More Paddle Allegations Overshadow PPA Red Rock Open – What Does It All Mean For Pro Pickleball?
Authored by Gritty
Apologies in advance for those of you tired of reading about paddles. However, after this weekend in Red Rock, it is something that we have to address, and I have a lot to say. For those of you that missed what happened, The Kitchen provided a solid recap of some of the controversy in their “Reset” video that outlines the issues on Thursday between Tyson McGuffin and Travis Rettenmaier as well as Lea Jansen and Salome Devidze.
The one aspect that the Kitchen’s Reset video did not get into was that earlier on in the women’s day, Allyce Jones was playing Salome Devidze in singles and lost quite badly. Jones, who is not someone I would expect to bring forth a grapes paddle challenge (I don’t think this was sour grapes, by the way), went ahead to challenge Salome’s paddle. Salome asked for a revenge paddle challenge as both players gave their paddles to the referee. There were no commentators because the match was streamed on Grandstand. With no deflection testing on-site, all challenges for deflection were sent for off-site testing after the tournament so the jury is still out on this one. Yes, apparently there is testing for deflection available, according to Lea Jansen in her appearance on the Dink’s podcast released Tuesday morning, even though the PPA has not released any published policy.
As many of our readers know, delamination has been a hot topic. Delamination of a paddle occurs when the surface of thermoformed carbon paddles delaminate from the core, which creates a trampoline effect and turns paddles into a relative rocket launcher of sorts – i.e. generating significantly more power for a player. It results in paddles having substantive power beyond what was initially approved as part of the USA Pickleball approval process. This issue is what led the PPA to require players using the new power series CRBN to send those paddles for off-site testing.
Update: Ben Johns wrote an article for the Dink about delamination with a more detailed explanation on the subject and testing.
The difficulty with deflection testing is that the machine used to test for deflection is very expensive. These paddles that delaminate will pass USA Pickleball initial testing because they have not delaminated until after use or modification, and there is no post-approval testing by USAP or the tours to monitor what happens to paddles after they go through the approval process. Apparently, the PPA had a deflection testing machine at the PPA Austin, and we know that MLP completed a bunch of independent data collection at the Daytona event.
As of right now, it is a virtually unregulated paddle market. We outlined this in our modified paddle controversy from the beginning of the year and further discussed in our more recent commentary on the CRBN paddle being singled out by the PPA Tour. While we wait for the tours to figure it out, some players have taken it upon themselves to fight the good fight to effect change.
As I alluded to above, the singles day started with Travis Rettenmaier taking issue with Tyson McGuffin’s paddle during the match. Tyson won the first game 14-12 and early in game 2 he switched his paddle as Travis made comments throughout game 1 and game 2 about something being wrong with the paddle. Tyson went on to win the match and Rettenmaier proceeded to take his shirtless self to Instagram to comment on the situation.
It is clear watching that match back that the paddle Tyson was playing with sounded different. The sound of a paddle being hollower and louder than what you may be used to is the giveaway for either a delaminated or modified paddle that hits harder than its off the shelf version. We had not noticed this until people started pointing this out to us until after we published our Paddletek modification article. However, when you start listening more closely on the livestream, you can tell certain players’ paddles do not sound like the versions of those paddles that are being sold to the general public – in other words, the paddles that have been approved by USA Pickleball. Listen more carefully if you haven’t noticed.
So, Travis said he plays with the same Selkirk paddle as Tyson, which may not be quite true as Tyson may have been playing with an 002A. Nevertheless, Travis was certain enough something was wrong with Tyson’s paddle that he made a video about it. Travis’ shirtless video leads to two possible outcomes: (1) Travis was wrong, or (2) Tyson was using a delaminated or modified paddle that is not approved for play. Based on the shots Tyson was hitting and the sound the paddle was making, it would seem something was fishy was going on. Despite Travis’ request for Tyson to respond, there has not been any public response from McGuffin or Selkirk, which is a paddle brand that we have never heard of having delamination issues before the weekend (update: we have been made aware Tyson responded, see here) Lea Jansen confirmed that Rettenmaier challenged McGuffin’s paddle. I won’t be waiting with baited breath for the results of the paddle testing of such a prominent player and brand to be released publicly by the PPA.
Fast forward to the women’s semi-final later in the day. Lea Jansen and Salome Devidze. Always a guarantee of some kind of fireworks. Jansen was vocal that Salome was using a delaminated paddle and you could hear it on the stream. It overtook the entire match. Game 1 was close, but Jansen had mentally checked out by the time game 2 rolled around and lost 11-1.
