USA Pickleball Explains On-Going Strategies to Reduce Noise

Est. Reading: 3 minutes

Players or not, anyone who knows about pickleball also knows its worst enemy—noise. We’ve seen it in the news and on social media. Almost every neighborhood with a pickleball court nearby has the same complaints.

Fortunately, USA Pickleball is not turning a deaf ear to this issue. On Wednesday, March 13, USA Pickleball revealed some essential information on their strategies that can help reduce noise in pickleball courts.

“We had launched a research project last year to characterize the sound of a ball hitting a paddle, to characterize a good cross-section of existing paddles and equipment — balls included — out there,” says Carl Schmits, USA Pickleball’s Managing Director of Equipment Standards & Facilities Development.

Schmits referred to the Quiet Category, which USA Pickleball announced last September. The goal is to collaborate with acoustic experts and manufacturers to create quieter products, including paddles and balls. At that time, USA Pickleball revealed spending over 15 months doing research and study that could help minimize the noise.

“And with that data, we were able to create what we felt was an achievable and meaningful target to establish a quiet category,” he added, noting that the Quiet Category’s target is 80 decibels, or 10 decibels lower than most recreational-level paddles available in the market today.

“That 10 decibels represents, from a perception standpoint, an acoustic footprint about half as loud, and that’s something everybody can understand. A typical ball striking a paddle swung very hard is around 1,100 to 1,200 hertz. That, for a percentage of the population, is a sound that bothers them.” Schmits explained further.

As a result, Owl Sport launched the Owl Paddle in November. It is the first-ever pickleball paddle that complies with USA Pickleball’s Quiet Category. This elongated paddle is made of graphene/nano technologically-enhanced carbon honeycomb and aims to deliver sound below 80 dB and 600 Hz. 

Owl Paddle was introduced for recreational use only, But last month, USA Pickleball issued a certification approving the Owl Paddle for both amateur and professional pickleball tournaments. Consequently, Owl Sports has become the official paddle sponsor of the Association of Pickleball Players (APP)

But that’s not all. USA Pickleball is also advancing the ball’s design to make it quieter. Schmits also revealed that they are taking steps toward pickleball facilities and cited sound-attenuating fabric as an example.

“They’re doing this through innovative materials and design of the ball itself. I’m very excited about the approach. It’s got to play in a very similar manner to what you’re used to today.” Schmits said. 

“We’re starting to (demonstrate) those in various hotspots around the country, inviting abutters, municipal leaders and press to see what this equipment can do. There’s the analysis and evaluation upfront. We’re working with research entities that are developing (artificial intelligence)-driven acoustic analyses that look at existing data from the location itself,” he said of the various solutions for facility innovation.

On his final note, Schmits strongly suggested that any pickleball court (indoor or outdoor) be consulted with USA Pickleball during the planning stage.

“Our position is, don’t break ground before speaking with us. We advocate early planning with a proper assessment to understand what materials may be needed to make a facility acceptable to the local community.” Schmits pleaded. 

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