What Makes Adaptive Pickleball/Para-Pickleball so Accommodating?
Para-pickleball accommodates a variety of physical disabilities, including the most severe. Just as much a game of strategy as it is power, para-pickleball’s classification system accommodates a variety of disability types including wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, limb deficiencies, stature, movement disorders and many more. Adapted pickleball is a racquet-hybrid sport played on a basketball size court (74” x 44”) that will challenge a wide variety of athletes with precise control of accelerated-movements not found in any other adaptive sport. Functional impacts on strategy, coaching and skill development including the multiple boundaries found in the sport of pickleball, have been carefully evaluated and accounted for within the development of the RNR classification system.
Using the RNR classification system, the sport of para-pickleball is accommodating for a wide variety of impairments including quadriplegia. For example, the founder of Rock N Roll Pickleball and creator of para-pickleball herself, has paralysis in all four limbs and limited hand function. Para-pickleball uses the same boundary lines as non-disabled pickleball but para-pickleball is played on a larger court to accommodate the breadth of mobility impairments and adapted maneuvers exhibited by its para-athletes. Although very accommodating to the most severe disabilities, strategic development within the multiple boundaries of the pickleball court creates mobility-control challenges for even the most hard-core-adaptive athletes. Utilizing the proven methods of RNR, all adaptive athletes will increase their physical adaption and mobility skills while learning how to succeed at this sport with the experts at Rock N Roll Pickleball.
ALL abilities are encouraged to compete with Rock N Roll Pickleball alongside our para-athletes! Memberships for ALL abilities will be available in 2018.
To be part of a Rock N Roll Pickleball competition, all participants must hold an RNR classification. Classification is a membership service of Rock N Roll Pickleball. Only Rock N Roll Pickleball offers this expertise and service for the pickleball-sporting community. RNR is dedicated to serving the para-pickleball community, and proceeds from memberships go towards the national program development for para-pickleball. This includes but is not limited to equipment, instruction and competitive opportunities. We will have a variety of fun and exciting opportunities available for all friends and family of Rock N Roll Pickleball to join our para-members in the “Rock N Roll happiness.”
Classification, Equipment, Court Set-Up and Rules of Para-Pickleball:
Para-Pickleball is a racquet-hybrid sport. Para-pickleball is played on a basketball size court (74” x 44”) with boundary lines similar to that of a badminton court (44” x 20”). A mesh net similar to a badminton or sitting volleyball net divides the opponent courts.
Classification: All para-members go through a process for athletic classification that verifies impairments and pairs similar functional impacts with each other for competition. Most of the equipment remains the same except we allow for use of assistive technology and specialized-adaptive equipment for physical adaptations in accord with the requirements noted in our classification system. These accommodations must adhere to the RNR classification system to assure that such modifications are being used for skill and strategy development versus a competitive advantage. A variety of physical adaptations may be made for those with limited hand use, movement disorders and limb deficiencies in accord with RNR’s rules, guidelines and classification system.
The Net: Just as in non-disabled pickleball, the net is displayed at 34” near the centerline and 36” on the sideline boundaries. In para-pickleball, rules and tournament formats are modified to accommodate the varying functional attributes found in the Rock N Roll Pickleball’s sport classes.
The Ball: A plastic-perforated ball weighing between 22 – 26.5 grams, 73mm – 75.5 mm in diameter with 26-40 small holes accelerates the game. The lightweight ball is excellent for indoor and outdoor playing venues. Outdoor balls typically have thicker outer construction and smaller perforations to account for outdoor variables such as wind and a harder playing surface.
The Racquet Hybrid: Pickleball is played with an oversized ping-pong paddle. Instead of a stringed racquet. The sport uses a paddle-like playing surface, similar to that of a ping-pong paddle, with a honeycomb core. The honeycomb core can be composed of a variety of materials including polymers or aluminum. The total length of the paddle may not exceed 17” in length. Length plus width of the paddle cannot exceed 24”. Most paddles weigh approximately 7-8.5 ounces.
The Court: Control and strategy development is emphasized by the multiple boundary points found on the court in para-pickleball including the non-volley zone. The non-volley zone (NVZ) is the area immediately adjacent and horizontal to the net that encompasses a 140’ square foot area. The NVZ extends 7’ beyond the net on both sides of the court. The RNR classification system has made varying adaptations to the rules of para-pickleball as well as its tournament formats to accommodate for the varying functional-impacts within these boundary points.
3 Basic Rules to Get Started
Non-Volley Zone (also referred to as the kitchen): In the NVZ, you cannot hit the ball in the air without the ball making contact in this zone. The only time an athlete may make contact in this area, without incurring a fault, is when the ball makes contact with the playing surface within the boundaries of this area.
Double Contact Rule: The double contact rule is where the ball must make contact upon the court surface, on the server’s side as well as on the return side of the court. Only after contact on each side of the court, can a player hit the ball in the air without incurring a fault.
Service: Service is cross court. The serve must make contact within the opponent’s service court before striking the ball. Making contact with the ball before the ball touches the opponent’s service court is a fault. After the ball has made contact on each side of the court, the ball may be volleyed by hitting the ball in the air without contacting the court’s surface. Games are typically played to 11 and must be won by 2 points. Service must be underhanded and contact with the ball below the waist. Paddle head must always be below the bend of the wrist and the ball may not bounce or touch the ground during service. Paddle contact with the ball must be within all the boundaries of the service area including the imaginary extensions of the boundary lines.
For more information on para-pickleball including updated rules and guidelines, please contact Rock N Roll Pickleball. You may also contact Rock N Roll Pickleball for loan of pickleball equipment to start your own para-pickleball program.
After playing golf one Saturday during the summer, Joel Pritchard, congressman from Washington State and Bill Bell, successful businessman, returned to Pritchard’s home on Bainbridge Island, WA (near Seattle) to find their families sitting around with nothing to do. The property had an old badminton court so Pritchard and Bell looked for some badminton equipment and could not find a full set of rackets. They improvised and started playing with ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball. Click here for more info.
NOTE: Rock N Roll Pickleball has already begun the process of developing its classifications system. In accord with the RNR classification system, all published IFP wheelchair rules will be reevaluated and rewritten for integration into RNR’s sports classes. As the original creator and author of the current sanctioned rules, RNR will strive to make the transition from the IFP rules to RNR rules as easy as it can for its members.