As the sport of pickleball keeps showing enormous growth in the USA and elsewhere around the world, it will continue to evolve with times. Which is why it’s very important we answer the question if pickleball can be played on clay courts unlike in the past when it was restricted to hard courts like those used to play tennis or basketball.
Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and as you would expect with such a rapid growth rate, the requirement for equipment and courts also exhibits an equally steep growth curve.
According to the USAPA, the body that runs the sport in US, pickleball has seen an almost explosive growth of 650 per cent between 2013 and 2019. That is massive, especially when you consider pickleball isn’t a new fad, it’s been around since 1965 when it was invented by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum.
Earlier deemed a sport for the ages of 50 and more, it’s quickly turning into territories where it is appealing to the younger crowds as well. Sure, there are middle-aged player in the mix but more and more youngsters are taking to pickleball in recent time and that has led to more effort from organisers, including directors of clubs to push for greater development of the sport.
What has also led to this stunning growth is the lower cost of equipment than most other sports. Those playing pickleball for the first time can actually get started with age-old wooden paddles which cost a measly $10-15. Pickleball courts are also easy to get because the sport can be played on modified tennis courts.
However, as discussed earlier, this sudden proliferation, and ever-increasing pickleball players leads us to a question if there are enough courts around to allow players at every level to take up the sport?
For now, most pickleball courts are similar to indoor or outdoor hard-court tennis courts – and in some cases use the same tennis courts too – but can pickleball then also be played on other types of tennis courts? More specifically, can it be played on clay?
Can Pickleball be Played on a Clay Court?
Other than an issue one can think of intuitively related to the ball court, pickleball can be played on a clay court too. And the bounce issue can also be resolved.
According to Jarrett Chirico, who is the Director of Racquets at Baltimore Country Club, playing pickleball on clay is not just an alternative, it’s also the way forward to evolve the sport. In his post here, Chirico has predicted pickleball to overtake all other racket sports in the country by 2022.
And as a result of that and the fact most clubs around the world possess not just hard courts, but also clay courts, pickleball’s existence on clay as a matter of choice, rather than chance, is the only way forward.
Chirico narrates an interesting story behind how they started playing pickleball on clay. It was a tough call to make, and there was no research done to prove it would work but he was sure, based on a hunch, it would.
After converting a clay court into pickleball one by adding new lines to it, this ‘innovation’ was marketed like it was the next big thing in the world of pickleball. It took just a week for pickleball fans to take to this new concept and as things stand right now, people are as happy to play on that surface as they were earlier.
It’s interesting to find the US Clay Court Pickleball Championships was held in 2018 on clay as well, how this wasn’t your typical red clay you find getting used for tennis tournaments around the world. Instead the tournament was played on ‘specialized Har Tru Surface’ and had permanent lines for pickleball.
Onix Pure 2 Outdoor Pickleball was used for the tournament too, ensuring no issues with the bounce. (if you want to buy an Onix Pure 2 Outdoor Pickleball or buy any other pickleball equipment, here’s our guide on how do that in USA and other parts of the world)
Watch this video of players playing pickleball on clay:
Why do Pickleball Fans Like Clay Courts?
We are slowly moving into territories where pickleball fans are loving the clay court surfaces as much as hard courts. There are multiple reasons why clay has found favor among pickleball players, especially intermediate and beyond levels.
Some of these reasons include:
- Lesser Strain
- Better for Longer Rallies
- Lower Court Costs
- It’s Different!
Clay courts work well for those who don’t like to put that much strain on their knees and joints. This makes it that much easier for seniors who want to play the sport.
According to scientific research, clay provides the least amount of strain on the knees and other joints as compared to hard court surfaces.
This makes it far easier for those looking to play pickleball recreationally without short or long-term injury issues to the foot.
Helps Longer Rallies
It’s a lot tougher to smash winners in pickleball, especially when compared with tennis but add the clay surface to this sport and it could lead to longer rallies and more excitement as well.
Other than that, such courts also work well for those who prefer the longer rallies because it proves to be a cardio exercise in turn.
Lower Costs of Courts
There is a probable third reason here; costs.
According to experts, it costs lower to own, construct and maintain clay courts as opposed to hard court surfaces, so going forward as more and more people take to pickleball, it would only be natural that cost will become a prominent factor to look at as well.
Traditionally, pickleball has always been played on hard court surfaces and even today most pickleball courts all over the USA are hard courts.
Which is why clay courts offer something different, a unique experience that brings about a different dimension to one’s game.
This, in turn, makes it doubly exciting for someone who is used to playing on hard court pickleball courts.
How Can Pickleball be Played on Clay?
One of the methods to do that is to opt for Har-Tru, a company that manufactures and maintains racket sport equipment. This includes pickleball courts, whether hard or clay, and they have three varieties, green clay, American red clay and European red clay.
You can get in touch with them here in order to understand the costs associated with building a pickleball clay court.
What we can suggest is to also get in touch with any local tennis court builders and ask them for a quotation on making pickleball courts on clay. This way you can also alert others to that possibility and get a competitive quote among them.
Final Words on Pickleball Played on Clay
Yes, clay is a definite option and while it might not allow you to extract as steady bounce from the surface as hard court pickleball, it add an extra dimension to the play. Which is why it’s a must-try.
So the next time a mate of yours has a clay court on his/her backyard and if you are a pickleball fan, convince your friend to convert it into a pickleball arena, grab your paddle and get the sport started on clay!
You might also be wondering if pickleball can be played on grass. For that, we recommend you read this guide here.