Demystifying Paddle Delamination: What You Need to Know

Will Chaing
Will Chaing
November 7, 2023

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Why It Matters

In the ever-evolving world of pickleball, players are constantly seeking ways to gain an edge over their competitors. But as the game progresses, so do the paddles players use. Lately, there have been whispers, discussions, and even callouts about paddles breaking and potentially providing players with unfair advantages on the court. This issue, known as delamination, has become a hot topic of conversation among pickleball enthusiasts. In this article, we'll dive into delamination, what it entails, and how to spot the warning signs.

This issue affects the performance of your paddle and can be frustrating and potentially dangerous for you and your opponents to deal with.

But before we delve into the details, it's important to note that delamination is not specific to any one company or paddle; it can happen to any paddle, at any time. So, let's get to the bottom of what delamination really means and what you can do to address it.

Understanding Delamination: The Catch-All Term

Delamination has become a catch-all term used by the pickleball community to describe a paddle malfunctioning and performing differently from its intended design. However, it's essential to distinguish between the various issues that fall under the umbrella of delamination, including disbonding and core crushing, which I’ve affectionately dubbed "Core-ruption."

Dissecting Delamination: What's What

  • Delaminating: To get a better grasp of delamination, imagine the layers of carbon fiber or fiberglass that compose the face of your paddle as three fingers, and the honeycomb core as the next three fingers. Delamination occurs when these layers of the face begin to peel away from each other.
  • Disbonding: This refers to the separation of the face from the core. Signs of disbonding include a higher-pitched sound when striking the ball, reminiscent of a tinny twang rather than the typical satisfying "thud" sound. Detecting disbonding can be a bit challenging.
  • Core Crushing or Core Failure (Core-ruption): This occurs when the honeycomb core cells within the paddle lose their rigidity and become compressed. The result is a trampoline-like effect that sends the ball rocketing off the paddle face with higher velocity than usual. Core-ruption is the main issue that players are concerned about. Balls coming off the face of these paddles travel at excessive speeds and can be dangerous. To check for core-ruption, press firmly into the paddle face and listen for any disconcerting crunching sounds.

Spotting the Signs

Now, let's talk about how to detect these issues. Actual delamination is more likely to happen if the edge guard of your paddle becomes undone, exposing the unprotected edges to contact with the ground or other surfaces. This exposure can lead to the separation of the face layers, potentially compromising the paddle's playability. To prevent this, ensure that your edge guards are secure and regularly check for any peeling edges or layers on the face of your paddle.

In Conclusion

In summary, delamination is a broad term encompassing three distinct paddle failures: delamination itself, which involves the separation of face layers, disbonding, the separation of the face from the core, and core crushing or core failure, often humorously referred to as "Core-ruption," where the honeycomb core is compromised. To ensure you're not experiencing these issues, make it a habit to regularly inspect your paddle. By staying vigilant, you'll be able to maintain your paddle's performance and continue enjoying the game. 

That's it for this article; until next time, play better!