Pickleball Play Facts During COVID

For those of you who’ve not seen this COVID-19 pickleball video, it’s great information from a health care professional AND avid pickleball player. The creator, Hank Weiss, PhD, MH, MS – Epidemiologist understands our desire to play, but gives us the science as it relates to pickleball. Here’s the pickleball play facts during COVID-19.

As the pandemic reaches more areas in America and abroad, and our beloved pickleball courts are closed, it’s important to understand why. Hank does a great job explaining the reasons why it makes sense.

I reached out to Hank to inquire if there was anything he’d like to add since publishing this coronavirus video on March 31 and he shared: “I think most of the viewers got that message and were or are now abiding by it. This is hard on everyone who is dedicated to the game, but these are not normal times. Everyone has to do their part to slow the spread of the virus to protect each other and our health care workers.”

Here are a couple comments/questions from viewers of the video:

One respondent suggested this idea-

Singles play – players could use balls of a different color or marking and only serve with your ball and scoot the other ball back to your opponent without touching it, so you wouldn’t touch the other players ball.

Viewer Pickleball Rocks ASKS:
“One issue we see that wasn’t covered and maybe it’s not an issue: An hour before we get to the courts with our “safe” family to play, an infected, but asymptomatic player standing at the kitchen line sneezes. Now our group comes onto the court to play and at the end of our very first point, the freshly washed ball rolls through the area of the court where the player sneezed one hour early. Will the court hold the virus and transmit it to the ball in a case like this? Now we pick up an infected ball and unknowingly touch our face. What just happened?”

Hank Weiss REPLIES:
“That’s really a good question. Possible exposure could take place. but pretty low risk from the droplets hitting the ground assuming most of surface wasn’t contaminated. Exposure and drying will kill some of the virus. Some will dry and blow away. Unknown how much virus left would transfer to a moving ball. There are indoor surface studies showing evidence of virus can hang around but how infectious those remnants are is not clear. As long as the person before was not coughing much or spitting out phlegm my guess is pretty low risk, but you raise the issue you wouldn’t know about that persons behavior and what they left behind. Ball hygiene and hand washing would also keep risk down.”

So now you have some pickleball play facts during these times of coronavirus or COVID-19. Feel free to share/forward this post with your pickleball pals.

Be safe my pickleball friends. Hugs!

33 comments on “Pickleball Play Facts During COVID”

  1. Hello All,
    Please help me out with this one. Since Covid-19 hit, my husband and I have been only playing singles to be safe. There have been times when we find an open court and play. When people arrive and a waiting, we have been advised that we can only play one game (even though there are foursomes that have been there much longer than us). We have seen multiple games played before exiting the court and have been advised by these players one game only. This is during open play. We have also been told no singles, you must play doubles. This is with Covid restrictions (Households only or at least six feet apart) posted on every court. Is rules or etiquette for this? I really don’t want to get into an argument, but I am feeling bullied. We get to the courts at 7:30am now just to avoid this… but it gets icy that early now.

  2. I am as careful and paranoid about Covid as anyone, but I have been playing most days outdoors since the courts re-opened in Southern California in mid-April. The more we learn about Covid infection the more it seems like it’s much harder to get enough virus load outdoors vs indoors to be infected. I mostly play in two clubs, where most of the people are the same each time, but visitors do intermingle sometimes. In both clubs there has been someone playing who was asymptomatic with Covid who came down with symptoms later. Both were infected outside of pickleball. In one club everyone who was in contact with them (not me or my partner) was easy to figure out because they were an instructor, and the students were all tested, and all were negative. In the other place it was a visitor for a few days, and their name and description was sent out to all club members. As far as I know, no one was infected by that person either, and anyone who was in contact with them (we weren’t there at the time) had self-quarantined. My precautions include wearing a mask when off the courts, frequent hand sanitizing (keep a small bottle in my pocket), try to stay 6 feet away from people, especially if they aren’t wearing a mask. Then I wash or disinfect everything thoroughly when I get home including hands, arms, water bottles, paddle, phone etc. I don’t wear a mask on the court unless I’m concerned about the partner I’m playing with as not being Covid-safe, and there are many. At one club masks are required off the court, but not the other. I also bring my own marker to sign up at the courts, use the bucket of bleach water for the balls when provided, and am careful not to touch the metal entry gates with my fingers. I designate my non-paddle hand to touch the ball, and whenever I can I scoot it along with my paddle instead of picking it up. It’s been 4 months now, my partner and I have both been tested once halfway along, and it seems to us that outdoor pickleball, even with mixed groups, can be safe if you take the proper precautions.

