Submitted by Robert Nibarger, Ambassador, Piedmont District North Carolina
There is one absolute truth about pickleball and that truth is that all players start out as beginners. Yes, not all beginners are created equal as some are former tennis players, former table tennis masters or former racquetball stars and so forth. On the other side of the coin, some folks have never played paddle sports. It really gets interesting for club organizers when the “kill or be killed” players meet up with social pickleball players. Both are equal and both can be challenges. What is social pickleball and what is competitive pickleball you ask? On the social side, these are folks who really don’t care if they win or lose or about their skill level. They just want to meet, exercise and visit with their friends. On the “kill” side, “ how dare a 3.0 player join our game.” “Don’t they know we are the advanced group and weaker players ruin our game”. Fortunately, both groups can co-exist with proper planning. Let’s consider several options.
During the first half hour of play, let’s have open play. Everyone plays with everyone and we are one happy group. Matches are only to 5 points to keep things churning. The advanced players will serve as mentors to beginners and to those players who want to improve their game. Note: Social players can opt out and play with their normal group if they so choose.
For the next hour, assign random teams based on the order of sign-up and schedule matches of round robin play. Again, social players can opt out if they wish and play on the open court. You will need a court manager to keep things moving and keep time. I suggest you try this format at least once or maybe two times per week. On off days, continue to play in accordance with your club rules. This usually means players are assigned courts based on skills. Usually the play is divided into two groups.
Skill play – players divide up into skill groups either based on club rules or self-evaluations. USAPA ratings, ladders and other techniques can assist with determining which skills should be matches.
We all began as beginners. Please be patient with the new folks, help them improve their game and always practice good sportsmanship. I guarantee you that your game will improve if you reach out and help others.
 This is in general terms with many exceptions.
 For illustration purposes only. Not all advanced players fall into this catagory.
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