Pickleball Age vs. Skill

North Carolina Pickleball

Special Age/Skill Edition



by Ford Roberson, SSIPA President

This is another article in the debunking SSIPA series written to help players understand tournament formats and their advantages and disadvantages based on providing a fair and level competitive playing field for pickleball tournaments.  Have you heard players say, “A 3.5 player has certain skills regardless of age, all 3.5 players are the same.” Wow, can you find any player that is in the 60+ age categories that believes that statement. If you can, they are clearly the exception rather than the rule.  SSIPA was founded on the belief that older players were overwhelmed by playing players 10 or more years younger than themselves.

Let’s take a few moments to look at and understand the different tournament formats and how they benefit certain players.  The philosophy of each tournament format is based on the beliefs held by groups of players within both age groups and skill levels.  The four basic types of tournaments are: 1) skill only, 2) age only, 3) skill/age, and 4) age/skill. Understanding each format will help you decide what might be your personal best format for fair competition at both your age and skill level.

Skill only tournaments:  Just like it reads, these tournaments are only concerned with your skill level, regardless of age, all players at a skill level entered will be grouped together.  All 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, and 5.0 are competing against each other in a group. Exceptions managed by a tournament director within skill groups do occur, often in smaller tournaments or in areas where there are skill voids.  A skill void is where there are only a few players within any skill level. In pickleball in general there are only a few 5.0 players in certain locals. Some states have less than 20 players in the entire 5.0 grouping. In these cases, tournament directors combine skill groups to make brackets for the tournament based on brackets sizes and player numbers within a skill level.  In other words, 4.5 and 5.0 may need to be combined.

Age only tournaments: These tournaments use age only groupings and ignore completely skill levels.  Common age groupings are 19-34, 35-49, 50-59, 60-70 and 70+. Age only tournaments once again, may combine age groups based on the tournament director’s decisions.  In an extreme case, depending on the number of entries, you might just have two groupings of the under 50 and 50+ in age. These age groups are used mostly in tournaments where the competitive levels are limited to high skilled players.  NAGA and State Games of America have generally in the past been age only tournaments. Players with high skills dominate the podium in this type of tournament.

Skill/Age tournaments: These tournaments combine age groups within skill levels as the competitive format.  When entering these tournaments, players enter their respective skill level at a certain age, often thinking that there are enough teams to make a bracket.  After traveling sometimes long distances, only to find out that their skill has been combined into multiple age groups. An example would be 4.0 skill level with age groups 50+, 60+ and 70+ or 4.0: 50+ when you are 77 years old competing with players 25 years younger than yourself.

Age/Skill tournaments:  These tournaments combine skill groups within age allowing for various skills to compete within an age group.  The idea of using this format is that older players skills are often closer due to physical limitations than those of lower age groups.  However, this format allows players the most flexibility since players may still play down in age to compete with younger players of the same skill level.  This format gives the players more choices rather than having them made for them. In all tournaments, players may choose to play down in age and up in skill.  This last format is the one used by SSIPA to give players the greatest number of choices and options.

In conclusion:  Since SSIPA is a player driven association, it desires to protect the best interest of players in the 60+ age categories.  Following the SSIPA tournament guidelines in SSIPA circuit events gives players the SSIPA guarantee that they will not be forced at the last minute by tournament directors to play younger players unless they desire to do so.

Post Joins Carolina Courts Pickleball Team

North Carolina Pickleball

Post New Assistant Tournament Director

Carolina Courts is pleased to announce the addition of Jon Post to the tournament team.  Jon is a 4.5 player and well known both in the region and locally.  Jon also hosts an annual pickleball tournament in Salisbury NC.  Jon will join Bob Nibarger as they will team up to bring you the very best tournaments in North Carolina.  Other team members include Scott Chitwood, CEO and Manager of Carolina Courts, Jon Jenrette “facilities” and a host of volunteers.  The Cabarrus County Convention Bureau is also a huge supporter of North Carolina Pickleball.  Two title sponsors include Paddletek and Onix.  Welcome Jon we are so glad to have you on the team.  ScreenHunter_5506 Aug. 14 14.40

Jon with his lovely wife and son Abraham

Leland Dream Now Reality

North Carolina Pickleball



It’s a sweet sport with a sour name: pickleball.

The game has been around for more than 50 years, but one county in the region is a hotbed for the sport.

Pickleball originated in Bainbridge Island, Wash., when two men decided to use an old badminton court to get their families out of the house and give them something to do. They couldn’t find badminton rackets so they improvised and used ping pong paddles with a perforated ball.

Brunswick County is full of retirees who like pickleball, which is part of the reason Brunswick County resident and pickleball player Richard Holloman decided to start the House of Pickleball in Leland.

“We said, ‘We are gonna build a world-class indoor pickleball facility,'” Holloman said. “It’s been a two-year dream that’s now a reality.”

“I thought, this game sounds crazy, and then I tried it and got hooked, which is a really common story,” U.S pickleball champion Corrine Carr said at the new facility on opening day.

The 12,000 square foot facility is pickleball palace of sorts, boasting six indoor courts to keep up with the craze that’s a combination of tennis, badminton and ping pong often played by retirees.

“Tennis is pretty hard on the joints and pickleball, you can take a tennis player and they can enjoy a game with similarities, but without any discomfort,” said Carr.

Most players say the game is about the social aspect, and the camaraderie, not the competition.

“Everyone is so friendly,” Carr said. “You are out there with people that all love this game. You don’t have to be a pro. Anyone can come out and have fun.”

“I hope it becomes the fun center of Brunswick County, the place to go to have fun,” Holloman said. “The beauty of pickleball is you can play with grandparents, parents and children, all three in the same game, and everyone leaves and says, ‘Wow, that was fun.'”

Source  WETC TV



North Carolina Pickleball

USTA Leading The Way In Technology


Come On Pickleball lets get with it and get our technology Mojoe going.  The USTA has announced a fantastic new program.   See the video below.

Send us your 2019 Tournament Schedule to  ncpickleball@gmail.com

2019 Carolina Courts Schedule


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