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The specifications of open play vary from court to court. Each pickleball organization has the liberty to modify and design its own system of court management. Before visiting a new court you should research their precise open play rules so that you know what to expect. Some courts have specified open play times, while maintaining a reservation system during other times. Note that if open play information for a certain court is not available online, many courts do have their open play rules physically posted on site.

General Open Play Organization

Open play means that all players, of any skill level, are invited to play on the courts for a set time period:

  • Open play is first come first serve. There should be a designated space to place your paddle to hold your spot in line for the next game. Some courts have a built-in paddle holder, others line paddles up on the floor. The paddle order goes from left to right. ​

  • If all courts are in use, all four players come off the court when they finish their game, and the next four who are waiting go in to play.

  • Pickleball games are typically played to 11 and win by 2, but some courts may modify this for open play.

Challenge Courts

During open play, many organizations will designate one or more courts as challenge courts, the play system for challenge courts differs in structure from open play:

  • Challenge courts are first come first serve. There should be a designated space to accommodate two paddles to indicate "next to challenge". 

  • The game is usually played until 11 points (win by 2), but some courts may modify this.

  • When the game ends, the losing pair will leave the court and the next challengers in line will play the winners.

  • Many courts rule that winning partners can stay on the court with a maximum limit of 2 consecutive games, although this rule may vary.

General Open Play
Challenge Courts
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