  3. Hi Jennifer and all Players, Would luv to hear some comments from players where courts / facilities that have opened recently. Let us all know how opening is going and any good stories of play! Please share. Thanks. JB

  4. Hi Jennifer and all fans that enjoy watching Pro videos ! After watching the ‘Wanna Dink’ video I noticed that links to other Pro videos will show up at the end. Then after watching those, more will come up. I just watched the ‘Beer City’ women’s dbl’s Gold final in Michigan 2019. Simone-Corrine vs Anna Leigh and her Mom. @1:10 in the match is a 72 hit rally! Also some commentary from Kyle and Irina during the match.

    1. Our recreation department insists that everyone wear masks playing outside. I don’t understand why people think it’s ok not to wear a mask. There are plenty of times when players are not 6 ft apart.

  5. Elisabet G Rios

    Hi. My boyfriend is still wanting to go out and play Im scared he will get infected and bring it home to me He thinks it’s safe. Since others are playing
    These are all older players like him
    Mid 60’s to mid 70’s
    What do I tell him. He won’t listen to me
    Thank you and stay safe

    1. Hi Elisabet, I share in your situation. I have played twice since the 6 ft rule, and our outdoor courts are still available to play on. Have played twice with 3-4 others at dbl’s play, but growing concerns have caused us to cease play for now. I just go to the court alone to keep my serve going well.

  6. Hi Jennifer and fellow players,
    Just a note to say let’s be careful to keep in shape during this mess. If you have exercise equipment at home, do your best to use faithfully. Let’s keep our weight in tact!

  7. Thanks for the good information. Scary disease. Do need to take care!

    From the information, it seems that transmission can be mitigated by playing outdoors in hot, humid, sunny conditions, not touching hands to face after touch balls, and by covering all coughs and sneezes, etc..?
    If these conditions are met, might it be “safe” to play 2 players on each side? (at least a High Confidence?)

    QUESTION FOR HANK: Please clarify risk if playing 2 people on a side, all under 70 years old, not sick, and none of whom are known to be immuno-suppressed:

    Assuming that there are even asymptomatic people on the court, what would be the risk of catching covid if 1) Playing outdoors in Florida summer like sun, heat, and humidity;
    2) The players make sure to cover any coughs or sneezes;
    3) The players only come within 6 ft of one another sporadically and for not more than 10 seconds at a time;
    4) Players use wrist bands or paper towels to wipe off sweat (and disposes of any paper towels promptly in bin);
    5) Everyone washes hands before touching face after touching balls; and
    6) The players take other precautions as mentioned? (disinfect balls often, bring own chairs & drinks, sit at least 6 ft apart, etc)?

    Hope an efficacious vaccine will come sooner than later. In the meantime, thanks again for helping people make informed decisions so can play pickleball and, most importantly, Stay Safe.

    1. Question for Dr Weiss –

      In amateur play, Doubles players often stand 6 ft apart. To decrease incidences of getting close in doubles, perhaps can have each player stay on each of their sides and designate only one person to go for balls hit in the middle?

      Of course Important to follow all other guidelines too including covering any coughs or sneezes with elbows and never ever touch hands to face without washing/disinfecting hands first after touching balls.
      Play outdoors in sunny humid weather. Use own chairs, wipe sweat with paper towels …and dispose of properly, wash balls often etc.

      Thanks for the important information.

