If you wonder how to add texture to pickleball paddle, here is a guide discussing the best ways of adding legal textures to the paddle.
Pickleball paddles are a crucial part of the game as the player’s performance largely depends upon the type of paddle he holds. Textures on the grip face and edges of the paddle have a big impact on the power, spin, grip, and maneuverability of the paddle. The USA Pickleball Association has set some strict standards for paddle material, size, and texture. So, all brands must meet these standards to make their products sellable.
Many players want to modify the pickleball paddles to make them perfect for their game. However, before you add a texture to the pickleball paddle it’s crucial to know what kind of modifications are allowed by USA Pickleball. Also, it is important to learn the right way to add texture to a pickleball paddle. To help you make a legal and damage-free modification I’ve composed this detailed guide.
How To Add Texture To Pickleball Paddles?
Adding a texture to a pickleball paddle can improve its power, speed, maneuverability, grip, and spin. However, the addition of too much power or return a spin serve in a pickleball paddle leads to an unfair advantage. Therefore, such modification will be considered illegal. Surface roughness is the most sensitive case as pickleball paddles need to be perfectly smooth.
The rougher the surface the higher the spin and therefore many pickleball tours use special tools to measure the surface roughness of the paddle before the game. Still, you can add a texture to the surface of the paddle until it doesn’t alter its surface roughness. Also, you can add texture to the grip to make the grip thick and more grippy. You can modify the butt and edges of the pickleball paddle by adding different textures.
The overgrip texture is the most common texture that people add to the pickleball paddle. Overgrip tapes are available at very affordable prices. This is the easiest modification as there are no strict rules about grip modification. You can add as many layers of overgrip as you need.
Why Add Overgrip To The Pickleball Paddle?
Adding a the overgrip to the paddle has many benefits for instance:
- An overgrip on the handle can be used to increase its circumference. If you think the handle is too slim to fit your hand, you can add multiple layers of overgrip to make it perfect for your hand.
- Also, a grip tape improves the handle’s moisture-wicking abilities and offers a good grip for your sweaty hands.
- The addition of an extra soft layer improves the cushion and feel of the handle.
Overgrip is an affordable option to customize the handle grip of the paddle. You can buy a pack of 3 grip tape for between $6-$10. Here is how you apply an overgrip correctly to the paddle
- Before you start applying grip tape make sure the handle is clean and grease free.
- Hold the handle firmly with one hand and overgrip tape in the other hand.
- Start warping the overgrip from the base of the handle and continue to warp the overgrip down the handle.
- If you are holding the paddle in your right hand you will warp the overgrip from right to left at a downward angle and vice versa.
- Continue wrapping the overgrip in a spiral around the handle with even overlaps. Consecutive turns should overlap at around ⅛ inches.
- If you go for a thick overlap like 1/2 inch the overgrip will run out of length and you will not get full coverage for your handle. For a smooth and uninterrupted finish, you need to cover the full length with a single overgrip. Therefore it’s crucial to maintain an even overlap between consecutive rotations.
- Rotate the paddle with one hand and direct the overgrip with the hand. Remember you need to maintain an even tension throughout the process to achieve a smooth grip in the end.
- Finish the wrapping as soon as you have reached the face and if you have excessive overgrip cut it with a sharp scissor for a smooth finish.
Securing The Overgrip
Once you’re done with warping it’s time to secure the overgrip as overgrip tends to unravel very easily. Most of the Pickleball overgrip comes packed with electrical tape. If you don’t get an electrical tape with overgrip packaging you can buy it separately.
- Electrical tape is a high-strength tape with adhesive backing.
- Cut a piece of electrical tape that can cover one turn on the handle. Remove the adhesive backing and apply it at the end of the handle in a way that half of the tape should be in contact with the paddle and half with the overgrip.
- Apply the tape on the other end in a similar way.
- You can also cover the ends with thick rubber bands but this step is optional. An electrical tape will prevent the overgrip from shifting.
2. Lead Tape
Lead tape is another easy and legal way to add texture to the pickleball paddle. A lead tape is used to add weight to the paddles without making them too hefty. A lead tape texture can be applied to different parts of the frame. It improves the swing weight of the paddle and helps you hit farther and harder with a little power input. Pro players who can handle power and spin together add the lead to the head of the paddle.
It improves the head speed while swinging through the ball. Lead tape is a quarter-inch wide tape and a 4-inch strip of lead tape weighs around 1 gram. Though it is a lightweight strip it makes a lot of difference when applied at the edges of the pickleball paddle. The addition of lead tape texture to the paddle can change its feel, swing speed, and hitting power. Here is how you apply lead tape to a pickleball paddle to get desired effects:
Sides Of The Pickleball Paddle ( 3’o Clock and 9’o Clock)
Apply the lead tape on the sides of the paddle when you want to enhance power and pop. By adding the strips of grip tape on the side you can reinforce the sweet spot of the paddle and increase the margin of error.
