Pickleball is one of the sports which can be played both outdoors and indoors but like not too many of the other sports, there are pros and cons associated with either option. Below is a brief on the benefits of playing pickleball outdoor versus indoor and the potential issues you might face while you do either.
Playing Pickleball Indoor
Like playing tennis on indoor courts, or even badminton, pickleball can also be played indoors. Many of the gymnasiums and clubs usually offer this option with a plethora of pickleball courts built in-house.
So what is the biggest advantage of playing pickleball indoor? It’s the most obvious advantage associated with playing indoor and that is the reduced dependence on weather conditions and nature.
Essentially, if you are playing indoor, there would be no stoppages because of the elements of nature like rain or snow, essentially making pickleball an all-weather sport.
And even if we take these extreme elements, rain and snow out, pickleball players still stare at the prospect of battling wind at times and at times, (literally) staring into the sunlight.
We had mentioned badminton earlier and that’s a sport which cannot be played outdoors because of the weight of the shuttlecock is about 5 grams and even with the slightest of breezes, it becomes difficult to control.
Compare this to the weight of a tennis ball, which is around 58 grams, and there have been times when players have complained about wind becoming a factor and bit of a lottery.
Pickleball balls are around 25 grams in weight, so it’s not impossible to play the sport outdoor but stronger gusts of wind would interfere majorly in play.
Playing indoors takes external factors out of the equation. It’s you, your paddle, the ball and your pedigree as a pickleball player that matters – apart from the opponent obviously. Basically your play isn’t affected by anything else.
Wind is not the only concern for outdoor pickleball play. Rain is another factor and as we have explained in our article here on whether pickleball can be played in rain, it comes with a huge challenge of its own.
The sun and heat is also another issue players need to tackle.
One, the sun heats up the court and changes how much the pickleball ball could bounce, thereby adding an additional aspect a player needs to consider.
The other issue associated with sunlight is it could affect the ball in play as well. Cracks could develop quicker than usual on the ball and this early wear and tear could lead to a quicker turnover of a ball can. These costs can add up quickly, especially if you are playing a fast-paced game of pickleball.
So What’s the Issue with Playing Pickleball Indoors?
There are two main concerns with playing pickleball indoors.
- Sound of Pickleball Play
- Confusion Due to the Other Court Lines
One of the aspects of sport which makes one fall in love with it is the sound. As a player of multiple sport, tennis, cricket, table tennis among others, the sound from the ball hitting the racket, bat or a paddle is probably second to none.
So why is sound an issue then?
Not so much an issue but consider this. There are multiple indoor courts in the same arena and with the amount of collective noise caused by the concurrent matches only gets accentuated by the closed arena, producing a possibly distracting echo.
What about the painted on-court lines?
The second problem is pickleball often shares its courts with other sports. At a lot of these indoor arenas, pickleball courts are makeshift basketball or tennis courts and thanks to the different dimensions for these sports, there’s a whole lot of overlapping of lines painted on courts.
This could lead to confusion despite the obvious differences in colours used.
Some pickleball players reckon the cost associated with booking indoor courts than for the outdoor ones. A lot of the outdoor ones are available for free at times too which isn’t the case with indoor pickleball courts.
There is one other factor to consider if you are looking to play indoors. The lack of wind resistance and the way the indoor balls are made make the ball go faster and bounce lower than while playing outdoors.
So if you are looking for a more relaxed version of the game, you might want to try out outside first before moving indoors.
Playing Pickleball Outdoor
We have already discussed why playing pickleball outdoor isn’t quite a great option because of the elements of nature involved and the effect that has on the game itself.
However, the one big plus of playing pickleball outdoors, especially if you are more of a recreational player, is the exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency is a global issue and in America alone, more than 60% of the teens and adults suffer from this problem.
Regular doses of playing pickleball outdoor under the sun, helps replenish the Vitamin D in our systems and helps prevent a plethora of diseases associated with it.
The other major advantage of playing pickleball outdoor is it helps overcome the issue of sound from multiple adjacent courts and the possible echo. In open air conditions, the echo is lost and the effect of the continuous noise is also dulled as a result.
So, Should You Play Pickleball Outdoors or Indoors?
That’s obviously an individual’s choice but if you are looking at a very serious game of pickleball with no interference from the elements of weather, we would recommend playing it indoors.
Local tournaments, for example can be played indoors.
However, if you aren’t too stickler for the aforementioned issues related to outdoor pickleball, then it’s a good place to try out the sport too. You have your local weather to consider too obviously; if it gets too windy or rainy, it would take all the fun out of the game if you are playing pickleball outdoors.
It doesn’t mean you should never try playing it outdoors. A different perspective, a different challenge won’t hurt and it makes for some fun moments too.
Are There Different Pickleballs for Outdoor and Indoor?
Yes, the pickleballs used to play the sport outdoor are heavier and have smaller holes while those for indoor play aren’t as heavy and have larger holes.
The reasoning behind this is to make the outdoor pickleballs more resistant to wind and hence, slightly easier to play while indoor pickleballs are adjusted to make them difficult to smash.
Now, there is no hard and fast rules you have to use the outdoor pickleballs for outdoor play alone and indoor ones for indoor pickleball. One of the ways to add variation to the sport is by reversing the use of the ball and making things interesting.
Adapting to Indoor & Outdoor Pickleball
There is an interesting aspect to playing pickleball both indoor and outdoor on a regularly. The adjustment needed from one to the other is not as easy as it sounds at times, especially because of the different balls in use.
Some pickleball players have complained about the change in the weight of the balls being a critical factor in this issue but if one were to use the same ball for both, indoor and outdoor pickleball, it does bring various other issues into play.
One way of trying to overcome this issue is to use differently-weighted paddles for indoor and outdoor play but that also comes with its own concerns. After all, it would then boil down to adjusting to a paddle every time you are playing, right?
Just something to keep in mind while deciding to change pickleball courts.