Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Playing Pickleball at RCW Fall 2014 - Spring 2015

Playing pickleball is a lot of fun.  There is the play aspect, where we are out there getting exercise in the Arizona sunshine, and that is hard to beat.  The people we meet at pickleball are relaxed, and enjoying their winter retreat.  First of all, the people that are here are either retired or taking retirement for a test drive.  So, the toughest decisions of our day are what time to take a nap, or whether to play pickleball, go hiking, biking or to the wood shop, or maybe a sightseeing or shopping expedition.  For the more adventurous, maybe doing a few of these things or some others as well fits the bill.  The people here can also afford to be here.  It is not terribly expensive, especially for those who have purchased a “can”dominium here, and so we should all be walking around with a “pinch me, I must be dreaming” attitude of gratitude for being able to be here.  There are many others who cannot afford to quit their jobs, or who are living in poverty.

Many of you might say that pickleball was a lot of fun before we started organizing our RCW Pickleball Club, so why change?  Also, what changes are in store for next year?

In fact, over the last few years, Rincon Country West RV Resort has fallen behind the pickleball curve.  At least some of you would say: “So what?”


Well, the “So What” is kind of important to us, and is behind the move to bolster our club.  While Rincon has had courts for 5 years or so, other places like Palm Creek and Voyager, as well as a large number of the other RV Resorts have gotten into pickleball in a big way.  What this has meant for their parks has been a large increase in people making these parks into their winter home.  Those people did not come to Rincon Country West or East for that matter, and though George and the O’Leary family have maintained the parks very well, a large contingent of people looking for pickleball in the winter have gone elsewhere.  For those of us who own metal mansions here, our property value has decreased, and cannot be excused just by a recession, since that is not what is being seen at parks that have stressed pickleball.

A couple of years ago, we would go to the pickleball courts on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, and play for a few hours.  Then we went to daily play here, still only a few hours in the morning.  Now, we have some instruction at other times, and some people wander down to play or drill as they choose.

We have 4 courts, and are promised to have 4 new courts by the Fall with the original 4 being refurbished with proper nets as you would find on the best courts in the land.  To a certain extent George O’Leary, our park owner is doing this to keep up with the Joneses.  But, for us in the pickleball club, this is an opportunity to do some new things, and to make advances like other clubs have done.  If we do not do our part, then George’s investment in new courts, which equates to about $25,000 per court will be wasted, and I believe that we will suffer further deterioration of our property values.  No other activity at the park is likely to bring a significant number of new people to the park, and keep them here.

I like it here, and at 64 years of age, want to be here for a lot of years, and I want to see more younger people come to the park so that there will be a park when we are gone, that remains vibrant and growing.  That, for me is the “So What”.

But what are the actual whats and how do they affect each of us going forward?  That is the $64,000 question.  A number of concerns have been raised by members lately and they are all valid, and so I am attempting to address them in this posting.

Open Play

Open Play is the opportunity for anybody to come and have a game on the pickleball courts.  Open Play is the mainstay of every pickleball club.  It is how people are introduced to this great game we play.
Open Play means that at Open Play scheduled times of the day, anybody can come to the court and have a game with people they want to play with and who want to play with them.  That does not require you to play with anybody in particular, nor them with you.  Every club I have seen maintains a significant amount of court time for Open Play.

We intend to maintain 8-10 am as Open Play times, and may add another two hour window later in the day, based on demand.

Remember that to date we have only been able to keep 4 courts busy 2 hours a day, and unless we have a giant influx of people banging at the gate on November 1 will have court time available for the foreseeable future.

There is no plan whatsoever, nor will there ever be, to prevent people from playing pickleball at whatever level they are currently at or aspire to.

Skill Level Rating

The USAPA (USA Pickleball Association) provides rating categories for pickleball players.  This allows players to be grouped for competitive play.  It allows really good players to know who the other really good players are, and to arrange games with them either in Open Play or in particular scheduled play during the day.  It also helps people to find partners for tournaments.

Nobody has to be rated to play Pickleball at Rincon or at any other club of which I am aware.
As we get more and better players here, which is one of our goals, these players will be able to congregate for Round Robins, Shootouts, and other in house competitions, at times and courts that are designated for that purpose.

