We are a diverse, ever-changing group of players here in Lake City. Sometimes we have just enough players to keep one game going, and other times we have more players than will fit on the 3 indoor courts. In order to maximize everyone’s enjoyment while playing indoors, we’ve laid down the following guidelines and etiquette suggestions:
Indoor open play priorities
If just a few people are sitting, We trust the attendees to sort out the play arrangements however they wish, keeping in mind that everyone who shows up deserves a chance to play.
When enough people arrive that more than 4 are waiting to play, we ask that people observe the following protocol: the losing team comes off the court, and the winning team will split and each take on a new partner from among those waiting to play. In any case, you must come off the court after two games to allow those sitting their chance to play. At the conclusion of the game, the remaining players will call out loudly how many new players are needed to begin the next game so a game can resume with minimal delay. If two players wish to remain partners instead of splitting, they may do so provided the other two players in the foursome agree to that.
If more than 8 people are waiting to play, then the player in charge will inform all players that they must come off the court after every game regardless of who wins. The player in charge will instruct the waiting players how to stack their paddles to ensure an orderly transition and make sure nobody gets stuck waiting endlessly for a game. See below for a more detailed explanation of paddle stacking. When the crowd thins out to less than 8 people waiting, then the player in charge will inform the players that they can resume the mode of play where winners stay on as described above.
Rights and Responsibilities
You have the right to refuse to play with players that you aren’t compatible with.
You have the responsibility to be polite. Displays of uncontrolled temper such as intentionally throwing your paddle or being abusive towards others will not be tolerated and we reserve the right to ask unruly players to take a “time out” if the situation warrants.
All players come with the expectation that they will find play that suits their skill level or temperament. We have attempted in the past to set aside times designated for this sort of play or that sort of play to try to cater to these expectations, but we’ve found the most effective solution is to have an experienced player be “in charge” to direct play as the situation warrants. An example of this direction would be to set aside a court reserved for one or the other style of play tailored to the makeup of the participants.
The communal concept of “open play” is what attracted many of us to pickleball in the first place, but as players increase in ability, some grow frustrated when they wind up playing all night in games that don’t satisfy their competitive juices. Others would just as soon not enter a “banger battlefield” or don’t enjoy a game where they feel self-conscious to be paired with players well above their skill level.
All players who come to open play should be willing to share their expertise with players of a lesser skill level and lend a hand to those just starting out. Conversely, those players who aren’t as competitive as the better players should be sensitive to the expectations of the more advanced players who desire to get at least a few games in with others in their skill level. The player in charge will make every attempt to manage play so that as many players as possible find the level of play they came looking for, for as many games as possible. Players who expect to play every game with those of their own skill level—and who will take it poorly if they don’t—should make arrangements to play elsewhere.
The Player in Charge and the Advisory Committee
The player in charge will typically be one or more members of the advisory committee who will do their best to cater to the varied expectations of the people who show up. Any complaints you have should be lodged with a member of this committee, and you have a right to a fair hearing of complaints and a timely response to address your concerns. The names of advisory committee members may be found HERE.
Explanation of paddle stacking
When a large number of players are waiting to play, the player in charge will notify players that we are switching to a 4-on, 4-off management system. Players coming off the court (and anyone else wishing to reserve a court) will arrange their paddles in a series of stacks of 4. The first complete stack of 4 in the arrangement will be the next foursome to take to the court as soon as an existing game is concluded. The stacks of paddles will be shifted to the right so the rightmost stack will indicate which 4 players are up next. You may not reserve a spot in the stack until your current game is completed. You are not obligated to put your paddle on the first stack if you would prefer to play with a different group of players. You are allowed to begin a new stack behind the last stack even if there are less than 4 paddles on the previous stacks. If the rightmost stack has less than 4 paddles in it by the time it’s their turn to play, they have 60 seconds to recruit the players needed before surrendering their place in line to the next full stack. Someone coming off the court will usually opt to play with them rather than wait in line. Make an effort to mix in with others. Remember, this is open play! If you want to play with the same foursome over and over again, do it on your own time.
A variant of this method, when available, is to use the paddle box in the photo. Players can select whether they are interested in playing a “competitive game” or a “rec” game by which side of the box they place their paddle. The indicator hand in the rear of the box points to the side of the box whether the team on deck is from the competitive or the rec side of the box. When the on-deck team grabs their paddles to play, one of them should move the hand to the other side of the box to give the next game to the other side of the box.
Explanation of our relationship with Richardson Community Center (RCC)
When pickleball was first introduced to Lake City, Mario Coppock, the director of RCC , was an early supporter of our program and provided us with a place to play inside the gym. We have never been charged for the use of the gym, but RCC does receive financial benefit from the county according to the number of players who use the facility. This is why it is important to sign in every time you come to play. The RCC administrators have requested that every time we come to the gym to play outside of normal business hours that we collect a $3 drop-in fee that RCC keeps in an account separate from other revenue. These funds are what are used to purchase equipment like nets, balls, and spare paddles. We collect the money on the honor system; no one has ever been told they could not play because they didn’t pay their drop-in fee.
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