How to Make Your Own Pickleball Paddle

Making pickleball paddles

Recently we posted a letter from a man who traveled to Moldova to volunteer at a camp for disadvantaged teens. He was a pickleball fan and knew that during his time there he would want to teach the kids how to play. He also knew that there was no money in the budget for paddles so he made his own. You can read more about him here.

Inspired by his DIY (Do It Yourself) spirit, we thought we’d let others know how to fashion your own paddles should the mood – or need – strike.

Step 1: Start with a template. We’ve included one here (adapted from www.zerothousand.net)

Change the height and width to fit the specs you want and print it off on paper that’s large enough to fit the whole picture with some breathing room (11×17 should fit the bill).

Note: according to the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) Tournament Rule Book, “the most common paddle measurement is approximately 8” wide by 15 ¾” long. The combined length and width including any edge guard and butt cap shall not exceed 24”.

Step 2: Choose your paddle material and thickness. There is no restriction on thickness, but 3/8” is a common measurement. Every DYI paddle we’ve seen has been made from wood. Most are made from 5 or 7 layer plywood, while some are made from solid wood. High-tech materials like sheets of nomex or aluminum honeycomb with a graphite or fiberglass face are difficult to work with and can delaminate without a strong edge guard. Finding these high-tech materials is very challenging and expensive. We recommend sticking with wood for homemade paddles.

Note: according to the IFP “Paddle Material Specifications,” paddles “shall be made of relatively rigid, non-compressible material… That is the traditional concept of a paddle and that is why the game is not played with a stringed racquet. Paddles that produce a trampoline effect or an effect similar to a stringed racquet are specifically disallowed.”

Step 3: Cut out the template and affix it to your chosen paddle material using spray adhesive or similar glue product.

Step 4: Cut along the template guidelines using a cutting tool of your choice that is both accurate and strong enough given your chosen material.

Step 5: Remove the template from the paddle. Depending on what adhesive you used, removal may involve sanding, soaking, peeling, rubbing, or begging.

Step 6: Sand as needed to make all surfaces smooth and even. This could include the face and edges or anywhere your cutting tool went haywire.

Step 7: Customize your paddle face with paint, stickers, graphics, a picture of your ex, etc.

Note: back to the IFP rule book, “The paddle hitting surface shall not contain holes, indentations, rough texturing, tape, features that are reflective, or any objects or features that allow a player to impart additional or increased spin on the ball.”

Step 8: Build up the handle by gluing small pieces of wood or foam on either side of the handle. Wrap the handle with the tennis grip of your choice. Our most popular grip is the Gamma Ultra Cushion Contour Grip. Use electric tape at the top and bottom of the grip to create a polished look.  Almost all paddle grip sizes are between 4 to 4 ½“ in circumference. Smaller grips allow for more wrist action, which aids in putting spin on the ball and enhances control. A larger grip will provide more stability and be easier on your arm. You can also wrap the edges of the paddle with tape if desired. Common tapes to use are electrical, duct, and athletic.

Step 9: Send us a photo of your new, custom paddle! Send to anna@pickleballcentral.com or upload it to our Facebook page.

Step 10: Share this blog with all your DIY’er friends.

Step 11: Go rule the courts!  ….but don’t play in a tournament. Effective January 1, 2014 homemade paddles are not permitted in USA Pickleball Association sanctioned tournaments. Rule 2.E.5.

Don’t want to go through all these steps? You can pick up a great wood pickleball paddle for less than $15!

Setting Up Pickleball is as Easy as 1-2-3

Pickleball mania is spreading! How do we know? PickleballCentral was recently contacted by a group in Dublin, Ireland who wanted to know what they needed in order to get started playing. That made us think there may be others out there who want to get started with this addictingly fun sport and need a rundown on the basics too. So, here’s what we told our friends across the Atlantic:Basket of pickleball paddles

Here’s the basic equipment you need for pickleball: net, paddles, balls, a place to play, and a desire to have the most fun you’ve had in years!

You can play indoor or outdoor, on a flat surface that’s at least 20’ x 44’. That’s the official court size, but we recommend a little extra space all around the playing area for player movement.

Pickleball courts are the same size as badminton courts, so if you have access to badminton courts you’re in luck. Tennis courts can also easily be temporarily converted, and the USAPA has an easy-to-read article on how to do that here.