Good clubs see what the demand is for competitive play and for Open play and arrange schedules during the day to accommodate both types of play and players.

This might result in us having some or all of our courts scheduled for Round Robins from 10-12 am, if the demand exists, and possibly at other times.

What we will see in all likelihood, as other parks have seen, is that the better players come down at 9 am or so, and play a couple of games with less experienced players to help those who wish to improve their games, and to warm up for more competitive games later.

But, being rated is not a requirement here, and again at any park of which I have knowledge.  If the demand exists, then we will arrange to rate players who wish it.


One of the things that we will be doing is requiring that all people who play with us join the Pickleball Club as members.  This is not a lot different from any other club that is active here in the park, and is long overdue.
Pickleball is a much easier game to start playing than say tennis, for example.  Someone with little to no court experience can have a lot of fun picking up a new game, and meeting new friends.  But, there are risks involved, and we have not managed or mitigated these risks in the past.

Recently, we had a new player bang his head, resulting in a trip to the Clinic and an MRI.  Another pulled a hamstring, and from time to time others have hurt themselves, me included.  It is easy to get into the game, and for lack of experience and knowledge make our bodies do things they might have done years ago, and they provide resistance that was unexpected.  It reminds me of a paraphrase of an old adage that I heard one time and have used myself.  It is: “Men will be boys.”  There are times particularly with men, that we just think we are 20 again, and try to do things that our bodies just cannot do anymore.  That is when we get hurt.

Part of our membership will be to have players sign a waiver of liability to exonerate Rincon in case of an accident.  If you choose to play pickleball, you should be aware of any inherent risks, and should be prepared to take the responsibility for accepting those risks upon yourself.

Members will be able to sign up for play at any scheduled time or come to the courts and play in Open Play.
Anyone who is not a member of the Club may not participate in group play on the Club courts.  If someone chooses not to be a member, they may bring their own balls and paddles to the court when there are no events scheduled and play to their heart’s content.  However, anyone playing on the courts must have signed a waiver of liability.

Cost of Membership

Starting with 2014-2015, we will be charging for membership.  We will no longer be doing a spaghetti fundraiser, unless we do it to raise funds for a specific purpose, and the membership dues will take the place of that.

As Bert Coates and I explained to George in a recent meeting, we wish to change our focus from inward to outward to draw others to Rincon Country West.  To that end, we will be arranging visitor play for round robins, shootouts, and we hope tournaments during the coming years. 

There will be a couple of aspects to these events.  We want others to come and play with us, and we want to entertain them and ourselves.  So, we will be arranging small pot lucks or BBQs to go along with groups coming in, and all members will be invited.  Members may participate in the events, or may choose to come only for viewing or for the social aspect.

Members will be charged $20 for the year, and for those who come for shorter spans, may choose to pay $5 per month.  For those who are new to the park, we will be giving a 1 week free membership so that they can try out the game, or try the game in this park, and see if it something they want to participate in.


In the past, we have provided paddles for a couple of reasons.  When we were getting started, paddles were hard to come by.  Also, none of us were committed enough to the game to buy our own.  Since then, our paddles have deteriorated, and are in need of replacement.  We will be giving most of the existing paddles a proper burial, with or without a memorial service.

The park will provide us with 4 new paddles for the Fall, and will stock similar paddles in the on site store for those who are looking to buy a paddle.  We will also post on this site locations where paddles can be purchased either online or in retail locations.

Paddles are for new users who have not committed to play the game.  Members will be expected to acquire their own paddles.

These are all changes from how things have been handled in the past, and we acknowledge that not every step we take will be applauded, nor appreciated.  The steps we are taking are to provide a better, more professional and growing environment for us all to enjoy the game at whatever stage of life or play we are at.
Please feel free to comment on changes you like or do not like.

You may contact me directly with any questions or comments that you have.  Or you may contact any of the other directors of the pickleball club with your questions or concerns.

Michael Brandon

Bert Coates
Vice President

Don Heimke
Vice President

Sally Lyddon
Vice President
Dave Lyddon

Allan Schreiber
Director Communications

Mike Wood

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