No, pickleball paddles do not have holes in them traditionally. The surface of pickleball paddles is smooth, unlike platform tennis paddles that have holes to reduce wind resistance. However, there are some newer paddle designs that incorporate holes, but these holes must meet specific guidelines.
Do Official Pickleball Rules Allow Holes?
According to the official USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) rules, holeless paddles are required for sanctioned pickleball tournaments and events.
The USAPA rules state:
“The paddle must be made of rigid, non-compressible material. The paddle surface must be smooth and may not contain any objects or features that allow a player to impart additional spin on the ball.
This means that uneven surfaces, indentations, texturing, or holes that facilitate extra spin are not permitted. Paddles must have a continuous, even face.
So by the strictest official standards, pickleball paddles should not have any holes at all.
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Why Are Some Paddles Designed with Holes?
In recent years, there has been growing interest in pickleball paddle designs featuring strategic hole patterns. Some of the reasons include:
- Aerodynamics – Small holes can help reduce air resistance, creating a more aerodynamic paddle. This allows smoother, more powerful strokes.
- Vibration dampening – Holes can help dissipate vibration and impact shock, reducing arm and hand fatigue.
- Grip – Holes add texture that can enhance paddle grip and control.
- Lightness – Removing some surface material reduces overall paddle weight. A lighter paddle can improve maneuverability.
- Aesthetics – Holes create a modern, high-tech appearance.
However, these potential benefits must be balanced carefully against playability and regulation compliance.
Pickleball Paddle Hole Guidelines
For pickleball paddles with holes, manufacturers must follow certain design rules:
- Holes cannot exceed 0.375 inches (9.5mm) in diameter. Larger holes could facilitate too much spin.
- Total holed area must be less than 30% of the paddle’s face. Too many holes alter key playing characteristics.
- Holes must be evenly distributed. Uneven or unbalanced hole patterns change the paddle balance point.
- Hole edges should be smoothly sanded for safety and playability. Jagged edges affect ball control.
- No individual holes can span the central sweet spot zone of the paddle face. This alters the pickleball’s rebound trajectory.
Following these precautions allows hole patterns to provide benefits while maintaining fair play and control.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Pickleball Paddle
There are many paddle options to suit different playing styles and needs. Here are some key considerations if you are interested in a perforated paddle design:
- Weight – Look for lighter paddles around 7.0 to 8.2 oz for quick reaction times. Heavier paddles above 8.5 oz provide more power.
- Grip Circumference – Standard grips are 4″ in diameter. Larger 4 1/4″ grips allow two-handed grips. Smaller grips are better for control.
- Grip Length – Longer grips around 5.25″ give more leverage. Shorter grips provide better wrist action.
- Materials – Fiberglass face with polymer core is durable yet lightweight. Composite faces like graphite increase touch and control.
- Hole Pattern – Small, evenly spaced holes no larger than 0.375″ work best. Varying hole size can lead to uneven play.
- Balance – Evenly balanced paddles are preferred. Too much topweight or head-heavy designs change swing and feel.
Are Holed Paddles Right for You?
Pickleball paddles with strategic hole patterns can provide some potential advantages. However, these perforated paddle designs also change the traditional pickleball experience.
Before choosing a holed paddle, consider:
- Your skill level and playing goals
- Whether you want to follow strict USAPA standards
- If you prioritize paddle speed, spin, power, control, or other factors
- Your budget, as holed paddles tend to cost more
- Whether an altered grip, balance, or weight of a holed paddle fits your needs
- If you want maximum regulation compliance for competitive play
For recreational games, holed paddle benefits like better grip or vibration reduction may appeal to you. But for official tournament games, you need an unperforated, hole-free paddle.
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The Bottom Line
So do pickleball paddles have holes? In most cases, no. The conventional pickleball paddle design remains a smooth, hole-free surface. This provides even rebound and ball control.
But some newer paddles incorporate strategic hole patterns to improve aerodynamics, reduce weight, dampen vibration, and enhance grip. As long as these holes follow specific size and design guidelines, they can offer potential advantages.
However, keep in mind that paddles with any holes, indentations, or uneven surfaces are not regulation-approved for USAPA sanctioned play. Make sure to choose the right paddle design for your needs and pickleball goals. Focus on the proper weight, grip, materials, balance, and playability characteristics that match your game.