The fast-growing sport of pickleball is played on pickleball courts. These courts look like tennis courts, but at 20 feet by 44 feet, they're the same size as badminton courts. Pickleball courts are built from concrete or asphalt and covered with a non-slip acrylic surface.
What Is a Pickleball Court?
Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the United States, combining elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong.
The game is played on a court that looks like a tennis court but is much smaller and includes unique features (like the non-volley zone) and a smaller net.
Pickleball Court Layout
The size of a pickleball court is 20 feet by 44 feet, similar to a badminton court.
At the sidelines, the net height is 36 inches, while at the center, it is 34 inches. Similarly to a tennis court, the court is striped with right and left service courts and a non-volley zone in front of the net. Some pickleball courts are specifically designed for pickleball, while others are converted from existing tennis or badminton courts.
Most pickleball courts are positioned North-South rather than East-West, in order to prevent one side from having to look into the sun.
The lines of a pickleball court are set up like this:
- Each sideline should be 44 feet long (22 feet on either side of the net).
- The baselines are 20 feet wide. The centerline splits the left service area from the right service area.
- The non-volley line is positioned seven feet from the net.
Many pickleball courts are green or blue with white line. Any surface color that creates contrast is acceptable.
Pickleball courts have six playing areas—three on either side of the net.
These playing areas are:
- A non-volley zone closest to the net
- A left service area
- A right service area
Each service area measures 15 feet long and 10 feet wide.
The non-volley zone extends seven feet on either side of the net. The non-volley zone, also called the kitchen, is a concept unique to pickleball. Players can only enter the non-volley zone after the ball has bounced.
Pickleball Court Surface Materials
It is common for pickleball courts to be constructed from concrete or asphalt, similar to tennis courts. In order to ensure a slip-free playing surface, the surface is textured with silica sand.
Indoor pickleball courts are designed and built using polyurethane court surfaces, which can also be used for outdoor courts. Both asphalt and concrete are suitable surfaces for outdoor pickleball courts.
It’s also possible to create a temporary court surface using snap-together tiles from companies like Mateflex.
Pickleball Courts vs Tennis Courts
Pickleball courts are smaller than tennis courts. Pickleball court dimensions measure 20 x 44 feet for singles and doubles. Pickleball has a non-volley zone that extends seven feet back from the net on each side, sometimes referred to as “the kitchen.”
Pickleball nets are lower than tennis nets. Pickleball nets are 36 inches at the ends and 34 inches in the middle, while tennis nets are 36 inches in height at the center.
Since pickleball is a relatively new sport, it’s common for players to use temporary portable nets rather than the permanent nets that are nearly universal on tennis courts.
Like tennis courts, pickleball courts should be fenced to prevent players from having to run after pickleball balls, disrupting gameplay. Chain link fencing is typically recommended, with link gaps of around 45mm-55mm.
Most pickleball fencing has a height of ten feet.
Just like with tennis courts, lighting systems can get expensive—but they’re important for safety and to make pickleball courts playable in lower-light winter months. A few elements to consider:
- Light needs to be spread uniformly throughout the pickleball court to avoid dark spots.
- Light poles should be five feet from the sidelines.
- Poles should be padded if they are within the fenced area.
- Lighting should be positioned to reduce the chance of players looking into the bulbs.
There is also a difference between the balls used in tennis and pickleball.
Pickleball balls are made of plastic, measure 2 and 7/8 inches to 3 inches in diameter, weigh between .08 and 1.02 ounces, and are similar to a Wiffle ball. There are no color restrictions on the ball, except that it must have a single, consistent color.
Paddles used in pickleball are smaller and constructed of different materials than the racquets used in tennis.
There are a variety of high-tech composite pickleball paddles used in competitive play by pickleball players, ranging in price from $50 to $150 per paddle. The paddles used in pickleball have a solid surface.
Up until the 1970s, most tennis racquets were made of wood. Now, most are made of fiberglass and graphite. As a result, they are lighter yet just as powerful and strong. Tennis racquets are woven strings that are made of natural or synthetic materials. Each racquet costs between $50 and $250.
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