Armour Pickleball PaddlesAlthough Armour Pickleball launched in 2019, the history at Armour goes way back. Steve Wong, President and CEO, has been building pickleball paddles since 2005 when he founded S-type Sports. His pickleball journey has led him to tour the nation, and the world, as a player, instructor, and pickleball ambassador. Not only is Steve a six-time national champion, but he has served as Vice President of the USA Pickleball Association, co-directed the USAPA National Tournament, and has won over the hearts of thousands of players who have been captivated by his passion for the game. With Armour Pickleball, Steve's latest venture carries the enthusiastic motto "All Things Pickleball." At Armour, they suit up in their armor and are committed to offering a comprehensive line of quality products, in addition to continuing to grow the game we are all so passionate about.
Q&A - Armour Pickleball Paddles with Founder/Instructor/Ambassador/Pro Steve Wong:
Top senior pro pickleball player and multi-company founder, Steve Wong, has been dedicating his professional and personal lives to pickleball for over 20 years. Now, having launched his third(!) paddle manufacturing company, Steve brings ALL of his expertise to Armour Pickleball's line of uniquely-shaped and innovative paddles. We caught up with him to ask a few questions about Armour's new line, and how he prepares as a player. Below are the questions we asked, and his answers.
Q - "You have been making pickleball paddles for a long time. What was it that motivated you to get back in the game with Armour Pickleball?"
A - "I decided to start a new pickleball paddle manufacturing company because I found some great friends/partners that encouraged me to start Armour Pickleball. Our mission is to “Enrich lives through the sport of pickleball”! What does that mean? It means that ours is such a social sport that we can make a difference in bringing a smile to pickleball players' faces. We create amazing products and provide the best customer service. Armour Pickleball is a huge success because people can feel our passion – on and off the court! We are a company that focuses on “grassroots” marketing to really identify with all levels of players."
Q - "There have been a lot of changes in paddle technology over the years. What do you see as having the biggest impact on paddle performance?"
A - "We make the best performance paddles for all types of players. Whether you are a touch player or a banger, we make the paddle for you! Our prices are competitive and the quality is top-touch. I recommend you take care of your paddle and the performance will last even longer. Don’t use your paddle to pick up balls or scrape the paddle on the ground. Keep the paddle from getting wet or moist. Don’t abuse the paddle by throwing it or hitting it against your leg."
Q - "All of your paddles feature an innovative shape. What is the purpose of this unique shape?"
A - "The paddle is a rounded, oversized shape with a flat top (influenced by some popular designs from other sports, too). This shape maximizes the sweet spot, resulting in pinpoint accuracy."
Q - "The AXIS is a very thin core paddle, at just 10mm thick. What type of pickleball player benefits from a thin core?"
A - "The 10mm core makes the AXIS different than the rest of our paddles. It offers tremendous tactile feedback through the paddle, and the pop is amazing! Further, add a few strips of lead tape around the top perimeter of the head of the paddle and it adds even more “punch”! What sets it apart is the CCT (compressed core technology) which is a different design within the polypropylene core that aids players in placing balls more consistently."
Q - "The AXIS and AXIOM paddles feature a graphite face. What do you see as the most meaningful difference between graphite-faced paddles and composite/fiberglass-faced paddles?"
A - "Composite fiberglass paddles generate more power, but a natural graphite face adds a softness to the way a paddle plays. Graphite allows players to feel the ball come off the face of the paddle and better direct their shots. Fiberglass, by contrast, feels stiffer and hits harder with less effort."
Q - "The HELIO Carbon Graphite and HELIO Composite paddles feature a thick 16mm core. How does this thicker core impact the way these paddles play?"
A - "The HELIO line is our flagship model for Armour Pickleball. The thick core adds that extra control that players desire, without sacrificing power. It’s amazing playing with them because they make it so easy to block balls back into the kitchen and reset the point. These paddles are firm in your hands and play with remarkable control. The power, particularly in the HELIO Composite paddle, is out of this world and that is why champions love the HELIO line."
Q - "Which of the Armour Paddles do you play with, and why did you choose that particular model?"
A - "I currently go back and forth between the Composite HELIO and the Graphite HELIO. I play doubles with my composite HELIO because it gives me that extra confidence to dig any shot up and block everything back with very little effort. The power that I generate with my overhead makes me dangerous! I sometime switch to my HELIO Graphite so that I have better “touch” with it. The graphite face gives me more feel, which translates to control, to hit better third shot drops and great angle dinks."
Q - "We know that the top-rated pro players often add weight to change the power or balance of a paddle. Have you done anything to adjust paddle weight or balance to optimize HELIO paddles to your game?"
A - "Yes, many times I put a few lead tape strips on the edge guard. One on the top-middle, and one on each side of the paddle half way down the face. They give my paddle that extra perimeter weighing which give me that desired pop. Many pros use lead tape for added swing weight and performance."
Q - "Do you have any advice on what types of players are best suited for the different Armour paddle models?"
A - "Like I mentioned, you cannot go wrong with our HELIO lineup in terms of performance. I often suggest the Composite HELIO because it’ll grow with you as your game improves. The AXIS and AXIOM are great for touch players that love the third shot drop or dink game."
Q - "Does paddle color matter to you? And which is your favorite?"
A - "Of course color matters! When you look good and coordinate colors with your paddles, Armour backpacks, and other accessories – you play GREAT! I love many of our blue color choices, like how our AXIOM looks. The simplistic design of the HELIO is my favorite and you will often see me playing with a grey/blue HELIO. However, I’m currently playing with a limited edition green/blue Composite HELIO becuase it just looks so darn good!"
Q - "Do you have any special rituals or habits that you follow on tournament days that you think amateur players might benefit from?"
A - "Get plenty of rest and eat a balanced meal the day before. Focus on relaxing your body and calming your mind, and don’t stress about your opponents. Work on staying focused and hitting the right shots. Try your best and be positive toward yourself and your partner. Finally, above all, HAVE FUN!"