This is very helpful for beginners who don’t get most of the balls at the center of the paddle. A lead tape texture on the side of the paddle improves your control of the paddle allowing you to hit back strokes with maximum efficiency.
The Top Of The Pickleball Paddle (12’o Clock)
Adding lead tape texture on the top of the paddle isn’t very common since it makes the paddle pretty heavy. However, bangers who love to hit every ball with maximum power add lead tape on the top of the handle. A 4-inch strip on top of the handle will significantly improve the pop and power of the paddle.
However, it can be a little hard to swing with this paddle, and therefore this type of texture isn’t recommended for beginners and intermediates.
In-Between (2 o’clock and 10 o’clock)
When you apply the lead tape strip at a position like 2’o o’clock or 10 o’clock, the overall balance of the paddle is improved. The extra pop and power for these positions will allow you to hit groundstrokes with maximum energy. The addition of texture to these positions improves the stability and energy transfer of the paddle. Unlike lead tape on top, it lets you generate more controlled power and spin.
The Head (1’o clock and 11’o clock)
The head is the most strategic position on the paddle where you can add texture. Additional weight in the head of the paddle will increase its power to a whole new level. However, not all players can handle this extra pop and power. It can overpower your strokes that will land beyond the bounds.
The Throat (4’o clock and 8’o clock)
The throat or the lower side of the paddle is an area where I do not recommend you add any texture. Therefore there is no significant advantage of adding lead tape in the positive. It will make the paddle hefty and cut down your swing speed.
Here is how you apply the lead tape strip on the edge guard:
- Cut equal strips of lead tape. If you want to add 2 grams to the overall weight, two 4-inch straps.
- Now you need to mark the area on the paddle where you want to apply it.
- For instance, you want to apply tape at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions. Mark these positions on the edge with the marker.
- Add a mark at the middle of the strip. When you apply the strip this mark should be in line with the position mark on the edge of the paddle. Do not stretch the tape.
- Remember you need to apply the lead tape on both sides of the paddle otherwise, you will fall out of balance.
3. Edge Tape
Edge tape is another legal texture that you can add to your paddle. Unlike lead tape, it has no significant impact on the properties of the paddle. However, it is available in beautiful colors and patterns is the best way to customize your paddle. You can add edge tape over the lead tape to secure it and protect it from environmental factors. An edge tape also protects the edge guards during tough collisions and increases the paddle’s service life.
If you want to customize your pickleball paddle you can add stickers and decals to the surface of the paddle. However, the sticker or decal should not change the surface roughness of the paddle. If you add such stickers to the paddle you won’t be able to use this paddle in competitive pickleball games.
According to USA pickleball rules: “all the decals and tapes must remain within -inches of the top of the grip and within ½ inches of the edges of the paddle”. Also, the pickleball paddle surface cannot be reflective anyway. Before you buy any tape, sticker, or decal for your paddle make sure it will not make it reflective.
I’ve shared all the ways through which you can add texture to the pickleball paddle. Also, it is crucial to understand what is not allowed to modify the pickleball paddle, and here’s everything that you need to know:
- You can’t add a paint layer, a rubber layer, or vinyl layers on the paddle that can alter its surface roughness. The addition of rough texture improves the spin and changes the trajectory of the ball, which is illegal in pickleball.
- Using sandpaper or grit paper to increase the roughness is illegal and strictly prohibited.
- You can’t add any moving or removable parts to the pickleball paddle except for lead tape, edge tape, and overgrip.
- You can’t add spring or a bouncy surface to get the trampoline effect from your paddle.
- The maximum paddle length can be 17 inches and the overall paddle size is 24 inches between length and width including the edge guard and size. Any modification that takes the paddle size beyond these limits will be considered illegal.
- Any texture that adds any kind of reflection to the paddle is also prohibited.
I’m hopeful that this guide will help you understand how you can add texture to the pickleball paddle legally. The addition of texture significantly improves its performance if done the right way. Before you add a texture to your paddle, make sure you actually need it.
For instance, if you are not good at power, the addition of lead tape will not work for you. Finally, make sure all your modifications are in line with the rules and guidelines provided by the USA Pickleball Association.
I’m Amelia Cole, a passionate writer and sports enthusiast specializing in pickleball and tennis. With years of experience on the court, I offer valuable insights and practical tips for players of all levels. My articles provide expert guidance, breaking down complex techniques into easily understandable concepts. Join me as I share my love for these exhilarating sports, helping you unlock your full potential and enjoy the thrill of pickleball and tennis.