Pickleball MAGAZINE sat down with Josh Bechtel, Co-founder-Director of Product Development and Manufacturing for Players Pickleball, LLC, to talk about the company’s Mix & Match, Create-Your-Own approach to designing paddles.
How did you guys get your start?
JB: For several years, I worked in product development. Michael Bennett, Co-founder, and I had worked on a few projects previously and he approached me a few years ago about consulting for a pickleball company. It sounded intriguing so we met and I came on board. We started out making traditional paddles and, over the last few years, have made more than 55,000 paddles.
What’s your approach to development?
JB: Before we decided to launch our brand, we started testing paddles to see if we could prove other paddles were doing what their marketing claimed. From there, we kept working to try to figure out what factors most affected the perceived performance of the paddle and, before long, we felt we had something that could transcend the hype and traditional paddle constructions. However, as we talked with more and more players throughout the process, we learned there wasn’t a strong correlation between the mechanical properties data we were measuring and player feedback—it was all over the map! That’s really what set us down the path of our Mix & Match, Create-Your-Own approach to paddle making.
What’s different about the Players Pickleball paddle?
JB: Aside from the honeycomb core and wrapped grip, pretty much every other component is unique to our paddles. Instead of using the traditional flexible rubber edge guard and foam or balsa wood pieces to build out the handle, we integrated both elements into a single, structural and protective unit that’s really at the heart of our paddle design. We’re allowing players to select the core that best suits their preferences, then customize the cosmetics to best fit their style. There’s no single best paddle to be made, simply because players vary so much. You’ve got your dinkers, smashers, lobbers and everyone in between. We were sitting on a lot of data and our “a-ha” moment came when we realized the only way to make the best paddle for a customer was to put data into their hands and let them choose!
How can players create their own paddles?
JB: It’s a simple two-step process. Step one is about paddle performance—or selecting a core for your paddle—and step two is customizing the remaining paddle components any way you’d like.
How does the process work?
JB: Via our website. We have a 3D virtual paddle that you can view and edit with just a few clicks. It’s really a
matter of comparing cores, selecting the one you’d like, editing the color choices, then clicking “Add to Cart.”
What’s the long-term plan?
JB: For now, we’re just focused on the short term and making the best paddles we can for our customers while making smart decisions for our business. We’ll see how things unfold beyond that!