Robert Vrooman raised the following question:

Pickleball is a game that young and old alike all can play. But in the real world there are times when people choose not to play with another person. It is a very unselfish thing for people with a high level of pickleball ability to play with someone of a very low level of ability. But there are players with high abilities choosing never to play with someone with a lesser ability than theirs. Usually these people are in the 4.0 skill level or higher. What is the fair thing to do about matching up people’s ability and which players get to go on the court together? In my opinion, it is proper etiquette for players of high skill levels to give time to people of lesser ability. There also should be an etiquette understanding that people of lower skill levels not continually want to play with the better players (the key word is continually).  Pickleball is a developing game of the baby boomer generation and I would hope that these players do not reflect the “me” generation of people that grew up in that era.

The question is, “What is the best way to mix it up with good players and weaker players and still give the top-level players some great games with themselves?” Is the system of challenging in a good approach, or is round-robin play where paddles of the players sitting out are lined up and you just rotate in when the next four paddles are up to play? I have more questions than answers about who gets to play with whom as related to ability levels.

A.J. Fraties shared how court sharing and play scheduling is done in Bend, Oregon:

Winter pickleball is often problematic: too few indoor courts, too many people, too many levels of play. Beginners are intimidated playing with intermediates; intermediates want to play with advanced; advanced get bored. Nobody’s happy; what to do? The Bend (Oregon) Pickleball Club’s Sherie Browning and David Shirley developed a solution that has let the club host nearly 150 different players on only three courts with relatively few problems. First task? Find a place and times to play. Bend’s Boys and Girls Club had space for three courts, three times a week. The four-hour sessions were divided into two two-hour blocks. Times were allocated for beginner, intermediate and advanced play. However, the big issue remained; with hundreds of interested players in Bend, how could they fill courts without excessive waiting and insure the right level of play for everybody?


Tweaked by David and Sherie, the free court reservations service lets the players see who is in their session, sign up, and if necessary delete themselves. Publishing play standards dissuades beginners from reserving spots in the advanced time if they did not meet the skill requirements for the session.The club first opened play to 18 to 21 people per two-hour session. With only three courts, the waiting period left many players anxious. Eventually a firm 17 players per session has been determined to be the optimum number to move along play and mix up rotations. Standard session rotation has winners splitting, losers going out. With only five players waiting you’re back on the courts in minutes. One free beginner’s session per week keeps the commitment to developing new players; one advanced session a week keeps the highly skilled engaged. How is it working? “We can’t tell you how great this is!” Sherie says. “Some computer skills are necessary and a monitor has to look after it almost daily, but we have few problems with rotations.” “The biggest issue left is that people naturally compete to make reservations,” David says. “The only answer is to provide more courts; but for the moment, we’re good.”