Pickleball and tennis are different sports although there’s a marked resemblance in the two, with both typically played on both indoor and outdoor courts. The question many pickleball beginners ask is whether it can be played on a tennis court or do we need specially designed pickleball courts for it. Here’s everything you wanted to know about a pickleball court and its relation with tennis courts.
Can Pickleball be Played on a Tennis Court?
A tennis court is much larger than a pickle ball court, but it can be used for pickleball quite easily; so yep that’s a simple one, pickleball can be played on a tennis court.
The other question is about the ratio of the sizes of a tennis court to a pickleball court.
How Many Pickleball Courts Can Fit in a Tennis Court?
Most of the players who use tennis courts for pickleball, add the markings for one or two pickleball courts, although four can fit in. Four would be messy and hard on the eye; one or two are optimum.
As long as you can mark off the dimensions of the pickleball court, there is nothing stopping you from using a tennis court. Many coaches do this, many colleges do this, and you can do it too.
Where is Pickleball Traditionally Played?
Pickleball has been played in backyards, in parks, on a ferry (yes, that is where the originators of the game came up with the idea), on tennis courts and now, on actual pickleball courts (and this is how I find pickleball courts near me.)
As the game has increased in popularity, so has the number of courts. Today, in the USA in particular, you will find pickleball courts at most sports clubs and in colleges, but you will also find many tennis courts used for pickleball too.
You can buy pickleball sets from a sports store, and you can buy them online, and these include all the markings you would need. Players can use these markings in a back yard, in a park (probably not on a ferry because of space) and on tennis courts, where they are most commonly used.
Moving on to few of the factors associated with playing pickleball on a tennis court.
Can Pickleball Damage a Tennis Court?
It is extremely unlikely that you can cause damage to a tennis court while playing pickleball on it. Tennis courts are built to withstand a lot and there is no easy way to damage a tennis court.
However there have often been complaints from clubs which used to be tennis-only to begin with but are now using those courts to double up as pickleball courts too.
For instance, Maui News reported receiving complaints from local tennis players of pickleball encroachments issues in 2019 with issues like “damage on the surface of current courts, the confusion with overlapping court lines, noise intrusion and nets not being raised back to tennis-height,” mentioned.
If you are using tennis courts to play pickleball, it is advisable to use proper pickleball markers, and not paint, or even chalk, which obviously would damage the court.
Pickleball markers, short and different sized / shaped rubber strips, are specially designed to be placed on a court, or in a concrete back yard or space, and are not going to leave any damage behind.
You can buy pickleball marking sets as stand-alone items, or you can buy them with pickleball paddles and balls.
A pickleball marking set will last you a long time. If you are not able to buy a set, you can ‘tailor make’ your own pickleball markings, using cones or any items that will stay in place as you play.
Pickleball markers are not expensive to buy, and they are super easy to carry and transport. They’re far less bulky than cones and don’t get in the way of balls bouncing, and you can’t knock them over with your feet as you side step or run backwards or forwards.
Saying that, if you don’t have pickleball markers, cones or similar will work just fine.
Other ways to avoid such issues is to follow the club etiquette and ensure you get the tennis court back to how you found it before you started playing.
Which Part of the Tennis Court Do We Use for Pickleball?
A pickleball court is small. It’s only two feet longer than the service box on a tennis court, so it is really easy to mark a pickleball court or two on to a tennis court.
The singles lines on a tennis court are wider than the pickleball court lines, by three and a half feet. You do need to lower the tennis court net for pickleball, but this is pretty easy to do.
And if you are putting more than two pickleball courts on a tennis court, you would need to use another portable net.
Many tennis courts at tennis clubs are dual purpose – they have permanent pickleball markers on them. In the same way there are tennis courts that are dual purpose with basketball, there are tennis courts that are dual purpose with pickleball.
Usually the tennis court lines are painted in a permanent white, and the pickleball lines in a different colour – yellow being the most common. It can be a little confusing for the player in the beginning (more confusing for the tennis player, actually) but after a few shots, the outlines become clear.
Painting Pickleball Lines on Tennis Courts
Before you decide to permanently paint pickleball lines on to a tennis court, get permission from whoever is in charge (assuming this isn’t in your backyard obviously!)
Once you have permission, you can paint in, or on, what are known as blended lines.
You don’t have to do a thing to the tennis court lines, rather choose a colour for the pickleball lines. When painting permanent pickleball lines on to a court, they really must be done professionally. You don’t want crooked lines, and you don’t want permanently painted lines done in the wrong places.
Not only does it make it look shabby for pickleball players but those playing tennis after you wouldn’t be too pleased!
Pickleball court paint such as an acrylic resurfacer is used for the blended paint. If the colour is not right, it can be lightened by adding a bit of white, or of course darkened by adding a bit of black.
Most people adding permanent pickleball markings on to a tennis court will add two pickleball courts (one of either side); it makes sense to do them both at the same time.