If you’re converting badminton or tennis courts for your game, you don’t need to worry about nets. If you’re setting up a new court from scratch then you will want to invest in portable net systems. They cost $160-170 and can be set up and taken in down in about 5 minutes and come with a carrying bag for transport/storage.

Paddles start at about $15 per paddle for wood paddles up to $100 per paddle for top-of-the-line graphite paddles. For kids and adults new to the game and only interested in casual play, wood paddles can suffice. Adults who want to play on a regular basis generally prefer composite or graphite paddles. Composite paddles start at about $50 and graphite paddles at about $60. Generally you would want a minimum of four paddles per court.

Pickleballs for indoor use start at $12.99 per dozen.  Outdoor balls are $24.99 per dozen.

So, a low-cost set of equipment with wood paddles to get you going would cost in the range of $250.  Not too bad to get started in the fastest growing sport in the U.S., now spreading like wildfire around the rest of the world!

How One Pickleball Club Grew From 1-200 in Twelve Months: The power of one person sharing what they love

Pickleball by the Sea

Pickleball by the Sea is a recreational club of Pickleballers who play at Jarboe Park in Neptune Beach and Isle of Palms Park. They believe Pickleball is not just fun, it’s good for both your body and your soul!

Verna Griffin was introduced to pickleball in October 2012 by friends from Virginia. She loved the game and wanted to share it with others in her Neptune Beach, FL community. Here’s a month by month summary of how she shared a game with three other people and how this group went on to form a club, Pickleball by the Sea,  that would grow to two hundred people in just twelve months.

January –  Pickleball started with one person, Verna Griffin, inviting three other people to play pickleball on a cold afternoon at a local park. Verna provided the pickleball equipment and explained the rules of the game to the others.

February – The first club newsletter was sent to 24 people.

March – The number of people participating in the game increased with each day of open play. Additional courts at the park were painted by volunteers.

April – The local newspaper ran an article about Pickleball and the Pickleball by the Sea club.  An open clinic was held at the park with nineteen volunteer helpers. Twenty seven newbies took part in learning and playing the game.

May – Pickleball by the Sea was featured on the front page of the South USAPA website. A local retirement community hosted a pickleball clinic. A local company donated some pickleball equipment to the club.

June – Great weather help the club grow. The club hosted a successful “in house” ladder tournament.

July – The heat of the summer and long hours of daylight motivated the club to move the time of play to the cooler morning hours.

August –  Pickleball players from other states visited the club.

September – A local country club was closing and club members approached the country club about possibly donating their wind screens for the park’s pickleball courts.

October – At the Senior Games of Jacksonville, Pickleball by the Sea club members placed in each division. (Not bad for a new group of picklers.) Another park started offering open play once a week.

November – Volunteers removed the wind screens from the country club and install them at the park for the pickleball courts. A second clinic was held at a retirement community. More pickleball courts were developed nearby.

December The PickleGram newsletter is delivered to over 200 individuals via email. Over 400 local people have been introduced to pickleball. In a short year pickleball is now available every day at one or more of  eight local pickleball venues. The 1st Annual Mistletoe Pickleball Tournament and Social is planned for December 14th in nearby St. Augustine, FL.

What’s happened to your pickleball club in 2013? Share your success and failures with us, email anna@pickleballcentral.com. Let’s learn together how to share pickeball with more people because, as the Pickleball by the Sea club says, “Pickleball is not just fun, it’s good for both your body and your soul!” – Anna

Pickleball Noise – a new solution

Thwack!! Thwack!  We LOVE the delightful sound of a pickleball popping off a paddle. Unfortunately, there are some who just don’t understand that this thwacking sound is a happy sound of pure fun. People who live close to outdoor courts sometimes complain about the noise of pickleball and some have even initiated lawsuits to address the issue.

Acoustical Fencing
There are several solutions to this noise issue. One solution is to put acoustical fencing around the pickleball courts. The fencing blocks the pickleball sound from leaving the court.  One challenge with acoustical fencing is maintaining it in windy areas. In some communities the acoustical fencing was blown down by the wind. Another challenge with acoustical fencing is that it is expensive and can be unattractive.

