Shopping for the pickleball enthusiast on your holiday list? Perhaps you want to pick something that offers a benefit to nonplayers as well: quieter equipment.
USA Pickleball recently launched certification of a "quiet category" for pickleball products to help it combat complaints of noisy play affecting neighborhoods. The noise concern involves the echoing "pop, pop, pop" sound of the balls — made using rotomolding or injection molding — rather than curses from sore losers, although I'm sure those don't help.
"With the sport's growth, addressing noise concerns is essential to maintain a positive relationship between residential communities and facility operators," USA Pickleball CEO Mike Nealy said in a news release.
Earlier this month, the group noted its first official "quiet" item, a paddle designed by Owl Sport Inc., a Vancouver company that promises to be 50 percent quieter than traditional paddles.
Owl's $169 paddles have a polypropylene core and a proprietary composite it calls "acoustene" on the surface to absorb sound without affecting performance. Tennis legend John McEnroe and Drew Brees, the former MVP quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, joined the company and USA Pickleball at a special launch event in New York Nov. 21.
Paddles and balls are made at a variety of sites, both in the U.S. and Asia.
USA Pickleball notes that its quiet category will cover paddles, balls and site design improvements that will help court owners reduce noise level during play.