As a company that's invested so much into doing our own manufacturing 100% in the States, it's killing us to see some of the marketing BS other pickleball companies use. I got an email from a big pickleball retailer the other day for a paddle with - I kid you not - "Around the Post Technology." I could not believe my eyes. I took a breath and tried to figure out what unique feature about this basic honeycomb paddle in a standard 16.5" by 7.5" shape would give it "ATP technology." There wasn't a single thing.
For those that are wondering why this is such a problematic claim, let me break it down for you. Stacie Townsend in an article for The Picklr describes an ATP as "a specialty shot where you hit the pickleball under the top of the net and around the net post." It's a sick shot. It takes perfect timing, elite anticipation, and a lovely setup to execute an ATP. It most definitely does NOT require this specific paddle.
I was livid. To most (including my team) it seemed crazy to care so much about something so small, but the fact of the matter is that companies are lying to their customers. At worst - companies are doing it knowingly to trick you into buying their otherwise basic product. At best, pickleball paddle companies are buying whatever their overseas manufacturer tells them and passing those iffy facts along to players. Yes, I am thinking of #CRBNgate. Either way, it isn't fair to the players who are just trying to find a paddle that does what it says it will.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm a business owner in a capitalist world. By traditional logic, the market will eventually decide what's good and what's not. And there are examples of good companies rising to the top. But I worry for the newbies and the more trusting players who end up with wasted money and crappy paddles. The ATP technology paddle, for example, was priced sub $100 and aimed at players new to the sport. It just doesn't feel right. Like look at this review!
So why am I predicting more transparency in 2023? Two reasons.
1. First, as more players get into the sport and strive for a higher level of play, there’s more eyeballs on the top companies. In the early days, a misstated fact may have drawn some murmurs. Now, top pickleball brands can expect a full on PR crisis and a loss of highly lucrative partnerships. It’s just not worth it.
2. There's one group of players actively trying to bring the truth to light: influencers. Check out Youtube and you'll see a rapidly growing category of truth-obsessed, data-driven gearheads who are putting paddles to the test. They’re also putting pressure on the powers that be (USA Pickleball). Knowledge is power, my friends.
If I’ve freaked you out and you’re now afraid your favorite pickleball company is lying to you, don’t worry. The good news is it’s just pickleball! And, you’re not powerless. Learn to trust that weird feeling in your gut or thing that sounds too good to be true. Ask for more information. If a paddle company can't answer your questions, chances are you shouldn't trust their claims. Let's make 2023 the year of truth. Stay smart + pickle on!!
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