By Coach Joe Palmere Jr.

April 15, 2020

Word count 1,625

When we are permitted to resume playing pickleball we must follow the guidelines of the medical professionals and caregivers, for prevention of spreading, and awareness of protective measures against contracting any  C-19 virus “remnants,” that may still be around. Realistically, as pickleball players we will have to take additional precautions that will apply to the playing of our sport.

Pickleball players know where, and when  we are most vulnerable to spread or contract this virus, on the court while playing, before and after the game waiting to play, and our social interaction and love of sideline gossip.

In addition to following the guidelines of our medical professionals and caregivers, “we” can apply a little precautionary pickleball common sense.  And remembering what our beloved moms’ told us about washing our hands, behind our ears, and wearing clean underwear.  

Here are some suggestions for players to consider before stepping on the courts.  You can bide your time at home during this quarantine period by gathering these precautionary supplies together and packing them into your paddle bag or a separate fanny pack.  When the “stay at home” sanction is lifted, and we get the okay to resume playing, you will be ready and prepared to go. 

The large gallon and quart size Zip-Loc Bags are great for separately storing surgical masks, surgical gloves, alcohol wipes, hand sanitizer, a bar of hand soap, personal temperature thermometer, and some antiseptic baby wipes.  These separate bags will fit nicely into one of the compartments in your paddle bag.

  1. Players with any illness symptoms from a runny nose, coughing, fever  on up should stay at home and contact their doctor a.s.a.p.  
  2. Players who do participate should cleanse their hands before, after and upon arrival at the courts with soap and hot water, hand sanitizer or alcohol wipes. 
  3. Facility managers should supply a surgical gloves, surgical face masks, hand sanitizer and a disenfectant spray for general use.
  4.  Disinfectant spray or alcohol wipes can also be used to clean off the balls, paddle handles, toilet seats, toilet and urinal flushers.
  5. A bar of antibiotic hand soap or small bottle of hand sanitizer  comes in handy if the soap dispensers in the rest rooms are empty.
  6. A plastic trash bag handy for discarding any used protective items.
  7. Upon arrival at the courts all players should wipe down the handles of their paddles, clean their hands and put on a pair of surgical gloves.
  8. Player rotation paddle boxes may need to be redesigned to separate paddle from contacting each other. 
  9. Surgical gloves should be worn when setting up the nets.
  10. Keep extra pairs of surgical gloves, hand sanitizer  and a small bar of soap in you paddle bag.
  11. Eye protection is always essential, especially now to prevent touching your face around the eyes with your hands even when wear surgical gloves.
  12. Any ball striking your eye can cause serious damage to your cornea, and retina, and contribute to a loss of vision.  
  13. Prescription glasses will provide some protection. 
  14. Adding a pair of Safety Glasses that fit over your eye glasses provides a lot more protection.
  15. Carry a personal thermometer in a quart size Zip-Loc Bag in your gear bag, to check your body temp if feeling flush, over heated or dizzy.  
  16. Wipe off the thermometer before and after use, with alcohol wipes.
  17. If you don’t have a paddle bag use a fanny pack to carry hand sanitizer, clean tissues, small bars of soap and personal snacks.
  18. Avoid physical contact with other players, keeping your social distance when waiting between games.
  19. Social Distancing mandates may even necessitate playing in shifts by skill levels, during an allotted time frame of 3 hours to minimize the number of players and afford ample distance between them.
  20. Court numbers would determine the permissible number of players.
  21. Each skill level would be allotted an equal amount of time to play and then leave before the next group of players arrive.
  22. Play can be assigned by beginners, intermediate & advance.  
  23. The ball needs antiseptic cleaning before and after each game.
  24. Don’t trade snacks or drinks bring your own supply.
  25. Be cautious when using public rest rooms, sitting on toilet seats should be avoided. 
  26. Toilet seats can be covered with clean toilet paper in urgent situations.
  27. Bring a small size bar of soap with you for when you use the rest room. 
  28. Normally the soap dispenser is out or not working. Was your hands after using the toilet or stand up urinal.  
  29. Put on a new pair of surgical gloves before returning to the courts.
  30. Taking down the net make sure to wear surgical gloves and mask. 
  31. Upon leaving the courts put all discarded gloves and wipes in the plastic trash bag and depositing that trash bag in the proper trash receptacle.  
  32. Before touching a steering wheel clean hands & wheel with sanitizer.
  33. When you arrive home wipe off your paddle handle and balls with sanitizer before storing.
  34. Spray down your paddle packs before storing. 
  35. Wash your hands up to your elbows before touching anyone or anything in your home.
  36. Take a showers with antibiotically soap.

According to the April 16, Presidential News Briefing at the Whitehouse, there is some light at the end of the tunnel of pickleball stoppage due to the Virus Pandemic. The Feds are proposing a gradual return to near normal series of phases.

These phases will be a gradual increase in ending the home quaranteen that most Americans have been enduring for the past month. But don’t expect to be dusting off your paddle soon. The lifting of sanctions will be based on a state by state decline of virus infected cases. Some states are ready to proceed to Stage 5 (near normalcy).

They had few if any cases of the C-19 and they have not had to resort to social distancing, home detention, wearing of masks, and pure unadulterated boredom. Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho will probably lead the way, and proceed to Stage 4 (near normalcy) . New York, New Jersey and Wisconsin will be still in lockdown awaiting to start Phase 1.

Maryland, my Maryland, possibly is closer to starting Phase 1 of lifting restrictions on work, and travel. But I don’t forsee the opening of public funded indoor pickleball providers. Private sector racquet clubs, fitness centers and gyms may open there doors, if the Governor lifts restriction on small business owners. But you can bet your paddle that there will be restrictions and conditions. We may be playing with surgical masks and surgical gloves. Facility managers may limit the number of players based on available court space to maintain social distancing. Admittance will be restricted and probably scheduled by skill level of players. Example: 3 hours of play: one hour for beginners, one hour for intermediates and one hour for advanced. If the facility has 3 courts this will provide play 12 people at one time with no one waiting to play. We will just have to wait and see how this is all going to play out. I hope the facility managers are wise enough to consult knowledge players to determine these new standards of play.

If you choose to play with a group of friends indoors or outdoors, please take the necessary precautions.  Better yet, wait it out home, and practice hitting a ball up against a wall.  Those soft Penn (red & yellow) foam practice balls for tennis are great for living room practice.  Or you can make your own home practice aid pictured in the attachment.  This is a fun project, cheap and occupy your time.  And you will have a neat home practice device to use at will.

I am sure that others have additional suggestions they can share with all of us so we can get back to doing what we love to do best … PLAY PICKLEBALL !   

Published by bhdpal

Coach Joe has earned the prestigious IPTPA Level II Pickleball Teaching Professionals Certification, and the IPTPA Certified Skill Rating Specialist CRS-4. Coach Joe is also an appointed USAPA Pickleball Ambassador for Baltimore Co, MD.

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