I’m fortunate to own a home with a large backyard, and I used some of that backyard space to build a pickleball court. Playing pickleball on my private residential court is somewhat different than playing pickleball on a typical public court. What should you expect when you play on my court?
My court is regulation size, which is 44 feet long and 20 feet wide. My court’s size and lines are exactly what you’d expect to see on a pickleball court. However, on my court there’s only about 5.5 feet of out-of-bounds space along each side of the court. On public courts, there’s often 6 to 10 feet of out-of-bounds space on the sides of the court. Therefore, on my court, the fences will probably be a little closer to the court than you’re used to.
My court consists of Versacourt sports tiles that rest upon a concrete slab, so you’re not playing directly on concrete. You’re playing on the plastic sports tiles, which are easier on your back and your joints than concrete.
On the outer edge of the entire court, the edge pieces of the sports tiles form a short 45 degree angle. If you step near the outer edge the court, keep those angled pieces in mind so you won’t be surprised by stepping on a surface that is not entirely flat.
I have a single pickleball court. There are no interruptions caused by loose balls from adjacent courts because there are no adjacent courts. With a single court, I cannot accommodate an overflow of additional players. I must limit the number of people that come to play on my court. Ideally, we’ll have 4 to 6 players.
If I invite you and 2 other people to join me to play doubles at my place then we’re expecting a total of 4 players. If you and the both of other 2 players each invite another player to join us then we’d end up with 7 players instead of 4 players. With a single court, 7 or more players means a lot of sitting and waiting.
Never invite players to join us on my court without my consent. Please check with me first!
At a public park it isn’t a big deal when one player fails to show up and your foursome is reduced to three players, because another player will almost always appear soon at a public park to fill out your foursome. That’s not the case on my court, where players never drop in to play without an invitation. If we’re expecting four players on my court to play doubles but only three players show up, we’re screwed.
If you accept an invitation to play on my court but you discover later that you can’t make it, please notify me soon as possible so I can try to arrange for another player to take your place.
What to Bring
You are welcome to bring bags, bottles, chairs, towels, food, and drinks into my backyard and keep them handy outside of the cage, but you cannot bring those items inside the cage with you. With limited out-of-bounds space available on the court, we want to keep the entire court space completely clear to give players room to maneuver.
You do not need to bring pickleballs. I have a basket full of pickleballs that we’ll use.
The only item that you’ll bring inside the cage with you is your paddle. You’ll leave all of your other stuff outside the cage. If you bring a bag, you can hang it on the outside of the fence.
I have a few pieces of outdoor furniture that you can use to sit on, but you’re welcome to bring your own portable chair if you’d like to.
At a public court, the maintenance of the court and the fencing is the responsibility of the city’s recreation department. The city recreation department has deep pockets and large work crews. On my property, maintenance of the court and the fencing is my responsibility. I have very shallow pockets and no work crew to call upon. Anything that has to be repaired will cost me money. Please keep that in mind before you throw your body wildly into my fence, or into my net, while chasing down a shot. The fence is in place to keep pickleballs on the court, not to keep people on the court!
When you play at a public park, public restrooms are available. There are no public restrooms at my court. The restroom is inside my house. For the protection of my family, you must be fully vaccinated and wearing a mask to enter my house and use the restroom. If that’s too much to ask, you’re on your own – so you should pee before you head to my place.
If you suffer an injury while playing on a public court, you deal with that injury yourself and you don’t expect the city to pay for your medical care. I ask that you extend that same courtesy to me. As the sign on my court’s gate clearly indicates, you’ll play at your own risk on my court. If you suffer an injury while playing on my court, please don’t involve me. Don’t turn your injury into my problem. If you disregard this request and pursue an injury claim against me, you’ll have the burden to prove negligence or wrongdoing on my part – and, whether or not your claim is successful, you’ll never play on my court again.
The phrase “play at your own risk” also applies to COVID. If you are uncomfortable with the risk of catching COVID while playing outdoor pickleball then you should decline invitations to play on my court. By showing up and playing, you accept responsibility for all COVID risks.
My court is outdoors and players are not required to wear masks. You are welcome to wear a mask if you want to, but please don’t insist that other players wear masks too.
I don’t know the vaccination status of the players on my court. I don’t know if other players have had “close contact” with anybody that has COVID, nor do I know if they’ve ever tested positive for COVID. I assume that if they’ve tested positive then they won’t show up to play until after they’ve isolated for the appropriate time and had a subsequent negative test, but I don’t know if that’s true.
I have great neighbors and I don’t want to irritate them with excessive and unnecessary noise. My neighbors are aware that there will be some noise when we play and we’re not expected to play in silence, but let’s try to keep the noise down.
The sports tiles are extremely slippery when wet! To help prevent dangerous slips and falls, I’m going to prevent all bottles from entering the cage. That’s the easiest way to avoid spills on the court. When you need a drink, you’ll have to step outside of the cage.
Gum on the sports tiles is a safety hazard and a clean-up nightmare that we must avoid. If you like to chew gum when you play, please don’t chew when playing at my place. No gum allowed!
Playing Without Me
You may be wondering if you can arrange for your own foursome, without me, to play on my court when I’m not using it. Sorry, no, you can’t. When I’m not using my court, nobody will use my court. Why? It would be disrespectful to my neighbors to subject them to prolonged court noise from different groups of players coming and going throughout the day.
My court has no lights. Play on my court will occur during daylight hours, only.
Please do not bring any of the following items on to my property: Gum, cigarettes, tobacco, vaping equipment, recreational drugs, firearms.