Selkirk Sport - We Are Pickleball


Managing risks on our pickleball courts

By Stephen Bass

on Jun 22, 2023

In this article, I rely on my previous work skills to assess a few concerning risks on our favorite Pickleball courts and how you can make your courts safer for all!

How do you Manage Your Risks on the Pickleball Court?

As a retired Risk Manager I was taught to seek out and identify most types of risks that you may encounter in a day’s work and apply strategies that might reduce or manage these risks to prevent a loss or injury to my clients.

These same principles apply to our daily activities and include our time spent on a Pickleball court!

Often life lessons are learned when an incident occurs that might or could have been prevented or mitigated if proper safety precautions were put in place prior to the incident.

I have witnessed a few falls on the courts that resulted in broken hips, wrists and sprained ankles that could have been prevented by wearing proper footwear or better instruction on how to play and not back up to get a shot.

Recently a woman in BC, Canada sustained a life changing eye injury when she took a shot directly to her eye during a friendly rec game. She was not wearing any protective glasses and now may lose the sight in her eye as a result. She tells us now, how important it is to wear safety glasses on the courts! A costly life lesson learned!

My scariest experience happened at a senior’s tournament down south. We were into game 2 of a best of 3 and about to sweep our series when my male partner collapsed mid court with a heart attack.

Fortunately volunteers close by with emergency training took control and started CPR after 911 was called. The facility we were playing in did not have any First Aid trained staff or a lifesaving AED on site. 

What’s an AED?

An AED, or automated external defibrillator, is used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. It's a sophisticated, yet easy-to-use, medical device that can analyze the heart's rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock, or defibrillation, to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.

Fortunately my partner survived that scary incident, but it could have ended very badly due to the lack of emergency equipment and trained staff in a public senior’s facility.

Managing your Risks involves only a little extra time to observe your surroundings and your equipment.

Here are some things to consider before starting your daily Pickleball Activities!

1. Check your equipment for any issues. Worn shoes, broken laces, safety glasses, loose grip on paddle or cracked ball. Correct the issues pronto!

2. Check the facility. Emergency first aid equipment on premises.  Emergency phone access for 911. Emergency exits. Ice for injury available. And any trained staff available for emergencies.

3. Check the courts. Inspect the floor for spills, dust, dirt or loose finish and lines. Correct or report to a facility manager. Playing on a clean court is the only safe way to play!

4. Check for cleaning mats or towels to wipe your shoes when it gets slippery or dusty.

5. Stretch before your warm up. Most of us jump right onto the court and fail to even engage a short stretch routine to get our muscles loose and ready for action. 

6. Ensure you are dressed for the climate. Wear layers so you can shed them as you play. And don’t forget that hat and sunglasses!

7. Put a towel in your bag. Great for drying up wet equipment and sweat from your hands and face. Swinging a sweaty paddle and losing your grip can lead to a flying projectile that could injure someone.

8. Watch out for sunlight on the indoor courts from unprotected windows without blinds. Being blinded by the sun indoors while trying to block a shot can be dangerous. Have the facility install blinds if possible. Remote controlled blinds are perfect for that type of application if you can afford them.

9. HYDRATE, hydrate and hydrate! Bring lots of water and drink it at any opportunity during heated play. Lack of sufficient liquids can result in dehydration, muscle cramps and dizziness on the court. Seek shade and rest for your own safety.

There are many other risks that exist out there. Some are facility specific and can be identified, assessed and corrected as required. 

Be pro-active instead of reactive and your safety and those you play with on the courts will benefit from your new Pickleball Risk Management decisions.

Good luck on the courts and play safe my friends!

Coach Kenny


The author, Ken Wasiuta is an avid Pickleball player, instructor, referee and promoter of Selkirk Sports and Pickleball in North America.

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