In the United States, over 3.1 million people play pickleball each year. This number is growing rapidly as more and more people are discovering this fun sport! If you enjoy playing pickleball and would like to get more involved in the sport, consider starting a pickleball club in your community. Pickleball is a growing sport with many benefits, including social interaction, physical activity, and mental stimulation. Starting a pickleball club can be a rewarding experience. Not only will you get to play the sport you love, but you’ll also have the opportunity to share your passion with others and help grow the sport. Starting a pickleball club can be rewarding and provide an opportunity to give back to your community by promoting the sport of pickleball.
Step to Start a Pickleball Club
Below are some steps on how to start a pickleball club in your community.
First, consult with your local parks and recreation department to see if there is interest in starting a pickleball club and to find out what resources are available. Determine your purpose. Why do you want to start a pickleball club? What are your goals? Answering these questions will help you determine what kind of club you want to create, and who your target audience is. Once you have that information, you can start making plans for how to get your club up and running!
Next, the best way to find potential members for your club is by reaching out to friends, family, and neighbors who you think might be interested in playing. You can also promote your club by posting flyers around town or online. Once you have recruited enough members, you can start planning practice times and tournaments.
The third step is to secure funding for your club by seeking sponsorships from local businesses or through member dues. This may seem like a difficult task, but with a little creativity and perseverance, it can be easily accomplished.
Fourth, promote the pickleball club in the community by hosting events or demonstrations at local parks or community centers. This will help generate interest in the sport, and attract new members to your club. Make sure to spread the word about these events through social media and other channels.
Tips for Starting a Pickleball Club
Whether you actually call your ongoing pickleball group a club or something else (we’ve heard “pickleball posse” but somehow that doesn’t exactly get it) is up to you.
Whatever you call it, your group has certain needs. Organizational and administrative needs; who gets to play on the courts when? Who controls play? Is play free? How are people rated? Do we have special events…Meet and Greets, Potlucks, Mentor Days, Pizza Parties, and who organizes them and where are they held? Just the subject of whether or not alcohol is allowed at these functions will keep some of you up at night.
Or, how about logistical things; where is stuff kept, how is stuff paid for, who cleans and maintains your playing facilities, and more? You get the picture…there’s a lot.
And if you DO decide to form a club, while it answers some questions is raises others, and club structures differ wildly. And within the structure….given any thought to bylaws? Election of officers? Assignment of responsibilities? We have. The list is very large and we provide our take on a lot of it throughout this section.
While perfection is largely unattainable in just about anything, you can, at least, create a perfect model for what you want to accomplish. Each pickleball club’s “perfect model” depends on the needs of its membership – a club without enough courts focuses there first, a larger, city-wide club uses different tools to communicate effectively with members than does a club in a physically smaller resort community.
While allowing for these differences in needs and priorities, nonetheless there are some particular characteristics of leading-edge p-ball clubs that we’ve observed. Perhaps some of them will be useful in building your own club.
- They have an active board of directors, whose roles are functionally described within the bylaws. The board is visible to members and the reasons for major board actions are transparent. They try new things to improve their club and correct the inevitable mistakes quickly.
- They communicate extensively with members, using processes that insure that communication regularly goes both up and down. Best-in-class clubs use a variety of digital tools to assist in this.
- They have a clear, stated mission…and each club’s mission will vary as mentioned above. They evaluate all possible major actions against their mission.
- They insure they create enough revenue through tournaments, other activities, fund-raisers, dues, etc. to fund their mission. They have a budgeting process that tracks expenses and forecasts upcoming needs.
- They have clearly-defined and well-run court utilization processes. These insure the best use of the courts based on fairness to ALL levels – and (heretically) this includes prime court time for upper skill levels (4.0+) as well as a beginner (2.0 and 2.5) thru intermediate (3.0 and 3.5). The club’s needs are continuously revisited.
- All major club processes are documented so (for instance) when a volunteer or board turnover occurs they don’t have to re-invent each spoke in the wheel.
- They have a continual welcoming attitude towards their volunteers and regularly and actively solicit new volunteers. Members are expected to volunteer and are recognized for their efforts.
- They are involved deeply in the management of their own facilities…even when owned by some city agency or private enterprise, as is usually the case.
- They work hard at creating a supportive mentoring environment. Best-in-class clubs might have a well-defined training, coaching, and mentoring program.
- They support pickleball growth through outreach in whatever community they exist. This can mean partnering closely with the local USAPA Ambassadors, among other things.
This list of characteristics may not be complete or perfect, but it does provide a solid basis for a fully functional, working club. Now it’s time to add whatever unique characteristics that fit your own situation. As always, it’s just our three cents anyway; your mileage will vary.