some players still do not like playing with the wooden racquets instead of their own graphite or composite racquets but the drilled wooden racquets are now required in our community. The PB club bought and drilled 8 wooden racquets that are available for use on our two courts. Those who do not like them go to the park to play. At this point almost everyone seems to be mostly OK with that solution.

    I noticed that drilled wooden racquets with 32 drilled holes are available on EBAY.

    Like

    • Very interesting solution, Jeff. Thank you for sharing. I’ve heard of a couple people using paddle tennis equipment for pickleball (which has holes) in order to create less air resistance, but I didn’t know this type of paddle reduced noise as well. It’s a helpful solution to know for other communities who might need to “soften the blow”!

      Like

  5. Tom Widden/District Ambassador NW Oregon writes: We had same noise argument surface recently with expansion at local development and elaborate presentation by concerned citizen who turned out to be an acoustic engineer. Finally neighbor popped up and stated he liked the sound of people actually playing and enjoying at Park as a sign of healthy vitality in the community..said he’d move to Assisted Living if he wanted serenity. I live next to a ball field and it’s hopping all the time with Little League, lacrosse, Pop Warner…all way noisier than pickleball.
    We have threatened park/rec types with discrimination against seniors and non-compliance regarding Americans With Disabilities re tennis vrs pickleball and all got quiet fast!!! It is time to take wimpy commission people to task with doing their job to include all age groups in park use…not just knee-jerk to every whiner unhappy with their sedentary rocking chair lives.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s