Pickleball is a game where a small, perforated whiffle ball flies back and forth over a net, as players run around a court to hit the ball with a paddle. And, for a majority of the game, players who are positioned at or near the Non-Volley Zone (or Kitchen) Line are only 14 feet apart. Given both the close proximity and the flying object—the pickleball—there is a risk for injury present. One possible injury on the pickleball court is an eye injury.
Eye injuries on the pickleball court can happen a number of ways, including by getting hit with the pickleball in the eye or by being poked in the eye by your partner’s elbow or hand. Eye injuries can happen at all levels—from beginner to professional. For instance, even one of the best pro pickleball players, Simone Jardim, suffered an eye injury at the USA Pickleball National Championships from an errant pickleball.
Most of these eye injuries are preventable by wearing eye protection (i.e., safety glasses). However, most pickleball players do not wear any eye protection, as eye protection is not required on the pickleball courts at any level. Although protective eyewear is not required to play pickleball, you may still want to consider wearing protective eyewear on the pickleball court.
Benefits of Eye Protection on the Pickleball Court
There are two main benefits to wearing eye protection on the pickleball court:
- Less Risk of Injury – The first and obvious benefit to wearing protective eyewear on the pickleball court is that you will protect your eyes and reduce your risk of an eye injury. Good eye protection will generally prohibit any objects (whether it is a pickleball or any other object) from making contact with your eyes and injuring your eyes—which are so important on the pickleball and in our daily lives!
- Better Visibility – Eye protection may also offer better visibility depending on what type of eye protection that you use. In other words, certain eyewear can not only protect your eyes and prevent injury (which will prolong your pickleball play), but can also actually improve your vision and visibility on the pickleball court, which may give you an advantage on the pickleball court against your opponents. For instance, eye protection can:
- Include prescription lenses to improve your vision;
- Include UV protection to shield your eyes from harmful UV rays and prevent you from squinting on the pickleball court;
- Protect your eyes from wind and other elements; and
- Include special lenses that enhance the color of the pickleball to allow you to see the pickleball better on the pickleball court.
Common reasons that pickleball players elect not to wear any protective eyewear include: style (i.e., not “cool”), fogging of lenses (which leads to worse visibility), uncomfortable fit, unnecessary for me, and cost. However, many of these common reasons not to wear protective eyewear are increasingly overcome as more and more quality eyewear products are coming into the market. As a result, given the main benefits of less risk of injury and potential for better visibility, it may be worth the investment in quality eyewear for the pickleball court.
What to Look for in Pickleball Eye Protection
If you are considering eyewear for the pickleball court, there are a number of features to look for:
- Size – When looking for protective eyewear, it is important that the eyewear fit properly. If the eyewear is too tight, you may experience discomfort and even headaches. If the eyewear is too loose, the eyewear may frequently slip down your face, especially when looking down to strike the pickleball. It is also important to consider the weight of the protective eyewear, as the eyewear will likely be more comfortable if the eyewear is light (as opposed to heavy in weight).
- Performance – The second important consideration when choosing protective eyewear is the performance features. Protective eyewear with the following features will be better on the pickleball court:
- Anti-fogging, so that the lenses stay clear for best visibility;
- Reflective (anti-glare) or special lenses for better visibility;
- UV resistance for better visibility;
- Impact resistant, so that the lenses do not shatter; and
- If you need corrective lenses, then the ability to incorporate your prescription in the lenses.
- Style – Another important feature is how the protective eyewear looks. Everyone wants to have a bit of style on the pickleball courts!
One protective eyewear product that has made a splash into the pickleball community is RIA Eyewear. RIA Eyewear, which advertises that it meets all of the considerations above (with the potential for prescriptive lenses in the future), has even become the official sponsor for USA Pickleball. RIA Eyewear may be the solution to the combination of eye safety and performance on the pickleball court. Learn more about RIA Eyewear and check out all of their options for colors and lenses!
There are other, less expensive solutions for protective pickleball eyewear, too. However, it goes without saying that there are likely less performance and other benefits at the lower price point. For a few options on protective pickleball eyewear, visit Fromuth Pickleball (plus, grab 10% off with the code 10PICKLER) (to note, some exclusions apply; court equipment, Babolat, and Selkirk-branded merchandise and paddles are excluded).
Should Protective Eyewear Be Required on the Pickleball Court?
As mentioned above, protective eyewear is not mandated or otherwise required when playing pickleball (unlike some other sports). However, across all sports (including the sport of pickleball), there is increasing debate of whether to mandate or require protective eyewear when playing—particularly, when playing competitively.
What are your thoughts? Should protective eyewear be required on the pickleball court? Share with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.