Lead is a heavy metal that can be made into a tape - also known as lead tape. Lead tape can be used to add small increments of weight to your pickleball paddle, which will generally result in a heavier paddle swing, a larger “sweet spot” on your paddle, and a bit more power, or pop, when striking the pickleball. It is becoming increasingly common for pickleball players—especially professional pickleball players—to add lead tape to their pickleball paddles.
Should you follow this growing trend and add lead tape to your pickleball paddle? This pickleball blog will give you some information to help you answer that question. In particular, this pickleball blog will discuss:
The rules of pickleball permit pickleball players to add lead tape to their pickleball paddle. In particular, there are two pickleball rules to be aware of: (1) lead tape is a permitted alteration to commercially made pickleball paddles; and (2) there is no restriction on pickleball paddle weight.
As a result, not only can you add lead tape to your pickleball paddle, but you can add as much lead tape as you want to your pickleball paddle.
More and more pickleball players—especially competitive pickleball players, including professional pickleball players—are adding lead tape to their pickleball paddles. This is because lead tape may lead to:
Given these potential benefits to your pickleball game, and the fact that lead tape is a nominal investment of time and money (less than $10), you may want to at least try adding lead tape to your pickleball paddle. If it turns out that you do not like the lead tape, you can easily remove the lead tape from your pickleball paddle.
However, adding lead tape to a pickleball paddle makes the pickleball paddle heavier. With that said, heavier pickleball paddles are not for everyone and can even lead to injuries, as heavier pickleball paddles may put unnecessary stress on your elbow, especially if you have poor mechanics and fundamentals on the pickleball court. If you have concern about elbow pain—in other words, “pickleball elbow” or tennis elbow—then adding lead tape to your pickleball paddle may not be for you.
If you have decided to add lead tape to your pickleball paddle, then you now need to decide how much lead tape to add and where to add the lead tape on your pickleball paddle.
A four-inch strip of quarter-inch-wide lead tape weighs about 1 gram (or 0.035274 ounces). While this may seem like a nominal amount of weight, in comparison to the weight of the average pickleball paddle, a few strips of lead tape can add a noticeable difference. Further, where you place the strips of lead tape will affect the feel and balance of your pickleball paddle, as well as produce different effects:
Speaking from personal experience, I added lead tape all around my pickleball paddle (which took my pickleball paddle from 8.1 ounces to 9.2 ounces), as I liked the idea of keeping the same balance as I was used to, as well as having a compromise of both power and additional sweet spot. The additional power is noticeable immediately—not only in the power behind the pickleball on my shots, but even in the sound of my pickleball paddle when hitting the pickleball. With that said, what I like the most about the lead tape is that my defensive shots (i.e., my shots to return my opponents’ offensive shots) are easier. If you are not ready to wrap your pickleball paddle in lead tape, then add a little at a time (to note, to add additional weight gradually, you can add the lead tape to additional areas on your pickleball paddle, or you can layer the lead tape on top of itself).
Whether or not to add lead tape to a pickleball paddle, as well as placement and how much to add, is a personal preference for each pickleball player. It may also take a bit of trial-and-error to find the right combination of placement and amount that works best for you. However, if you decide to use lead tape, remember to be careful, as there is a slight risk that lead particles could be released when handling, applying, and removing lead tape. Consider covering the lead tape with edge guard tape (or electrical tape) after application, and always handle, apply, and remove the lead tape away from your face. Also, consider using gloves to handle, apply, and remove the lead tape, as well as wash your hands immediately after.
Have you considered adding lead tape to your pickleball paddle? Test it out and see it makes a difference in your game - and remember to be careful when handling!
Updated as of April 17, 2021
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Since returning to professional pickleball this year, after taking a long COVID hiatus, Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters have been traveling the country for pickleball tournaments. But, one thing that that they have not done in a really long time is take a family vacation... until now. Learn about Team Waters' trip to Costa Rica from Leigh herself, which included as much, or more, pickleball than at home in Florida, monkey spectators, family bonding, surfing, and a lot of new friends made on the Costa Rican pickleball courts, which reminded them how much fun the great sport of pickleball really is.