Getting Started – The Basics
I am new to pickleball. How do I get started?
We are excited to hear you are interested in getting started with Pickleball! With over 74,000 Life Time members in our pickleball community, we are confident you will fall in love with the nation’s fastest growing sport! To get started, we recommend an Intro to Pickleball class, which is offered at many of our Life Time locations and complimentary with your membership. This class is designed to help you learn the basics of how to play pickleball, focus on scoring, rules and all the intricacies of playing the game.
The next step is getting involved in beginner Open Play pickleball. Open Play is a series of set times each week where all players with a reservation can participate in fun and challenging games. Play with a partner or rotate partners with each new game. Court Reservations are also available for players who already have established partners and opponents. Court Reservations are complimentary with a Signature Membership. In addition, most Life Time locations offer pickleball lessons, clinics and mixers. Our experienced pickleball leaders at the club can assist you with determining your player level and making recommendations!
View all locations that offer pickleball.
How do I meet other players to play pickleball with?
As a Life Time member, we offer many options for you to meet fellow pickleball players. We invite you to participate in Open Play, our Intro to Pickleball class, clinics, drills and leagues. In addition, we offer pickleball mixers. Mixers are events that are designed to help you meet and play with or against other similar skilled players. They provide a fun and competitive environment and create great social connections within the Pickleball community. Mixers are $10 per event. Timing and availability of these offerings vary by club. We recommend getting you connected with the pickleball leader at your local Life Time to ensure you are connected with the correct group of players.
How do I know if there will be anyone there to play with during Open Play?
Our Open Play schedule offers a series of set times each week where all players with a reservation can participate in fun and challenging games. You are able to reserve your spot on the court in the Life Time Digital app to compete and play with other players. To begin, we recommend connecting with the pickleball leader at your club. They will be able to share the most popular Open Play times specific to your Life Time location.
Can someone teach me how to play when I get there?
To begin, we recommend getting you connected with the pickleball leader at your local Life Time to ensure you are receiving appropriate guidance. The next step is to get involved in an Intro to Pickleball class, which is offered at many of our Life Time locations and complimentary with your membership. This class is designed to help you learn the basics of how to play pickleball, including scoring, rules and all the intricacies of playing the game.
I’m at the club and am interested in trying it out. Now what? How do I jump in?
All pickleball schedules can be found in our Life Time Digital app. To reserve your spot, navigate to the pickleball tile within the app and select View Pickleball Schedule. To give pickleball a try, we recommend registering for an Intro to Pickleball class, which is offered at many of our Life Time locations and complimentary with your membership. This class is designed to help you learn the basics of how to play pickleball, focus on scoring, rules and all the intricacies of playing the game. The next step is getting involved in beginner Open Play pickleball. Open Play is a series of set times each week where all players with a reservation can participate in fun and challenging games.
Is there specific age group programming for pickleball?
All ages are welcome on the court! From young kids to older adults, beginners to pros, and fierce competitors to social players, people of all ages and abilities are playing pickleball. Check out Life Time member testimonies.
ARORA Open Play is a time for our ARORA community (tailored to our ages 55+ community, however all are welcome) to show up, mix it up and play.
Ages 13 and up can reserve court time from Life Time Digital app or the website. Ages 11 and younger must have an adult present on the court to play.
How do I reserve court time to play pickleball?
As a Life Time member, you will be able to reserve your court through the Life Time Digital App or home club’s webpage. There are two ways to reserve a court.
- Open Play. Reserve your spot on the court for up to two hours to compete and play with other players with an Open Play reservation. If there are more than six players registered, each player will rotate in. This is a great way to meet new players!
- Court reservation. Already have a group of players to play with? As a Life Time member, you can reserve a full court just for you and your crew.
If I reserve pickleball Open Play, what should I expect?
Pickleball Open Play offers the opportunity to meet new players. We offer a general open play or select clubs might offer open play times with specified skill levels. During Open Play, each player would reserve a space for themselves for a one-hour reservation. Limited spaces are available for registrants to enroll. When you arrive, players will team up 2 versus 2. Once the game is complete, players will rotate partners or allow waiting players a chance to sub in
Are reservations necessary for Open Play pickleball?
With Pickleball growing fan base, we do require a reservation before you jump on the court. You can view your home clubs Open Play schedule from your Life Time Digital app or from your home club’s member page under Pickleball.
Are pickleball reservations an additional cost?
Open Play pickleball time slots are complimentary for all members.
Pickleball court reservations are complimentary with a Signature Membership. Those members without a Signature Membership are subject to a $20 per hour or $10 per half hour pickleball court fee.
How do I cancel my Open Play reservation?
You are able to cancel your Open Play pickleball reservation via the Life Time Digital app. Modifying your reservation is available up to 30 minutes prior for Open Play.
How do I cancel my court reservation?
You are able to cancel your Pickleball Court reservation via the Life Time Digital app. Modifying your reservation is available up to 24 hours prior to your reservation. Any modification within 24 hours must be handled in-club.
Will I be assigned a team or with another similarly skilled player?