  8. Hi Jennifer and all recreational players: Just a suggestion during this down time. Many of you may like to referee games, but aren’t confident to do so. Go to usapa.org then click on ‘rules / referee’ and scroll to the video for ‘Quick Start video to Referee”. Also is best to read or download the complete rules on the same site. Reffing is fun when you know all the rules.

  9. Hi Jennifer, Have a suggestion: If you or someone on your Blog knows someone in the Software industry, perhaps they can create a way to play Internet Pickleball whether vs the computer or online vs each other (especially dbl’s). They certainly have such in other sports, billiards, golf, chess, checkers, etc. Let’s give it try!!

  10. Today, Wednesday, April 8, we seem to have put “The Beast” in a cage. Let’s keep the ugly thing there by staying home and acting responsibly.

    Otherwise, this monster will be on the prowl again.

  11. Jen,
    Thank you for the great information. Can’t wait to get back on the courts. We all need to do our part.

    Everybody Take Care Be Safe

    1. Jennifer Lucore

      Hey Danny, thanks for the note and for ALL YOU DO as a first responder. In time we will all be back 🙂

  12. Love the game, but love LIFE more. Am doing my part by staying home as much as possible and wearing a mask and gloves if I do go out. Good time for spring cleaning!

  13. Hi Jennifer and all players, Tough times for tough players. We will get through this! Keep following guidelines; practice anyway you can; look forward to good times and competition on the court again. Watch some excellent past videos. It helps me to watch them, even if a repeat.

  14. Hey Jennifer:
    Thank you for doing this. It is was very good. I’m sending this to our database. I’m staying home and keeping busy with procrastinated projects as well as taking care of myself.

    Wishing you health and hugs,

    Judi Thietten
    USAPA Ambassador to Twin Falls

  15. Measured my driveway yesterday and got some interesting figures for comparison. From just outside the garage door, the first two concrete slabs measure 11 feet each (!) or one half of a court. Next two slabs leading in a slight slant to the street are, respectively, 10’6” and 10’3”, or 15” shy of 22 feet. (Note to self: watch for traffic when stepping into the street for that extra 15 inches.) Total width of driveway: 19 feet 2inches, or minus 5” on both sides. Almost a full court on which to practice serves, dinks, lobs, etc., and when my just-ordered mini net arrives, maybe even some singles drills or play with a neighbor, taking all recommended precautions, of course. Necessity, meet your child, invention.

  16. One saving grace, the exact number of infected people who suffer little or no effects from the virus. If this number is large, then the death rate decreases dramatically.

    But, of course, we cannot hope for best-scenario outcomes. The proverbial “hope for the best, but plan for the worst” is applicable here.

    Finally, we must contemplate the growing number of atypical victims: those of all ages (a thirteen year old boy succumbed in England) and those with no underlying health issues (an otherwise robustly healthy 41 year old nurse died last week in our home town of Gig Harbor, WA).

    Survivors of the virus say something like: “Ten times worse than any other flu I’ve ever had.” If no other motive than self-protection stimulates our behavior, then believe them.

    This is a horrible intrusion on our lives, but a terrific opportunity for us all to prove our empathy, thoughtfulness, and humanity—a chance to be collective heroes—and gold medal winners all.

  17. Such scary times, but appreciate the science behind the pickleball play idea. Thanks for your time in sharing this resource.

  18. Thanks for the info Jennifer! We are now staying at home and glad to understand how this all works in relation to pickleball.

    1. A Big Thank You Jennifer and Hank. Being a retired nurse this information is so important to follow, not only for each one of us but our health care providers. Best wishes for good health to you and family. Hugs❤

  19. While I miss the game keenly, protecting each other and our health care heroes (too many have already died) comes first. Currently, the death rate is 2.4 percent. If 40 percent of the USA population gets the virus, 3,141,100 Americans will die, 20 percent of which will be people under 65 (600,000 plus deaths. Frontline health care workers call Covid-19 “The Beast.” Recent studies find that just talking to an infected person can transmit the virus.

    Get a grip on reality, pickleball is a game, a GAME—please just comply with our best weapons: staying at home, social distancing, and caring about EVERYONE else, please!

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