Like with any sport, getting started can be intimidating.
Figuring out how, where, and who to play with is difficult, and breaking that barrier is key to enjoyment down the line.
But what makes pickleball so great is that everything surrounding the sport is geared toward attracting as many people as possible and making them feel comfortable. There is a culture of inclusivity that goes beyond the sport's relatively shallow learning curve.
For one, courts are popping up everywhere, especially in Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, and the surrounding Lower Mainland cities. There are also highly effective associations organizing sessions, maintaining courts, and lobbying for more, to keep the game flowing and evolving.
Beyond the logistics though, there is an atmosphere surrounding the game geared at making newcomers feel welcome, surrounded, and supported by the community.
In this article, we'll cover where to play your outdoor pickleball in Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, Burnaby, and the North Shore and how the community supports players of all levels.
Where to play?
One general guideline for playing pickleball is to try as best you can to stay in your city. There aren't an infinite amount of courts (yet), and court density is largely a function of population density.
There are plenty of places to play pickleball in Vancouver. This sport is ever-evolving, so courts are popping up all the time. For now, you can find courts, with nets, at Jericho Beach (by the sailing centre), Champlain Heights (across from the community centre), and Queen Elizabeth Park. There are eight courts at Jericho, six at Champlain, and seven at Queen Elizabeth. These are the best places to play for most levels, especially if you are new to the sport, because the nets and lines are already set up. Just show up, stick your paddle on the fence, and get ready to play!
You can also play at Pandora Park and Brewers Park, where you will find nets in storage lockers near the court, however to gain access to these nets, you will have to register with the Vancouver Pickleball Association (VPA). The fee is $10 a year.
If you have your own net, there are eight more courts at King George High School, two at Cedar Cottage Park and one at John Hendry Park. Investing in a good net isn't cheap, but it's a great way to develop some autonomy for those who want to play as much as possible. The Pickleball 3.0 Tournament Net System is our #1 recommendation.
Surrey is a fantastic place to play pickleball. Although I mentioned earlier that you should try to stay in your city, Surrey is the exception to that rule. There are plenty of courts throughout the city, enough for everyone and then some. But Surrey has also leveled up and now has a full-on pickleball club.
The Surrey Pickleball Club is open to the general public, so even for those who reside outside of Surrey, if you want to join, you are welcome. There are 12 courts and plenty of events throughout the week for any level of play. After meeting with Marketing Coordinator Jim Henning, we better understand the club's vision.
The club has competitive social events aimed at making newcomers and more seasoned players as comfortable as possible. Attending those events will undoubtedly help develop skills as a player, but also foster relationships and future partnerships, which is part of what makes pickleball so unique. At its core, pickleball is a social sport, and the club will do its best to strike a balance between competition and enjoyment.
Outside the club, there are plenty of public courts are throughout the city.
These courts have permanent nets:
Greenaway Park (8)
Cloverdale Heights Park (1)
Maple Green Park (3)
Fraser Heights Park (2)
Alderwood Park (1)
Bell Park (1)
Crescent Park (8)
Dufferin Park (1)
Sullivan sports Court (1)
These courts have nets in a lockbox (call the Surrey Parks & Recreating at 604-501-5174 Monday to Friday, 8 am - 3 pm, or the code):
Clayton Park (7)
Sullivan Park (6)
Morgan Creek Park (6)
South Surrey Athletic Park (18)
Bridgeview Park (4)
Robson Park (6)
Richmond has fewer courts than Vancouver or Surrey, but David Yan of the Richmond BC Pickleball Association RBCPA states serious lobbying should mean more courts soon.
For now, there are six courts at Hugh Boyd Park and three at South Arm Park. Joining the RBCPA (fee of $27.50) will give you access to dedicated playing time throughout the week.
For now, it's best to avoid playing in Richmond if you do not live there. Since there are only nine courts throughout the city, let's leave it to those residents to enjoy them, at least for now.
There are plenty of courts in Burnaby with pickleball lines but none with permanent pickleball nets. The nets are stored in a lockbox; for access, call 604-294-7222 to schedule an appointment for pickup.
Here is a list of Burnaby courts:
Bonsor Park (6)
Burnaby Heights Park (12)
Cariboo Park (2)
Cariboo Hill School Park (6)
Confederation Park (10)
David Gray Park (2)
East Grove Park (1)
Edmonds Park (4)
Ernie Winch Park (2)
Forest Grove Park (9)
Kensington Park (3)
Keswick Park (6)
Lou Moro Park (8)
Mary Avenue Park (2)
Maywood School Site (2)
Robert Burnaby Park (10)
Squint Lake Park (3)
Stoney Creek (2)
The North Shore
The North Shore (West Vancouver and North Vancouver) is also becoming a hotbed for pickleball activity. There are 19 dedicated, permanent pickleball courts with nets:
Normanby Park (4)
Little Cates (4)
Murdo Frazer (5)
Myrtle Park (2)
Mahon Park (4)
What do I do when I get to the courts?