For a large group of people, Jansen’s comments come across as sour grapes for a player who is unable to handle the power and shot-making that Salome was bringing. For me, after I sift through the antics of the complaint, I have to take those claims seriously in the context of everything that is happening with paddles in 2023, even though I don’t agree with how Jansen handled it on the court. In the midst of all the chaos, there’s a real question of whether Devidze was using a delaminated paddle given the level of shot-making that was happening on the court. Now, it did not help Jansen’s case that Parenteau went out and dominated Devidze on Saturday, but it was also notable that Devidze was spraying the ball around in the faster, cold morning conditions.
Devidze was playing with a Vatic Pro paddle. Not too long-ago Ben Johns went on Twitter to call out a few paddle companies for delamination, Vatic Pro among those being called out. Someone forwarded to us that the owner of Vatic Pro was sharing his messages with Devidze in a Discord with respect to her explanation of the paddle. Devidze said she simply weights her paddle very heavily and that is why she’s able to hit such piercing balls.
Interestingly, Devidze was playing with a Legacy paddle as recently as APP Mesa in February, and has switched to the Vatic sometime after. The Vatic paddle she was using sounded a little bit hollower than others on the livestream but it is not as noticeable as some other paddle situations on tour, including Tyson’s from the weekend. I will note that Chris Olson said on the latest Pickleball Studio podcast that not all delaminated paddles make a sound that obviously differentiates them from a paddle that has not delaminated.
The difficulty with the deflection issue is that, without testing, you can’t definitively prove anything. I can see that Thomas Wilson or Salome Devidze are hitting absolute rockets. I may be able to hear that someone’s paddle does not sound right. However, that’s not something I can clearly show someone as evidence like a Starrett test for grit. It’s similar to performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). I can go back to photos and see someone’s body transform massively in a short period of time, or see they are moving faster than before on the court, but that’s not something I can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
Throwing out accusations is a tough business. Lea Jansen has obviously decided she does not care how people perceive her with how she is going about these controversial topics. She has not been shy voicing her opinions on various controversial topics, like paddles and PEDs. During matches, she probably would be better served focusing on her play rather than the potential cheating that is going on, but there is no doubt what she is doing is bringing attention to these topics. Jansen has also learned that as much backlash as she may receive from fans, her actions are forcing the hands of the entities with control of the situation – namely, the PPA, MLP and USAP.
There is a balance with all of this. I am 100% on the side of the players complaining to the extent that something needs to be resolved. I am not necessarily on the side of how it is being addressed by pros in every situation, but there’s no question paddles are a major problem. It was noted in the Kitchen’s Reset video that there will be on-site deflection testing at the next PPA event. Do you think this happens without Jansen, Rettenmaier and Jones challenging paddles? I don’t think so. Lucy Kovalova also had a much quieter challenge of Christa Gecheva’s CRBN paddle in Red Rock.
One thing we have not addressed on this blog is what unregulated paddles mean for the sport. As hard as it may be to believe, paddles really are not something of great interest to us. We are not equipment guys. In fact, I can be too much of an old school guy and where I differ from my NML co-founder is that I think that stricter regulation for paddle technology is crucial.
People can get up in arms about stifling evolution of the sport as we saw with the Zane-saw serve, but if you allow the game of pickleball to change too much, it is going to change what it means for the professional and amateur game. With the gathering of data that is happening by the tours, their decision of where the standard is set for paddle testing could shape the future of the sport. That may come across as hyperbole, but I really don’t think it is. The entities involved in the sport have a really tough decision to make for drawing the line on paddle technology when everyone has a different opinion on what that line should be.
I am in favor of not letting the game get too fast and allowing pickleball paddle technology to run rampant. It may not be great for the business of paddles, but I think keeping the game in the realm of where it now is best for the long-term health of the sport. Get off my lawn but I don’t want a game that becomes people blasting balls from everywhere and anywhere.
Zane Navratil was commenting on Twitter over the weekend comparing a delaminated paddle to an aluminum bat in baseball, and that may not be an exaggerated comparison on the relative impact juiced paddles have on pros playing by the rules. The players have been forced to make their complaints public because nothing might have changed if they didn’t. Leveraging the forum they have to ensure all players play by the same rules is not whining.
