Paddle/Player Rotation when the courts get crowded.

 

Pickleball in Huntsville, Alabama and in the rest of the United States is growing. That's a good thing. Unfortunately, court space has not kept up with the increased demand in some areas. In Huntsville, we are fortunate that our city leaders have been very supportive of the sport. We have six indoor locations to play, up to seven days a week (depending on the season). Even with six locations, at times, courts at some locations can get crowded. Here are a couple of examples of how the Huntsville Pickleball Club attempts to keep bench time to a minimum. The final rotation method is always up to each site representative. Many of our site representatives use the methods described below. These scenarios are for locations that have three courts available for play. All games will be doubles play.


Two-Up⇈Two-Down⇊ Scenario 1 is for when there are 7 or fewer players waiting to play. This is usually called the Two-Up⇈Two-Down⇊ or winners stay method. When a game is complete, the winners will remain on the court and separate. The losers will go to the bench. Two new players from the bench will join the new game. If a player has been on the court for 2 consecutive games, then that player must return to the bench. Here is the scenario:

  • There are three courts available for play. There are 19 people who want to play. Twelve people are on the court and 7 people are waiting on the bench to play.
  • The 7 people waiting to play have their paddles lined up as shown below. The paddles to the left belong to the first people to arrive. As new people arrive, they should place their paddles on the right side of the pile.
  • When a game is complete, the winners remain on the court and separate (unless one has been on the court for 2 consecutive games). The losers will place their paddles on the right side of the pile as indicated by the green check marks. The people whose paddles are on the left side of the pile (as indicated by the red check marks) should join the new game.
  • When there are more than 7 players waiting to play, we usually go to the Four-Up⇈⇈Four-Down⇊⇊ method (scenario 2).
Winners Stay

Four-Up⇈⇈Four-Down⇊⇊ Scenario 2 is for when there are 8 or more players waiting to play. This is usually called the Four-Up⇈⇈Four-Down⇊⇊ method. When a game is complete, all four players leave the court and return to the bench. Four new players from the bench will form a new game. Here is the scenario:

  • There are three courts available for play. There are 26 people who want to play. Twelve people are on the court and 14 people are waiting on the bench to play.
  • The 14 people waiting to play have their paddles lined up as shown below (8 on the left and 6 on the right). As new people arrive, they should place their paddles on the right side of whichever pile has the lesser number of paddles.
  • When a game is complete, all players should leave the court and return to the bench. The winners will place their paddles on the right side of the winners pile as indicated by the green check marks. The losers will place their paddles on the right side of the losers pile as indicated by the blue check marks. The people whose paddles are on the side that the handle of the center marker paddle is pointing should join the new game (in this scenario, on the winner side, as indicated by the red check marks). A paper pointer may be used in the center instead of a paddle to indicate which side should play next.
  • The center pointer paddle should now be rotated 180 degrees to point to the opposite pile.
  • When there are fewer than 8 players waiting to play, we usually go back to the Two-Up⇈Two-Down⇊ method (scenario 1).
Winners and Loosers

The pile after the pointer paddle is rotated (without the phantom paddles shown).

Winners and Loosers Reversed

Paddle/Player Rotation Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why switch from Two-Up⇈Two-Down⇊ to Four-Up⇈⇈Four-Down⇊⇊ when more than 7 players are waiting to get on the court?
    • When 7 players are waiting for a court, typically, the most time a player will set on the bench waiting for a game is the time period of 1 game (about 15 minutes). With games on 3 courts, at least 2 people per court (6 people total) will come off the court after each game. There is almost always a 7th (or 8th) person also coming off the court since a player must come off the court if they have played 2 consecutive games.
    • When 8 or 9 or more players are waiting for a court, some players may need to wait the time period of 2 games (about 30 minutes) before they get on a court to play if the Two-Up⇈Two-Down⇊ method is in use.
    • It's also acceptable to wait until 9 players are waiting for a court before switching to the Four-Up⇈⇈Four-Down⇊⇊ method.
  • When using the Four-Up⇈⇈Four-Down⇊⇊ method, why have a winners and losers pile? Why not just let the next 4 players at the front of the pile go next onto the court?
    • If a winners and a losers pile is not used, then, depending on the number of players waiting, the same four people will always be playing together.
    • When using a winners and losers pile, you will be playing with at least 2 different players each game.
    • Also, to a certain extent, the games tend to be more evenly matched since winners are playing winners (of the previous game) and losers are playing losers (of the previous game).