Spotlight On... Vernon Pickleball Association
Vernon British Columbia, Canada
The Vernon Pickleball Association (VPA) has over 400 players. In the summer, they run three weekly sessions for a max of 60 players per session on 12 outdoor courts. In the winter, there are two weekly organized sessions for a max of 36 players per session on six indoor courts.
They first started using the C&C tool in October of 2018, and have since entered approximately 4,500 matches into the ratings system.
We corresponded with Barry Montgomery, the Performance Based Ratings Program Manager for VPA, to learn more about the problem the C&C ratings tool solves for their club, and exactly they put it to good use...
Interview with Barry Montgomery of VPA
PR: What problem does the Clique & Club tool solve for VPA?
BM: This tool is a very fast way to capture our competitive players ranking/rating data with the idea that we can create very competitive and close matches for the players.
PR: What percentage of the players in your club participate in the C&C ratings program?
BM: We currently have a roster of 213 players who have participated in varying degrees since May 2019 so that is about 50% of the entire membership. About 46% of the membership are “recreational.”
PR: Can you give us a semi-detailed description of how exactly you put the tool to use?
BM: We use Sign-Up Genius to publish scheduled sessions where players participating in the Clique & Club program can claim a spot in the session. Once the sign-ups are closed, we sort the registered players based on their current four-digit rating. (We currently use Google Sheets as a way in which to collaborate in real time with our team which is comprised of session hosts, match recorders, and administrators). We separate them into 4, 5 or 6 players groups onto available courts based upon the closest rating numbers for the group. Play is always based upon a round robin shootout format, in which every player plays a match paired with each other player. We play all 4 player court(s) to 15 points, but any 5 player and 6 player court(s) are played to 11 points. A very specific caveat that all games must be WON by 2 points.
PR: Do you put a cap on how many scored matches will be used within each session?
BM: We only have players play one complete round-robin shootout that is scored for each session. After they are completed we have them mix it up with players from other nearby courts as they wish. This has become important as it brings the players down from a competitive scored environment to ending the day with a more relaxed environment. This is good for all.
PR: How would you say it is working? Do the players find the system credible?
BM: This system is “self-adjusting” and is based upon each player having their “paddle doing the talking.” No host or organizer manipulates the court selection as players are grouped only upon the “most current” 4-digit rating. Now of course there will be debates amongst any group about the effect of partnering and that discussion never seems to end in pickleball. But using only a round robin shootout format ensure each player partners once with each other player, and then, depending on the number on the courts, against each player a number of times so the knife cuts both ways. Some will claim that performance-based ratings are not as valid as skills-based subjective assessments. Using this system is a more objective assessment of how a player performs in real games.
PR: OK, so how are the match winners and losers recorded, and then how are they entered into the system?
BM: We provide each court with the round robin shootout scoresheet and the players record the wins and losses as they play them out. At the end of the session we simply collect them. A team of two people enter the matches in chronological order using the C&C tool and verify they are correct.
PR: We see you use both of the words “rating” and “ranking”?
BM: We use the word “ranking” over “rating” since what this system does is arrange your players over a continuum and not get players too fixated on trying to make a direct reference to their actual legacy 2-digit rating number. But we can see that over time people will get more comfortable with the system and generally recognize having a 4 digit number greatly expands the definition of legacy rating groups.
PR: Are your recreational players captured in the C & C tool as well?
BM: Almost half of our club players are “recreational” and do not want to participate in this kind of competitive play. They should be respected. They can play in those sessions that don’t have a skills based requirement. That said, there are always players who are recreational today but at some point “signal” they are ready for competitive play and you welcome them. These players really seem to embrace the 4-digit system because if they show superior skills they can be recognized much quicker, as traditional skills-based assessments take much longer to organize and set up.
Click here to view the PCO (Canada's pickleball assn) report on this program.