However, I am not in favor of giving everyone an aluminum bat, even if it is a level playing field. Baseball does a lot of dumb things in its history but I think baseball has done a smart thing keeping wood bats in the pro game. I don’t like that tennis has allowed free reign on technology. I don’t like that golf technology continues to improve and make things easier for pros. The business of golf benefits massively from amateurs continually being exposed to new technology that can improve their game, but pro golf is not better for it, in my view.
The pickleball court is 20 by 44 feet and the kitchen is 7 feet from the net. If we let paddle technology go wild, we’re going to have a different game that may not be as appealing to watch or, more importantly, as appealing to play for amateurs. We need to have the amateur game grow if the professional game is going to takeoff.
The faster game that has developed over the past 5 years is undoubtedly better for the sport. Some of that is paddle technology, but some of that is simply natural evolution of the sport with new and better players figuring things out. If you put current players out there with paddle technology from 5 years ago, the game will still look a lot different than it did back then. If paddle technology stays the same for the next 5 years, the game will continue to evolve naturally. I don’t think we need to expedite that even further by allowing paddle technology to get out of control and I’m hopeful the entities in control agree with that statement.
In the meantime, we have a big time paddle problem. Players are out there blatantly cheating. Whether that is knowingly using a delaminated paddle or modifying their paddles, there are pros out there doing this. They know they can take advantage of this without penalties and some people are going to be okay with that when money is on the line. I am not okay with that.
Salome Devidze is unquestionably the biggest cheater in pickleball when it comes to line calls. She has no shame. This is not an individual I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to, no matter what the CEO of Vatic Pro says. I’m less likely to give the benefit of the doubt to her when a pro who never complains, Allyce Jones, is taking issue with Salome’s paddle. Allyce Jones also plays mixed with Spencer Smith, including at Red Rock, and Smith is a Vatic sponsored player. Whether we get results of this off-site testing for Salome Devidze’s paddle is a different question, especially since the PPA has not published any policy on deflection testing.
While I would be livid if I were in the position of Allyce Jones, Lea Jansen or Travis Rettenmaier, particularly given the unknown shelf life of pro pickleball players and the money up for grabs right now in the sport, the reality is also that change cannot happen overnight. Change seems to be coming and it may be coming faster because pros are being vocal about it, but there has to be some understanding that getting paddle standards right will take a little bit of time. Still, if Salome or Tyson lose ranking points or prize money because their paddles are found to be illegal, it provides little solace for the pros that have been impacted by it in the moment. Hopefully there is some comfort in that they are using their public platforms to effect change for the greater good of the sport.
I am confident things are going to change and it will be a million times better than than the US Open telling pros they may be suspended from next year’s US Open for an incorrect paddle challenges
It is not lost on me that all 3 pros being vocal about paddle issues this weekend are connected to Lea Jansen. At the same time, I think that Jones and Rettenmaier are strong willed individuals that aren’t taking issue with other pros simply because one of their doubles partners is making noise about it. Rettenmaier and Jones both clearly believed they were subject to playing opponents with paddles that were not legal, whether it is true or not.
The other reality is that far more pros have a problem with the cheating that is going on in the sport than we hear about, but most are not comfortable vocalizing their displeasure. These players have to see each other at every tournament and don’t want to name names typically. Is it fair that certain players like Devidze or Thomas Wilson are named while others are getting a pass? No, it isn’t completely fair. It isn’t fair that CRBN has borne the brunt of the paddle punishment when other companies are doing the same. But it is evident after this weekend that more players are going to call out what they believe to be blatant cheating if they are up against it on the court. When it is affecting their rankings, results and prize money directly, some pros are not going to sit back and take it.
With deflection testing coming on-site, I’ll be curious if we see more players get called out, including top players who may have previously been seen as untouchable in the sport. I am also making another call to the PPA to be transparent with the paddle testing process and the results that come out of it. Once there is objective, standardized testing in place, the cheating will go away, to a certain extent, because players know they cannot get away with it. We have already seen the impact of testing with the grit issue that has quickly taken a backseat to deflection.
Pros and paddle companies may find other ways to cheat or skirt around the process, but just as we have seen with the grit problem becoming far less of an issue, hopefully paddle controversy as an entire topic is no longer the norm at a pro pickleball tournament.
p.s. Lea Jansen commented on the Dink’s podcast that Salome talks to NML. To clarify, Salome Devidze does not talk to or message us. In fact, we have never had any exchange with Salome. We also did not provide any commentary on Jansen’s warm-up situation with Salome. We don’t know where that is coming from.
