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Selkirk Labs - The Quest for a Perfect Pickleball Paddle


By Mike Barnes

on Mar 16, 2023

 

 

Selkirk Labs - Built to Drive Innovation in the Pickleball Industry:


“Evolution” is a buzzword when it comes to pickleball, and it applies to amateur interest in the sport, strategy adjustments within the professional game, and development of paddle technology. Selkirk has been the pioneer of paddle technology innovation from the start, and the formation of Selkirk Labs was specifically rolled out to conceptualize, execute, test, and perfect new and groundbreaking paddle technologies. 


An important aspect of Selkirk Labs is its collaboration with an especially passionate community of pickleballers. These Selkirk Labs members, who contribute to paddle concepts, beta testing feedback, creative concept development, and more, are playing an integral role in shaping the future of paddles and pickleball as a whole. 


“Selkirk creates paddles for pickleball players, and therefore it is critical for pickleball players, pros and amateurs alike, to be an important part of the paddle creation process,” said Selkirk Sport Co-Founder and Co-CEO Mike Barnes. “Selkirk Labs developed an industry-first relationship between paddle engineers and players to work together to bring to life the most advanced paddle concepts possible.” 




Project 002 - The Paddle that Launched the Paddle Innovation Revolution: 


The Selkirk Labs Project 002 was a paramount release for Selkirk Labs, as it debuted multiple new technology concepts at the same time upon its launch in February of 2022. As several new technologies were brainstormed, developed, and prototype-tested by the Selkirk Labs community, they combined to create a favorite that is often preferred by many players today, a full year since its release. 


The incorporation of various Selkirk Labs advancements (some of which were especially daring and creative industry-firsts) into one paddle created a versatile pickleball instrument that looked and played like no paddle before it. First used in the professional ranks on the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) Tour in August of 2021, the paddle turned heads and lived up to the hype when it became available to Selkirk Labs members six months later.  



Selkirk Labs Innovations Debuted in the Project 002:


Open Throat: 

The open throat on Project 002 was revolutionary for paddle aerodynamics and a particularly eye-catching aspect to the pickleball community. The magic behind the open throat is Air Dynamic Throat, which grants airflow close to the paddle handle to improve swing speed. The other important feature of the open throat is ThroatFlex technology, which extends ball dwell time to improve control and boost power. 


NextGen Spin Texture: 

With ball spin being such an important element for players of all levels, Selkirk Labs’ NextGen Spin Texture is a high-rpm coating texture which lasts longer than raw carbon. This addition to the 002 allows players to slice, cut, and chop the ball with ease and for longer. 


Hybrid Paddle Face: 

The Project 002 also debuted the QuadFlex 4 Layer Hybrid Face, an industry-first blend of two FiberFlex layers with two layers of Quantum+ carbon to offer significant and powerful pop while also rendering remarkable control. 

 

Selkirk Labs “Stealth Technology” Released in the Project 002: 


On top of the Open Throat and NextGen Spin Texture technologies, the Project 002 brought two additional paddle enhancements. These additional components were considered “Stealth Technology” by Selkirk Labs, as they were not announced during the original paddle launch in February of 2022 in order to delay competitor replication of these novelties. The following two “Stealth Technologies” were released, but not announced, in the Project 002:


Thermoformed, One Piece Construction: 

Paddle durability, power, and stability were all upgraded when Selkirk Labs utilized 360° Proto Molding and a high-pressure manufacturing process to construct a one piece paddle. This procedure for the 002 makes it a more consistent and longer-lasting choice for players of all levels. 


Foam Injected Edge: 

By adding weight and a layer of security around the edge of the 002, the FlexFoam Perimeter technology improves edge protection, reliable impact absorption, and playability. In particular, the technology enhances the sweet spot range, paddle durability, and power. 

