Message from the APTA Board

September 16, 2022

Because many APTA members have had questions about recent emails and social media posts authored by some of our paddle manufacturers it is necessary to address the current situation and our organization’s actions publicly.

On Aug 25th, the APTA Board of directors received a letter from a manufacturer accusing another manufacturer’s paddles of having holes greater than the APTA standard: 3/8th of an inch. The letter we received demanded that we make a decision very quickly (days, not weeks).

The APTA board took this correspondence very seriously. Many volunteers interrupted personal commitments to engage in thoughtful and considered ways. For example, APTA staff and board members inspected new paddles from all vendors available for retail sale; the APTA learned a great deal about industrial measuring of inner diameter of holes; the APTA engaged manufacturers to gather information about manufacturing specifications, quality checking, and their own testing protocols. In addition to the existing review process, each manufacturer has documented their manufacturing specifications to be consistent with existing standards.

It is important to the APTA staff and each of the APTA board members that all of our members, from the top-ranked professional to the typical club player, have confidence that the APTA is focused on fairness for all the competitors in our community.

After a preliminary investigation and multiple board meetings, the APTA board made two decisions:

(a) all paddles previously approved by the APTA Rules Committee will remain approved, and
(b) a new committee will be formed to thoroughly review our rules related to paddle specifications and conformance.

While we understand there may be a perception that these decisions amount to "doing nothing", we want to make it clear that is not the case. Properly addressing the concern that was raised takes more than days. The issue is complex and deserves more than a quick reaction.

Examples of some of the questions and complexities that need to be addressed:
1. There are different ways to measure paddle hole diameter and the existing APTA rule does not set forth a specific measurement protocol.
2. The age of a paddle, grit content, and other factors can affect diameter size and the ability to consistently measure diameter.
3. Our current rules don't address approved paddles that may (for any number of reasons) no longer be compliant with the specs laid out in our rules nor at the time of approval.
4. Is there a measurable competitive advantage gained by larger hole diameter or other paddle specifications?

What happens from here:

As stated above, the APTA has already formed a new committee (chaired by APTA Board member Ben McKnight); this committee will seek input from manufacturers, players and testing companies. For instance, a call with NTS, the company that tests paddles and balls for Pickleball, has been scheduled for next week. This committee's work is a high priority for the Board, but will take time to make sure all aspects of our rules, specs and testing are appropriately thought through.

Shorter-term, the Board expects it may hear from the Players Committee (a group of players elected by the top players in the game) on what should be done with regards to potentially non-compliant paddles for APTA Tour play this season.

The APTA is working to do what is best to serve our membership and the game. We will communicate our findings and decisions to our membership and manufacturers as soon as it is appropriate.

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