Lead Tape For Pickleball Paddles: Is it Legal And Why Do it?

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pickleball paddle, lead tape, rubbing alcohol, and scissors on an orange table.

Sometimes a pickleball paddle is ALMOST perfect, but something is missing. Adding lead tape to your pickleball paddle can fill that missing link and allow you to custom tailor your paddle to your game. Let’s dive into all the benefits and rules about lead tape for pickleball paddles.

Resource: Pickleball Paddle Buying Guide

Is it Legal To Add Lead Tape To a Pickleball paddle?

Yes, it is legal to add lead tape to your pickleball paddle. According to USA pickleball, there is no rule against adding lead tape or limit to how much lead tape is on your paddle. 

USA Pickleball Rule 2.E.5.a. – Alterations – “The only alterations or additions that may be made to a commercially made paddle are edge guard tape, lead tape, changes to the grip size or grip wrap, and name decals and/or other identification markings on the paddle face. Decals and tape can extend no farther than 1.0 inch (2.54 cm) above the top of the grip nor more than 0.5 inches (1.27 cm) inside the outer edge of a paddle or if an edge guard is in place, 0.5 inches inside the edge guard.”

USA Pickleball Rule 2.E.4. – Weight – There is no restriction on paddle weight.

However, you should keep in mind that it is illegal to have a paddle with a reflective surface. 

With that in mind, let’s dive into why and how to use lead tape legally and efficiently. 

Why Use Lead Tape?

There are three main reasons that professional pickleball players use lead tap

  1. Add overall weight to your pickleball paddle to help with generating power 
  2. Changing the balance point to head-weighted or handle-weighted.
  3. Reduce vibration and improve stability. Adding Overall Weight to Your Paddles

Now that we have the reasons why you would want to use lead tape for pickleball paddles, let’s dive into how you would apply it for your needs. 

How to Add Lead Tape To Your Pickleball Paddle

Here are the supplies you’ll need before you apply the tape to your paddle.

Adding Overall Weight to Your Paddle

The heavier the pickleball paddle, the more momentum and speed you are able to generate. To do this, you want to add the tape to the top half of the paddle face. 

NOTE: 1/4″ width lead tape will add 0.25 grams per inch used. 

  • Step 1: Clean the Edge Guard 
  • Step 2: Add the lead tape around the center of the edge guard (9 o’clock position to 3 o’clock position)
  • Step 3: Place a layer of electrical tape over the lead tape (to cover up the reflective surface).
diagram of pickleball paddle with a clock to show the positioning on placing lead tape.

Changing the Balance Point 

The balance point of a pickleball paddle refers to where most of the weight is concentrated. A head-balanced paddle gives you more power, while a handle-balanced paddle offers more control and feel. 

Add Head Balance

  • Step 1: Clean the edge guard
  • Step 2: Tape the top of the paddle (10 o’clock position to 2 o’clock position)
  • Step 3: Add electrical tape over the lead tape. 

Add Handle Balance 

  1. Step 1: Remove the grip tape on the handle of the pickleball paddle.
  2. Step 2: Add lead tape to both sides of the handle.
  3. Step 3: Regrip and add finishing tape or electrical tape. 

Reduce Vibration and Improve Stability 

If you find that it’s hard to keep the face of your pickleball paddle stable during hands battles, or punch shots, lead tape can help improve the stability of the face. 

  • Step 1: Clean the edge guard.
  • Step 2: Place lead tape on the sides of the paddle (10 o’clock position to 8 o’clock position and the 2 o’clock position to the 4 o’clock position.)
  • Step 3: Cover with electrical tape. 

Benefits of Adding Lead Tape To Your Pickleball Paddle

Adding lead tape is a great way to customize your pickleball paddle because cheap (less than $20 for a roll), it’s easy to install, and it’s easy to remove or adjust. 

If your feel is off one day, instead of buying a new paddle that’s handle-weighted, you can just add some lead tape between matches. It allows you to explore how weight affects the performance of your pickleball paddle. 

Drawbacks of Adding Lead Tape To Your Pickleball Paddle

The only drawback I can think of is that lead is toxic if ingested. I would recommend wearing gloves, especially when you’re removing the old lead tape. Also covering it with electrical tape helps keep the lead particles contained. 

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