How to Have a Great Pickleball Round-Robin

Updated: Apr 7

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There are many ways to enjoy pickleball, whether it’s competing in a tournament, drilling, taking a camp or clinic, or just heading to your local courts, putting your paddle into the rotation, to meet new people and play with old friends and a variety of skill levels. Round Robins are yet another way to have fun playing pickleball. I like Round Robins as I get continuous play, and I am playing with folks I most enjoy playing with. Round Robins are done all the time, so while it’s not rocket science, this may be helpful for those trying it for the first time.

First, I purposefully collect contact information about local players. When I enter a new person’s name into my phone, I put PPB next to their name; when I search and I use PPB, all pickleball players' contact info pops up. It’s important to have a good quantity of players to invite to set up a round-robin. You need a certain number for a round-robin, and sometimes people can’t make it, or they cancel, etc. I send out an invite to 16 people stating the first 12 to respond can be in the round-robin. I also tell them we are counting on them, and to let me know ASAP if they need to cancel.

For the purposes of this article, I am using a 12 person round robin, but really it can be any number. For continuous play, it should be a number that is a multiple of “4” as there are four people on each court. So 8, 12, 16, 20…..etc.

Find and print a round-robin rotation schedule. There are many places on the web where you can easily find and print a round-robin rotation. I like using the Bend Oregon Pickleball round-robin charts. Here’s their link: http://www.bendpickleballclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/RR-Charts.pdf

FYI: They do have round-robin charts for all number variations, even 13, 14, and 15 players. When this happens 1,2, or 3 players for each round will sit out and have a “bye”

I like to print out a few copies of the rotation schedule and tape it around the court so it’s easy to see as people go from match to match. You can also print a variety of rotation schedules in case you end up with less or more players than you anticipated.

When arriving at the courts, players can sign up to get “their” numbers. To do this, have a blank paper numbered 1-12. As players arrive, they write their name next to a number. That will be their number for the round-robin. Some organizers will just tell everyone their number, but I’ve found that someone will always forget their number. So much easier to have it in writing!

We usually take 15 minutes to warm up. For the actual round-robin, it helps to have a timer and a whistle to let players know when a round starts and when it’s over. Once we are out on the courts, I blow the whistle so everyone knows to start. I set the kitchen timer and use 14 minutes. Some games finish and some do not. Regardless, I blow the whistle, we head in to get a drink, and then it’s on to the next round.

Although we don’t do this at every round-robin, it’s fun to ask all winners to put a star next to their name after each round. Then in the end, it’s clear who won the most games, and the top four players with the most stars play a “winner’s” match as a reward for their great pickleball capabilities!

Before becoming a pickleball “athlete,” I was a teacher for 23 years, so it’s in my DNA to put thought into planning events like this, and ironing out the small hiccups so that it goes smoothly. Some may say I have overthought this, but I hope you find it helpful!!

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