As the sport of pickleball grows, so do the number of courts being built in communities in the United States, and around the world. This is thrilling news to those of us who love pickleball! But, for those who live next to or near pickleball courts, it’s a totally different story. Articles have appeared in newspapers where homeowners near pickleball courts are filing complaints within their communities. This makes for bad press for pickleball.
Where ever there is fun, there will be noise. Playgrounds create noise, as children scream with delight running, jumping, swinging, going down a slide, or spinning around a merry go round. The same might be said about the community swimming pool or the local soccer pitch, basketball court, or baseball field. These recreational areas are meant for children and adults to play, compete, and gather with neighbors and friends in a friendly environment.
So, what’s so different about pickleball. I think we all know the answer to that. Aside from chatter, cheering, laughing, screaming when you miss a serve or shot, and other vocal “human noise,” pickleball comes with a different type of noise. And it’s constant, as long as there are players at the courts. Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop…….. hard balls hitting hard surfaced paddles.
Discussions are beginning to pop up (no pun intended) on Facebook and other internet websites and blogs, about the increase in noise related complaints from pickleball courts. It’s a growing problem that must not be brushed aside. Offering to teach pickleball to nearby home owners may seem like a peace offering and is a great solution to growing the game, but is absolutely not a pacifier to the constant, inherent noise that pickleball creates. We all love the sport, but we need to embrace our court neighbors and do whatever is possible to decrease the interference it creates in their lives. In most cases, the homes were there before the pickleball courts, so we must be respectful.
I have experienced two instances where neighbors have expressed concerns about how pickleball has interrupted their daily lives. These are folks who have lived in their homes for any number of years, prior to the courts being built. Their complaints range from being aggravated with the constant sound of the ball being hit, to concerns that their property values will decrease due to the courts being so close. Is it fair for pickleball players to wave off these concerns, taking a “not my problem” stance? I don’t think so. I think it is important for clubs and/or recreation departments who manage pickleball courts to listen to their neighbors, maybe even ask them for their suggestions, and try to implement solutions to help with the stated problems. Pickleball clubs must make a strong effort to be good neighbors.
What can be done? There are many possibilities, but here are two examples of how my former Florida community and my home town community dealt with disgruntled neighbors. I can’t say that there will ever be 100% satisfaction, but the problems have not been ignored, and action has been taken to address the concerns.
- First, in our former Florida community, the club has implemented specific rules in an attempt to respect and appease their neighbors. First, they limit play to 8am – 6pm daily. No ball is to be struck prior to 8am, even to warm up, and games must end at 6pm sharp, regardless of the score. The courts are busy most of the day between 8-6, but at least neighbors can sleep undisturbed a bit later, or have a quiet breakfast, and enjoy a quiet and relaxing evening on their lanai. All balls and paddles are tested for sound levels, and they have a list of paddles and balls that fall within a specific range of sound levels. Any ball or paddle not appearing on that list is not allowed to be used. Lastly, they have installed sound walls around all their court area. Sound testing outside the courts will continue, and if satisfactory, another two courts will be allowed next year. Funding for this came partially from the community and partially from the club members.
- Closer to home in Ohio, our local courts were built at the corner of a parking lot in the community baseball/softball park. The courts have parking and rail road tracks on one side, and a day care center on another, but there is a residential street leading into the park, with several homes within 100 feet of the courts. There had been some complaints by a few of the neighbors to the Rec Department, which lead to sound screens being installed on the sides towards these neighbors. These were funded by the Rec Department, after a respectful conversation with the neighbors. (NOTE: I have not heard whether there have been further complains, but no further restrictions on times or equipment have been put in place.)
What about human noise? Pickleball is meant to be social and fun, as well as competitive. With that comes laughter, loud conversations, as well as outbursts of frustration, including an occasional expletive. While we certainly don’t want to discourage the levity of the game, there could be times when we need to remind players that the level of human noise might be considered excessive. Of course that means someone has to occasionally step up and ask offenders to please lower the volume of their enthusiastic outbursts! It’s not a comfortable position to have to be in, but it might be needed if we are to respect our neighbors. Music volume levels (and genre) should be considered as well.
