What Is a Delaminated Pickleball Paddle?

What Is a Delaminated Pickleball Paddle

Are you a pickleball enthusiast who’s been noticing a strange sound when your paddle hits the ball, or perhaps you’ve felt soft spots on the surface of your paddle? These could be signs that your pickleball paddle is delaminating, a problem that’s been causing quite a stir in the pickleball community recently.

Delamination occurs when the layers of the paddle start to separate or come apart, usually due to the breakdown of the glue that holds the layers together. This not only affects the performance of your paddle but can also give you an unfair advantage in the game due to the increased power it provides when hitting the ball. This issue has even sparked debates and discussions among pickleball pros, with some voicing concerns over the impact of delaminated paddles on the sport at the highest competitive levels.

But don’t worry, there are solutions to this problem. By understanding the causes of delamination and taking steps to protect your paddle, you can ensure that it performs well and lasts for many games to come. In this article, we’ll delve deeper into what a delaminated pickleball paddle is, how it affects your game, and what you can do to prevent or repair it.

Signs of a Delaminated Pickleball Paddle

Identifying a delaminated pickleball paddle can be done by looking for the following signs:

  1. The Bubble Hunt: Take a close look at the surface of your paddle. If you see any bubbling or peeling, this could indicate that the layers are starting to come apart.
  2. The Sound Check: Next, give your paddle a tap or hit a ball with it. If it produces a hollow or dull sound, that’s another sign of delamination. It’s like when your car starts making a strange noise – you know something’s not quite right.
  3. The Pace of Play: If you’ve noticed a sudden increase in your paddle’s performance, followed by a rapid decline, this could also be a sign of delamination. It’s like a sprinter who starts off strong but quickly runs out of steam – that’s not normal.
  4. The Surface Scan: Run your hand over the surface of your paddle. If it feels bumpy or lumpy, this could potentially be a sign of delamination.
  5. The Thumb Test: This is like the final exam of delamination detection. Press on the center of the paddle with your thumbs. If you hear a crackling noise, it’s likely that your paddle is starting to delaminate.

In the end, if you suspect your paddle is delaminated, it’s important to address the issue right away. Not only can it affect your game, but it can also give you an unfair advantage due to the increased power it provides when hitting the ball. So, keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be able to spot a delaminated paddle in no time.

How Delamination Affects Your Pickleball Game

A delaminated pickleball paddle can significantly affect your game. The space between the core and the separated outer layers creates a spring-like effect when hitting a pickleball, resulting in more power than permitted during the paddle testing and approval process by the governing body for the sport, USA Pickleball. This additional power can be dangerous on the court—especially since pickleball players are so close at the Kitchen line. An example of the safety issue is when Lucy Kovalova was hit with an overhead shot using a delaminated paddle, causing her significant pain and taking her breath away.

Here’s the full podcast where she discussed the issue of paddle delamination in pickleball with Travis Rettenmaier, and Lauren Stratman

The unpredictability and increased ball speed resulting from delamination pose a risk of severe injury to players. The potential for eye injuries is particularly alarming. Players have experienced the extreme power and speed of the ball when hit with delaminated paddles. Furthermore, paddle manufacturers may face liability if injuries occur due to their delaminated products. To address these concerns, clear regulations and testing procedures are necessary to ensure player safety and fair play in the sport of pickleball.

Common Causes of Delamination in Pickleball Paddles

So, what causes this pesky problem? Here are the usual suspects:

  1. Poor Manufacturing: This is the biggie. Low-quality materials and shoddy craftsmanship can lead to delamination quicker than you can say “pickleball”. Lower-grade carbon fiber, low-density foam cores, and cheap adhesives that couldn’t stick a post-it note to a fridge, all contribute to the layers of your paddle parting ways.
  2. Environmental Factors: Mother Nature can be a tough opponent. Humidity and temperature changes can play havoc with your paddle, causing those layers to separate faster than a pair of fighting siblings.
  3. Playing with the Paddle: Yes, you read that right. The very act of playing can cause delamination. Hitting the ground or fence can create dead spots on your paddle. And those celebratory high-fives with your paddle? They might feel good, but they can dent your paddle’s face, leading to delamination. So, maybe next time, just stick to a fist bump, okay?
  4. Deliberate Delamination: Now, this one might surprise you. There are rumors on the tour of pros deliberately delaminating their paddles using a lacrosse ball or a mallet. The idea is to speed up the natural wear and tear that playing causes. It’s like fast-forwarding a movie to the good parts. But remember, this is just a rumor. We don’t recommend trying this at home!