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46 thoughts on “More Paddle Allegations Overshadow PPA Red Rock Open – What Does It All Mean For Pro Pickleball?”
Lea came across as a big cry-baby and brat in that game. Besides the paddle she wouldn’t let Salame change out the ball–how weak is that? I have not been a Dezidze fan in the past but was rooting for her in that game.
Would recommend listening to Lea on the Picklepod. Salome refused a ball change in a previous tournament until she got a bad bounce, then at Red Rocks tried to change the ball by directly going to the ref without letting Lea have input. You might disagree with fighting fire with fire, but the additional context is helpful.
This is true
See my comment for Scott for response to the cry baby commentary
I agree with your article but at the same time I think this has been blown way out of proportion. AL thought Parris’ paddle was illegal and testing showed it was not. Rafa thought Zane’s was illegal and testing showed it was not. Later this year or next year someone could come along – maybe Jack Sock or Tyra Black – and hit bullets like Tyson and Salome with a legal paddle. So if pros think those kind of shots aren’t coming, well good luck. I don’t want to see a slam fest out there but we are going to see an evolved level of playing with what these new paddle technologies can provide to some players.
Did AL challenge Parris’ paddle for deflection? I thought it was for grit. If Zane’s paddle was tested for deflection, why hasn’t he mentioned that point?
I certainly agree about evolving paddle tech. I played rec with a 5.0 men’s player yesterday testing a paddle not yet on the market. The player already has a massive forehand, but it the paddle tech he was using took the speed to a completely different level.
AL challenged for grit
The scapegoating of Salome Devidze is pretty gross. Anyone who has watched her play knows that when she is on she hits lasers left and right, and when she is off those lasers mss. Lea’s loss of composure because her opponent was on was one of the worst displays of poor sportsmanship I’ve witnessed. The fact that this blog attempts to subtly defend that behavior (but not too much) is a blot on this blog.
Thank you for your comment! It actually triggered exactly how I feel about Lea’s behavior. It is not defending the behavior nor is it scapegoating Salome. I would say that it is being unbothered by the behavior. It’s not how I would choose to handle it but I also think it is fascinating how society can prefer faux social pleasantries. Salome can cheat but she acts politely, goes to paddle tap etc. so people see that and say good sportsmanship. Yeah, Lea is not acting well and is throwing a bit of a tantrum, but that doesn’t make her a bad person. Salome cheats on lines with zero shame but she’s polite so some people are ok with it. She may now be cheating with paddles. Fake pleasantries and fake nice are the worst kinds of things. Someone’s inability to keep their composure is not the measure of a person. Their actions as a whole are, which is why I remain unbothered by what Lea does on the court and I am disgusted by how Salome conducts herself
IMO, throwing a tantrum, poor sportsmanship, and cheating, does make a bad player, maybe not a bad person. But the same goes with Devidze, the things she does makes her a bad player, but maybe not a bad person. You can’t have it both ways. Maybe you are really mad at society? 🙂 Reread your comment, you downplay, everything, Janson does and embellish everything Devidze does in a negative way. You said her courteousness is fake? But I’ve met her, she is very pleasant. I’ve met Jansen, not really very nice. You have over-exaggerated with Devidze but empathize with what Jansen does, yet they do the same thing. And Jansen, IMO, is a lot worse now than Devidze, blatantly cheating anyway she can. Yet you say that’s okay? Very interesting. 🙂 PS. And Fake pleasantries and fake niceness are NOT the worst kinds of things. Really? Please don’t ban me. 🙁
Throwing a tantrum is not good behavior. As I said in other comments, it is not about downplaying Jansen’s comments, it is that they don’t bother me. This is all subjective, but my opinion is that her pleasantries are fake. Based on her actions on the court as undoubtedly the biggest cheat on the court, I don’t care if she is nice or pleasant. Her actions on the court speak to who you are. While that could be said for Jansen, I think her actions on the court are a different thing and it comes down to her simply being unable to control the same feelings that any other pro would have playing Salome. Just because Jansen is not adept at playing the social pleasantries game, I don’t hold that against her.
Fake pleasantries and niceness may not be the WORST kinds of things, but it is something that is just about as grating as anything on me. And David, we would never ban you. Love all your interaction and your commentary on our content. Don’t ever stop.
