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Playing Pickleball

Pickleball, often described as the fastest-growing sport in North America, is a court sport similar to tennis, but played on a badminton-sized court with a paddle instead of a racquet and a plastic ball rather than a tennis ball. Invented in 1968 in the state of Washington, pickleball has quickly spread throughout the world as a simple game that can be easily learned and played by people of all ages and athletic ability. Unlike tennis, which can take many years to master, it is not uncommon for people to learn pickleball quickly and compete at national tournaments within a year or two. But be warned--the sport may just be the most addictive sport you have ever tried!

The St. Albert Pickleball Club (SAPC) welcomes players of all skill levels. If you haven't played before, we recommend that you start by taking a free beginner's lesson. For more details or to sign up, see the Beginner's Lesson page under the "Explore Joining" menu.

Everyone learns at a different pace and in different ways, so you are the best judge as to what your next step should be. After learning the basics and playing a few games, join the club and attend one of our "2.5 Play" sessions. These are for you and others just getting started. See the "Unrated and 2.5" calendar for available sessions.

In addition, you can take advantage of SAPC's mentoring sessions. These play sessions are overseen by an experienced member who will provide tips for improving play. Some of these sessions are often available for beginners and others are for advanced players who want to further improve their skills. Check this website's "Introductory Lessons and Training" calendar for the next available mentoring sessions. Then see the Development menu > Mentoring page for more information on mentoring.

A rating system helps differentiate players of different skill levels. Often the most fun is playing with other players at your particular level. So most club play is for players at a particular level, such as 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, etc. As you can tell, rating groups are generally in half-point increments.

At any particular point in time, your skill level will correspond to one of these rating levels. When you find you are winning most of your games, you may want to move up a level.

SAPC members who would like to play at the 3.0 level or higher must first earn that rating. There are a variety of ways to do so. These are described on our Development menu > Skill Levels and Ratings page.

Players without an earned rating (called a club rating) may drop in to any "All Play" or "2.5" session.

Wear sport safety glasses and appropriate workout clothing and footwear. Proper shoes are a must; court shoes (such as for tennis) are recommended. If playing at an indoor venue, court shoes must be clean and only used indoors. Visors, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen are also advisable during outdoor play. Do not play on the outdoor courts when they are wet and slippery. Drinking water may be taken on the courts, and is recommended to stay hydrated.

Yes, the club provides balls for use during club organized play. Please do not remove them from the courts as the club funds were used to purchase them, and they belong to the club. For sessions at outdoor courts designated "Open Play," bring your own balls.

Aside from the beginner lesson, players are required to bring their own paddles. Although St. Albert Pickleball Club does not endorse suppliers, paddles can be purchased at local sporting goods stores. In addition, home-based pickleball trainers who periodically provide training at club venues will often have paddles for sale.

  • When buying a paddle, buy one that feels good in your hand.
  • Paddles to avoid include paddles that come in a set of two with a ball (they are a play set), along with paddles that have foam cores--these are of very low quality and are often sold in department stores. A good paddle will have a core made of polymer, graphite, aluminum, or Nomex (a type of polymer).
  • Prices will vary, but any paddle in the price range of $70 or up should be of sufficient quality.
  • You are strongly encouraged to buy a paddle that meets official approved specifications. Non-approved paddles cannot be used in sanctioned tournaments. A list of paddles that meet official specifications can be found at
  • Lastly, we suggest you buy a quieter paddle if possible to help reduce impact noise for residents close to outdoor courts.

Check the Indoor Calendar or the Outdoor Calendar to confirm start time for drop-in sessions. Times vary according to the season and the available venues, and sometimes there are last-minute cancellations (particularly for school venues). Always check the calendar before heading out to play. See the Member's FAQ for more information on the different types of organized play you will see referenced in our calendars.

Many members play outdoors at times that are not scheduled by the club. The club’s Facebook group and our Whatsapp groups are two of the best ways to organize a play session outside of scheduled hours. Only club members can join our Facebook group. See our Social Media webpage under the Members menu for more information.

Most club play sessions are either paddle box play or round robin sessions.