pickleball Players Drama

In the world of pickleball, it seems we’ve got a bit of a pickle on our hands. Recently, the pickleball community has been buzzing like a beehive, with tweets, debates, and discussions flying around faster than a pickleball in a championship match

World number one, Ben Johns, fired the first volley, taking to Twitter to voice his concerns about delaminated paddles. He even suggested that some companies might be intentionally manufacturing these paddles to give their players an edge. Talk about a bombshell! This claim sparked a wildfire of controversy, with social media becoming the battleground for a heated debate.

ben john on delaminated pickleball paddle

Now, it’s worth noting that Ben’s tweet didn’t just ruffle feathers; it ruffled specific feathers. He called out several brands, including Vatic, Carbon, and Legacy Pro, for their delamination issues. But here’s the twist: Ben is sponsored by Joola, a competitor of these brands. This led to accusations of biased marketing and a backlash from those who felt he should have approached the PPA/USAPA for fair and accurate testing processes instead of airing his grievances publicly.

Whether you’re a fan of Ben or not, whether you think he’s stirring the pot for his own gain or genuinely concerned about the sport, his point is valid. Paddles do change with use, and at some point, they may no longer meet approval standards. His suggestion of implementing paddle testing before and after matches could be a step towards ensuring fairness in the sport.

In the aftermath of his tweet, Ben seemed to cool off a bit, backpedaling with a follow-up post. Maybe calling out specific companies wasn’t the best move. A general comment on the issue might have served everyone better. But one thing’s for sure: when Ben speaks, people listen. And this debate has brought an important issue into the spotlight. So, let’s keep the conversation going and work towards a solution that benefits everyone in the pickleball community. 🏓

Potential Solutions for Delaminated Pickleball Paddles

In light of the controversy around delaminated pickleball paddles, there have been discussions at the highest levels of how to solve the problem—especially given some of the dangers involved with the excess power. Proposed solutions include:

  1. Crafting new rules regarding paddle testing and designing stronger testing methods to better test the root cause of the issue—the appropriate level of power for a pickleball paddle (which would hopefully address the issue at the source, which is at the manufacturing level).
  2. Conducting more testing of pickleball paddles at the pro levels, including on-site testing at pickleball tournaments and other events.
  3. Encouraging players (pros and amateurs alike) to do more proactive inspection of their pickleball paddles to look for signs of delamination and other signs of wear and tear, and replace their respective paddles if they identify an issue.
  4. Encouraging players (pros and amateurs alike) to take care of their pickleball paddles to prevent premature delamination or other wear and tear (for instance, storing pickleball paddles in a dry place away from moisture, avoiding exposing pickleball paddles to extreme temperatures, and not overloading pickleball paddles with tension).
  5. But let’s not stop there. What about ball technology? As a young professional sport, pickleball needs more than just paddle testing to ensure it’s well-governed and fair.


Delamination in pickleball paddles is no small matter, and thanks to the efforts of players like Ben Johns, it has become a hot topic in our beloved sport. While paddle companies are taking steps to address this issue, it’s crucial for players to be proactive in checking their own paddles for signs of delamination.

But amidst all the discussions and debates, let’s not forget what drew us to pickleball in the first place. It’s a sport that brings us joy, competition, and a sense of camaraderie within our tight-knit community. We must protect that environment and keep our love for the sport at the forefront.

We all share a common goal of making pickleball the best it can be—for players and companies alike. It’s in this spirit of collaboration that we can find the most desirable outcome. Let’s lend a helping hand to one another, working together to resolve the issue of delamination and ensure a fair playing field.

As we move forward, let’s keep our focus on creating better products that enhance the enjoyment of playing and watching pickleball. And let’s not shy away from addressing the need for improved rules and testing protocols. It’s vital for any sport to have enforceable rules that promote fairness and integrity.

The road to resolving this issue may have its twists and turns, but we’re confident that delamination will soon become a thing of the past. Let’s stay united, keep the spirit of pickleball alive, and strive for continuous improvement.

Together, we can shape the future of pickleball and pave the way for a sport that excels in every aspect. Here’s to a fair playing field, innovative products, and the endless joy of pickleball! 🏓

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