College campuses are no strangers to small sports, and pickleball is no exception.
UT at Austin, the University of South Carolina, and Washington State University are just a few of the universities and colleges around the nation with courts dedicated to pickleball.
If you live in a state without easy access to pickleball courts, however, the ambassadors at the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) encourage you to create change!
Here’s what you need to start a local pickleball club in your community.
A Place To Play
The first step in starting a local pickleball club is finding a facility to play at. Pickleball is still a young sport, so pickleball-specific courts aren’t as widely available as tennis courts. That said, ask if a facility manager is willing to allow temporary adaptations to their courts. You can easily transform one tennis court into four usable pickleball courts with some stage tape and temporary posts.
Local parks and even schools are great alternatives to privately owned clubs and facilities, but communication is still key. Let administrators know when your club intends to meet and prepare for short-notice cancellations when relying on public facilities.
Equipment To Use
Though other pickleball players undoubtedly come out of the woodwork once a pickleball club forms, many of the players your club attracts may not have ever played before. This means that your players won’t always bring the equipment they need.
As a pickleball club organizer, you should consider keeping supplies and equipment on hand at each meeting. If you are adapting tennis courts into pickleball courts, you need to bring portable nets and posts along with you. It’s important to keep in mind that while pickleball equipment may look the same as Wiffle ball or tennis, they are different, from the ball to the net and everything in between.
In addition to equipment for actual gameplay, try to remember supplies like water, snacks, and even a first aid kit. Pickleball is a low-intensity sport, but that doesn’t stop rallies from getting wild.
Local and Online Outreach
Finally, any sports club needs a growing player base. First, print out small flyers with information regarding meeting times, what to bring, and potentially, information on what pickleball is! Then get permission from your campus to hang flyers on bulletins, pin them at local coffee shops, and visit facilities like the Y to distribute them as well.
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Social media is also a fantastic tool for growing your pickleball club, especially in a college town. You can garner more views and more extensive reach by posting short-form videos of gameplay and club activities that show your audience what the club’s all about.
Ultimately, what you need to start a local pickleball club doesn’t add up to much! Pickleball continues to be one of the more affordable, accessible sports out there. With two paddles and a correctly-sized net, you are ready to take the first shot and bring pickleball to your community.
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