Pickleball courts are rectangular areas with various lines sectioning them off into different parts. They can be indoor or outdoor and are very similar to courts used for tennis and badminton. Understanding the setup of a pickleball court is critical to understanding the rules of the game. Let’s get started.
History of Pickleball
Pickleball is a fairly new sport, invented in 1965 by three American dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. In 1976, the first known pickleball tournament was held. After that, the sport took off.
It has since evolved and spread to Canada and many European and Asian countries. By 1990, pickleball was played in all 50 states and was even introduced to the Arizona Senior Olympics in 2001. The sport continues to grow.
Also read: The History of Pickleball.
Pickleball Court Diagram
As mentioned previously, pickleball was hugely inspired by badminton. Because of this, a pickleball court is the same size as a doubles badminton court. Pickleball court dimensions are 20 x 44 feet. Unlike tennis, pickleball uses the same court size for both singles and doubles play.
The layout of the court is broken down into 3 main parts. The first area is a non-volley zone, which includes the space from the non-volley line (located 7 feet from the net) to the net. In pickleball, this area is often referred to as the “Kitchen”.
Then, there are the service areas. The left service area consists of the left half of the court behind the non-volley line, and the right service area consists of the right half of the court behind the non-volley line. These areas are 10 feet by 15 feet.
Thanks to its similarity to other pre-existing sports, courts can not only be constructed specifically for pickleball but also may be converted from pre-existing tennis or badminton courts.
Pickleball lines like sidelines, baselines, and centerlines help visibly divide the court into its 3 main sections. The net divides it horizontally in half and each half is identical.
The height of a pickleball net is 36 inches at the furthest sidelines and drops to 34 inches at the center of the court. Overall net size is 20 feet by 3 feet, though it does lose height at the center.
Check out this pickleball court diagram:
Professional grade pickleball courts are coated with AcrylotexPB, a surface product applied by a contractor. The cool thing about pickleball, though, is that there is a do-it-yourself option! Using a 3/4″ nap roller, DIY Pickleball court coating can be applied without a professional. The USAPA recommends PicklePave coating from California Sports Surfaces. This option is a textured acrylic coating made for asphalt and concrete. It is essentially the DIY version of AcrylotexPB. Pickleball court surfaces are similar to outdoor tennis and basketball courts. They’re textured with non-aggressive silica sand that prevents slipping.
Pickleball lines are 2 inches in width and white in color, to contrast with the color of the court. If the ball lands even partially on an exterior line, the ball is in. The point of contact, or the spot on the ball touching the ground, determines the call.
For instance, if the ball has a point of contact beyond the line, but the ball’s diameter causes the raised part of the ball to hover over the line, the ball is still out.
The dimensions of the court include dimensions of the lines. Earlier, we talked about the size of a pickleball court, which is 20 feet by 44 feet. These measurements are inclusive of lines. The 2-inch width of the lines is including as part of that overall measurement.
The net splits the 44-foot-long court into two sides. The two baselines on a court are parallel to the net and farthest from it. Sidelines are perpendicular to the net on each side of the court.
The non-volley line is located on both sides of the court, 7 feet from the net. There is also a centerline on each side, which bisects the area between the non-volley line and the baseline, resulting in two service areas.
The net should be at least 20 feet long. It is made of mesh. The mesh size should be small enough to prevent the ball from passing through the spaces.
The net should also be 36 inches high. It will be only 34 inches high at the center of the court because of the center strap.
The adjustable center strap is placed at the center of the net to stabilize the net and prevent it from sagging. Some pickleball courts do not use a center strap, but will naturally be a little lower towards the center of the court.
Net posts should be placed about 12 inches past the sidelines. The net will be attached to these posts via a cord or cable that runs through the 2-inch white binding located across the top of the net.
Additional Outdoor Court Specifications
Outdoor courts, in particular, have additional factors to consider.
First, the orientation of the courts is important to avoid players having to look into the sun. Because the sun moves from east to west during the day, using a north-south orientation of the court will help ensure that the sun is not always in both players’ eyes.
In addition, fencing is important to contain the ball in the playing area. Wire type fencing is often used because it is affordable and allows people to look through it.
Lastly, windbreaks may be attached to the fencing. These reduce the effects of wind on the ball. The mesh is very small but frequent enough to still allow a viewer to see through them to some extent.
Each court uses these specifications to keep pickleball fair and consistent. Keep these dimensions and details in mind if you’re looking to create your very own DIY pickleball court. Happy playing!