Acoustical Fencing is one solution to the pickleball noise issue

Acoustical Fencing is one solution to the pickleball noise issue

Sound Studies
Some communities have commissioned sound studies on the various paddles to determine which are quiet and which are loud. At PickleballCentral we know that paddles vary greatly depending on the particular qualities of the sheet the paddle is cut from.  We take the conclusions from the sound studies with a grain of salt. The studies may be accurate for the particular individual paddles tested but may not be accurate for all the paddles in that particular product line.  

Quiet Pickle Pad
Steve Paranto has invented a pad that sticks to each side of the paddle face. It’s called the Quiet Pickle Pad and has a patent pending. The Quiet Pickle Pad works to quiet the noise of pickleball and doesn’t interfere with the quality of play. The pad can be removed from the paddle face but may leave a residue. The Quiet Pickleball Pad cannot be used in USA Pickleball Association approved tournaments.  We introduced the  Quiet Pickleball Pad at the National Tournament last week and sold several sets. The initial response has been good but we are awaiting more detailed reviews .

Quiet Pickleball Pad $24.99 at PickleballCentral.com

Quiet Pickleball Pad $24.99 at PickleballCentral.com

The Quiet Pickle Pad and acoustical fencing may soften the thwacking sound of the pickleball hitting the paddle. However, the sound of boisterous pickleball players raising their voices with excitement and laughter has yet to be solved. 😉 Anna

#1 Best Way to Add Laughs to Pickleball

Want to add hilarity to your next pickleball tournament? Award prizes to the players that compete wearing a costume.  Let the fun begin!

Pickleball pickle costume

Pickle Costume!  Apex Park in Arvada Opens First Dedicated Pickleball Courts in Colorado

Fairy Pickleball

Fairy Pickleball

Ms. Paddle and Ms. Pickleball

Ms. Paddle and Ms. Pickleball from Green Valley, AZ

Playing pickleball in sombrero and cape - little Lucha Libre influence?

Arlington, Missouri – Middle School Students Play in Pickleball Tournament

Green haired pickleball people

Green haired pickleball people

Pickleball Week in Review November 9 – 11, 2013

A quick look at interesting pickleball news over the last week.  Brought to you by the staff at PickleballCentral.com.

Product News

Onix Sports new ZEN series launches with the ZEN Power Paddle.

Articles and Video of Note:

Cape Region Pickleballers

Cape Region, Delaware. Pickleball Proliferating in Delaware and throughout nation

Great video from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania 

Chambersburg Pickleballers
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania Tickled About Pickleball

Sweet sport, sour name: Pickleball grows in popularity – Brunswick County, North Carolina

Middle school students play in pickleball tournament – Arlington, Missouri

Middle school students play pickleball tournament

Arlington, Missouri – Middle School Students Play in Pickleball Tournament

Dick Howell

South Texas Stars: Dick Howell, pickleball

South Texas Stars: Dick Howell, pickleball – San Antonio, Texas

New Places to Play

http://www.houstonracquetclub.com/ – Houston, Texas

http://www.loscab.com/index.php/pickleball – Fountain Valley, California

http://www.peachtreecitytennis.com/ – Peachtree City, Georgia

http://www.yakimatennis.com/  Yakima, Washington

Pickleball Courts and Pathways Ribbon Cutting invitation – Bettendorf, Iowa

www.hrcaonline.org – Littleton, Colordo

Beautiful Backyard Pickleball Court

Robert Sweetgall

We have a wonderful customer whose name is Robert Sweetgall.  He has a teacher’s heart and he teaches everybody he meets about the benefits of a healthy active lifestyle.  You can find out more about him at his website www.creativewalking.com . He has recently added pickleball to his fitness “curriculum” and he has quite a story to tell about his latest pickleball court construction project.

Robert has built a private court in Lucile, Idaho and invited all of his neighbors (the unofficial population of Lucile is about 100 people) to come play pickleball.  His court is named Harttrup Court after Ed Harttrup, a cancer survivor, who donated 38 yards of concrete to Robert’s pickleball court construction project out of gratitude for helping him make nutritional and lifestyle changes that helped him to beat cancer.  Robert has also put a lot of his own blood, sweat and tears into this project. Building dry-stack rock walls is one of Robert’s hobbies. He built a 4-foot bordering dry-stack rock wall, made of hand split slabs of stone he collected.   The wall is designed to be a multi-purpose wall: it acts as a retaining and a ball kick-back wall and is a seating gallery for spectators.

