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USAP and UPA-A Address Paddle Certification Controversy

Paddle Certification Controversy: In a significant development for the rapidly growing sport of pickleball, two organizations have stepped up to certify paddles for professional use in tournaments. USA Pickleball (USAP), the established governing body, and the newly formed United Pickleball Association of America (UPA-A) are now at the forefront of this crucial task. As these organizations define the standards for paddle certification, they are shaping the future of pickleball competition.

USAP and UPA-A: The New Landscape

USA Pickleball, the first American governing body for the sport, has been setting the standards for years. The United Pickleball Association of America, however, emerged after the merger of the PPA Tour and Major League Pickleball. The formation of UPA-A has prompted questions about its purpose and goals within the pickleball community.

Last week, UPA-A announced a new paddle certification process that will launch later this year. This process will involve input from Pro Pickle Labs and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. This move has sparked curiosity and concern regarding the legitimacy and methods of both organizations’ certification processes.

UPA-A’s Perspective

Jason Aspes, President of UPA, provided insights into their certification program. Unlike USAP’s materials-based approach, UPA-A is shifting towards performance-based testing. Aspes emphasized that their focus is solely on the professional game, avoiding the recreational market for now.

UPA-A will test for three critical factors: Exit Velocity, RPMs (spin), and audio tone. Aspes explained that Exit Velocity can become excessively high in certain paddles, even changing throughout the paddle’s lifecycle. To address this, UPA-A will conduct ‘destructive testing‘ to mimic wear and tear, ensuring that the paddle’s power peak does not exceed a set threshold.

For RPMs, UPA-A will move beyond traditional grit tests, focusing on the overall spin capability of paddles. They aim to ensure that no paddle’s spin potential exceeds a certain level. Destructive testing will also be employed here.

The audio tone test is designed to prevent silent paddles from providing an unfair advantage by stripping away any audio cues of pace or placement. This test anticipates the high stakes of the professional level, where players seek every possible edge.

Aspes acknowledged the challenge of certification costs for smaller brands, emphasizing the importance of innovation and a well-rounded perspective in their certification process. Transparency remains a key commitment, with dissenting voices included in discussions to ensure a balanced approach.

USA Pickleball’s Response

USA Pickleball highlighted their long-standing experience and partnership with Element U.S. Space & Defense, an accredited independent third-party testing facility. They expressed concerns about potential market confusion due to multiple certification systems and inconsistencies among manufacturers.

USAP’s certification process is fully transparent and shared with manufacturers. They have been testing for power, spin, and acoustics for years. Through their partnership with Element, they introduced PBCoR (exit velocity) testing for ‘power’ paddles last year and launched the testing process for manufacturers this spring.

USAP is committed to staying ahead of equipment trends, with ongoing developments in spin testing and acoustic testing. Their goal is to ensure inclusivity and support for the sport through technological advances.

The Bigger Picture

The decisions made by USAP and UPA-A will impact which paddles and innovations make it to competitive play, affecting officially sanctioned tournaments by both organizations. The controversy surrounding paddle certifications has even led to lawsuits, highlighting the high stakes involved.

As pickleball continues to grow, the establishment of these certification systems marks a significant moment in the sport’s history. The coexistence of USAP and UPA-A, each with its distinct approach, will shape the future of pickleball at the professional level.

For enthusiasts and players alike, this is a pivotal time to follow along as the sport evolves before our eyes. Rarely do we witness the making of sports history as it unfolds, and in pickleball, it seems like every other week brings a new chapter.

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News in Brief: Paddle Certification Controversy

In pickleball, two organizations are now certifying paddles for professional tournaments: USA Pickleball (USAP) and the new United Pickleball Association of America (UPA-A). USAP, the established governing body, has long set standards, while UPA-A, formed after the PPA Tour and Major League Pickleball merger, is introducing a new certification process.

UPA-A will focus on performance-based testing, assessing Exit Velocity, RPMs (spin), and audio tone, with ‘destructive testing’ to ensure consistency over time. USAP, partnering with Element U.S. Space & Defense, has emphasized transparency and has tested power, spin, and acoustics for years. This dual-certification approach will significantly influence pickleball’s competitive landscape.

Also Read: Ryder Brown Achieves Triple Crown in Junior PPA

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