Paddle Box Play

After a match is finished, the winners place their paddles in the GOLD box, and losers place their paddles in the SILVER box. Paddles for the next game are pulled from each box in alternating groups of four. This helps to mix up play, so that you do not play with the same partner two games in a row. This is good for inclusive play, which our club promotes.

Round Robin Play

When you arrive at a venue for a round robin session, you will be assigned a number. A sheet or white board specifies each game as a group of four “numbers” (players), which helps ensure people play with and against different players throughout the session. When attending a round robin session, please arrive no later than fifteen minutes before the session is scheduled to start. Latecomers may not be allowed to participate in the session.

Other Play

The club also organizes tournaments, ladder play, DUPR play shootouts, and partner play. Most of this other play is by reservation only. See our Reserved Play webpage and calendar for more details.

A more complete set of club rules and conventions for paddle box play, round robin and other play types may be found on our Play Types page.


You need to be a member of St Albert Pickleball Club in order to play at designated "Members Only" drop-in times and participate in certain club-sponsored events, such as advanced lessons, training opportunities, round robin mixers, ladder play and social events.

Our club also benefits from a municipal agreement and strong relationships with the City of St. Albert, our local schools and other venues, giving members more indoor play opportunities per member than most other clubs in Canada.

Along with your membership in Pickleball Alberta and Pickleball Canada, your membership in our club supports both recreational and competitive play in Canada, including participation in club, regional, provincial and national tournaments. Membership in Pickleball Canada also provides the club and members with insurance, and helps develop pickleball as a provincial, national, and international sport.

Members also meet more people, gain new friends, strengthen relationships, get fitter, feel better, live longer and laugh more. Where else can you get all this at our low prices?

See the Fee Summary article on our home page.

Our club's membership year aligns with Pickleball Canada's year, and runs from January 1 to December 31.

New memberships purchased in the last three months of a calendar year are good until December 31 of the following year. New memberships purchased between January 1 and the last day of September expire December 31 of the current year.

The membership fee is not prorated. It is very low, and to keep it low (and to make best use of our volunteer's time), there are no refunds. But you can "try before you buy" by taking a free beginner's lesson, and you can attend a mentoring session and play some sessions as a visitor (non-member). We think you will find playing pickleball, as a member of our club, is a very economical way to be active, keep fit, connect with people, and have fun!

There are two registrations needed at this time; one is to register with Pickleball Canada, Pickleball Alberta and our club at the Pickleball Canada website, and the other is to register again with our club on this club website.

1. See our PCO Membership FAQ webpage for details on how to do the first registration.

2. Follow the steps below to complete your second registration.

  1. Select the Join option under the New Members menu.
  2. At the first Membership Registration page, enter your email address and the code you see displayed, then press Next.
  3. At the next page, enter your profile details, read and accept the Terms and Conditions, and press Next.
  4. At the next page, review the payment information displayed, then press Pay Online.
  5. At the payment page, add your credit card information, address and phone, and edit your name if needed. Ensure all this information is consistent with your credit card company's records. Press the Pay $xx.xx (CAD) button. Wait several seconds for a "Payment successful" confirmation.

You will receive an email with your password, another email confirming your payment, and a third email welcoming you to our club.

Members can purchase an indoor venue card of 20 stickers for $67 from the private members store on this website. When members log in, they see additional pages under the "Members" menu giving them access to this online store and other member-only pages.

Members may no longer purchase stickers from captains or other members. This has caused problems in the past, so is no longer allowed. Don't make reservations and don't go to our indoor drop-in sessions or DUPR sessions until you have your own stickers.

With the exception of tournaments, DUPR play and certain other special events, members and non-members can play on the city's outdoor courts at no additional cost. However, the City of St Albert has granted the club exclusive access to some of the courts for certain scheduled times. Only members are allowed to play on designated courts at those times.

Sorry, not for our organized play. We used to, but we have a limited number of indoor venues and play times and a large member base, and no longer have the capacity to accommodate visitors. Please don't hesitate to join though -- new members are always welcome.

You don't need to be a member to take advantage of our free beginner's lesson.


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