Tips for Returning to Play

Effective June 4, 2020, please find below our Pickleball Nova Scotia Return to Play guidelines that were recently reviewed and approved by the  Communities, Sport, and Recreation Division of the Province of Nova Scotia.  We encourage every pickleball player to read this information in its entirety and we ask that you pay close attention to two of the most important recommendations: 

1) If you are are feeling unwell and symptomatic, please do not participate in this activity

2) Always practice social distancing when you are in the presence of people who are not part of your family bubbles.  

Have fun and play safe, 

Your friends at Pickleball Nova Scotia 

  

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A SAFE RETURN TO PLAY

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, Pickleball Nova Scotia has been committed to encouraging a safe sporting environment. This commitment includes the health and safety of pickleball players as well as everyone else in the communities where we live and play.

In March, while the crisis was impacting the entire country, Pickleball Nova Scotia strongly advised that all players across the province refrain from playing pickleball based on recommendations by our provincial Health officials.

Today, we recognize that the situation has evolved and that some areas in the province as well as across the country, are affected in different ways. As stay at home restrictions continue being discussed and implemented, we are starting to make a gradual yet safe return to playing pickleball beginning first with singles pickleball and then with doubles pickleball where doubles partners were all from the same family bubble.

If you live in a region where confinement measures have been lifted or modified by government authorities and indoor and/or outdoor sporting facilities have reopened, we encourage you to start playing pickleball again. Pickleball is a unique sport which provides many benefits, particularly for people’s health and well-being, both mentally and physically.

However, COVID-19 is continuing to create its share of challenges and concerns and we feel that it is imperative to take precautions to ensure that pickleball is being played in a safe environment for all. In order to properly prepare for a safe return to pickleball, we are issuing the following tips and recommendations for players as well as for club administrators and anyone organizing pickleball activities.

For the registered members of Pickleball Nova Scotia, please note that pickleball play in contravention of local, provincial or federal laws or regulations is not an Authorized Activity and consequently is not covered by your Pickleball Canada players insurance.

TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PLAYERS

If you wish to play pickleball, please remember that you play at your own risk.  With that in mind, if you choose to play, we strongly suggest you adhere to the following guidelines:

BEFORE YOU PLAY 

  • Make sure that your city or region allows pickleball play based on the government authority criteria for the progressive lifting of confinement measures and that your municipality permits the use of pickleball courts.
  • Don’t arrive early.  Go directly to courts upon your arrival.
  • Play only with family members or other persons living in your household or individuals you believe to be low risk. 

  • Do not play if you or your playing partners: 

Exhibit any corona virus symptoms, such as a fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, or other symptoms identified by health experts. 

Have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days

Are considered vulnerable or at risk (elderly individuals with underlying health concerns, immunosuppressed persons, individuals suffering from serious health problems, notably high blood pressure, pulmonary diseases, diabetes, obesity and asthma).

 

PREPARING TO PLAY 

  • Wash your hands with disinfectant soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer, before going on a pickleball court. Also use hand sanitizer between games and again when you have completed play and are leaving the courts. 
  • Clean your equipment, including your paddles and water bottles, with a disinfectant. 
  • Do not share equipment with your playing partner or others. 
  • Make sure you have enough water before leaving the house to avoid having to touch a tap or water fountain handle. 
  • Consider wearing gloves and/or a mask while playing. 
  • If you cough or sneeze, do so in a tissue or in your sleeve. 
  • Avoid touching door handles, gates, benches and all other objects where the virus could survive. If you touch something, make sure to wash your hands and disinfect the surface you have touched.

 WHILE PLAYING 

  • Keep a 2-metre distance from other players. To respect this measure, we strongly suggest only playing singles or skinny singles or just doing safe drills.  Doubles play is also considered acceptable and safe when partners are from the same family bubble or from their second and exclusive family bubble.  If doubles are being played with non-family bubble partners, maintaining a 2-metre distance between partners is required, except for brief exchanges (referred to as incidental contact).
  • Avoid all physical contact such as shaking hands or tapping paddles with other players. 
  • Avoid touching your face after touching a ball or paddle, or when you hit a stray ball to another player. 
  • If a ball from another court comes to you, send it back with a kick or with your paddle.
  • Always stay on your side of the court. 
  • Use only a sanitized ball and change to another freshly sanitized ball after each game. 
  • When players are waiting to play, they should remain outside of the fenced in court area and practice social distancing – much like local businesses do while limiting the number of customers in their stores. A good idea might be to bring along some personal lawn chairs and arrange your chairs in some kind of orderly fashion for court rotation.  Just remember to keep your individual group sizes to no more than 10 people. 

AFTER PLAYING 

  • Wash your hands carefully with water and disinfectant soap or with hand sanitizer. 
  • Do not use locker rooms or changing areas. 
  • Leave the court immediately after you finish playing.

TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CLUB ADMINISTRATORS, COACHES AND ANYONE ORGANIZING PICKLEBALL ACTIVITIES

In light of a gradual return to playing pickleball across the province, Pickleball Nova Scotia is issuing its tips and recommendations for club administrators, coaches and anyone organizing pickleball-related activities. As the situation evolves it may vary in different regions and municipalities.  As a result, Pickleball Nova Scotia believes that it is the responsibility of the people organizing pickleball-related activities to provide a safe environment for players.

To assist them in this initiative, here are a few measures and precautions to take before organizing a pickleball activity.  This list is not exhaustive and additional or different measures may be needed for your particular circumstances. 

ORGANIZING A PICKLEBALL ACTIVITY IN OR AT A FACILITY 

  • The activity must always comply with the physical distancing measures and recommendations issued by provincial government authorities, including the arrival and departure of players.
  • Limit court usage to small groups in accordance with total group maximums mandated by the authorities. 
  • Make sure to stagger booking times between scheduled activities to create a buffer between sessions and avoid an overlap of players at or on the courts. 
  • When possible, online sign-up for reservations and payments are recommended. Otherwise, payments using a punch card or credit card (if applicable) are strongly recommended so as to limit the use of cash for payments.
  • Limit all occasions for gatherings by making all communal or public areas in or at the facility inaccessible. 
  • Limit yourself to the minimum number of non-players required to operate. 
  • Communicate all hygiene measures in advance to all players and volunteers. 
  • If applicable, provide employees with masks, gloves and all other protective items and ensure that each staff member washes their hands regularly. 
  • Keep a record of all players and any others who come in, so that you can contact them if needed, should an infected person use the facility. 
  • Ask players under the age of 18 for a written consent from a parent/guardian authorizing them to participate in their pickleball session. 

PROVIDE A CLEAN AND SAFE ENVIRONMENT 

Clubs and sporting facilities must have operational security procedures in place during the crisis related to COVID-19. These procedures must also be well displayed and communicated to all users. 

  • Prominently sign and delimit closed areas, and the areas where maintaining a maximum number of people is required. 
  • Use markings on the ground to indicate proper distancing from employees, for example at check-in. 
  • Frequently clean all surfaces, including counters, door handles, benches, toilets, etc. as well as portable net surfaces.
  • All chairs and tables in communal areas must be inaccessible or removed to avoid all gatherings. 
  • All doors accessible to the public must remain open to avoid contact with door handles. For safety purposes, doors or gates to courts should be secured during play.
  • Soap or hand sanitizer must be made available to all players and others in various locations throughout the facility. 
  • Regularly remind and encourage everyone to wash their hands and adopt proper hygiene practices. 
  • Limit access to the locker rooms as much as possible. 
  • Close all water fountains and ask that all players bring their own refreshments.

ENCOURAGE PHYSICAL DISTANCING 

  • Encourage all to respect physical distancing of 2 metres, or as recommended by government authorities.
  • Have several copies of court schedules, etc. posted and available for easy access.
  • If possible, use only every second court. 
  • Ask players to remain on the same side of the court and avoid changing ends. 
  • Put in place measures to limit contact between players and employees. 
  • Recommend that only one parent/guardian accompany a junior player. 

COACHING/INSTRUCTING 

  • Group lessons should not be permitted to ensure required physical distancing is maintained, with the exception of lessons for family members or persons residing in the same household. 
  • As much as possible, coaches must try to remain on the same court and adjust their schedules in order to stay on-site for the minimum amount of time required. 
  • Position players in designated and well spaced-out stations. 
  • Exercises that require continuous play are recommended, as opposed to ones that require the use of an entire bin of balls (for example, on practice machines). 
  • Limit the use of equipment such as cones and targets. 
  • Do not let players manipulate the practice equipment. Coaches should take charge of picking up the balls. 
  • Encourage players to use their paddle or their foot to push balls back. 

PICKLEBALL BALLS 

  • Exercise caution with pickleball balls and avoid touching them as much as possible. Contamination through respiratory droplets from one infected person to another can potentially survive on surfaces such as ball surfaces for up to three days. 
  • Restrict balls to one particular group or court. 
  • Immediately remove all balls for disinfection if a player is suspected to have been infected by COVID-19. 

Disinfect balls using this procedure before and after each game:

  • The surest way of disinfecting, approved by the WHO, is to use diluted bleach. Cleans the inside and outside of balls. Dunk balls into solution for 5 minutes and scoop out and allow to dry or buff with a clean cloth. 
  • Easiest way for doing lots of balls is to dilute bleach. Please note, bleach has expiry dates – it is 1 year from date of manufacture. Not all bleaches are equal in sodium hypochlorite (NaClO) concentration. Bleach can be 1% – 6% and it is recommended that a) 6% NaClO bleach, such as Clorox, be used. Put 1/3 cup of 6 % bleach into 4 litres of water.
  • Informative site on bleach, how to figure out the expiry date and how to dilute:  https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/covid-19-disinfecting-with-bleach
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