As we recently discussed on our recent blog post: Pickleball Noise Problems, the noise from pickleball games is starting to annoy some residents living near pickleball courts, some have even gotten to the point of bringing lawsuits against local government to resolve the noise issue!
While pickleball is definitely noisier than tennis due to the hard paddle and plastic ball, some solutions have started to help the problem. Some courts are now being built with soundproofing fences to minimize noise and more low-noise quiet pickleball paddles are being made.
Packaging on Franklin Pickleball-X
X Factor Pickleball Paddle 2017
Source: Franklin Sports Pickleball-X
Pickleball equipment companies are starting to take notice of the problem and are marketing their paddles as quiet "Green Zone" approved.
So who is really "approving" these paddles as suitable for noise restricted communities and what's criteria and testing method to determine if paddles pass or fail the noise test?
From our research, it appears that as of date, there is no official approval noise rating given out by any pickleball governing body (USAPA or IPF).
As mentioned in our longer blog post, it appears the original idea of approved paddles came from Sun City Grand Pickleball Courts, located in the City of Surprise, AZ. Sun City came up with a list of quiet "Approved" Green Zone paddles and a list of "Red Zone" Pickleball Paddles that are considered too noisy and cannot be used at their facilities. The list is quite extensive and they continue to analyze new paddles that come on the market to keep the list up to date.
It's not exactly clear what the criteria is to qualify or disqualify a paddle as "approved" for green zones nor exactly what testing methodology is used done but according to the Sun City website they outsource the testing to an expert sound analysis company.
Some people have asked me...."What's the best quiet pickleball paddle that's on the approved list"? But I think that's just such a hard question to answer! First of all there are a LOT of paddles on the list (over 100 the last time I counted!).
Secondly the list includes paddles from every price range, material (wood paddles, composite and graphite paddles), edgeless paddles and those with edge guards. Virtually every paddle shape (wide-body, elongated, etc.) grip size and core material (polymer core, aluminum core, Nomex) are represented on the list.
Because of this, it's really hard to declare any one paddle or short list as "The Best Quiet Pickleball Paddle". I think the principal to finding a good paddle has not changed and noise, although definitely a priority if you live in a "Green Zone" community, should not be the number one deciding factor.
Although some very well known and commonly used paddle models were not approved, every major pickleball paddle maker has approved paddles on the list. Just as an example the Gamma Proton was approved on the list whereas the other Gamma paddles (Atomic, Fusion, Ion, Micron, Voltage) have all been categorized as "banned" Red Zone paddles by Sun City.
The fact is that there are some very well known and best selling paddles on the market that did not pass the noise test but the same manufacturer's other paddles were accepted so you really can't isolate the best quiet paddle just based on brand or other general criteria such as core material or price range.
I recommend you FIRST find a paddle that meets your playing style, weight and grip size requirements and THEN cross-reference the list to see if it is also approved as a "quiet paddle". As I've repeated multiple times on the blog and here in our paddle buyer's guide, I would first look at paddle WEIGHT and GRIP SIZE as top priorities when buying a new paddle.
If you scroll below you'll see a convenient comparison table showing the quiet approved paddles for Green Zones. To help select the best paddle for you and maybe save some time, here are our top picks that we have made on our site already in past reviews that are ALSO green zone approved.
If you would like to see the updated list from Sun City's website click here:
Table is listed by in alphabetical order by paddle manufacturer's name.