Seattle Indoor Pickleball – Fall 2021

The Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) department has resumed indoor “drop-in” pickleball sessions at multiple locations starting in early October 2021. Most locations offer 45-minute long sessions. All locations require advanced reservations and limit the number of players to 4 times the number of pickleball courts available.

Players have had many questions regarding these new drop-in sessions. We are trying to answer some of them here. Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to share your experiences with us.

Q: Were any pickleball players involved in the decision to have 45-minute sessions?

A: We don’t know, but we guess not. The Seattle Metro Pickleball Association was not consulted.

Q: Are other sports limited to 45-minute sessions?

A: Yes. Badminton, basketball, ping-pong and some volleyball seem to suffer the same fate.

Q: Why 45-minute sessions?

A: We can only guess that this is SPR’s way to split large crowds that used to congregate for large amount of times into smaller crowds that congregate for shorter amount of times.

Q: Do other cities around Seattle have the same 45-minute rule?

A: No.

Q: Why do most Seattle locations offer 45-minute pickleball sessions while a few offer longer sessions?

A: We are told that the community centers that offer 45-minute sessions did not have a choice. The decision was made at a higher level. We do not know if the few community centers that have longer sessions are breaking the rules or asked for special dispensations.

Q: Can I sign up for multiple consecutive pickleball sessions?

A: The online system registration system does not allow registering for multiple consecutive sessions. However, at this time, it is usually possible to stay and play the next session because of low attendance. When it rains every day, things will likely change.

Q: I signed up online for a drop-in session that I will not be able to attend. What should I do?

A: There is no way to cancel online. We hear you can call your community center to cancel your registration.

Q: Can I drop-in even if I don’t have a reservation?

A: If the number of reservations for a particular session has not reached the maximum number of players allowed, we do believe that there is a good chance you will be allowed to register on the spot and join in.

We have heard of sessions where all the available spots are reserved by advance registration, but only a few of the registered players actually show up. When unregistered players ask if they can join in, the community center doesn’t know whether to release the reserved spots that are unoccupied. Confusion ensues.

Q: I can’t play 45-minute continuously. I like to take a break between games. If I take a break, what will the other people in my foursome do?

A: There is a good chance that the number of players present won’t be a multiple of four. Some players will have to sit and wait for a turn no matter what.

Q: The Rainier Community Center hosted the most diverse pickleball community before the pandemic. Why does it not offer drop-in pickleball now?

A: This is indeed quite surprising given that the Rainier Community Center currently offers drop-in Hip Hop Spin, Basketball, Bridge, and Tai Chi. The SPR person we were told to contact regarding this is not returning phone calls or emails.

Pre=pandemic pickleball at the Rainier Community Center

Q: Who at SPR decided to have 45-minute pickleball sessions?

A: We don’t know.

Q: Is this how it is going to be for the foreseeable future?

A: Not necessarily. We believe SPR might change the current system if they think of a better way.

Q: How can I give SPR feedback about this new system?

A: You can email, the official SPR channel for inquiries, compliments, suggestions, complaints, etc.