 

 

Replication Attempts From Competitors: 

With revolutionary paddle developments, a step-change in performance initiates a growth phase where competition tries to catch up. In the sports equipment life cycle, infancy leads to growth, and growth leads to stability. This cycle often repeats throughout the growth of a sport, and Selkirk Labs plays an instrumental role in all phases of this cycle, especially in current times which reflect pickleball’s unprecedented rise in popularity throughout amateur play, evolution of professional leagues, exposure for the sport in pop culture, and beyond. 


For more information on the past, present and future of pickleball paddle technology, view the Selkirk.com article linked here

 

 

Selkirk Labs Member Feedback Leads to Development of Power Air Line: 


Whilst the reception and support of the Project 002 was overwhelmingly positive, a combination of Selkirk Labs member feedback and trend towards aggressive play in the professional game lead to the development of a power paddle in the Power Air line. Since, the Power Air has become a prominent paddle on the professional tour and is currently in the hands of Tyson McGuffin, Catherine Parenteau, James Ignatowich, Olvia McMillan, and several other of the sport’s best. 



Power Air’s continuation of Project 002 features:


The Power Air line carried on with the best paddle features that users of the 002 came to know and love, including the Air Dynamic Throat, ThroatFlex, ProSpin+ NextGen Spin Texture, 360° Proto Molding, Quadflex 4 Layer Hybrid Face, and the FlexFoam Perimeter to create an ultimate and improved power experience. 


In order to develop and highlight power capabilities of the paddle, the Power Air developed by Selkirk Labs also features two new properties:


Edgeless Technology:

Power Air’s Aero-DuraEdge Edgeless Technology works in tandem with the FlexFoam Perimeter to protect and prolong paddle edge durability. Edgeless technology eliminates risk of edge guard separation or damage to prolong the life of the paddle. 


Polymer Honeycomb Core: 

Selkirk Labs launched a SuperCore Polymer Honeycomb core within the Power Air to add control to a thinner, power-focused core thickness. Because the Power Air packs a punch, this addition brings a critical control aspect to make the paddle a balanced choice that suits all play styles.

 

Project 003 - The Thickest Paddle Core Ever Created:


The highly anticipated Project 003 by Selkirk Labs was a reflection of the original innovation that came from the popular AMPED collection, which was a trailblazer paddle series that answered player needs for both power and control. The thick paddle core in AMPED was a particularly popular trait among players, appreciating the consistency and user-friendly sweet spot that it offers. Selkirk Labs built on this thick-core philosophy with the launch of the thickest pickleball paddle core ever in the Project 003.  



Project 003 carries several of the inventive features from both the Project 002 and Power Air such as Air Dynamic Throat, ThroatFlex, ProSpin+ NextGen Spin Texture, 360° Proto Molding, Aero-DuraEdge Edgeless Technology, and the FlexFoam Perimeter. These attributes, along with some new additions, produce an extremely consistent, reliable, and easy-to-use paddle.


Selkirk Labs introduced two additional improvements to Project 003 to make it an intriguing and welcoming option for players that want power, but also reliable and consistent control: 


Thickest-Ever Paddle Core: 

As windows for precision and accuracy continue to narrow at the highest level of the sport, Selkirk Labs conceptualized Project 003’s X7 Thickset Honeycomb Core, the thickest in the industry measuring at 20mm. It provides ultimate control and feel from any part of the court, helping players to achieve shot consistency and defend against powerful strokes coming their way. 

Anti-Torque Technology: 

Perfected weight distribution in combination with Project 003’s revolutionary 20mm paddle thickness create CM Anti-Torque Technology to create unparalleled paddle stability and impact absorption. As players, professional and amateur alike, develop higher levels of power and speed in the sport, CM Anti-Torque Technology highlights the importance of defense by reducing paddle torque against powerful drives and volleys.

CarbonFlex Fiber Twill: 

Selkirk Labs added the CarbonFlex Fiber Twill material to the 003’s 20mm core for additional control and defensive forgivingness. 

 

The Bottom Line: 

Selkirk Labs will continue to innovate and collaborate with the players to develop the best and most inventive technologies possible. Labs will continue enhancing the sport’s approachability, shaping the sport we know and love in the quest to build a perfect pickleball paddle. 

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