Many Life Time locations offer Open Play times that are designated for specific skill levels. For example, “Intermediate Open Play” is recommended for intermediate level pickleball players who will rotate partners each match.
If you are looking to be matched with a similar-skilled player, we recommend joining a pickleball mixer! Mixers are $10 per event. Timing and availability of these offerings vary by club. We recommend getting connected with the pickleball leader at your local Life Time to ensure you are connected with the correct group of players.
Can I bring a guest with me to play pickleball?
Open Play pickleball is reserved for Life Time members only at this time. The reservation is created through the Life Time Digital app and requires an active Access Membership to reserve.
Members are able to bring a guest along for pickleball court reservations. Additional court fees apply.
Pickleball Terminology to Know
Carry: A normal pickleball shot bounces off the paddle. A carry is when the ball slides along the paddle when swinging the paddle forward, giving the visual appearance of you throwing the ball off your paddle.
Cross-court: Cross-court refers to a player’s position on the court. When a player is located in one of the playing boxes (let’s say the right side), cross-court refers to the box that is diagonally across from that player (in this example, the left side) on the other side of the net.
Kitchen: The kitchen is 7’ space on either side of the pickleball net. This space a different color from the reminder of the court to make it easily identifiable. A player may not step into this space unless the ball has already bounced within it. A player may not stand in the kitchen and hit the ball out of the air. This is also referred to as the “non-volley zone.”
Live ball: A live ball is a ball that will bounce off the playing surface once. A player must make contact with the ball off of the first bounce or else the ball will become “dead.”
Dead ball: A dead ball can refer to a ball that is no longer in play. A player must make contact with the ball off of the first bounce or else the ball will become “dead.” A dead ball can be a pickleball that has lost its proper bounce.
Dink shot: A dink shot is commonly understood as a softly hit pickleball ball shot that is hit from the non-volley zone that lands on the opposite side in the non-volley zone. A dink shot may be hit directly in front of or cross-court from the player who is hitting the dink shot. A dink shot can also be understood as a shot hit from anywhere on the court that is softer in nature, intended to land in non-volley zone.
Double bounce: Double bounce indicates that the ball bounces twice thus creating a dead ball or it can make reference to the “two bounce rule” (i.e., double bounce rule).
Double bounce rule: The double bounce rule is a pickleball-specific rule that prohibits any pickleball player hitting the ball out of the air until the serving team and receiving team have allowed the ball to be hit and bounce off the ground once on each side.
Ground stroke: A ground stroke is any shot made on the pickleball court. A common ground stroke in pickleball is called a drive. This ground stroke is a shot that is hit hard with pace using your whole body to generate pressure against an opponent.
Lob: A lob is a type of shot that a player hits out of the air or off the bounce over their opponent’s head.
Volley: Volley means to hit the ball out of the air.
Non-volley zone: The non-volley zone is 7’ space on either side of the pickleball net. This space a different color from the reminder of the court to make it easily identifiable. A player may not step into this space unless the ball has already bounced within it. A player may not stand in the non-volley zone and hit the ball out of the air. This is also referred to as the “kitchen.”
Third shot drop: In pickleball, the three basic shots any player must hit are the serve, return, and a third shot option (lob, drive, drop). A third shot drop is a shot that takes a dink shot and combines distance. With this type of shot, the player hits a soft shot hit, after the return of serve. This shot has a gentle arch intended to be unattackable and land into the kitchen. The purpose of this shot is to take away space from your opponents and allow your team to get to the non-volley zone.
Understanding Pickleball Skill Levels
David Dutrieuille, Life Time’s National Director of Pickleball suggests the skill assessment below to evaluate your skill level. Our in-club pickleball leaders are also available to assist members with assessing their skill level.
1.0–2.5: You’re a beginner. As you get closer to the end range of this scale, you learn how to keep score, understand serving positions, and can successfully serve the ball four out of 10 times.
2.5–3.0: You’re at a beginner-intermediate level. You’re more confident in hitting the ball out of the air, hitting ground strokes, and blocking shots.
3.0–3.5: You’re generally considered intermediate. You’re not as afraid of the non-volley zone and have an impetus to enjoy getting closer to the net. You start exploring different shots, such as sideline shots and lobs — perhaps even attempting a dink here and there.
3.5–4.0: You’re generally considered to be at an intermediate-advanced level. This is where the game starts to take a different shape, says Dutrieuille. You’re comfortable and confident with ground strokes, you hit the ball hard, you want to get to the non-volley zone line and are attempting to do a third shot drop. Your ability to manipulate and slow down the game increases.
4.0–4.5: You know where you want to hit the ball and are directionally intent — and you get it there about 60 percent of the time. You can easily serve successfully eight out of 10 times. You’re able to execute a third shot drop and a reset shot about 50 percent of the time.
5.0–5.5: You’re able to perform a third shot drop and a reset about 80 to 90 percent of the time.
5.5+: You’re at a pro level. You’re executing all shots at a rate of 90 percent or higher.
