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by Kelly Campbell 

We’ve all been there – you’re about to take a victory lap after an unreturned smash hit to the baseline that you’re sure was in – only to be met with an “out” call from your opponent. What’s the right call? 

The truth is human error has likely influenced thousands of major pickleball matches. Even though pickleball is a sport that relies on “Scout’s honor” and sportsmanship (there’s even a “Code of Ethics for Line Calling” in the Official Rule Book) that encourages fair play, there hasn’t been a way to go back in time to get the most accurate call –– until now. It’s about time for pickleball to have instant replay in all professional tournaments. All other major US sports –– from football to baseball to basketball –– have instant replay. Adding the technology in the pickleball space would likely benefit all players and referees and could even get spectators more invested in watching and betting on professional pickleball. 

Enter Sony’s Hawk-Eye Innovations, the technology company recognized as a global leader in technology in the sports world. There’s recently been discussion about Hawk-Eye coming to the pickleball space “pretty soon”. The company partners with 23 of the top 25 sports leagues and federations globally, including the NBA. 

How do you feel about Hawk-Eye improving instant replay in the pickleball space? Keep reading for an overview of Hawk-Eye Innovations and the benefits of having instant replay in the professional pickleball space –– including the likelihood of pickleball becoming a “betting” sport. 

Brief Hawk-Eye History 

Hawk-Eye Innovations launched in 2001. The company focuses on three main technology areas: synchronized multi-angle replay technology (SMART), optical camera, optical tracking and camera calibration technologies (TRACK), and INSIGHT, their suite of technologies for data storage, delivery, and visualization. Since its inception, Hawk-Eye has grown tremendously and extended across numerous sports –– and is used in some of the most popular and high-stakes sports tournaments in the world. Considering Hawk-Eye’s partners and the impact the company has made on professional sports over the years, we’re really excited by the prospect of a HawkEye-pickleball partnership because having Hawk-Eye in the pickleball space is a big step in the right direction towards having pickleball become a core US sport. 

Pros of Instant Replay in Pickleball

  • Increased accuracy – access to instant replay will minimize error, promote fair play, and increase the stakes for players to perform at their best. 
  • Time saver – less time spent arguing over close calls
  • Pickleball legitimacy – instant replay could revolutionize pickleball as a core professional sport. All major US sports use instant replay, especially those popular among spectators (like football and baseball). 
  • Pickleball betting – With the definite results and elimination of human error in pickleball calls that instant replay provides, more spectators will be encouraged to bet on the sport. Sports betting is a vast industry. Adding pickleball to the mix could be great for the sport. 

Pickleball Becoming a Betting Sport 

There’s a large market in the US for sports gambling, and as pickleball remains the fastest-growing sport, many have wondered when they can get some dough from dinking. Luckily, introducing instant replay through Hawk-Eye could increase the odds that pickleball betting happens sooner than later. 

At least 34 states have legalized sports betting. As more states make moves to legalize, and with the growth of sports betting companies like DraftKings and BetMGM, it’s clear that the popularity of sports gambling is on the rise; yet, pickleball is not an offering on sportsbooks. 

Although demand hasn’t been deemed high enough for pickleball betting, that could likely change with the introduction of Hawk-Eye. Instant replay eliminates common cases of human error and makes pickleball less risky to bettors. The chances of a ref making a bad call can easily be rectified by having access to instant replay technology, so many might feel more secure in making bets. 

Joining the world of sports betting is another stepping stone for pickleball legitimacy in general –– if all other major sports can have their moment in this space, why not pickleball? When done responsibly, sports gambling invites non-athlete spectators to engage with professional pickleball, widening the sport’s audience overall. 

We can’t wait to see how pickleball evolves with the prospects of instant replay, a partnership with Hawk-Eye, and its potential spot in sports betting.