Format and Rules

Below are the official format and rules for the Williamsburg Pickleball Spring League, 2024. Note that the details may be updated from time to time but those published here are the official rules and supersede any you may have seen elsewhere or previously.

League Format

League Dates. Spring League play will start on Monday April. 15 and continue for a total of seven weeks of competition, with the final scheduled matches finishing on the week of May 27. Each match will be assigned to a specific court number and a start time to accommodate all matches within the reserved court times on Monday and Tuesday evenings.

Men’s Doubles matches are on Monday evenings, from April 15 – May 27, 5:00pm – 9:00pm.

Women’s Doubles matches are on Monday evenings, from April 15 – May 27, 5:00pm – 9:00pm.

Mixed Doubles matches are on Tuesday evenings, from April 16 -May 28, 5:00pm – 9:00pm.


You do not have to play your matches on the scheduled date or at the scheduled time, but only if both teams agree to reschedule the match. Any scheduled match can be played from the moment the match schedule is posted online, until two days before the start of the following week’s scheduled match. For example, women’s and men’s doubles matches must be completed and the scores reported by 9:00 PM of the Saturday night before the next scheduled Monday evening match. Mixed doubles matches must be played and the scores reported by 9:00 PM of the Sunday night before the next scheduled Tuesday evening match.

If a match is being rescheduled, teams are required to notify the league (by way of email) of the date and time of the rescheduled match, and also to email the match results including the individual game scores (i.e. Team A wins 11-6, 9-11, 11-3).

Competitions. There are three categories: Women’s Doubles, Mixed Doubles and Men’s Doubles. Mixed doubles teams must have one woman and one man.

Skill Levels. Players of all skill levels compete on the same ladder. Teams will be initially ranked for the first week of play based on previous league performance and the players’ stated skill levels when registering, and teams will then move up or down depending on each week’s match results. This method keeps teams playing opponents among their peer skill levels.

This league is not for people who have never played pickleball. A pickleball league is a competitive environment and players should expect that their opponents are playing to win.

Fees. There is a $15 per person registration fee charged by James City County, and the money goes to JCC to cover Veterans Park court reservations and prizes.

Teams. Each team is composed of two players who compete in one of three competition categories: women’s doubles, mixed doubles or men’s doubles. Any player can be on two teams if desired. For example, a woman can be on a women’s doubles team with a female partner and can also be on a mixed doubles team with a male partner. Each team member will commit to playing one match per week against one opposing team during the first six weeks of league competition. On the final week, teams will play two matches in a playoff format.

If a team drops out of the competition after the start of league play, and if a replacement team is available, the league will select a replacement team that will assume the ladder position of the departing team. The replacement team will inherit the league points accumulated by the departing team.

Injuries. In the event of an injury to one member of a team, the injured player’s partner has the option to find a permanent replacement, to utilize a sub (per the sub rules below), or to forfeit matches until the injured player is able to return. Once an injured player has been replaced, that injured player is not allowed to return to the team. No player can be replaced once a match has started for an injury that occurs during that match.

If a team is unable to compete in half or more of all league matches due to an injury, and if fewer than half of the scheduled matches have taken place, the team will either be replaced by the league or a permanent replacement will be found for the injured player, depending on the circumstances and at the discretion of the league administrators and advisory group.

Any player who replaces an injured player must be of roughly equal or lower skill level of the player being replaced.

Ringer Clause: Under no circumstances will a team that is competing for the top three ladder positions or competing for the top three league points rankings be allowed to replace an injured player for during the final week (Week Seven) match(es) of the league season or during the playoffs.

League Play. Teams will play in a ladder format, with each team playing one adjacent team on the ladder each week. For example, the team in the #1 position on the ladder will play the team in the #2 position; the team in the #3 position on the ladder will play the team in the #4 position, etc. All match schedules will be posted online within two days before the scheduled competition date each week. Ladder positions and schedules for all matchups after the first week will be determined entirely by math calculations based on the previous week’s performances of all teams.

In order to minimize the number of matches against duplicate opponents, the software will attempt to move teams up or down one match on the ladder. If this occurs, the teams immediately adjacent on the ladder may not face each other. However, all teams’ ladder positions are stored, and the ladder movement up and down the ladder is always based on each team’s actual ladder position, not on their match positions, if they were moved.

On the final week of competition, Week Seven, the top eight teams on each ladder will face each other based on their ladder positions after Week Six in a single elimination mini tournament to determine the ladder medals and final positions as shown below:

Only the match results from the Week Seven matches will count towards the league points competition (this is so that all teams, including the ones not competing for the top ladder positions, will have played the same number of matches.)

Pickleballs. Teams need to supply their own paddles and pickleballs. Matches may be played with whatever brand of pickleballs all members of the two competing teams agree to. In the event the teams cannot agree on the brand of ball to be used, Franklin 40 outdoor pickleballs will be used, if one of the teams has them available.

If the team members cannot agree on the brand of ball, and/or Franklin 40 pickleballs are not available, a coin toss (or other random method) will determine the brand of ball used for the match.

Forfeits. If one of the teams fails to show up for the scheduled match within 20 minutes of the scheduled start time, or doesn’t arrive with both players ready to compete, that team will forfeit the match, provided the opponent shows up ready to play. As a result, the match will be scored as a 0-0, 0-0 win for the team that showed up. The non-defaulting team will receive league points for the win but no league points for the score differential. If neither team is able to play a match, then the match results in a null score for both teams with neither team receiving any league points.

