PWOCK! You don’t need courtside seats to hear people playing pickleball—a popular new sport that’s a cross between Ping-Pong and tennis. The sound of hollow plastic balls hitting hard paddles is so loud that it bothers many people living near pickleball courts. Bob Unetich loves pickleball. He’s also a sound engineer determined to make the game quieter.
To better understand the acoustics, or sound properties, of the game, Unetich built a special chamber. Inside, a ball is dropped onto a pickleball paddle from a height of 4 meters (13 feet), causing the paddle to vibrate. Unetich uses special software to measure the loudness of sounds produced when paddles and balls made with different materials collide.
“Some paddles only vibrate for a very short time, and that’s less annoying,” says Unetich. They include softer paddles or ones with holes. Softer balls also muffle noise. He hopes that quieter materials will mean everyone can enjoy the game.