Playing Pickleball on a Tennis Court
Has the world gone completely bonkers? Playing pickleball on a tennis court? Is this a thing?
With a few minor adjustments, playing pickleball on tennis court facilities is not just possible, it may be the perfect way to utilize a tennis court or even basketball courts. Any smooth court surface can be converted to pickleball courts, and it can even be parking lots, driveways or a gym floor.
Pickleball Court Dimensions
The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) sets all the rules for pickleball courts. And while there are no rules about what the surface must consist of, it is commonly concrete or asphalt outdoors or wood or composite indoors.
Officially, pickleball courts are 22 feet wide and 40 feet long including the sidelines and baselines. But there needs to be room around the court for players to move.
USAPA recommends that the total playing area be at least 34 feet by 64 feet. The bare minimum is 30 feet by 60 feet. This is the same size as a doubles badminton court.
There is no difference in the size of a pickleball court for playing pickleball as a singles game or as a doubles game.
Unique to pickleball is the non-volley zone (the kitchen) which is a 7 foot area on both sides of the net that includes the kitchen line. For those who play pickleball, the no volley zone is a critical part of a pickleball court.
Pickleball Court Lines
Pickleball lines are supposed to be 2 inches wide and of a contrasting color from the pickleball court surface. Pickleball lines can be temporary or permanent.
List of Pickleball Court Lines
1. Sidelines mark the side of the court. These lines are "in" for groundstrokes but may or may not be in for a serve depending on if it lands in the no volley zone where it is out.
2. The pickleball baseline is the back edge of a pickleball court. They are considered in for all shots. Servers must remain behind this line until after they hit the serve.
3. Kitchen line is part of the no volley zone and is out for serves in this unique sport. Players may not touch this line if they are hitting a ball out of the air.
4. The center line is in the middle of a pickleball court running from the kitchen line to the base line. It creates the service box where a pickleball player must hit into.
Since these lines do not line up at all with the lines on a tennis court it is easy for those who play pickleball or those who are playing tennis to have line confusion.
Dimensions of Tennis Courts
To play tennis, you need a much larger space than for a pickleball court. While you do not have to build a tennis court to include both singles and doubles, most tennis courts do exactly that.
It is also possible to build a tennis court with just enough room for just singles lines or to have only doubles lines on a tennis court.
A standard tennis court pad, constructed for doubles should be 60 feet wide and 120 feet long. This means it would be very easy to have a single pickleball court up to four pickleball courts in the space for one tennis court.
Tennis Court Lines
Lines on a tennis court as supposed to contrast with the tennis court surface but in most settings, they are painted white on hard courts and a white plastic tape nailed down to clay tennis court surfaces.
List of Tennis Court Lines
1. Sidelines on tennis courts can be confusing to new players as there typically are two sets on each side: the inside set defines the limits of a single tennis court while the outside set defines a doubles court. The area in between is commonly referred to as the "alley." Each set is "in" for their respective game.
2. Like pickleball courts, the baseline defines the back of a tennis court and the server (but no one else) is required to start the serve entirely behind this line.
3. There is no kitchen but there is a service line that defines the back edge of the service box. It is in for serves unlike in a pickleball game.
4. The center line, unlike with pickleball courts, runs from service line to service line underneath the tennis court net. It defines the service box and is in for all serves.
5. Some tennis courts have a very short line at the baseline that is inside the tennis court. It is put there as a convenience to players so they know exactly the limits of where they can stand on for the serve.
How to Minimize Line Confusion
When a tennis player and a pickleball player both use the same court, the lines can be confusing. To limit confusion, when adding pickleball lines in the process of converting a tennis court it is recommended that when painting pickleball lines a color should contrast with both the court and the tennis court lines.
While not required, this contrast will make it easier to play pickleball on a tennis court (or if you prefer, to play tennis on a pickleball court.)
Tennis Net vs. Pickleball Net
They are both generally made from similar nylon netting material designed to stop the ball from passing under and through to the other side. But sometimes a tennis net is used to play pickleball but a pickleball net can never be used for tennis.
Both have some sort of center strap to get the center height exactly correct and both may have a center net post to support the center from sagging too much, but this is much more often seen with a pickleball net than a tennis net as a tennis net cord is likely a steel cable.
Tennis Net Dimensions
Tennis nets are 36 inches high at the center which is generally held by a center strap and anchored to the court. Anchoring is not a requirement as long as the center height is exactly 36 inches.
At the singles sideline the net is required to be 42 inches high and that height is to be maintained all the way to the net posts. As a practical matter, particularly on outdoor courts, many tennis courts will run the top of the tennis net from the center directly to the posts at 42 inches without paying attention to the height at the singles sideline.
Pickleball Net Dimensions
A pickleball net is lower at every point vs. a tennis net. This why if you want to play pickleball on a tennis court using a tennis net, it must be lowered across the entire way.
Pickleball nets are to be 34 inches high at the center and 36 inches high at the sideline. This is true regardless of whether you are using portable nets or the tennis net.
How Many Pickleball Courts Fit on a Single Tennis Court?
The answer here depends on how close in you want to pack the pickleball courts.
One Pickleball Court
The simplest thing to do is to play pickleball on a tennis court using the existing net. Care would have to be taken to lower the net to get the right height for pickleball and a temporary adjuster is a useful tool for this situation.
Two Pickleball Courts
Here, pickleball players would see one court on each side of the tennis court going in the same direction as the tennis lines. These two courts would probably use a portable net and use the net for tennis and the back fencing or walls as barriers to catch stray balls. Two pickleball courts are often seen at private tennis clubs to encourage pickleball without converting it to a permanent pickleball court.
Four Pickleball Courts
Pickleball court dimensions would allow four side by side courts to fully lay out on a tennis court two feet apart. Since they would be perpendicular to the tennis court, a temporary barrier would be useful to catch stray pickleball balls.
The tennis posts may be an issue so, if possible, the ability to build removable posts to take them out of play would be very helpful.
Other Needed Equipment
Another excellent reason to play the great sport of pickleball is that once the court is established all you need are pickleball paddles and a ball. You do not need to permanently paint pickleball lines as they can be established with tape or chalk.