Are a Pickleball Net and a Tennis Net of the Same Height?
A pickleball net is 34 inches high, and a tennis net is 36 inches high, so there’s not too much of a difference between the two. It’s easy to lower a tennis net to make it right for pickleball.
If you’re playing pickleball for fun, it’s not an issue to keep the net as it is for tennis. But if you are playing professionally or competitively, or if you are coaching, then you should make the net the right height.
There are different ways of changing the height of a tennis net.
- Some have side rollers that you have to turn around, left or right, to either heighten or lower the net.
- Others have a centre strap that you will need to move to one side for the duration of your pickleball game.
Either way, unless this is a permanent pickleball court, do not change the net permanently. It’s much easier to keep it at the tennis net height, only changing it when you play pickleball and always changing ir back again.
When you buy your pickleball markers, you will also find something called Convertanet.
This is a net adjuster, a set of three straps that is portable, inexpensive and easy to use. One strap goes over the centre of the net, from top to bottom. The other two go to the alternative tennis net posts.
There is a net measurer, so you go for your 34 inches, or 36 inches, and can change the net height easily and without any strain or damage to the net.
If you watch this video, you will see exactly how Convertanet works.
Converting a Tennis Court to a Pickleball Court
If you are seriously considering changing your tennis court into a permanent pickleball, think carefully.
A tennis court is a valuable asset. You may not use it a lot now, but one day somebody is going to.
If however you are sure you prefer to have pickleball courts that are permanent, perhaps you own a club or are a pickleball coach, then look carefully into how to do the conversion.
It’s sensible to use somebody who knows what they are doing! Look on the internet and find either pickleball or tennis court constructors in your area, and set up an appointment. Converting a tennis court to a pickleball court will include the following steps:
- Removing all tennis posts, usually in concrete sleeves
- Removing the pipe anchors
- Resurfacing the court, or painting over the existing surface
- Building new pickle posts with pipe anchors
- Painting the lines
- Putting in new nets
As we say, four pickleball courts fit into one tennis court, but you don’t want to have four courts in such close proximity. Most people will put two pickleball courts where a tennis court used to be, perhaps three.
When you are using pickleball markers on a tennis court, bear the following in mind:
- The service line, which is the one a service cannot go past, is your baseline.
- The centre line of the service boxes is your pickleball centre.
- Your sideline is three and a half feet from the single lines of the tennis court.
- The non-volley zone, known as the kitchen, must be marked off. This is as important as any other markings. It’s the kitchen that makes the game so exciting. The kitchen is the area within the first seven feet from the net.
Remember, if you don’t have official pickleball markers, use cones or similar.
Bear in mind, cones will get in the players way but they are better than nothing. You can be creative and use your pickleball paddle covers, items of clothing, water bottles and anything, really.
But markers are best.
You will find them online, from most sports stores, or from pickleball specialist sports stores. Gamma, Franklin, Eco Walker and Wilson all make a good set, but there is a wide selection online.
If you don’t have markers but want to use chalk, string or some other material – yes, it can be done, just be careful – look at this Youtube tutorial.
Why Add Pickleball Markers to Your Tennis Court?
Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in America and a huge sport on the west coast of USA and not only with the ‘older’ crowd. It has become popular with players of all ages, and is taking off in Europe too.
There are sports venues that are designed for pickleball only – a testament to the popularity – and there are tennis courts that have markings for both.
If you want to attract more players to your sports club, add pickleball markers to a tennis court or two, and see what happens. It is likely you will attract a whole new crowd. It’s also likely you’ll be building pickleball courts pretty soon too.
As mentioned earlier, pickleball and tennis have their similarities and at some stage those who play tennis and have heard of pickleball want to play the latter.
If you can play tennis though, you can play pickleball.
Serves are underhand, there is a no-volley zone, and the paddles and ball are lighter. As per everything above, a pickleball court is much smaller than a tennis court, so the area you are covering is far less.
Pickleball is energetic and athletic, it’s great for your fitness levels and for fun, but is not as hard on the body as tennis is. It is for this reason so many older players (thirty plus…) enjoy the game of pickleball and it’s why so many tennis courts have either been converted to pickleball courts or share pickleball markings.
As a pickleball player, you only need a pickleball paddle, a pickleball ball, and a good pair of shoes. Ordinary running shoes are just fine, as are tennis shoes.
If you are playing regularly, or are a coach, you will want to invest in pickleball markers if you don’t have access to a pickleball court.
Pickleball markers are bright in color, easy to use, and last for a long time. They come with instructions so you know exactly how to put them on, and where on a court they should go. You can even leave them on the court, if you are going to play pickleball regularly.
Some of the brands which are good pickleball markers include Eco Walker, who have a really good set, but so do Gamma. And Wilson, and Vermont, and Get out. We can’t list them all but take a look online.