Beginner pickleball players can get started with a minimalist pickleball equipment list: just a paddle and ball. But as you take your game to the next level, there are a number of accessories to help you. Let's look at exactly what you need to start playing the fastest-growing sport in the United States!
Essential Pickleball Equipment
Before you’re able to hit the court, here are the things you absolutely need to get into a game of pickleball!
The ball you choose to play with is actually very important. There are two primary types of pickleballs: outdoor and indoor.
- Indoor pickleballs are going to be made out of a much lighter material and will have fewer and larger holes. This allows you more control over them, as they are softer and less bouncy.
- Outdoor pickleballs are made out of a heavier material and have more holes drilled into them. The thicker plastic makes outdoor balls more durable, as they will typically face harder court surfaces and potentially hazardous weather conditions.
Paddles are the most important piece of equipment in pickleball. Paddles come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and are made out of a wide variety of materials.
When you’re picking out your first pickleball paddle, there are many factors that you should consider. Paddles can range in price from anywhere between $20-$200, but fortunately, there are plenty of great budget paddles out there, even if you’re on a budget.
Selecting the right shoes to wear while playing pickleball will make all the difference. High-level games of pickleball require players to move around the court with intensity and agility, so using the right shoes will give you grip and help prevent potential injury.
Comfort is also a big factor in the enjoyment of pickleball, and many great pickleball shoe brands offer fantastic support and cushioning.
Don’t underestimate the value of wearing a brimmed hat while you’re on the court. Especially when playing on an outdoor court, a hat will protect your eyes from the sun and help keep sweat out of your face.
Most of your favorite pickleball equipment brands offer basic hats for just $15-$25, but any old baseball-style cap will do the trick!
If you plan on playing pickleball outdoors, then sunglasses are a must! Not only will sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun, but they will also serve as protective eyewear in the case of a pickleball being hit directly into your face.
Most players will use popular brands of sports eyewear like Oakley, Rawlings, or Ria Eyewear, which use durable plastics and rubber tips to make sure that they don’t fall off of your face during gameplay.
Intermediate Pickleball Equipment
If you’ve been playing pickleball for a little while now and want to invest more in your own personal equipment, then the following equipment will set you up for an even better playing experience.
Grip tape allows you to keep a firm grip on your pickleball paddle. The type of grip you use can also give you better cushioning, allowing you a more comfortable feel for your paddle.
Most grip tape is incredibly affordable, ranging between $10-$20. Popular grip tape brands include Gamma, Head, and Wilson, all of which offer excellent products at affordable prices.
Now that you’ve acquired all this pickleball equipment, you’re going to need something to store it all in. A good pickleball bag is designed to hold multiple paddles, balls, shoes, sportswear, and everything in between.
I personally would recommend using JOOLA’s Tour Elite Pickleball Bag. It’s a sling-style duffle bag that can carry up to 4 paddles along with just about everything else you’d need to bring to a pickleball match. Using a bag like this will give you peace of mind in knowing that you didn’t forget any of your essential gear at home.
Paddle covers are small fabric cases that are built to protect your paddles when they aren’t being used on the court. Most covers will only run you between $10-$15.
Even if you have a pickleball bag, it’s a good idea to have covers as well. During a practice or game, you might want to switch paddles quickly. Paddle covers will allow you to have your favorite paddles out and ready to go without the risk of them being damaged while out in the open.
Ball Hoppers and Collectors
The more you play pickleball, the more balls you’ll use during both practice and games. Having a huge pile of balls tucked into the corner of a court isn’t ideal for anyone. That’s exactly where ball hoppers and ball collectors come into play.
Ball hoppers, such as the Gamma Sports EZ Travel Cart Pro, are designed for holding all of your balls in a neat basket while you’re on the court. Not only do they declutter the court of extraneous pickleballs, but they also make your practicing routines more efficient, as you’ll always have access to your ball supply.
Once you’ve emptied your hopper of its contents, you’ll need something to collect all of the balls with. Ball collectors, like the Franklin Sports Pickleball Retriever Tube, will help you pick up all of your balls in no time.
Advanced Pickleball Equipment
Once you’ve acquired all the basic and intermediate equipment, it’s time to move on to the advanced equipment.
Paddle Rack or Holder
Paddle racks are great to have while you’re on the court. Whether to have all of your personal paddles at the ready or to allow players a place to put their paddles when they aren’t playing, paddle racks offer a lot of convenience and organization.
Racks are also used at public courts as a way to show who’s next in line for using the court. Players will place their paddle in the rack’s first slot to show that they have priority for its use, and then other players will place their rackets in the following slots to reserve their position on the list of who’s up next.
Rebounder and Target Trainers
If practicing wall drills isn’t cutting it for you, then a rebounder or target trainer is the upgrade you’re looking for. Rebounders are portable panels and nets designed for practicing different shot types.
Some of the top-of-the-line models, such as the RTS Pro Rebounder, have netting above and below the rebound panel to allow for more flexibility with what shots you want to practice.
Pickleball machines are for the most dedicated of players. Most high-end machines will run you at least $1,000, but it is an investment that will elevate your practice to a whole new level.
The Spinshot Player Pickleball Machine is one of the most popular pickleball machines on the market. The machine is programmed with a dozen different drills that run you through a variety of scenarios that you’ll face while on the pickleball court. Whether it’s honing in that third shot drop or getting in the zone with dinks, a pickleball machine will optimize your on-court practice time when practicing by yourself.
Equipment List for a DIY Pickleball Court
If you’ve got a spot that you think is suitable for a pop-up pickleball court, there are just a few things that you’ll need in order to get a game going.
The first thing you’ll need to do when setting up your DIY pickleball court is to tape out all of the standard pickleball court lines. Make sure you’re familiar with all of the USAPA regulation dimensions for a pickleball court, as you’ll want all of your court’s zones to be as accurate as possible.
Rolls of court tape will get the job done, but if you’re looking to set up a court quickly, I’d recommend the Franklin Pickleball Court Marker Kit. Rather than taping out the lines in their entirety, these markets are placed at all of the essential intersections of a standard pickleball court. They are also reusable, pairing nicely with any portable net system.
Portable Net and Posts
You can’t play pickleball without a net to hit the ball over, and there are plenty of great portable pickleball nets on the market. Make sure that the net you purchase is the regulation size of 20 feet wide and 36 inches tall and that it is sturdy enough to stay taught and not fall over easily in windy weather conditions.
The ZENY Portable Pickleball Net System is one of the best and most affordable portable nets on the market. It’s made out of a sturdy, reinforced steel frame that’s easy to set up and take down. The net itself weighs less than 20 pounds and collapses into a small carrying case, making it perfect for traveling.
This last piece of equipment on our list isn’t a necessity for playing pickleball, but it is a fun accessory for your home or travel court. If you’re trying to teach someone how to keep score or hosting a casual tournament, a scoreboard is a great way to officially keep track of a game’s score.
Simple options, such as your basic, flippable scorecards, are incredibly affordable, ranging between $10-$80.
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