Pickleball is played on a hard surface. But it can be hard to resist a large grass field for pickleball, making us wonder, can I play pickleball on grass?
Many people book official courts whenever they want to enjoy a game of pickleball. But is this the only way to satisfy the pickleball enthusiast within us?
Pickleball is a game best played on hard surfaces like asphalt or concrete. However, it is possible to play pickleball on grass, but it can be tricky and exhaustive. Some players enjoy a casual game on the grass because it adds the challenge of variable bounces.
Playing pickleball on grass brings its challenges, from preparing the surface to marking the court lines and even judging the ball's bounce from an uneven and soft surface. But playing pickleball on grass is undoubtedly great, especially if you do not have any other surface options available.
Professional pickleball players do not consider grass one of the surfaces suited for professional games. However, if you like to have a casual game with your friends and family, there is no harm in playing on the grass. You cannot expect a standard pickleball to bounce on grass, so it is best to use a rubber ball. You will also have to prepare the court and keep playing there to keep it in the right shape.
Playing Pickleball on Grass
Pickleball is a sport that can be played both indoors and outdoors but presumably requires a hard surface. The first thing we imagine when with pickleball is some hard concrete and asphalt surface that will allow the ball to bounce. Professional players and pickleball enthusiasts often book tennis or badminton courts to have pickleball tournaments.
Indoors, we usually look towards badminton courts and large gym halls. In some cases, an empty warehouse can also be converted into a pickleball court. Most of these courts will usually have concrete or other hard floorings.
The surface you are playing on should allow the ball to bounce off properly. This is why more complex surfaces are preferred over softer ones. But this does not mean that you cannot play on the softer surfaces.
When it comes to grass, if it can be compacted and leveled down, you can play on grass, but we cannot consider it to be at a serious or professional level because grass can cause bounce issues. Some people use the variable bounce as a challenge and prefer playing on the grass. There is a US Lawn Pickleball Association, which holds pickleball tournaments on grassy surfaces.
However, professional pickleball players claim that the events hosted by the Lawn Association are more of parties, where players are often seen grabbing sugary drinks and chit chatting before they try to volley the ball out of the grass.
In pickleball, scoring is achieved with faults. Typical faults include:
- Hitting the ball out of bounds.
- Not hitting hard enough to get the ball to the other side of the net.
- An out-of-bounds service.
Similarly, allowing the ball to bounce multiple times is also a fault, and not letting the ball bounce in the kitchen is also a fault.
The point here is that bounce is a crucial component of pickleball, and not getting the right bounce significantly hampers the essence of the game. Getting bounces on a grassy surface can be tricky and challenging to achieve.
Another challenge is that grassy surfaces are not uniform. Any dip or crest in the surface can cause the ball to bounce off in different directions, rendering it nearly impossible to hit the ball.
If you are seriously looking to experiment with playing pickleball on grass, try to get hold of a tennis court, which can be costly. A cheaper option would be to mow down your lawn and level it as much as possible to achieve maximum bounce.
Consider Changing the Ball
The traditional pickleball, used on hard surfaces, will not be suitable on grass. On most occasions, it will just drop dead and hardly bounce. The best alternative to the traditional ball is to use a rubber ball.
A rubber ball can bounce off from all kinds of surfaces, a trait that the traditional pickleball lacks. However, you need to ensure that the ball is not too heavy and remains around the weight of twenty-five grams, which is standard for an original pickleball.
Here is a pro tip for you. It is best to pick up the volleys coming at you before letting the ball bounce on a grassy surface. This will save you from the unpredictability of the bounce.
Preparing the Court
A professional pickleball court is 44 feet long and 20 feet wide. The net is placed in the middle, across the width of the court. The net is kept 34 inches at the center of the court and 36 inches at the posts. The net's length is 21'9" from post to post.
The kitchen, or non-volley zone, is denoted by a line seven feet from the net on both sides. This allows for a playing and service area of 15x20 feet.
When looking to make a court in your backyard or lawn, consider getting the ground compacted and the grass trimmed short. Look for a level surface without dips and crests. It would help if you also considered drawing lines to identify the designated areas. To mark the lines, you can use field spray paints, which will not harm the grass and be long-lasting, and you will not have to repaint the lines repeatedly.
If you plan to play at night, you will need some lighting. You can consider hanging lights above the court or adding lampposts to either side of the court. You will require powerful lighting to be able to see the ball.
If you plan to play at night and on grass, consider getting a brightly colored ball such as bright pink or yellow, or white. These colors will be easier to see at night.
Better Surface Options for Pickleball
If you are playing pickleball for recreation or as your favorite pastime, you can easily play on surfaces, including grass. However, if you want to play it professionally or plan to compete in tournaments, you should consider playing on the following surfaces for the best performance.
Concrete is probably the best surface for pickleball. It requires no upkeep, is long-lasting and supportive. It is durable and will not show wear and tear. Some courts prefer to add a polyurethane coating on the surface to provide additional grip and comfort.
Asphalt is often considered a pocket-friendly version of concrete for pickleball. It is not as durable as concrete, but it is still a good option. The asphalt surface can also be coated to make it more comfortable to sit knees on.
Court tiles, often used on tennis courts, are also an excellent option for the court surface. These tiles stick together without leaving any gaps. They can be used to make indoor and outdoor courts conveniently.
Clay is not the best surface for pickleball, but it is better than grass. A tennis court with a well pressed and rolled-out clay surface can ensure less but consistent bounce. However, if you plan to play on the clay surface in your backyard, consider making it as even as possible and well rolled out to get the most bounce possible.
About THE AUTHOR
Since initially playing at the collegiate level, I have amassed several decades of experience playing racquetball, tennis, and pickleball. I have played thousands of matches and games, and won medals and awards in multiple tourantments. I am constantly improving my game and enjoy mentoring and coaching other players in strategy and technique. I have authored dozens of articles on the sport.Read More About Michael Stevens