What is a Ladder?
from Rand Granbois
Pickleball ladders are an organized and fun way to play pickleball with other players close to your own abilities and to also make social connections. The biggest misconception of a ladder is that it is a competition you have to try to win as you would in a tournament. A LADDER IS NOT A TOURNAMENT. Ladders are designed for players of all abilities to play on the courts as a cohesive group, yet not be badly out-gunned, or the opposite, bogged down by inadequate play. Ladders are designed to shift players into groups of similar ability to play. However, this is not to say there is no competition-- there is. You strive to improve your game and move up the ladder over weeks or months, but there are no losers in a ladder, other than in any individual game. As an example, you may also find yourself in between groups where you go up and down between groups many times, as if that is a group in itself. The point is, going up or down in a ladder only means you are finding your right place in the ladder to have great games.
A typical ladder session involves a series of courts, in our case, 4 courts, on which there are 5 players per court who play doubles, with a round robin switching partners, of 4 out of 5 games. We will play to 15 points with NO OVERTIME, you stop each game with the first to reach 15. After each game, you rotate partners as designated on the scorecards and play the next game, until all 5 games are completed. At the end of each day’s play the scorecards are turned in to the coordinator who converts the results into percentages. Percentages are used to level the field when there are an odd number of games due to injury or absence.
After the results are tallied, the coordinator will email the results to the group each week. The top scoring player in each group will move up a court the following week, and the lowest scoring player in each group will move down a court the following week. (Of course, the top player in the top group and the lowest player in the bottom group cannot move up or down.) This movement up and down not only sifts players into groups of similar ability, it also adds some diversity into each group as well as a competitive spirit of play as players try to move up the ladder. Though we do our best to try and pre-sort players into groups from the start, the ladder will fine tune this over time.
Pickleball ladders may sound intimidating. However, they are just a fun way to enjoy great competitive games with other players of similar standing, whether expert or the less-experienced. Please give it a try!