Robert's pickleball court

Robert also installed 6-foot green wind screens around 3 sides of his court that minimize wind effects and keep balls from running wild.  Robert used a concrete stain on his court, which provides good traction and consistent ball bounces.  He picked a unique color scheme: artichoke green for the serving boxes and mocha chocolate for the apron and the kitchen no-volley zones.

Robert loves teaching pickleball, especially to people who are new to the sport.  He taught 100 novice seniors the game of pickleball at Hilton Head, South Carolina on October 18th of this year.  His main goal is to instill a spirit of fun play, with the promise of quick improvement with a few simple skill drills.

Do you know of a beautiful backyard pickleball court? Tell us about it and send pictures. We’d love to share it on our blog.

ZEN Pickleball Paddle – New from Onix Sports

Zen Pickleball Paddle

We can’t wait to get our hands on Steve Wong’s latest creation, the ZEN Pickleball Paddle.  The ZEN has an aluminum core and a high-end Gamma Contour Cushion grip.  According to the technical specs, the ZEN weighs between 7.3 – 7.5 ounces.  Steve says the paddle is one of his quieter models.

We love the design with the Chinese character Zen.  The paddle colors are supposed to be brilliant. The pictures sure look good.

We’ve ordered a bunch of the ZEN paddles and they are supposed to ship to us next week.  We’ll post on Facebook when our shipment arrives and the paddles are available for sale at the best place to buy pickleball paddles, PickleballCentral.com. 

There are lots of definitions for the word Zen.  I think the definition found in the Urban Dictionary best fits a great game of pickleball:

1. Zen
One way to think of zen is this: a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind. Zen is a way of being. It also is a state of mind. Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts.  “Sun is warm, grass is green.”

download

Pickleball Week in Review November 1, 2013

Here’s a quick look at interesting pickleball news over the last week.  Brought to you by the staff at PickleballCentral.com.

Articles and Video of Note:

Pickleball proliferating in Delaware and throughout nation – Cape Region, Delaware

http://www.abc27.com/story/23758062/tickled-about-pickleball-in-chambersburg – Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Sweet sport, sour name: Pickleball grows in popularity – Brunswick County, North Carolina

Middle school students play in pickleball tournament – Arlington, Missouri

South Texas Stars: Dick Howell, pickleball – San Antonio, Texas

Inaugural Pickleball tournament brings hundreds to Myrtle Beach – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

New Places to Play

http://www.houstonracquetclub.com/ – Houston, Texas

http://www.loscab.com/index.php/pickleball – Fountain Valley, California

http://www.peachtreecitytennis.com/ – Peachtree City, Georgia – 3 courts

http://www.yakimatennis.com/  Yakima, Washington – 2 pickleball courts

Pickleball Courts and Pathways Ribbon Cutting invitation – Bettendorf, Iowa

www.hrcaonline.org   Littleton, Colorado

Edge Guards – love ’em or hate ’em? Three reasons I love ’em

The black edge guard on most all graphite and composite paddles

The black edge guard on most all graphite and composite paddles

Many customers and several other people here at PickleballCentral.com,  don’t like the edge guards and claim the edge guards messes up their shots.   Manufactures have heard the complaints and are hard at work creating a truly breakthrough edge-less paddle.  There are a few good edgeless pickleball paddles on the market now such as Wilson’s BLX and  Wilson’s Champ  but I still prefer a paddle with an edge guard for three reasons:

#1. Protects the Core. There are at least three layers to every composite paddle – a top face, a core and a bottom face. The edge guard seals these three layers and protects them from de-laminating.  De-lamination is when the paddle face detaches from the core. De-laminated paddles are “dead”.  Sometimes small pieces of the core  break off and rattle around inside the paddle.

Pickleball paddle delamination... to the extreme

Delamination is when the paddle face detaches from the paddle’s core.

#2 . Play with Reckless Abandon.  The edge guard protects the paddle like the bumper on a car.  You don’t need to be precious with paddle. You can dive for those shots and not be too concerned about denting or scratching your paddle’s edge guard.

#3 Pop.  Maybe it’s just me but I think an edge guard gives the paddle more pop.  I like pop.

What about you? What is your position on edge guards?

– Anna