You put in words what I’ve been trying to say but couldn’t put it together quite as well. I agree. Salome smiles and is more polite but blatantly cheats. Lea doesn’t smile and is very vocal about cheating. Society prefers a smiling woman because it’s fun and pleasant to their sensibilities and I think it’s just sexist. I guess as long as she smiles she can cheat her way into to oblivion and people will say she displays great sportsmanship because she is nice. It’s gross.
I don’t think this is necessarily a gender thing, although it may be that women experience more backlash in this regard than men. Matt Wright gets his fair share of backlash for his behavior on the court. In any event, I think it is a general thing that society, especially certain classes, look for certain “proper” behavior and people that fall outside of that have poor manners/sportsmanship etc. As I said to David, a person’s actions tell me far more than how nice they might be to my face. If you’re nice to someone’s face but your other actions indicate something else, that person is telling you who they are in that way.
You went there but you’re not wrong lol. I’ve seen so many Facebook posts from people telling Lea to smile more after her matches, even ones where there’s no sportsmanship issues. I’ve even seen a comment saying something to the effect of “she’s so much prettier when she smiles.” Imagine saying something like that about Tom Brady lol
Nahhh, Salome is just new to the speed and not used to the out line like tennis. Lea is a sad sack that can’t beat her so she accuses her and puts herself out of the matches because she is just that way. Mental…..
This isn’t about social pleasantries or being nice. Sportsmanship isn’t about smiling or using sweet words. It’s not about pretending to like your opponent. That is a a straw man. Sportsmanship to me is about fighting and competing hard with composure and grit. Lea was completely in this match; she could have fought and stayed with it, put pressure on Salome and made a great match. Having witnessed personally Parenteau fight, come from behind and defeat a red-hot/laser hitting Devidze in Newport this past November, I know that Salome’s precision can go off. But Lea didn’t do anything near that. Instead she gave herself an excuse to lose, made sure the whole world knew what the excuse was, demonized her opponent and bailed on the match. It was surprising to see because I love Lea’s game and I love her fight. But what we got in Red Rock was not fighting and not sport. You and others can excuse Lea’s behavior and blame it on Devidze’s prior line calls all you want, (hence scapegoating), but it was a bailout of a tough match against a hot but beatable opponent. And haven’t liked Salome’s line calls, and I think they have taken attention away from her remarkable abilities and play. Her calls have hurt her opponents and they’ve hurt her. It’s in her interest to fix that. But that doesn’t excuse what happened at Red Rock.
Very well said Scott. Thank you.
I don’t condone Lea’s behavior. It is not the most sportsmanlike behavior in the world. But if Salome’s using an illegal paddle, Lea’s choices shouldn’t stop that discussion either and her being polite shouldn’t avoid discussion when Lea is not. I think this is a good discussion to have and it’s great to see there are different takes on this. And different definitions of sportsmanship and it clearly cost Lea, but that’s also not what I think of when I hear the word sportsmanship so appreciate you clearing that up
Oh to be clear, I don’t disagree at all that there needs to be a discussion and action about paddles. And I think that this blog does an excellent job showcasing, contextualizing and advocating for that discussion, and for action by the governing bodies. Obviously, I don’t think that Lea’s conduct was a necessary step for that discussion to take place, and think that there were and are better ways of pushing the issue. But absolutely, the discussion about what is happening with paddles needs to be happening on this blog, on podcasts, on players’ social media accounts and in the conference rooms of the governing bodies.
I’m not really sure why you think NML is excusing Lea’s behavior lol. Here are some quotes from this post:
“I don’t agree with how Jansen handled it on the court.”
“It did not help Jansen’s case that Parenteau went out and dominated Devidze on Saturday”
“During matches, she probably would be better served focusing on her play rather than the potential cheating that is going on”
Lea’s loss is on her. There weren’t any questionable calls (that I can remember), and she didn’t seem to disagree with the idea that she essentially got rattled and gave up in the last game. But she also made a conscious choice to spend the match calling out Salome’s paddle, and like NML said, it’s a discussion worth having, especially given the current climate in which pros from every corner are speaking out about the delamination issue (Ben, AL, AB, Zane, Caden Nemoff, lower level local pros I’ve talked to) and Salome’s history of cheating.
Thanks for the well thought out and detailed article
Thanks as always for reading, Grant!
As always, thank you for your time and posting. No need to apologize, I think a lot of people want to hear about PaddleGate 54. And if someone doesn’t want to hear about it, they won’t read the article. So, it was a good idea to give it its own time slot.
