Starting a New Club? Tips to get you started!
Sports centres that have badminton courts are a good possibility for starting a new Pickleball venue or club. Often in this scenario the sports centre will take the money for the court hire or some will let you negotiate a per person drop in fee. We are currently working on some tips on how to get the sports centre to take pickleball seriously. When they are ready they will be added to this page.
If the sports centre is happy to invest in the equipment and communicate the pickleball sessions, drop in sessions don’t require that you set up a formal pickleball club (assuming the sports centre has it’s own public liability insurance).
If however, you need to block book courts to ensure that you can have a consistent day/time for pickleball and you need to buy the equipment, you should seriously consider formally setting up a pickleball club.
There are different model types:
1. Annual membership fee plus pay each time you play
2. Joining Fee plus monthly fee
3. Annual Fee plus monthly fee which gives you a fixed number of sessions plus pay each additional time you play
If you have a different model, please let us know we would love to add it to our list.
Creation of a Club:
If you decide you need (or would like to) set up a pickleball club you will need to look at having a Club Constitution so that the club positions/member requirements are met and the club is formalised appropriately. We have included a link below the Club Matters section of Sport England which includes a constitution template to download and adapt to meet your needs. Club Commitee members, Health & Safety, Safeguarding, Risk Assessments & Procedures should all be covered.
Talking of safety, Ian Wilson’s top tips are the best we have seen:
Have fun, get some exercise, but play safe by remembering the safety and courtesy rules!
1. Wear a good pair of tennis court shoes (no black soles, walking, running, cross trainers, or street shoes).
2. Always warm up your body before playing with some easy stretches, back, arms, shoulders, hamstrings. If in doubt consult with a certified physiotherapist or doctor who can factor in any medical problems you may have.
3. Keep well hydrated, drink plenty of fluids before, during and after playing.
4. Please do not run backwards to get to a ball over your head, it is too easy to fall or collide with a wall and hurt yourself. 5. Carefully run forward to get that low bouncing ball so you don’t fall and hurt yourself.
6. Always yell ‘BALL ON COURT’ loud and clear and NEVER run onto the adjoining court to retrieve your ball; the players on that court will throw it back to you.
7. Never walk behind players while they are playing; wait until they are between points and let them know you want to cross behind their court.
8. Don’t take an extra ball or balls with you on the court. Only one can be used and strays should never be left lying on the other courts. Always retrieve the stray ball.
9. Do not take extraneous materials (bags, bottles, towels) on the court or hang them on the net posts. These items create unsafe courts and impede visibility.
PickleballEngland have secured a significant discount for Public Liability Insurance Click Here, so plan to register your club with pickleballEngland to benefit from this discount as well as to secure voting rights at PickleballEngland’s AGM.
You will need equipment but if you are starting your club at a sports centre, you could initially use a lowered badminton court so that you don’t have to splash out on nets immediately. More important would be to get at least 8 paddles. You can get 8 wooden paddles and 8 Jugs balls for £50 from pickleball.co.uk. You could budget the cost of these together with any other start up costs into your membership fees.
Pickleball paddles come in every price range. As players improve they are likely to want to invest in their own paddle – there are numerous paddle manufacturers/paddle types available starting around £50, these are normally imported from the U.S. pickleball.co.uk have a great range of paddles nets and balls.
Pickleball nets are portable so they can be stored when not in use, pickleballEngland registered clubs and players can buy a lightweight net from pickleball.co.uk for £89 instead of the usual £99. It is true that it is much more fun playing with a proper pickleball net rather than a badminton net but if you want to minimise your risk when you start up your club, we recommend that you build your player numbers before you invest in nets, unless you can secure funding from somewhere. We hope to add a section on funding sources later this year.
Getting your pickleball club known:
- www.pickleballengland.org have a comprehensive list of clubs in England and beyond. We recommend you add your club to the database by registering your club so that you can be found by both new players or players wanting to visit from other clubs or abroad.
- Create a poster or flyer that you can get posted at the Sports Centre where you are starting your sessions.
- Distribute the flyer at places where you might find interested players (badminton and table tennis clubs, over 50 clubs, slimming clubs, notice boards, etc)
- Create a free taster session to invite people to try the sport out for free or a nominal fee. Consider using Meet Up to invite people in your local area.
- Invite all your friends in the area and ask them to bring along their friends too.
- If you are fairly new to the game yourself and don’t feel confident about showing new people how to play the game, consider inviting a pickleball coach to help you with the taster session. https://www.pickleballengland.org/IPTPA-Coaches
- Create a Facebook page for your club, share postings about your session days/times with your friends and on relevant group pages, e.g. Pickleball in the UK; PickleballEngland Group.
Keeping it going and growing:
Take the email address and/or mobile phone number of the attendees at the taster session so that you can email them to keep in touch about additional sessions, changes to sessions or information that might be of interest to them.
Starting a pickleball club requires time and attention outside of the sessions. It is a good idea to build a network of fellow club leads so that you can talk about challenges, learn from each other and keep you motivated.
It is recommended that if your club players and play becomes a bit stagnated, that you look for opportunities to set up friendly games against other clubs or invite a coach along to a session to help focus on improving skills. Encourage your players to watch games on YouTube to learn the strategic side of pickleball. When they are ready encourage your players to enter tournaments to get experience of playing against others at a similar level.