How to Check If a Pickleball Paddle is USA Pickleball-Approved

Est. Reading: 4 minutes

If you're serious about pickleball, you should only use paddles approved by USA Pickleball, the country's governing body. Like other equipment, paddles have strict standards that all tournament players must follow. In this comprehensive guide, you will learn everything you need to know about pickleball paddle specifications:

What do Pickleball Paddles Look Like?

At first glance, pickleball paddles look like those used in table tennis because they have flat, solid face surfaces. However, they are a bit larger and have longer handles. Their shape can also be standard or elongated. The paddle handle can either be short or long. On the other hand, a pickleball paddle is much smaller than a tennis racket. To learn more about the differences between the two sports, check out our Pickleball vs Tennis Comparison.

Pickleball Paddle Specifications

The specifications for pickleball paddles are discussed in detail in Section 2.E of the USA Pickleball Equipment Standards Manual. These include the dimensions or size, materials, and the hitting surface:


Section 2.E.3 states that "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."

Because the specifications for the length and width have no minimum requirement, there is a wide range to choose from. It also means that some pickleball paddles can have a more elongated face and longer handle.


Section 2.E.1 states, "The paddle must be made of any material deemed safe and not prohibited by these rules. The paddle shall be made of rigid, noncompressible material meeting the criteria located on the USA Pickleball and IFP websites."

The rule did not specify the exact kinds of materials that are allowed. Yet, it's clear that the paddle face should be solid, durable, and able to withstand power plays. The most common materials used for the core are polymer and Nomex. On the other hand, the material of the face can be wood, graphite, carbon fiber, or fiberglass. For more information about these materials, read our Pickleball Paddle Buyer's Guide.


The rule has no restriction on paddle weight. Nonetheless, there are three main categories for pickleball paddle weights - lightweight (below 7.2 oz), middleweight (7.3-8.4 oz), and heavyweight (8.5 oz and above). If you are new to pickleball, you might want to choose the lighter ones. To give you more ideas, read our guide, How to Choose the Right Pickleball Paddle Weight.

Surface Roughness

Section 2.E.2 states, "The paddle's hitting surface shall not contain holes, indentations, rough texturing, or any objects or features that allow a player to impart excessive spin on the ball."

Aside from that, USA Pickleball specified the prohibited features of the paddle surface. This includes:

  • Anti-skid paint or any paint textured with sand, rubber particles, or any material that can cause the ball to spin more.
  • Rubber and synthetic rubber.
  • Sandpaper characteristics.
  • Moving parts that can increase head momentum or maneuverability
  • Reflective parts that can affect the opponent's vision
  • Springs or spring-like material, flexible membranes, or any compressible material that creates a trampoline effect.
  • Electronic, electrical, or mechanical assistance of any sort. 

Model Designation

Pickleball paddles must have a decal with a clearly marked brand and model name (or number) provided by the manufacturer. This label should have the 'USA Pickleball Competition' seal or logo as a sign of approval. Paddles with different core materials, surface materials, or other significant differences must have a unique name or number.

Section 2.E.5.b specifically states that "the decal can extend no farther than 1.0 inch (2.54 cm) above the top of the grip nor more than 0.5 inches (1.27 cm) inside the outer edge of a paddle or, if an edge guard is in place, 0.5 inches inside the edge guard."

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Pickleball Paddles Have Alterations?

Yes, pickleball paddle alterations are allowed but must comply with the standards. This includes the following:

  • Adding edge guard tape and lead tape
  • Changing the grip size or grip wrap
  • Putting name decals and/or other identification markings on the paddle face. Moreover, it must not interfere with the paddle's performance and will not peel off during play.
  • Handwritten markings that don't affect the surface roughness and don't cover the manufacturer's markings. They should also be only for identification purposes.

Is There a USA Pickleball-Approved Paddle List?

Yes, there is a list of USA Pickleball-approved paddles. It includes the model name, manufacturer's name, list date, status, and the image of the paddle. As of this posting, there are 2,633 pickleball paddles on the list. To view the list, visit this link - https://equipment.usapickleball.org/paddle-list/. To find a particular paddle faster, use the search box.

What Happens if There's a Paddle Violation?

As a player, you are responsible for ensuring that your paddle complies with the standard and is approved by USA Pickleball. Below are the three instances where players might violate this rule, along with the corresponding actions:

  • According to the 2024 Pickleball Rule Changes, the player shall switch to a USA Pickleball-approved paddle without penalty if the violation is identified before the match starts. Before the rule was changed, players were not obliged to change paddles.
  • If the violation is discovered after the match starts, the player or team forfeits only the match being played.
  • If the violation is identified after the scoresheet is returned to the tournament operations desk, the match's result will remain as is.

Final Thoughts

While the above paddle specifications are strictly imposed in tournaments, there are no strict requirements for recreational plays. Nonetheless, I recommend learning to follow the rules even if you are still a beginner. Otherwise, you might find it challenging once you need to switch paddles. More importantly, these rules are designed to promote fairness in the sport and for the safety of players.

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