If I was a pro and someone challenged my paddle, I wouldn’t give it up unless someone gave me a sealable plastic envelope that I could sign and would be given a receipt for it with a return receipt on who opened it. I wouldn’t trust anyone at PPA, or for that matter, any other tour group.
And I think you are incorrect, Jansen IMO has become the biggest cheat in line calling and other situations. Attitude or no attitude.
Dear Rettenmaier, you don’t really think PPA is going to test or not pass their most popular player’s paddle? Did Tyson even give the ref the correct paddle? JMO.
It is a bit weird the whole process right now but if the tour says you have to do it, I’m not sure what recourse you have. Very good point on the Tyson situation haha!
I couldn’t stomach all the one-sidedness of the picklepod so didn’t finish listening to it. They really should have had Salome on at the same time to give her side of the story. Maybe the ball story is true and maybe it is not. I did hear allegations that Salome may not have turned in the same paddle she played with. Salome has said she only had one paddle at Red Rock so she can only turn in that one paddle — unless of course she lied. But she also posted that the paddle was tagged in some fashion so the PPA would know that on Sunday she turned in the paddle tagged from Thursday.
DavidJ makes a good point though — how does the player protect themselves from bad “chain of custody” from the PPA. I’d like to see it go a step further — the test lab or on site tester does not know whose paddle they are testing.
Are the players being charged $250 for each challenge made at Red Rock? PPA is finding another revenue stream here!
With this amount of challenges against so many different players, it makes me wonder if there is just an endemic feeling of unfairness. We as spectators can see the special treatment that some pros get with draws, scheduling, serves, VIP seating, etc. MLP can pay out twice as much to some players on the winning team. Pros must see a lot more behind the scenes than us spectators. So is it a general feeling of unfairness that is triggering all of this? Players work hard to hone their skills and want to get those skills tested on an even playing field. Maybe it’s just all building up and some steam/stress was released at Red Rock. Players may have been especially hopeful (and stressed) for that gold with AL/Ben missing from the field.
The one-sided commentary can become too much. We don’t necessarily disagree on that. Salome is out there playing the ignorant card. Ultimately, we would like to see if anything comes from the testing, which we may never hear about again. Unfortunately, the players cannot protect themselves at all. It is hard to have trust and this is why we call for way more transparency in these things. We don’t think the players are being charged the $250 for paddle challenges that are unsuccessful. There is not actually a policy for deflection testing right now anyway so who knows what the heck they are doing.
There may very well be an endemic feeling of unfairness. There are some parts of the side of players that can be justified in this feeling while other times it can come across as entitled. It depends on the subject. These players are not top tier professional athletes but want to be treated as such. I think each situation is circumstance dependent in this regard.
Safe you calling Lea a liar for the ball story? Looks like you are. Go back and watch the match she is telling the truth and you can hear Fleming repeat that there is discussion about the ball. I pointed this out before seems like waggish has some serious dislike but to say she’s a liar over something that you can check is impressive.
Chris: re ball story. Sorry I was not clear. I know what happened in the Thursday match with the ball as we all saw it on the stream. But on the podcast Lea gave the backstory to the ball and for that we only have one side of the story. As I said in my comment, both Lea and Salome could be slanting the truth about various events. We won’t ever know. I find it odd some have said I was Lea’s enemy. What am I — an eight year old? – last time I remember thinking someone was an enemy — which lasts less than 1 week at 8 years old. lol
I like the style of Kitchen Konversations podcast because those 2 hosts tend to ask some hard hitting questions of their guests. Well done by them. So that is what I had in mind when I made my one-side comment originally.
Thank you for the opportunity to clear some of this up. You can see from the comments and the voting that many have a strong opinion.
Yes and that is great about the blog. I would agree 100% that the hard questions are not usually asked on the Dink’s podcast. That’s not what they are about typically
Yeah as Waggish said. Don’t think that is the case. Never said she was a liar
Great insightful and thought provoking article NML.
I find the delam issue interesting. As far as on standard style paddle when they delam they do so and power is reduced and in my experience the delam is non-uniform and thus not amenable to continued play as paddle has dead spots that aren’t predictable and usable hence the paddle is decommissioned by the user. On the other hand when the new thermoformed paddles delam they increase power ostensibly because of the then increased trampoline effect of the face that is tensioned between the fixed paddle edges. While this gives it more power, which is the huge sticking point here, is that power necessarily all of the face or part as with standard delam , and as such is it controllable and advantageous? Especially since the knock on the thermoformed paddles at times is they are not as control oriented overall compared with standard paddles out of the box. Personally find all the hoopla a bit disingenuous. Anyway it’s dime random 0.02 thoughts.
