Several years ago when I visited a friend in the US, he explained to me how he’d taken up pickleball.
Now, this was a sport I’d never heard of, so I asked him to go into it in further detail.
After I understood the concept, he invited me to play a game!
I loved it.
I’ve played most racquet sports in my life in addition to tennis, namely squash, badminton and racket ball..
..and now I can add pickleball to the list.
So what is pickleball? How does it compare to tennis, particularly in terms of the court size…
What is pickleball?
Pickleball combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis in a fun game.
You use a paddle to hit the ball (a bit like table tennis) which goes over a low net (like tennis) into a badminton-sized court.
The nature of the game, and the smaller sized court, means that it’s particularly popular with younger players and those who find playing on a larger tennis court quite challenging.
The paddles are roughly 8 inches wide and 16 inches long, and the balls are similar size to baseballs, but made of plastic.
It was created in 1965, as a sport which the whole family could play.
It’s quirky name actually comes from the name of a dog, Pickles, who would chase after wayward balls in the garden and hide in the bushes.
The sport is becoming increasingly popular in the US, on college campuses, schools and with senior citizens..
..but I think in the UK it hasn’t really caught on yet.
How long is a tennis court compared to a pickleball court?
A pickleball court is 20 feet wide and 44 feet long, which is the same size as a badminton court.
A tennis court is considerably larger; 36 feet wide (including tramlines for doubles) and 78 feet long.
So a tennis court is roughly 4 times the size of a pickleball court.
Can you convert a tennis court into a pickleball court?
If you look at the dimensions of both court sizes, it doesn’t really seem to match up exactly, but it can be done.
You set up 2 pickleball courts on either side of the tennis court. You place the net in between the baseline and the service box line. This will mean the pickleball court will extend back behind the tennis court baseline.
You set up 4 pickleball courts; 2 on either side of the tennis court, again with the net in the same place as Option 1, but you place the courts side by side.
So there you go.
In my local park, there are 8 tennis courts you can use, and aside from the summer, particularly when Wimbledon is on, there are always free courts.
I wonder if I’ll get any funny looks if I set up a pickleball court next time…