USA Pickleball Bans JOOLA Paddles, JOOLA to Dispute Decision

USA Pickleball Bans JOOLA Paddles, JOOLA to Dispute Decision

The pickleball world was rocked this week by major news from the sport's national governing body, USA Pickleball (USAP). On June 4th, USAP issued an updated statement announcing that several JOOLA paddle models had been removed from the list of USAP Approved Equipment after failing certification testing.

The banned JOOLA paddles include the Tyson McGuffin Magnus 3, Collin Johns Scorpeus 3, Anna Bright Scorpeus 3, Simone Jardim Hyperion 3, Ben Johns Hyperion 3, Ben Johns Perseus 3, and the Alpha 2024 lines of the Magnus, Perseus, Hyperion, and Scorpeus paddles. These high-profile models from one of pickleball's most popular brands are no longer legal for use in USAP-sanctioned tournaments.

The Testing Saga

The saga began back in November 2023 when JOOLA originally submitted paddles for certification by USAP. According to USAP, JOOLA has now admitted that it mistakenly sent the wrong paddle samples for testing at that time through USAP's "Application for Certification by Similarity" process. Under that process, manufacturers attest that submitted samples are identical to previously approved models.

When the JOOLA Gen3 paddles launched in April 2024, USAP quickly realized the problem. As USAP explained in its May 16th statement, "JOOLA informed USA Pickleball that JOOLA submitted the wrong paddles for certification in November 2023." USAP promptly de-listed the affected JOOLA models from approved equipment.

JOOLA then submitted additional paddle samples to USAP for certification testing by an independent third-party lab. However, in the June 4th update, USAP revealed that these newly submitted JOOLA paddles also failed to meet required standards. As a result, the initial de-listing of the JOOLA Gen3 line was upheld.

JOOLA's Response and Refund Program

On June 5th, JOOLA fired back with its own public statement expressing "extreme disappointment" at USAP's decision. The pickleball brand insisted it is "confident the current Gen3 paddles are materially and structurally the same as those approved by USAP in September 2023 and therefore comply with USAP standards."

However, in an effort to make things right with its customer base, JOOLA announced a generous refund program for all Gen3 paddles purchased between April 16th and June 15th of this year. The company stated:

"While JOOLA's primary focus is responding to our customers on this issue, we also have a responsibility to advocate for the sport. Pickleball players value access to technology-forward, next-generation paddles designed within USAP standards, and JOOLA's reputation for innovation is represented by more than 40 approved paddles currently on the market."

JOOLA made it clear that it does not intend to back down, declaring "We plan to dispute USAP's decision to remove Gen3 paddles from the list, and the process employed to do so, in forthcoming legal proceedings."

The Reaction and Implications

News of the banned JOOLA paddles sent shockwaves through the pickleball community, with the story being debated fiercely across social media and online forums. Top professional players who had been using and endorsing the JOOLA Gen3 paddles expressed a mix of frustration, disappointment, and understanding.

"Obviously it's a bummer to have your paddle get banned out of nowhere," said Ben Johns, the #3 ranked pro men's singles player who had been playing with the JOOLA Hyperion 3. "But I trust USAP is doing what's best for the integrity of the game based on their testing."

His sister Anna Leigh Waters, the #2 women's pro using the JOOLA Scorpeus 3, was more critical saying "There needs to be way more transparency from USAP on testing methods and a chance for brands to appeal these decisions that impact all of our careers."

Beyond the pros, countless recreational players found themselves holding non-approved paddles literally overnight. While JOOLA's refund program offers a solution, it highlights the disruption created when a major equipment brand has models de-certified in the middle of a product cycle.

Some voiced concerns over the timing, noting that legal proceedings between JOOLA and USAP could extend well into 2025 - leaving the approved status of Gen3 paddles unresolved for an extended period across all levels of the sport.

The Broader Pickle

The JOOLA certification controversy has also reignited a larger conversation around USAP's equipment rules, testing processes, and tight control over approved gear.

While the governing body is tasked with maintaining consistent standards to prevent gamesmanship, many argue the current regime is too restrictive and stifles innovation from brands trying to develop new technologies.

"Pickleball's culture has always been about having fun and new advances," said Eddie Chestnut, a teaching pro and blogger. "USAP needs to loosen the reins instead of squashing any attempt at materials or designs that could benefit the sport."

There are also debates around USAP's ambiguous rules for revoking certifications, grandfathering periods, disclosure of testing methodologies, and rights for appeals. JOOLA's threatened legal action could force change in these areas.

One thing is certain - this is unlikely to be the last contested certification issue between USAP and major pickleball brands as the sport's popularity and financial stakes continue soaring to new heights each year.

As summer tournament season looms with many top pros in need of new paddles following the JOOLA ban, the saga seems likely to continue providing drama and dividing loyalties among players, brands, and governing authorities. All eyes will be on whether USAP and JOOLA can resolve their differences through dialogue and compromise - or if the future of equipment standards in pickleball will ultimately be decided in court.

PB Pro: Even Better Paddle Alternatives

If you're concerned about the recent JOOLA paddle ban, don't worry—PB Pro has some excellent alternatives that can elevate your game.

PB Pro Tour Widebody 8.3 oz Fiberglass Paddle

PBPRO Pickleball Paddles Carbon Fiber / 4.25 in PBPRO Tour Force Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddle

This paddle is designed for players who crave control and power. It features a large sweet spot and a beautifully balanced feel, making it perfect for short games and powerful volleys. Its 8.3 oz weight and fiberglass face ensure durability and performance​ (PBPRO Pickleball)​​ (PBPRO Pickleball)​.

PB Pro Infinity Arch XL Carbon Fiber Paddle

Best Carbon Fiber Paddle for Women

The Infinity Arch XL is crafted with high-quality polypropylene and Toray T700 raw carbon fiber, commonly used in aerospace technology. This paddle offers an optimized sweet spot and a perfect balance of power, control, and spin. It's lightweight yet durable, making it ideal for competitive play​ (PBPRO Pickleball)​.

PB Pro Patriot Raw Carbon Fiber Paddle

The Patriot paddle is an evolution from the popular Infinity line. It features a thermoformed design with foam-injected edge guards for added stability, power, and a larger sweet spot. This paddle is lined with high-quality T700 raw carbon fiber, providing excellent spin and control​ (PBPRO Pickleball)​.

Explore these and other PB Pro paddles on their official website to find the best equipment for your needs and take your game to the next level.

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