Thanks, KM. If you listen to Zane talk about it on PicklePod, delam can work both ways. You need the right type of delamination. I had an Electrum paddle that delaminated back in 2021 summer that I was playing with but I had no idea it was delamination until 2 or 3 months ago. I had trouble controlling it so I simply thought it was broken. I can hit that paddle like a rocket, particularly on overheads. I probably could have learned to control it better and harness its power for my own use had I known that this was a good thing. I tried it out recently because I still have it, and it still has a distinct sound and pop that my other Electrum (that I no longer use) does not have. This is only my personal experience but I trust when so many pros like even Ben are coming out and discussing this, it is a real thing. We have heard from too many people we trust, some without much of a vested interest in this, saying it is an issue for it not to be an issue. Appreciate the thoughts.
I am becoming numb reading all these points.
1) The paddle manufacturers need to figure out how to make paddles that last if they want to charge the prices they are charging. Airplane wings and fuselages have carbon skins and either foam/honeycomb cores – they can’t delaminate over time. Spend the $ and make it right.
2) If you are going to have rules and equipment requirements, you have to enforce them and be able to test for them. If you don’t, you get the Wild West (or Pickleball today). This is very bad for the sport.
3) If you are an athlete in the middle of a game or match, you have to focus on winning. When your opponent gets in your head, you are toast. Yes, they may be “cheating” or “pushing the envelope” but it can’t matter in the moment – you have to beat them.
Pickleball is a great sport and the athletes are amazing. IMO, all these issues are on the governing organizations – PPA, MLP, USAP, etc – they need to get together, fix it, and make sure everyone is playing by the same rules.
This is all correct.
Most people outside of the pickleball universe will see this. But, if they did, it would be a bad look on the sport and give fuel to those who would like to see the sport fail.
Given that even your assessment suggest there’s cheating going on is quite disappointing. Can’t have that cloud hang over the head of the sport.
We can chalk some of this up to growing pains (paddle issue). But cheating? No!
There is cheating going on in the sport just as there is cheating going on in just about every pro sport being played right now. It may not have to do with equipment but players are always trying to push the envelope in some capacity whether it is rules, performance, equipment etc. We can’t be naïve to that.
I think it’s a shame that there is any controversy at all about paddles and cheating. I used a cheese cutting board as a paddle just to prove that it has more to do with a person’s skill and reflexes and quick thinking than the quality of a players paddle. Also if you feel you have to cheat to win then how can you get any satisfaction or sense of achievement when you play.
It is sad but paddles also do make a difference. That can’t be denied. The pro level is very different than a rec game. A career, living, financial stability is all the type of stuff on the line.
Lea also accused Thomas Wilson of using an illegal paddle so she is clearly off the rails. I don’t care for her or Salome.
Regarding new paddle regulations, something needs to be done to make sure it is not about preserving the established paddle companies and choking the little guys out. Most pro players are repped by either Joola or Selkirk and could be acting in the interest of those companies.
As an amateur player I want an affordable paddle that will last. I think these smaller thermaformed paddle makers are doing that, and I think some of them (Legacy for sure) have taken delamination seriously and have addressed it in their build process and q and a testing.
To be fair, Wilson is one of the most commonly named players when other players talk about hot paddles. I like him and I think he’s well liked on tour which is why no one’s aggressively going at him, but his name comes up A LOT when players talk about delam
I’ll give Lea a lot of credit for being so vocal about PEDs/adderall, particularly since she’s on an MLP team with Ignatowich and that could make things really awkward. But I think the issue is that she’s throwing around so many accusations lately, they all blend together and it creates a “boy who cried wolf” impression, whether she’s right or not. She should identify what she feels is the #1 threat to the sport right now and focus on that.
This is true. Saw someone in the YouTube comments say crying wolf as well and that takes away your credibility. If she keeps doing it without proof, people will stop listening eventually.
Salome posted a statement on Instagram saying that the PPA test results concluded her paddles were not delaminated. Hopefully PPA will issue a statement also.
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Check out our analysis of this @ https://pickleballscience.org/jansen-vs-devidze-revisited/