How to get into Pickleball when you have no one to play with

Pickleball leagues in the city host what's called “open play,” where anyone can show up and join in a game with strangers. Normally, at least one course is reserved for novice players, while the rest are divided between intermediate and advanced players. Some places charge a small fee for open play; in some locations it is free. Most open play setups will have a pickleball ambassador on hand to answer questions and help you find the right court.

Mike Koss is one of those ambassadors. He is a certified coach with the Professional Pickleball Registry and runs Westchester LA pickle ball. The Westchester League hosts open play six days a week for $7 per player at the Westchester Recreation Center. The playing fields are designated for each player level and coaches walk around giving directions and making sure everyone is in the right place and having a good time. The league limits the number of players allowed on the courts, so it's a good idea to do that register online in advance. If you're looking to socialize off the field, Koss says open play players typically head to a local bar like Cinco, Hotel June or even the nearby Elks Lodge after Friday night sessions.

Marshall Pura is a pickleball ambassador at Pacific Park in Glendale. He started playing the sport 13 years ago (“I was hooked within 15 minutes”) and says a lot has changed since then. Pickleball “used to be just a grandma-and-grandpa-style sport at the senior community center,” he said. “In the last few years, the average age has dropped to about 38.”

Bee open play in Glendale, loaner paddles and balls are available for anyone who needs them. Technically, residents need an activity card from the Glendale Parks Department to play ($25 for people 18 to 59, $10 for people 60 and older) and visitors to the city pay $2, but Pura says he's happy to let people try out the game. sports and location first. Glendale has open play on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Pickle Pop in Santa Monica hosts open play several days a week. Pickle Pop co-owner and CEO Stephanie McCaffrey said she sees brand new solo players all the time. The schedule varies, but typically there are beginner play and $5 open play options for all levels. Pickle Pop has paddles available to rent for $6. You don't have to become a Pickle Pop member to sign up for open play.

Also in Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Pickleball Club runs open play seven days a week in Memorial Park. It is free and pre-registration is not required. At popular times, like weekend nights, it's so popular you might have four players on a field, while eight more are waiting to play, says club president Lynn Soodik.

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