With so many new people taking up pickleball every day, and the demand for court space increasing, players are finding creative ways to get in a game. Eager pickleheads are repurposing all sorts of spaces for pop-up pickleball courts.
In this article, I'll take a look at what surfaces can be used for pickleball, and answer the most common questions I hear on the subject.
What surfaces can you play pickleball on?
As we know, pickleball is played with a lightweight pickleball ball with either 40 holes (outdoor) or 26 holes (indoor). These balls bounce best on hard, even surfaces, which is why nearly all pickleball is played on concrete or asphalt.
The official USA Pickleball guidelines state that "any hard surface (i.e. concrete or asphalt) will suffice for outdoor gameplay, so long as it's free of debris".
Can you play pickleball on grass?
The simple answer is yes, but not very effectively. If you're really stuck for somewhere to play and don't mind an irregular, low bounce, then it is possible to play on grass.
Ideally, the surface should be very even and mown short—like a grass tennis court. Even then, the ball is not going to bounce like it should, but it's possible to have a just-for-fun game.
Some players have adapted pickleball on grass by experimenting with other ball types, such as those made from rubber or foam.
Can you play pickleball on clay?
Yes, pickleball can be played on clay. This surface, popular for tennis courts, comes in red and green (Har-Tru) varieties. A subsection of pickleball players across the US have been taking to clay as a playing surface, and they swear by it.
Clay is a softer surface than concrete or asphalt, so the ball speed and bounce height are reduced. That's why I advise using a ball with a higher bounce, like the Onyx Pure 2 ball.
Clay surfaces are much easier on the ankles, knees, and back since they have more give than a hard surface. To get the best grip and avoid injury by slipping, grab yourself a pair of special clay court pickleball shoes.
Can you play pickleball on artificial turf?
Yes, pickleball can be (and is) played on artificial turf. However, as with grass courts, it won't give as good or consistent a bounce as a hard surface. One benefit of astroturf is that it's softer, which makes it easier on the joints.
Can you play pickleball on asphalt?
Asphalt is a great surface for playing pickleball. It's a little more forgiving on the joints than concrete but still allows the ball to bounce really well.
Often, asphalt courts are coated with a special acrylic top coat to protect them from damage and make them smooth for a consistent bounce. These acrylic coatings can also have extra features that make them even better for pickleball, like granular textures and built-in cushioning.
Can you play pickleball on concrete?
Yes. After asphalt, concrete is probably the most common surface for playing pickleball. Ideally, the concrete has a top layer of coating applied to it. This is because raw concrete is harder on the legs and your equipment.
Concrete can also be slippery when wet. An added coating does wonders for the surface, making it gripper and more cushioned with a more consistent bounce. It also protects the surface from the elements and comes in a choice of colors for a professional finish.
Can you play pickleball on a wooden floor?
You often find wooden floors in places like gymnasiums and basketball courts, and they work very well for pickleball. They're usually super smooth so give a consistent bounce. They also have a little give, which is good for your knees.
Some players find that the ball tends to skid too much on wood. I've found the same personally and like to use a dedicated indoor ball, like the Franklin X-26. These are designed to be skid-free for wooden surfaces.
What other courts can you play pickleball on?
Can you play pickleball on a tennis court?
You can definitely play pickleball on a tennis court. In fact, thousands of tennis courts across the US have been adapted for the sport. Up to four pickleball courts can be marked out on a full-sized tennis court, as you'll see in our complete guide to playing pickleball on tennis courts.
A tennis net is slightly higher than a pickleball net, and you'll need to mark your own lines, but the playing surface of a tennis court is perfect for playing pickleball on. Just remember to respect the tennis players, as they get a little cranky about over-eager pickleheads.
Can you play pickleball on a platform tennis court?
Yes, platform tennis courts are the same size as pickleball courts, so can be easily adapted to pickleball. The nets are almost identical in height.
Platform tennis originated as a game to be played in cold conditions. The raised platform can be heated to keep it free from snow and ice, and is usually lit by floodlights. This means they're also super great for cold weather and nighttime pickleball sessions.
Can you play pickleball on a racquetball court?
Racquetball courts are not easily adapted to pickleball. This is down to the fact that their dimensions are slightly smaller than a pickleball court, and they are walled in.
Can you play pickleball on a basketball court?
Yes, basketball courts make for excellent pickleball courts. Just mark out some pickleball lines and set up a portable pickleball net, and you're good to go. Up to four pickleball courts can fit, at a push, but three is more comfortable.
Can you play pickleball on a paddle tennis court?
Paddle tennis, now commonly known as POP tennis, uses a court that's a similar size to that of pickleball. Therefore, a POP tennis court can be easily adapted for pickleball with some temporary lines. POP tennis nets are 3" lower in the middle though, at only 31".
The Venice Beach Paddle Tennis Courts are a perfect example of this, where pickleball is played during select sessions each week. Portable nets are set up and kitchen lines are marked out with masking tape.
Other places to play pickleball
Can you play pickleball on the driveway?
Yes, you can have a ton of fun playing pickleball on your driveway as long as it's a smooth, relatively flat surface. You'll need a total space of about 30" by 60" for a full-sized game, but you can always make do with the space you have for a knock-around session.
Can you play pickleball in your backyard?
Yes, you can play pickleball in your backyard, ideally if it has a hard surface. Pickleball balls bounce wildly on uneven surfaces, so the smoother the better. More and more pickleheads are building courts in their backyards, so I wrote a guide on how to get started:
Does the weather matter when playing pickleball?
Can you play pickleball in the rain?
Yes, it's possible to play pickleball in the rain, but it's not advisable. Wet courts are dangerous, and you can sustain serious injuries from a slip.
There's a super cool invention called a VAPTR machine that can remove 95% of water from a pickleball court in just one pass. So, if showery conditions are an issue at your local courts, consider investing in one.
Can you play pickleball in the snow?
Sure, you can play pickleball in the snow, but I highly recommend clearing all snow and ice off the playing surface for safety reasons. Shoveling snow is also an awesome warm-up!
As mentioned above, some facilities have special heated courts that keep the snow and ice off. Brightly colored balls that are designed for cold conditions are a must, and thermal underwear is advisable.
Can you play pickleball when it's windy?
Windy conditions make pickleball more challenging, but we pickleheads love a challenge! Outdoor balls are designed with smaller holes so that they don't catch the wind as much.
Even so, their lightness means that gusts of wind will definitely affect the speed and direction of your shots. Try to get a feel for what the wind is doing and compensate accordingly.
So that about wraps up my list of places to play pickleball. As you can see, pickleheads in need of a game can be incredibly resourceful.
If you've got any further questions or tips for your fellow players on where to set up a game, let us know on our social media.
In the meantime, to have the best chance of getting a slot at your local courts, try our session finder tool below. See you on the courts!