Now that you know where to play, the rest should be easy. But you still have to break the ice and get out to play with someone, right? After all, it's a sport usually played with four people, so how do you make some pickleball friends?
If you've got a buddy who wants to play with you, great! If you don't, not to worry.
Grab a paddle, head to one of these bustling pickleball hubs, and you are about to meet one of the friendliest sporting communities. Pickleball has been around for a long time, but it's only in the last five years that it has gained massive popularity. That means most players are relatively new to the sport, and their passion for sharing their wonderful new passion is stronger than ever.
There is an atmosphere of inclusivity at a pickleball hub that you simply can't find in most other sports.
When the courts are busy, you put your paddle on a "waiting wall." The area surrounding the waiting wall is one where you can meet other pickleballers, chat about the sport, and find some partners to play with. These people are friendly, chatty and want to exchange stories about "why pickleball?" Even without trying, you're bound to make some friends.
Once you get on the court with someone new, the vibe is competitive but fair, and I can guarantee that your partner will be eager to mentor you through the rules and skills you need to improve.
Some of you will catch on quicker than others, but I can promise that every one of you will realize just how fun the sport is. You'll want to return, rinse, repeat, and continue the relationship with your new friends; that's how pickleball works.
Pickleball's various Associations
The pickleball community works. When you put a passionate group of friends together, you're bound to garner some cohesion, and the associations are gathering steam and even political representation.
Vancouver Pickleball Association (VPA)
A VPA membership costs $10 annually, giving you access to leagues and competitions throughout Vancouver. Accumulating members also provides the association with legitimacy and political influence to progress the sport further, find courts, and build more infrastructure.
Richmond BC Pickleball Association (RBCPA)
Richmond's pickleball association (RBCPA) membership costs a little more ($27.50), but the association is gaining power, and the few courts already in Richmond are state-of-the-art. After a brief interview with David Yan of the RBCPA, we better understand the vision for Pickleball in Richmond.
"There are board members that are at the courts every day." These board members are what David Calls "court ambassadors" who go to the courts to make newcomers feel welcome and facilitate partnerships between random attendees and their different levels.
"The most important part about getting an RBCPA membership is that it, first and foremost, supports the association, which gives us the chance to support pickleball in Richmond. We are out there trying to lobby for more courts." As mentioned earlier, Richmond needs more courts throughout the city. Only by supporting the local associations will governing bodies take note and make efforts to create more.
"A membership also gives you access to our group playing sessions. We set up about 15 hours at Hugh Boyd (Park) and about 12 hours at South Arm. Only our members get the invite." 32 people are registered per session, and these sessions are ideal for those hoping to play more competitive pickleball.
Surrey Pickleball Club
Pickleball players in Surrey are spoiled with choices. They can pick from the dozens of public courts throughout the city but also have a fantastic club option. The Surrey Pickleball Club only costs $80 to join, and if you want a taste of what you're getting before committing, a drop-in session costs $25.
The emergence of clubs like the Surrey Pickleball Club is a testament to the sport's massive growth, and we can only hope it keeps going in the right direction.
Burnaby Pickleball Association
The BPA is free to join and, like the other associations, has the primary goal of lobbying for more pickleball facilities throughout the city. They also provide free (yes, free), six-week mentoring courses on Mondays from 1:30 - 3:00 between May 15 and June 19 and Thursdays from 7:00 - 8:30 between May 18 and June 22.
You don't need to register for these sessions, just show up at the Robert Burnaby Park Pickleball courts five minutes before each session, and balls and paddles will be provided.
The North Shore Pickleball Club
The North Shore Pickleball Club (NSPC) costs only $12.50 for adults and is free for players 10-18 years old and above 80. By joining the club, you can access free, organized club events on the NSPC-permitted outdoor courts.
The club also holds a free 2-hour introductory session every month for those new to the sport who want to learn in a more organized setting.
Like with all clubs and associations, the fees associated with joining will help immensely in growing the sport throughout each city.
Time to get out on the court!
So there you have it: your complete guide to pickleball in Vancouver and its surrounding cities. Knowing the nature of the sport, this guide could become dated relatively quickly, but for now this is what our fantastic city has to offer.