A Model of safe Pickleball Play during the Covid Pandemic

October 29, 2020

We are living in an unprecedented time, surrounded by much unpredictability. COVID-19 has changed so much for all of us and we continue to evolve to learn to live in the new normal.

For so many of us pickleball enthusiasts, COVID temporarily brought play to a halt in March 2020. When restrictions started to ease, the conversation soon turned to the logistics of when and how to come back to the sport safely. Pickleball, in particular, supports a wide array of active older adults, many of whom are or care for family and friends that are, high-risk. This fact was foremost to Pickleball Hamilton’s 6-Court Hill Park facility re-opening plan, corroborated by their Mission Statement (pickleballhamilton.com):

“Pickleball Hamilton is dedicated to introducing, teaching and growing the game within the Greater Hamilton Community. We are passionate about--and committed to--providing inclusive, varied and accessible programming in a well-maintained and safe environment.”

Following several discussions and approval by the City of Hamilton, Pickleball Hamilton’s Board navigated new territory to put together COVID protocols to protect its members, going above and beyond the requirements and recommendations from the Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments as well as Pickleball Ontario guidelines:

Contact tracing by mandatory registration per member play session and guest drop-ins

Volunteer Monitors at each session, to enforce COVID screening:

Control over who enters the courts, based on registration

Opening of the courts

COVID Incident tracking and reporting

Exit/Entry Social Distancing protocols between sessions

Hand sanitization when entering the courts

Hand and ball sanitization stations around the courts

Maximum limits of players

No sharing of balls, equipment, etc.

During Stage 1 and 2, social distance playing via Singles, Skinny Singles, Gutter ball. Stage 3 introduced regular doubles play.

With these protocols, Pickleball Hamilton created tremendous confidence within the membership that Hill Park was a safe play environment, where COVID rules were proactively managed and strictly enforced. They also ensured that COVID did not spread within our community. It speaks volumes that play continued uninterrupted over the 2020 season and thankfully there were zero COVID cases.

Pickleball Hamilton’s board knew that these guidelines would not accepted by all in the same way and some members could be lost, but they took the difficult path anyway. And for that, Pickleball Hamilton should be commended for their leadership; they did what was right and kept their club members and visitors healthy and safe.

Pickleball Hamilton Board:

President – Linda Kawamoto

Vice-President – Carolyn Buck

Treasurer/Secretary – Jessica Kawamoto

Club Pro – Matt Kawamoto

Director – Haig Saadetian

Director – John Sharp

Director – Matt Cunningham

Director – Ray Munro