If a team withdraws from the league for any reason and cannot be replaced with another team by the league, the team that withdraws will remain on the ladder but each of its matches after withdrawing will be treated as a forfeit. The withdrawing team’s ladder position will be adjusted each week according to the normal ladder movement math and its scheduled opponents will be given a bye that week and a forfeit win.

Venue Location. League play will take place on reserved courts numbered 1, 3, 5, 7 at Veterans Park at designated times and days. Open play and court availability for non-league play on un-reserved courts must be respected.

Veterans Park, Courts
Location: 3793 Ironbound Road, Williamsburg

In the event both teams agree to play at an alternate court venue that requires access control, host teams must arrange for gate access and the completion of any required waivers for that venue.

Weather. Matches may be re-scheduled at the indoor facilities WISC or Quarterpath in the event of inclement weather, if both teams agree. Every player will be responsible for paying their own entry fee for those facilities if they are not already members. Matches may also be scheduled between teams at any convenient day and time to reschedule matches impacted by weather, or for any other reason, provided the match is played and the match score is reported at least two days prior to the next scheduled match.

League Points. Each team will be awarded league points and fractions of league points for each match played depending on the results of each match. The details of the math formulas that determine league point standings are available here.

Matches. Each match in women’s doubles, mixed doubles and men’s doubles will be played in a best-of-three-games format, with each game winner scoring a minimum of eleven points per game. Winners must win each game by two points.


If the same team wins the first and second games, there is no need to play the third game. If different teams win the first and second games, the winner of the third game is the winner of the match.

If two teams are tied in a game with ten points each, and one of the teams wins the next point, making the score 11-10, play continues until either team has two more points than their opponent (i.e. 12-10, 14-12, 88-86.)

Sides and Servers. Teams will switch sides of the court after each game. If teams cannot agree which team starts the first game on which side of the court, the starting sides will be determined by a coin toss or similar random method.

If there is a third game to decide the winner of the match, teams will switch sides of the court immediately after the first team to score six points.

If teams cannot agree on which team will be the first server, the first server will be determined by a coin toss or similar random method. The team that was not the first server in game one will be the first server in game two. If there is a third game, the team that served first in game one is the first server of game three.

League Winners. Winners will be declared in each of the three categories based on two separate and equal criteria: 1.) the teams that finish in the top positions on the ladder; and 2.) the teams with the best total accumulated league points. Teams do not need to finish at the top of the ladder to have the best accumulated league points which are accumulated based on individual match wins and match scores.

Prizes. The teams with the highest ladder positions, as well as the teams with the largest number of league points in each of the three categories (women’s doubles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles) will win prizes, to be announced.

There is absolutely no truth to the widely circulating rumor that we will be awarding brand new Porsches to the winners.


Official Rulebook. The league will follow the current version of the USA Pickleball rulebook, 2024 edition, found here: USA Pickleball Official Rulebook and Rules Summary

These rules include, but are not limited to:

● 2.E. Players must use USA Pickleball approved paddles.

● 4.A.2. The serve may clear or touch the net (i.e. a let serve that lands ‘in’ is played.)

● 4.F. A team scores points only when serving (i.e. no rally scoring.)

● 6.C.1. Players are responsible for calling the lines on their end of the court, including short serves, service foot faults and all non-volley-zone faults (i.e.

strive for accuracy and operate under the principle that all questionable calls must be resolved in favor of the opponent.)

● 6.C.3. A player cannot claim a replay because the ball was not seen or there is uncertainty (i.e. replays are now allowed – make a call and play on.)

● 10.A. A team is entitled to two time-outs for each 11-point game. Each time-out period may last up to 1 minute.

Substitutes. Substitutes for Spring league 2024 league play are allowed on a limited basis. If either player on a team is unable to play a scheduled match for any reason, and unable to find a substitute per the rules below, it will result in a forfeit for the team unable to compete.

Rules for utilizing substitutes:

● Subs should only be considered once all scheduling or rescheduling options have been exhausted by the teams.

● A team can only utilize subs twice during the duration of the league, either once for each player or twice for the same player. (Note: This used to read “A player can only be subbed for once during the duration of the league.” However, we had a great deal of turnover and a very limited number of subs, forcing this to be modified.)
● A team cannot have two subs the same week, i.e. one player on the team has to show up.
● The same sub cannot be used on a team more than once, i.e. Player A can use Sub Z but if Player B later needs a sub, they can’t use Sub Z. However, a sub can become a permanent replacement for any individual player.
● No subs will be allowed in Week Seven, the playoff round, for any team that is in contention for the ladder or league points medals.
● It is each team’s responsibility to get a sub. Subs can be selected from the existing sub list, or teams can find their own subs who will have to register with JCC prior to the match (to sign the waiver).
● Subs have to be the same basic skill level as the person being subbed for. Opponents can challenge this with the league administrators.

Note: If any player is unable to continue a match after it has started, it will result in a forfeit of that match by the team that is unable to continue. A sub cannot be used once a match had begun. For example, if Player A and Player B on Team One start the women’s doubles match, but Player B withdraws, the women’s doubles match is concluded, Team One forfeits the women’s doubles match and their opponent scores a win.