Call T’ Court Pickleball is an out-of-the-ordinary event for reaching
children and parents with the lifetime sport – families who have
never heard of pickleball. It’s pickleball right in their own
neighborhood. Put a net up where the kids live and watch this
off-the-road event come alive. It is a perfect place to attract new
players to the game and build any new pickleball program. Call
T’ Court or Cul-de-Sac pickleball is a free event that can be
successfully conducted with the right equipment and the right
planning. So, let’s get started!
See if this will work for you!
Survey the Cul-de-Sacs in your Area: Drive through each cul-de-sac
in your neighbor to find the flattest spots for setting up a net.
Also, look for those cul-de-sacs not frequently traveled. Make
note of the number of houses (for delivering flyers) and look for
evidence of bicycles, toys, and other items that would give you
clues about children living nearby.
Create Dates and Times that fit your Schedule
Write down the cul-de-sac street name before you leave the area
and set times and dates when you will be bringing all the fun to
that particular site. I schedule a 45-minute event with 45 minutes
between events to get to the next cul-de-sac and set up.
Design a Flyer for Delivery and an Article for the
Your flyer should be colorful and well designed so it doesn’t just
get trashed when homeowners remove it from their door knob or
from under their welcome mat. By the way, the post office frowns
on attaching flyers to mailboxes. Include dates and times for each
cul-de-sac. Indicate your target age groups and invite the parents
to bring their coffee and a lawn chair to watch the fun. Create a
plan and reveal some fun games you will be playing and what you
will be providing.
When your flyer is complete, deliver the flyers by roller blading, bicycling, walking, or hiring neighbor kids. Hit every house in each of the cul-de-sacs.
If you are new to the subdivision or the club it would be important to include a biography of yourself so that people will recognize you when you are unloading your gear in their cul-de-sac.
Maybe include a picture of yourself or kids that play pickleball at your facility. Submit your article a couple of weeks before the actual events will take place to give the neighbors time to organize their schedules.
Prepare and Print
Design sign-up sheets for children and parents who would be interested in learning more about the pickleball programs that you and your facility provide. The sign-up sheets should provide a place for their name, phone number, and email address. Photo releases waivers (for minors) are important, especially if you plan to publish any pictures taken.
Create Your Plan
Create age-appropriate warm-ups, drills, and other fun games. Write a list of safety rules so the children know exactly what you expect them to do to avoid accidents with paddles and to eliminate any form of chaos on your make-shift court.
Court equipment will depend on your created plan, but here is a list of stuff I stack and pack in my car for Call T’ Court Pickleball – portable pickleball net, used balls, chalk, paddles, (4) 12” beach balls, (8) bike cones, (6) hula hoops, (8) poly spots, Dum-Dum suckers, Jolly Ranchers, Easter egg baskets, stickers, loaded Super Soaker water guns, my Roll-a-Rope (See picture below), and a container like a laundry basket to contain the paddles. Don’t forget pens, a clipboard, minor photo release form, and the sign-up sheets! Click here to purchase equipment.
Ready – Set – Go
Arrive at the cul-de-sac 45 minutes before the event. If you don’t see much life
in a cul-de-sac as you are setting up, you might want to wait a little before you
pull everything out of your car. Sometimes, I have set up, but no one shows up,
so I pack it up and head to the next scheduled event. Chalk off a court or use
Roll-a-Rope to make your lines.
Introduce yourself to the parents and ask permission to take pictures of their
children. Give them a release form, and a sign-up sheet if they are interested in
learning the game or to get their children more involved later.
Give the toddlers Easter egg baskets to pick up stray balls. This will keep them occupied while you are conducting your event.
Scatter the poly spots around to create space for each player. Players find a spot and stand on it until all the other players find their spots. Show them a paddle and a pickleball, no need to explain the history of the game. All they need to know is that they won’t be hitting a real pickle! Maybe tell them about Pickles the dog. I think that will be sufficient for these young age groups. All they want to do is hit some balls and have some fun.
Explain the safety rules when holding a paddle, or standing in line and what you expect from them. Give a brief description of the games will be conducted and then remove the spots to the sideline.
Sharks and Minnows –Set the net off the court. Have one child chosen to be a “Shark” to stand in the middle of the court. All of the other “Minnows” will stand on one baseline. When you say “Escape”, the Minnows will try to hurry to the other baseline without being tagged by the Shark. Once tagged, that Minnow now becomes a Shark for the next “Escape”. Once all the Minnows are caught, you can begin again or move on to another activity.
Ear Muffs – 4 or 5 players stand at the non-volley line and another 4 or 5 players stand behind them. The instructor stands in the middle of the front row with a hopper of balls. Each player and the instructor in the front line gets two balls. Place the balls on your ears like you have ear muffs on. When each player gets their ear muffs on, say “Ear Muffs on – Ear Muffs Fire!” Every player in line throws both balls with an overhand motion over the net, and then the next team steps up to put their ear muffs on.
Ice Cream Cone Catches –All players line up with the net at their backs and facing the instructor with a cone in their dominant hand. Stand in front of the players with a basket of balls. The instructor calls out the name of the player while bouncing a ball to the player. Say “Bounce – Catch” as the player extends the cone and catches the ball on the rise. Each player down the line catches a ball in his cone then tosses the ball back into the ball hopper with an overhand or underhand motion.
Set up the spots again behind the baseline. Ask all the players to grab a paddle, stand on a spot, and “hug their paddle” to their chest. Demonstrate a forehand ground stroke and a backhand groundstroke. Players will then demonstrate the stroke.
Groundstrokes – Players form two lines behind the baseline. Players at the right court will hit forehand groundstrokes and players at the left court will hit backhand groundstrokes. Players waiting to hit can be either safely behind the other players or waiting at the side lines. Alternate two feeds to each player before the hitters go to the end of their own lines. Reverse the drill so that the backhand players can hit forehands and the forehand players can hit backhand groundstrokes.
Beach Ball Groundstrokes –Prepare the beach balls and have each player hold their paddle with one or both hands. The younger players can use both hands because you want to work on both the backhand and forehand groundstrokes. The beach ball remains on the ground and they can either hit it back to you or to one of the other players. Players will swing from low to high (cue: “Worms to the birds”) and make contact with the paddle parallel to the net and follow through over the shoulders. Position a couple of pairs on each side of the net, each with their own beach ball. Let them go at it!
Hula Hoop Hops – Place three hula hoops in a row for each team of players. Divide the players and have each half stand behind each other in a line behind the hoops. Left team is the backhand side, and the right is the forehand side. On “go” first player in each line hops through hoops and out, turns to the side and hits their volley fed by the instructor. That player runs to the back of his own line and next player in line does the same. Since it is a race, keep feeding alternating balls. You can toss if you want. Use keywords like – “punch or block”. First team to hit 8 balls is the winning team. Then switch sides.
Wrap it Up
Players help pick up balls by making a Stuffed Turkey. They just tuck their shirts into their shorts and load up balls down through the neck hole. This makes them a big fat turkey and is a lot more fun than just picking up single balls. Pass out the Dum-Dums or Jolly Ranchers.
Pack it up and move to the next cul-de-sac!