You can play a game of pickleball on a grass surface. However, playing on a grass court isn't recommended by the USA Pickleball Association. Grass surfaces cause challenges that affect gameplay significantly, including less bounce, uneven surfaces, and difficulty seeing court lines.
For people looking to play a casual game of pickleball at home, finding a big enough surface to play on can be difficult. That leads many people to wonder if they can play on a grass surface like a backyard. The answer is yes—it’s possible.
But grass isn’t an ideal surface for your pickleball court. There is a reason the USA Pickleball Association neither recommends not holding pickleball tournaments on grass surfaces.
A badminton court might be a better fit if you’re after a sport to play on a summer afternoon with the family in your backyard. Badminton is played in the air, so the court surface is less important.
Why Is Playing Pickleball On Grass Challenging?
|Easy to set up for casual game||Uneven surface|
|All that’s required is a backyard||Less bounce|
|Slower ball movement|
|Court lines are hard to see|
Grass pickleball is a challenging option for an outdoor court. If you are determined to attempt playing on grass, here are a few issues you might run into:
Most people don’t have the time or budget to keep a perfectly manicured lawn. This means any grass court will be uneven, which means the pickleball ball bounces differently than it does on a hard court surface.
Even if you create a perfectly flat surface, grass has natural variations. This causes uneven bounce issues.
Grass is naturally spongier and softer than an asphalt surface or concrete court. This means pickleballs bounce lower than on these types of courts, making pickleball harder to play. When the ball bounces lower, it’s harder to get under the ball and get it up and over the net.
This low bounce also makes dinks, a crucial part of pickleball strategy, almost impossible to return. This issue makes the game quicker and less fun for everybody involved.
Grass causes the ball to bounce slower. The ball staying slow and low means it’s much harder to develop any momentum in a rally, forcing everybody to try and hit the ball much harder just to keep it going.
Court Lines Are Hard to See
Painting lines is harder on grass than it is on a concrete or asphalt court.
The lines are likely to be less clear and straight. This can lead to difficulties in calling shots, potentially leading to disagreements and a less enjoyable experience for the pickleball players involved.
Can you Play Pickleball on Synthetic Grass?
Synthetic grass courts aren’t common in pickleball. However, synthetic grass is better for a game of pickleball than real grass. Bounce issues will likely be reduced as synthetic grass surfaces are more even and firmer.
If you already have a synthetic grass lawn, you can certainly use it for a game of pickleball. However, putting one in solely for pickleball is not recommended.
What Pickleball Should I Use for Grass?
Any game of pickleball played on a non-specialized grass surface is likely to be very casual. Therefore, there is no need to stick to a USA Pickleball Association-approved pickleball ball. You can pick any pickleball ball you happen to have or use an alternative that bounces better on soft surfaces.
A Wiffle ball will likely run into the same issues as a pickleball ball, but it certainly can be used for a casual game. You could also experiment with rubber balls or tennis balls, as they bounce higher. But remember, pickleball paddles aren’t designed for these heavier balls. You may struggle to get much power on any shots.
How to Make A Grass Pickleball Court
If you decide that you do want to create a pickleball court with a grass surface in your garden, check out this beginner’s guide on how to get started.
Step 1: Find A Flat Surface
A pickleball court has a playing area of 20 feet by 44 feet, with some space needed around it for runoff areas.
Find the flattest part of your lawn that fits these dimensions, and make that the base for your new grass court.
Step 2: Measure The Court
Using a measuring tape, measure out the dimensions of a pickleball court.
The baseline should be twenty feet wide, with the sidelines 44 feet long each. The net sits in the middle of the court (22 feet from each baseline).
Step 3: Draw The Layout
The easiest way to draw lines on grass is using spray paint. If you can, try to find non-toxic paint that won’t be harmful to any wildlife or pets who might come across your court.
Mark out the court dimensions above using pegs, and use the spray paint to draw the lines between them. Try to keep them as straight as you can!
Step 4: Identify The Non-volley Zone
The non-volley zone is the area between the sidelines seven feet from the net on either side of the court. Measure out seven feet from the net on either side and draw a straight line running parallel to the net across the court. This is the non-volley line.
Step 5: Mark A Line From Non-volley Line To Baseline
Find the very center of the non-volley line on either side of the court (this should be ten feet from either sideline.)
Then, draw a line running perpendicular to the net from the non-volley line to the baseline. This is the center line, which is used to mark out the service boxes.
The U.S. Lawn Pickleball Association
The U.S. Lawn Pickleball Association is a small organization run by enthusiasts of grass court pickleball. If you’re looking to get into grass pickleball or create your own grass surface court, they would be a great group to make contact with.
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