Improve Your Skill — Lessons, Clinics & Tournaments
Do you offer progressive lessons or clinics to further advance my skill?
We are excited to support you in improving your pickleball skills. Our experienced pickleball pros host a variety of options for you to get involved. This includes lessons and group clinics for players at all levels. We also offer private lessons through our experienced, certified professionals. Check out your Life Time Digital app or your home club’s pickleball webpage for more details or speak to the pickleball leader at your club.
Does Life Time host pickleball tournaments?
Select Life Time locations do host pickleball tournaments. Check out your Life Time Digital app or your home club’s pickleball webpage for more details or speak to the pickleball leader at your club.
Where do I enroll for tournament and leagues?
Check out your Life Time Digital app or your home club’s pickleball webpage for more details or speak to the pickleball leader at your club.
What ranking system does Life Time use for pickleball?
While rankings are not a requirement of involvement in Life Time recreational play, the DUPR ranking system is a widely utilized option for general guidelines on player skill ranking.
Courts & Equipment
How many permanent courts does this location have?
You can view the number of courts available on your home club’s Pickleball Court Reservation page.
What paddles do you recommend for Pickleball?
“The best female player in the world plays with a $100 paddle, and the best male is playing with a $225 paddle,” says Dutrieuille. “You can easily buy a pickleball set for $60. I would suggest trying a paddle before you buy one because they are personal to preference.”
If you’re playing at Life Time, loaner paddles and pickleballs are provided for you complimentary.
What are the two types of pickleball balls?
Pickleballs are designed for either indoor play (no wind) or outdoor play. Life Time has both indoor and outdoor balls. Indoor balls have larger and fewer holes. We recommend an Orange Onix Fuse indoor ball. Outdoor balls are harder and have smaller and more holes. We recommend a Franklin X-40 ball or an Onix Durafast 40 (the preferred ball of professionals).
What is the pickleball court made of?
At Life Time, we have permanent pickleball courts that are built on tennis courts and basketball courts. The court surface is covered with a combination of layers of materials that are then painted with a special acrylic paint to provide a unique playing experience. At Life Time, we are excited to offer a specifically engineered cushioning system that helps protect your joints thus allowing you to play pickleball longer and with better care.
Are pickleball paddles and balls provided?
Yes, at Life Time, we will have loaner paddles and pickleballs available complimentary with your membership.
Pickleball and Premier Membership — Sky (Manhattan) Location Only
What pickleball programs and amenities are being offered?
There will be two pickleball courts designed for reservable court time and open play. Plus, leagues, clinics, tournaments, and social events will also be offered.
Who will have access to the pickleball offerings?
Only those with a Premier Membership will be able to reserve a court or participate in any game play or other pickleball offering. All players participating must have a Premier Membership. No guests are permitted at this time.
What is a Premier Membership?
A monthly membership that includes access to pickleball at Life Time Sky plus access to all 160+ Life Time athletic country clubs across North America, along with early reservations for group fitness classes and unlimited GTX, Alpha and Ultra Fit Signature Training Programs at all clubs, along with access to all other pickleball courts nationwide.
What is the monthly pricing for Premier Membership?
- First Person or Single Membership: $299 per month
- Second Person: $100 per month ($399 per month total)
- Third Person: $80 per month ($479 per month total)
- Fourth Person: $50 per month ($529 per month total)
Plus, applicable taxes.
Are reservations always required?
Yes. Reservations are required at all times for both court time and Open Play.
How and where do I pay my court fee?
The court fee for your reservation will be collected at the new space’s check in desk. Only card and club tab payments can be accepted. Unfortunately we cannot take cash.
How can I stay updated on what classes, lessons and clinics are available?
Please refer to Sky’s schedules on the Life Time Digital app or website for the additional programming opportunities.
What happens if I need to cancel my court reservation?
You can cancel via your Life Time Digital app or website. Cancellations less than 24 hours in advance may be subject to the full court fee.
How do I upgrade to Premier Membership?
For the opportunity to secure a Premier Membership, you must complete the upgrade request form.
Is there a fee to upgrade?
At present, this fee is temporarily being waived. In the future, an upgrade fee up to $300 will apply.
What is the court reservation fee for pickleball play at Sky?
A $40 per hour court fee will apply for court reservations. If reserving for multiple Premier members, the fee cost will be split amongst the group. No fee applies for Open Play reservations.
How do I reserve a pickleball court?
Whether you're looking for people to play with or want to enjoy a game with friends, we have options to get on the court and get connected.
1. Court reservation. Book an available court and enjoy a game of pickleball with your friends on your terms. All players must be Premier Members to access the Sky courts. Reserve a court on the Life Time Digital app or the website.
2. Open Play. Open Play provides a series of set times each week for players to rotate in and out of games and play with different partners. Everyone who registered gets a chance to play, and it's a great way to get to know other pickleball players. Register for Open Play on the Life Time Digital app or the website.
Are pickleball paddles and balls provided?
Yes, at Life Time, we have complimentary loaner paddles and pickleballs available, or you’re welcome to bring your own.