There has been some recent online chatter from pro players regarding paddles from Legacy, CRBN and Six Zero. There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding around hot mold or thermoformed paddles. A recent article by the Dink Pickleball discusses dwell time and deflection (https://www.thedinkpickleball.com/dwell-time-pickleball-paddles-deflection/). I will attempt to address some of the commentary around these two topics as I am rather baffled from what some folks are saying.
But first let's take a quick look at what makes a Six Zero Paddle stand out. Hot mold or thermoform technology is not new but it certainly is creating a buzz in the pickleball world! This technology has been around for decades and used in many industries such as in the manufacture of high-end carbon bicycles and racing car components. Hot molded pickleball paddles have been around for around 12 months commercially. Rokne was one of the first brands to release a hot mold paddle. We have not heard of any concerns about these paddles? So why are the new releases from Six Zero so hot? It comes down to engineering improvements. Our premium Diamond series range incorporates a carbon seam with foam injection around the full perimeter of the paddle, along with a unibody construction in hot mold production. This results in the following benefits:
1) Improved edge protection - no more cracked edges
2) Improved robustness - creating a continuous seam that joins the top and bottom faces of a paddle greatly improves the strength of the paddle - refer to our handle strength movie (https://youtu.be/92bZGSpE31s),
3) Improved power and pop - these paddles have a unique crisp feel to when hitting the ball. The edge seam joining both faces improves energy transfer between the ball and paddle. These paddles are less plush than a traditional Raw Carbon paddle because the tied together structure provides a stronger and stiffer surface - less energy lost to absorption. The speed of the ball off the paddle combined with extra control is catching many players out at the net in competitive hand battles!
4.). You get the control with the power. Many edgeless paddles have a reputation for being overly stiff - great power but poor control. In those types of paddles the face cloth is wrapped over the edge and continues around the bottom face. Our design incorporates a weld type seam that allows for some forgiveness between the top and bottom of the paddle - so you get the power but you also get great control. Control is also aided with raw textured surfaces. We are all familiar with raw carbon as the go to face material for providing excellent feel and control over a ball. Six Zero have also developed a world first Raw Fiberglass - providing next level power that is HOT but combined with the grip and feel of a raw textured finish.
Deflection seems to be the latest concern of some Pros. I have yet to see any basis why? Deflection is referring to how far the face of a paddle moves (or deflects) when downward pressure is applied to the face surface. Thermoformed paddles are produced in a hot mold in an oven at temperature and pressure- this tech makes for a stronger tighter bonded paddle compared to traditional paddles where materials are simply glued together at room temperature. In addition our paddles are strengthen by our carbon fusion edge technology. The end result is that our paddles are far less likely to deflect than traditional paddles. Our deflection results are copied below for reference.
The test places a 3kg weight on the paddle face. Deflection must be <0..5 inches.
It has been suggested to test deflection at tournaments. I would see this as problematic - and more so for all other paddles that are not thermoformed. Why? Because simple glued together paddles will likely age and flex and deform faster than a stronger built hot molded and edge reinforced paddles. The older and more used a paddle is, the more likely the glues, core and face material degrade, soften up and loosen. In summary, used paddles will likely have higher deflection rates than new factory tested paddles. I can't see testing at tournaments for deflection ever working - it will open up a proverbial Pandora's box of issues.
I think what some pros are alluding to is in regards to delamination? Rumors exist that some paddles are purposefully being delaminated to improve power at the expense of control. Personally, I just don't see how any pro can survive a contest without control even with all the gunshot power in the World? In any case, a delaminated paddle is out of spec and should not be allowed to be used in a tournament on purpose.
Ok what about this new term "dwell time". The longer a ball stays on the surface of a paddle the greater the potential for generating spin. A trampoline type face may result in a longer "dwell time" and so might a textured surface. In regards to dwell time I think the players skill level likely has more importance than differences between paddles. Players who can really grip and rip the ball have developed the ability to brush the ball imparting spin as the paddle moves across the ball. For example, vertical paddle strokes as opposed to traditional horizontal strokes can result in more spin. Certainly the texture on a paddle does contribute to spin and dwell time - hence why pros are playing with textured paddles. I think the patterning of the texture is more important than the roughness when it comes to gripping and ripping the ball - more will come in terms of engineering development in this space. Six Zero welcomes friction testing at tournaments - though note the Starrett currently used has a tolerance of +/-5% accuracy - reflecting doubt (or at least error allowances) on results. Moving forward all Six Zero Paddles in March will be friction tested at the factory with each result linked to the individual paddle serial number. Hopefully this will allay the fears of other pros not using our paddles who are simply being beaten by better players!