While there are official rules for playing the game of pickleball and official rules of the Sun City Center Pickleball Club, there are many other aspects of pickleball that can and do affect play and the personal interactions between the members of our club. What follows here is mostly common sense, yet sometimes overlooked or underestimated in its importance in maintaining a positive and safe environment.
We want our club to be a place within our community, where we can gather, socialize, and play with others who enjoy the game of pickleball. The purpose of this guide is to help everyone to be aware that how we treat other members within the club shapes and defines it. No matter what level of skill, whether you are playing for recreation or driven to succeed at a tournament level, keeping these guidelines in mind will help everyone to have a more enjoyable, and safe time at the courts.
There are general social niceties within the game of pickleball, just as there are in any sport. Many of these you will find to be common no matter where you choose to play. Some are simply being a good sport and general courtesy; others are tailored more for the diversity of skills that may be in any game or venue. Competitive or social, beginner to advanced …the rules of good behaviour should apply to all.
Guests are welcome at any time
- Per the CA Policy Manual (section VI Facilities, item 6.05 Guests/Visitors), guests must have a guest pass and it must be displayed when using ALL CA facilities.
- They must follow all the same rules of the club as posted.
- Guests may be asked to sit out games if all courts are full and club members are waiting.
No guest pass?
- If a guest does not have a pass on display, please bring this to the attention of any board member for resolution.
- If a board member is not available, please go the CA building and advise the maintenance staff of the situation.
Court Play: rotating in, full courts, etc.
Normally, rotation is done with longest waiting players entering open courts first. If you just arrived and a court opens and you are not ready to enter, please say so (I’m out, or later, I’m waiting for someone, etc.) so others know and can proceed to fill the open court.
If you are waiting to play and you are next up, make sure you are ready to play when the next court opens, do not dally getting onto courts. Socializing is an important part of our club, but if you are not ready, say so for the next up. Socializing on benches could cause a loss of turn, stay aware and be ready to play.
When the courts are full and there are people waiting, use the chalk board to form groups. Pay attention to where you are in the rotation so you can be ready to play. Cross out your group as you head onto the court so the next group can get ready.
Balls on court
- When your group is up on the next open court, take TWO balls with you for your game.
- When the game is finished, take both balls with you off court and give to the next group going out to play.
- Once on the court for a game, acknowledge the other players and introduce yourself if you don’t know them.
- Please be prompt about playing when there are others waiting to play.
- Please announce the score, clearly and loudly, and get acknowledgement that it is correct before serving the ball – EVERY TIME.
- It is a USA Pickleball rule and helps to reduce conflict on the courts.
- Line calls are ONLY MADE by the team on the side where the ball landed.
- If you think the call may be in error, politely ask if there is agreement of both receivers – if they agree, or only one saw it – it’s THEIR CALL.
- Accept it and move on, even if you disagree.
- Do not ask spectators for opinions on a call; we don’t need arguments over line calls.
Returning a dead ball
- If you intend to return a ball to your opponent or your partner for service, please either hand it to them directly, “bounce” it, or hit as accurately to them as you can so they don’t have to go chasing it.
- Do not kick it under the net or across the court or slam it at them.
- Everyone likes to have some friendly banter during a game, but please keep it appropriate (NO foul language).
- It’s generally not polite to trash talk, goad or do anything to distract your opponents during a game.
- Acknowledging a great shot is always welcome.
End of game
- At the game finish, approach the net and acknowledge/thank your fellow players, pick up the game ball, and EXIT the court so that a new set of players can come on.
- Announce the court number and availability – “Court 3 Open” – to any waiting players.
- During extremely busy times (usually when waiting players exceeds 8-10), you may be asked to switch to 7-point games or “rally scoring”.
- This is done to shorten the games and keep the wait times to a minimum.
Last team standing
- If you’re the last players leaving the pickleball facility, please make sure all balls are collected and put away, turn off the fans/mister.
- Night players please turn off the lights as well.
One More Game
- Don’t overplay your current physical condition.
- “One more game” has caused way too many accidents.
- Do not play on wet courts …the courts get very slippery when wet.
- Use the court rollers and squeegee to dry courts off before playing.
- This is so important in our climate: drink plenty of water before, during and after you play.
- Drink before you are thirsty.
- If you see someone who displays signs of dizziness, weakness or lack of concentration–keep an eye on them.
- Recommend a time-out if you think it’s necessary for their safety.
- Stretch before and after playing, it helps to minimize injuries.
- If you see a ball come onto your court from another court or hear “Ball on Court!”, STOP PLAY AT ONCE.
- Return the ball to the court it came from.
- If it is your ball, do not chase the ball onto another court in play.
- Announce “Ball on Court” and wait for the play to stop before retrieving it.
- Entering or exiting the court(s) through ANY gate(s) should ONLY be done during the breaks between points, not during play.
- For safety, gates should be closed and latched before play begins.
Objects on courts
- If anything falls on the court, stop all play and quickly remove it.
Where’s my partner
- If you are too near your partner when hitting a ball down the middle or smashing an overhead, stop play.
- Lose the point–do NOT hit your partner.
- Stay conscious of where you and they are.
Lobs and overheads
- When going backwards for a lob, turn and run back, DON’T SHUFFLE or STEP BACKWARDS.
- This is a primary source of falls which can be avoided.
- If you are more mobile than your partner, let them know you will cover the lobs.
- The reverse is true if it’s the opposite situation.
- If you are not agile enough to get a lob and/or overhead, just let it go.
Don’t DIVE for balls
- Do not run into the fence, run into the net, run into your opponent, run into to your partner or run into another court to get a ball.
- If someone falls on the court, ALL PLAY STOPS until their needs have been assessed.
- The First aid kit is located in the cabinet on Court 3.
- Ice can be obtained in the community hall kitchen.
- If it is a medical emergency, call 911 or the Emergency Squad at 813-634-3800.
- The address of the pickleball courts is: 1910 S Pebble Beach Blvd, behind the CA building.
- Our club has an AED located in front of the blackboard in the seating area.
- If no one has a phone at the courts, there is one located in the community hall for emergency use.
- If an emergency does occur, please be sure to communicate what happened to a board member as soon as appropriate.
What is “Good Sportsmanship”?
Many of the guidelines listed above fall into being a “good sport” on the courts. Here are some more examples of displaying good sportsmanship on the courts during recreational play:
- Play your strongest game against equal or better opponents, focus on skills if your opponents are significantly weaker in skill level.
- If you’re in a game with stronger players, don’t avoid hitting the ball to them. They’re wanting to play too! The opposite is true as well, if you have a weaker player in the game, give them an opportunity to do their best, but don’t focus on them alone. In other words, when playing socially don’t hit all your shots at the less-skilled opponent and/or then avoid hitting to the stronger opponent.
- Don’t take undue advantage of a person’s physical limitations when you play them socially. Take their safety into consideration when choosing your shots. For example, don’t practice your lobs on a physically challenged opponent.
- Don’t give ADVICE or INSTRUCTION to another player during or after a game unless it is asked for.