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Watch: West Van pickleball fan hopes to silence critics with quiet paddle

Artist Dirk Marwig is hoping to make the popular sport less noisy for the neighbours.

The man behind a plan to make pickleball more palatable for the masses wants to make two things clear right from the start: 1. He’s an artist, not a sports equipment manufacturer, and 2. He’s NOT a fan of Vladimir Putin or Donald Trump.

Those questions arise when you first set eyes on the prototype paddles West Vancouver’s Dirk Marwig has created in an effort to make pickleball quieter, silencing one of the major complaints about the very popular, but also very noisy, court sport.

Noise concerns from neighbours chased pickleball right off the court at West Vancouver’s 29th Street facility recently, forcing the district to scramble to find somewhere more secluded for players to play. Similar conflicts arise at other pickleball courts located near residential areas.  

Marwig is a casual player, when his knees allow, and knows all about the conflicts with courtside neighbours that arise due to the loud “poc!” sound the paddles make every time they smack the pickleball.

“I play pickleball sometimes, and it’s really loud,” he said, adding he can understand why neighbours complain about the noise. “I don’t really like it either.”

To combat that, he’s created a new type of paddle that has holes drilled in it to decrease the decibel level while keeping performance levels similar to that of a normal paddle. He’s used some supplies from his artist workshop – special plywood and plastic covering layers – to make paddles that produce the same shots as normal paddles but without the loud noises.

The idea for holes in the paddle came from simple science of sound.

“If you clap your hands and close your hands, it makes a loud noise,” said Marwig, demonstrating with a loud clap of the hands. “And if you open up your fingers and you clap, you hear less noise. So that’s the concept.”

He’s made seven prototype paddles so far, and is hoping to catch the attention of a major equipment manufacturer to bring his design to the pickleball-playing public. His artistic side comes out in the logos on his paddles, including his very first prototype, which features the face of Putin on one side and Trump on the other. The logos are not meant as a show of appreciation for those world leaders, he clarified, but rather as a target that you want to smack over and over.

Dirk Marwig with his Racket WEB
West Vancouver artist Dirk Marwig hopes his design for a quieter pickleball paddle will make the noisy sport more friendly for the ears of neighbours who live next to courts. | Dirk Marwig

“If you hit the ball you never miss, because you always hit the right face, smack in the middle,” he said with a laugh. “Boom, boom, whack, whack! They get hit every time.”

Whether or not the faces of infamous politicians are included in the final product, Marwig is aiming to make a real difference in the pickleball world with his paddle design idea.

“It will change the sport for the better, I hope,” he said.
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