Several weeks ago, USA Pickleball (the national governing body for the sport) introduced a “Quiet Category” for pickleball products. The aim of this new category is “to reduce the sport’s sound output during recreational play.” As pickleball’s popularity grows and more courts open, the initiative aims to create equipment and solutions that enable communities to enjoy the sport without causing noise disturbances—which has been a concern and barrier to further court development—and without adversely impacting play or performance on the court.
Now, manufacturers are delivering on this category, as USA Pickleball certified the first product, the OWL paddle by OWL Sport. The OWL paddle is certified to reduce noise by 50%, meeting USA Pickleball’s criteria for the “Quiet Category.” The OWL pickleball paddle delivers a hertz level below 600 and a decibel level below 80. According to USA Pickleball, by comparison, “industry-standard pickleball paddles register 1,100 – 1,200 hertz and a near-harmful decibel range of 85+ when striking a ball.”
The OWL pickleball paddle is able to meet these lower noise standards, as the paddle is covered in a noise-dampening sheath made of a proprietary material called Acoustene. Per OWL, this Acoustene material is not available anywhere else in the world.
To kick off the launch, USA Pickleball’s CEO Mike Nealy and pro pickleball players hit the court with tennis legend John McEnroe and NFL star Drew Brees at the Refectory at Chelsea Square in New York City, which is “a place synonymous with being quiet,” as it was originally built to house the General Theological Seminary. This location helped to demonstrate the quietness of the pickleball paddle, which McEnroe stated to be, “Unlike me, it is quiet…”
USA Pickleball has invested over 15 months into research and collaboration with acoustic experts to address noise concerns. USA Pickleball will continue this investment and provide guidance to manufacturers and expand its facilities development program to support noise-reduction solutions for venues, while also not adversely impacting the on-court play or performance.