JOOLA Pickleball's Gen 3 paddles.
JOOLA Pickleball's Gen 3 paddles. JOOLA Pickleball

Paddle controversy dominates discourse in Atlanta

DALLAS, TX - This past weekend gave us enough to talk about with the biggest PPA Tour event to date, but some major news regarding JOOLA’s Gen 3 paddles continues to be the hot topic from the Peach State.

For context, JOOLA released its Gen 3 paddle lineup in mid-April, boasting an all-new propulsion core for added “catapult effect” and dwell time.

Many voices in the picklesphere—pros and amateurs alike—have made their thoughts known on the paddles and the implications that kind of power has on the future of the sport.

Those discussions took center stage last Thursday when it was discovered that the Gen 3 paddle lineup had been removed from USA Pickleball’s Approved Paddle List.

Both USA Pickleball (USAP) and JOOLA released statements on the matter. 

According to this release, USAP removed the Gen 3 paddles from the Approved List after being informed—by JOOLA—that JOOLA had submitted the wrong paddles for testing in November. 

Here, JOOLA blames the removal of the paddles from the Approved List on an “administrative error” from November related to USAP’s similarity testing protocols.

Though details are scarce—especially in the JOOLA release—I think we can reasonably assume that the term “administrative error” refers to JOOLA submitting the wrong paddles in November, as described in USAP’s statement.

JOOLA maintains that the current Gen 3 paddles on the market are "materially" the same as the models that were previously approved by USAP in September. 

Both parties will have to wait to confirm that statement while USAP re-tests the Gen 3 paddles, a process that can take up to 4-6 weeks.

As USAP and JOOLA published their statements, the PPA tweeted a message of its own stating that its paddle testing standards—handled by third party company Pickle Pro Labs—would not change in the middle of an event, meaning that players could still use the Gen 3 models in Atlanta.

But things don’t stop there.

On the same day as all of these statements, the United Pickleball Association—the holding company for both the PPA Tour and Major League Pickleball—announced UPA of America as the global governing body of the sport.

That release also announced the creation of both an Equipment Manufacturer Advisory Board—of which JOOLA is a member—and an Equipment Player Advisory Board to help set paddle standards and regulations for the UPA.

Those rules have yet to be finalized, so we can assume that the Gen 3 paddles will remain viable for use in at least the next few PPA Tour and MLP events through mid-June: the CIBC Texas Open powered by TIXR, the Veolia Sacramento Open presented by Best Day Brewing, and MLP Washington D.C.