Illegal Pickleball Paddles; Following The Rule Book

October 25, 2021

Pickleball is a precision game, and many things can affect how well you perform, the most significant of these being the paddle.

There are minor aspects of a paddle that could make it advantageous to a player, potentially making them win the game.

These features get checked, and some Pickleball pads are banned to maintain fair competition. You can use these paddles for fun games, but you can’t use them in professional tournaments.

Here are the details on what kinds of paddles are banned.

Illegal Pickleball Paddles

Any game needs to be as fair as possible. Doing so allows competitors to win because of their skill and personal effort.

For Pickleball, paddles get strictly managed to ensure that players don’t get unfair advantages over each other. Using a paddle that the USAPA does not approve could get a player disqualified or banned from a match.

To help you know which paddles are safe to use, let us take you through the guidelines used to select the paddle:

1. Reflective Pickleball paddles are not allowed

Pickleball is often played outside, and there are no shades nearby. With this in mind, there are direct rays of sunlight all around the court throughout the match.

Reflective paddles are illegal because they will produce a glare effect when hit by the light ray, making it difficult for the opponent to see the ball. The cover has to be dull, without any reflective properties.

2. The surface of the Pickleball pad must not have any indentations or holes

Anyone familiar with Pickleball would know how advantageous it is to have a spin on your ball.

Holes and indentations in the pad increase the ease of a player making spins that could devastate an opponent. Players, therefore, have to use a smooth paddle to limit how many spins they can put on a ball.

3. Foam cores are illegal

Initially, it was acceptable to use pads with foam cores, but they have recently got banned for tournaments. Foam cores are naturally buoyant, so they allow a user more power with little weight.

A ball going off a foam pad moves much faster than a ball from another core, even with the same impact pressure. Foam cores would give opponents a significant advantage since speed and power make a lethal offense in Pickleball.

4. A Pickleball paddle can’t be more than 17 inches long

Long paddles are a good choice for slow players that don’t have a lot of mobility. The reason behind this is because the paddles allow them to stretch out and get to the ball quickly.

There is a limit, though. Having a long paddle could make you unbeatable since you could get to the ball anywhere on the court. Such a situation would be unfair to the opponent, so it is strictly against the rules to have a long paddle.

5. The total surface area of the paddle has to be at least 24 inches

The surface area includes the surface of the handle. Having an enormous surface area means you have a broader face on which you could hit the ball.

A large surface area on a Pickleball pad means that you will never miss and have complete control of the ball at all times, making you unbeatable, which is unfair. This rule will ensure that all players have a standard size they can comfortably perform with.

6. The weight of a paddle has to be above 7.5 ounces and below 8.5 ounces

There are advantages to having both light and heavy paddles.

A light paddle gives you a free and full range of motion without ever tiring your wrists.

On the other hand, a heavy paddle increases the power with which you can hit a ball. Hence, a strong player could dominate an entire match with powerful hits even at awkward angles and devastate the opponent, so there is a limit to keeping things fair for all preferences.

7. Modifications that affect the pad’s performance are illegal

Most players like to have a personal touch on their paraphernalia, and you can do it with Pickleball, only there is a limit.

Adding modifications to make the paddle heavier is illegal, especially if it goes past the specified weight. Altering the roughness of the surface is also prohibited since it gives you more control over the ball and can put an opponent at a disadvantage.

8. Any additional surface elements will make your paddle illegal

The paddle should not have any aspect that will influence how it interacts with the ball. Even specific markers increase their grip on the pall and give better spins, and they are illegal.

You can’t have stickers, rubber, anti-skid paint, or any other texture particles on your paddle’s surface.

Such elements make it easier for you to control the ball, and they will be devastating to an opponent if they weren’t regulated.

You should also avoid spring elements, sandpaper, and any rubber surfacing since they’d give you an unfair advantage.

Your paddle should not have any removable components other than the grip on the paddle, which can get slippery after extended use.

The Rules Of Pickleball

Pickleball is a simple and easy-to-learn game that is slowly replacing tennis in most areas. It is a mixture of tennis, badminton, and double tennis, and it is seen by most as a less stressful and fun sporting activity. 

It demands less from the body, so it is suitable for kids, the elderly, and people in their prime age. Its game format involves singles and doubles like all other ratchet games. A Pickleball court is the same size as a badminton court, 44 feet by 20 feet.

The ratchet is a solid paddle, and the ball is perforated to make it easier to hit the ball using less energy than tennis. Therefore, the game is less strenuous. 

The game starts with the service—the player making the serve must stand behind the service line and hit the ball crosscourt. They have to hit the ball with an underhand motion and while the ball is under their waist.

An opponent is allowed to let the ball bounce once while it is in their territory. You can hit the ball before it bounces in what is called a volley.

Before you start volleying, you have to let the ball bounce once on each side of the court, the opponent has to let it bounce once, and the server must also allow it to bounce. This rule eliminates the chance of an opponent getting an unfair advantage.

The idea of the game is to hit the ball at your opponent, get it over the net and make sure the opponent can’t hit the ball and it goes out of bounds, or it bounces twice. If you hit the ball and the opponent doesn’t return it, it is called a rally.

You win a rally, but you won’t get points unless you serve the ball. You will receive one point if you serve and win the rally. If you were the receiver and win the rally, then you get the next serve.

Once a player has accumulated 11 points and is at least 2 points ahead of the opponent, they win a set. 

Whichever player wins two sets faster than the opponent wins the game. If the scores are even, the game will continue until one team is 2 points ahead.

There is a seven-foot space marked on each side from the net called the kitchen. While stepping in this region, you can’t drive the ball unless it bounces once hence the name; non-volley zone.

If you step in the NVZ and strike the ball before it bounces, you will lose the rally. You cannot hit the ball directly outside the area of play or into the net since it will result in you losing the rally.

You cannot hit the ball more than once in succession, and you cannot touch the ball with any part of your body except the ratchet. Any of these mistakes will mean you lose the rally to your opponent. 

In a singles match, the server has to start from the left side on their first serve and switch to the other hand in their consistent service, which will keep happening for the whole game. 

In doubles, if the first server misses, the teammate tries, and the opponents take the ball if they miss. You can only gain points if you serve the ball, so it is vital to serve as much as you can.


You can use paddles at home for fun with your friends and family, but you can’t use them in competitions.

These pads give you an unfair advantage over your opponent, so the USAPA bans them, keeping things fair.

Most of the banned paddle aspects give the user additional control over the ball. To be safe, use your paddle as you bought it, and before purchasing a paddle, make sure it is USAPA approved. Once you get the right paddle, you should be able to perform your level best.

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