In the News | USA Pickleball demonstrates new “quiet” equipment at Linda Beach courts

Games at the Beach courts during PRD's pickleball trial last year.

USA Pickleball, the national governing body for the sport of pickleball in the U.S., hosted a media demonstration event at Linda Beach Park on Wednesday, Jan. 24 to celebrate the launch of new equipment designed to reduce sound output.

Piedmont residents who live near the Linda Beach courts have complained about the sport’s noise ever since the city proposed turning the former tennis courts into pickleball-only use. The City Council approved the permanent change last fall.

Pickleball disputes are legion as the sport has grown in popularity around the country; The Wall Street Journal ran a story on Jan. 20 about tensions between pickleballers in Presidio Heights in San Francisco and a wealthy neighbor whose home is adjacent to the courts.

As pickleball continues to grow in popularity and new outdoor courts open, USA Pickleball says it has invested in the research and creation of equipment and solutions to enable more communities the opportunity to enjoy the sport. The launch of a “Quiet Category” will recognize pickleball products that reduce acoustic output during play without negatively impacting performance, the group said in a press release. In addition to this effort, USA Pickleball is expanding its Facilities Development program to further support noise-reduction solutions for potentially sound-sensitive pickleball venues.

“In addition to the launch of our Quiet Certification, USA Pickleball’s Facilities Development Program is working hand-in-hand with engaged pickleball facilities, such as the Piedmont location, to help reduce the sport’s acoustic output,” said Carl Schmits, USA Pickleball Managing Director of Facilities Development and Equipment Standards. “We are advancing the methodologies in evaluating soundscapes around current or proposed facilities, as well as providing research-based data for municipalities to consider when evaluating city codes and ordinances relative to the currently accepted acoustic contributors to the built environment. Our research is scientifically backed and has been used by NASA in the field of auditory localization and aural visualization, or ‘auralization,’ allowing us to better evaluate and plan sites based on the acoustics. This same auralization research is also used to better tune acoustics on sound stages and in concert halls.”

“Piedmont has an active, engaged pickleball community,” said Piedmont City Administrator Rosanna Bayon Moore. “We’re excited to partner with USA Pickleball to showcase emerging technology and equipment at Linda Beach courts. We are a community of learners and this demonstration will accelerate our education at a time when cities like us are in search of creative ways to support a growing sport while also being good neighbors.”

The East Bay Times reported from the Piedmont scene on Wednesday:

Carl Schmits, managing director of facilities development and equipment standards for USA Pickleball, said that as tennis courts, basketball courts and other spaces in community parks were rapidly converted to try and meet the demand of Pickleball players across the Bay Area, many of those changes happened without much research into how the game might increase the amount of noise and number of people in those spaces.

Schmits said that’s why Pickleball USA has been researching and investing in solutions with acoustic engineering firms for the past 18 months — aiming to change the actual sound of the game, and also help local communities understand how to best study and improve the acoustics of existing facilities before installing additional courts.

On Wednesday, he demonstrated a handful of new equipment specifically designed for quieter play at Piedmont’s Linda Beach Pickleball Courts. That location was fitting, since players are already required — or at least encouraged — to only use equipment that’s been certified in USA Pickleball’s newly launched “Quiet Category” of products. Piedmont officials have even printed out a color-coded list of acceptable paddles and balls to use at Linda Beach.

New, quieter Pickleball equipment takes a swing at the sport’s noise problem, East Bay Times, Jan. 28, 2024

You can read the full story in the East Bay Times HERE. (Subscriber only.)

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