Open play is one of the greatest features of the sport of pickleball, as a group of people (who may have nothing in common other than their love for the game) come together and mix and mingle on the court. Players place their pickleball paddles in groups of four and socialize with each other as they wait their turn to hit the court. With that said, I recently heard of an interesting series of events that could only unfold during this open play format, and which has a key takeaway for any players that frequent the pickleball courts in these open play times…
One player—who we will call Jane—was out on the courts in open play and using her brand new $333 Selkirk Labs pickleball paddle. The Selkirk Labs paddle was in and out of the paddle racks, as Jane bounced her way around the pickleball courts playing with different people.
Also, at open play, was another pickleball player—who we will call John. John was using a $50 entry-level pickleball paddle. However, at some point in the day, John could not find his pickleball paddle and assumed that someone took it. John’s entry-level pickleball paddle was nowhere to be seen.
So, as John was getting ready to leave, he did not have a pickleball paddle. As a result, he decided to take one in the rack to replace his—taking Jane’s top-of-the-market Selkirk Labs paddle.
Jane, who was socializing with others around the court, did not realize what had occurred. As she went to play another game, her pickleball paddle was gone!
Fast forward to the next open play session, John was back at the pickleball courts and now playing with Jane’s paddle. After some back-and-forth discussion (and defending his position to take Jane’s paddle because someone took his paddle), John has seemingly agreed to return Jane’s paddle.
I explain this strange series of events to encourage you to adopt an important tip—write your name on your pickleball paddle. With so many new players on the court and so many pickleball paddles that look alike, it is important to identify which one is yours. This is particularly true because pickleball paddles are becoming increasingly more and more expensive. So, think like the young kids and school who label their lunch and now label your pickleball paddle! Plus, this may help you to avoid any intentional taking of pickleball paddles like in the series of events described above.
Lastly, to note, adding a name decal or other identifying marking on your pickleball paddle is permitted by the official rules of pickleball. So, if you take your marked paddle from open play to a sanctioned pickleball tournament, then you will still be “in the clear.” With that said, note the following rules to be aware of when marking your pickleball paddle:
- All decals and tape must remain within 1 inch (2.54 cm) of the top of the grip and within 0.5 inches (1.27 cm) of the edges of the pickleball paddle (whether the outer edge or the edge guard).
- Handwritten markings (which are limited to pen markings, and not other “aftermarket” graphics) are allowed anywhere on the pickleball paddle, but such handwritten markings cannot impact the roughness of the pickleball paddle and must be in “good taste.”