Friday, September 23, 2011

Is Pickleball the best experience possible at your gym or recreation center?

Many of us have the luxury of living in a community with dedicated pickleball courts and can play most any time we want, or are part of a pickleball club that manages the courts for the benefit of all. But there are many locations across the region where pickleball is open to the public and played at the local gym, church, recreation center or sports center.   I received an e-mail from our ambassadors in Aiken, SC  that started out by saying:

 " I am meeting with Jessica Campbell, the Recreation Program Director at Odell Weeks tomorrow to discuss sending out a survey to all of those on her (pickleball) e-mail list to determine what we can do to make playing pickleball the best experience possible.........."

Does this sound like what is happening with your players?  Mike and Loretta Beckner went on to say that the  daytime players had dwindled considerably during the summer . It was more than just people vacationing or out of town , it was more the different levels of players.  With the current schedule, players of ALL level of experience were playing at the same time, and it seemed at times that some were feeling intimidated sharing the courts with more advanced players.  Did they need to dedicate a court for beginner/advanced beginner play? Did they need to offer more instruction?  Was it the time schedule?   One way or another they needed to find a way to get people back and on a more regular basis.....the evening play is going well and it is mostly intermediate/advanced players (at least two courts are full, sometimes three) but daytime play had dwindled and it was important that all players get the opportunity and time to experience the game.

A survey was prepared and mailed to ALL the players on the center's pickleball roster.  What was exciting was that people took the time to respond AND the recreation center LISTENED and IMMEDIATELY responded with the changes they would implement.

For those of you are interested - at the bottom of the article is a link to the actual Survey that was sent.  And in response to that survey..................this note from the Recreation Director.

"Hello pickleball players! Thanks to all of you who took the time to fill out our online survey this month. Attached you will find the survey results. From reviewing them, we have decided to implement the following:

· We will offer an instructional class for Beginners/Advanced Beginners on Mondays from 9 am – 10 am that will run for 4 weeks (October 10 – 31). After class from 10 am – 11 am you can stay and play during the open play time. You will need to register in advance at the Weeks Center front desk. The cost of the class is $15 and space is limited. Registration will close on Oct. 6th. We will have a waiting list and may possibly open the class up to a second group if the need is there. Please note: you will still be required to pay the daily court fee of $1 (if resident or non-resident member) or $2 (if non-resident) on Mondays even if you are enrolled into the class.

· We plan to offer a 3rd court during all open play times, with one court being designated for Beginners/Advanced Beginners. This will be implemented as soon as another net is ordered.

· We will take a look at the beginning of next year to see if there is still an interest in forming a competitive league ladder. So that will be on hold for a few months…

· We are implementing on October 1st the option to purchase an Annual Pickleball User Pass, which will waive the daily court fee that you currently pay each time you play. The cost will be $45 if you are a resident or a non-resident member. If you are a non-resident you will have to purchase a recreation membership prior to purchasing the user pass. Please see the Weeks Center front desk staff for more information.

· We are in the process of lining one of the outdoor tennis courts that are currently open for free play so that you can play pickleball outside as often as you’d like, for free! This will be a trial process for the month of October, and we hope that it works well enough that we can continue to offer the service throughout the year. I will send out another email with information on how to adjust the net, along with some other rules that will need to be followed if you choose to use the court. In addition, we hope to be able to supply paddles and balls at the front desk to be checked out for you to use when you play outdoors.

· We will be working on a partnership with a local sports store to see if they will carry pickleball equipment so that you do not have to order your items online. I will let you know when this happens!

I hope you enjoy all of the changes and stay patient as the program continues to grow and improve. "

Mark and Loretta worked hard to get pickleball started and to earn the support of the Recreation director.   I hope that you find this information helpful - and something you can share in your local areas.


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