So, the question must be asked. As the number of venues increase, affecting more nearby homeowners, is enough being done to help lower the noise created naturally by the game? Are paddle and ball manufacturers doing enough to produce quieter equipment? Is it even possible to make a ball or paddle that will be quiet enough to placate our neighbors, while still providing players with the qualities they need to compete? Are clubs addressing this issue with their members; encouraging, and occasionally reminding players to be aware of the level of noise they create? When neighbors complain, are they being listened to and then responded to in a respectful manner with assurance that their complaint is valid and will be addressed? Doing nothing creates a hostile environment. Even the smallest efforts go a long way.
What has been done in your community? Please share your thoughts. I’m sure there are many readers who would like to know what others are doing to address this serious and increasing problem.
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13 thoughts on “Respecting our neighbors – creating a quieter pickleball environment”
I live in a senior mobile home park they want to build 4 courts within 10 feet of my bedroom window. I am up in arms about this. People should have fun but not at the expense of other people being able to enjoy their homes. I’ve read how it’s 70-80 DBC within 100′ but what if you are closer than that? what is the noise level?
Tasha, If you are truly that close to where they are building the courts, I don’t think it matters what the dbl level is! It’s too close! You must not be the only one that close. I’d suggest several of you taking this up with your management, and if necessary an attorney! I’m all for being reasonable, and this just doesn’t seem reasonable. But that’s just my opinion.
thank you Betsy, that is the consensus of my neighbors as well. I have read there have been lawsuits about excessive noise as well as will question why the residents weren’t ALL consulted in spending money on this when it could be better utilized for something that benefits all the residents, not just the few that want to play this sport.
I can’t side with you on the part about “not just the few that want to play this sport.” I live in a community with 1000 residents. Approximately 100 play bocce. Yet we have bocce courts. We also have a community pool, which is rarely used by residents. Perhaps 20 do water aerobics three times a week, and then guests of those without pools use it, especially during holiday school breaks. Yet we have a community pool. We have 3 tennis courts, yet I’m guessing there are approximately 75 people who use them. A quality community will have a variety of amenities to be able to offer something for everyone. It doesn’t mean that a majority of the residents have to play or participate in an activity to make it worthwhile to the community. Pickleball falls into this category. And I think you will find, after the courts are built (hopefully in another location than next to your bedroom window) that within a short time, there will be many more players than what you might have now. Good luck with your fight to have these courts moved to a more conducive location.
I live in an extremely beautiful neighborhood in an upscale, established community in North Venice, FL. Pickleball courts are slated to be installed across the street from the 2 story condos, 100 feet at most. We are furious as we all moved to FL to enjoy our homes both INSIDE AND OUT. Our ruling board refuses to do an official noise study. They had the community’s CIVIL engineer do a study with a small hand held meter who said the existing tennis courts were 64, pickleball is 54, the overall noise won’t change. These courts would be adjacent to existing tennis courts. First of all, pickleball is about 70 db. For every 10 decibels the overall perceived noise is doubled. Will someone please post about that. Bob Utich did a wonderful job in his article about PICKLE BALL NOISE AND WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE BUILDING COURTS but the ruling body here won’t speak to the truth in that article.
Pickle ball courts were built 53 feet from a condo unit. Is there any legal recourse regarding the loss of enjoyment of property.
I’m sorry Linda, I wouldn’t know what legal recourse was available.
Some very valid points, Betsy!
They do make a softer ball and quieter paddle, anyone know if they work for noise reduction?
Good points & the article is very timely. We’re getting a few complaints on our community courts. Pickleball is new to these courts, even though tennis has been there for years.
Quieter equipment is going to be key.
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Rick, please feel free to share this blog with your local club members.
Hope to see you this summer if you make it back to Sylvania!
Great article Betsy.
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Great article Betsy… made some good points. I know I could not stand the noise that accompanies living next door or close to a court. I think continuing to develop “quiet paddles” is the key
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