Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, with nearly 5 million Americans that play it. But whether your regular pickleball court is full or your town hasn’t yet caught onto the pickleball trend, it might have you wondering—can you play pickleball on a tennis court?
Yes, you can play pickleball on a tennis court. Since pickleball is a cross between tennis, badminton, and ping pong, you can easily set up a makeshift pickleball game on a tennis court.
So, grab your paddle and plastic ball. We’ll teach you the must-knows of arranging a tennis court for your pickleball outing.
Differences Between a Tennis and Pickleball Court
Even though pickleball and tennis share similarities, they’re not the same.
Below are some of the most notable differences between their courts:
- Tennis courts are bigger
- Pickleball court sizes never change
- Tennis courts don’t have a non-volley zone
- Pickleball nets are about two inches shorter
Pickleball courts are notably smaller than tennis courts, coming in at only 20 feet wide and 44 feet long. In contrast, a tennis court’s dimensions are 36 feet wide and 78 feet long.
Part of the reason for this stark difference is that tennis players use a larger court when playing doubles. But pickleball players don’t need this extra space since they use the same area for singles and doubles games.
To put this into perspective, an entire pickleball court is only two feet longer than the service boxes on a tennis court. Those are the lines nearest to the court if you’re unfamiliar with tennis. And if you’re comparing the singles lines on a tennis court, those are a mere 3.5-feet wider than the longest part of a pickleball court.
As far as the net height, the casual pickleball player likely won’t notice a significant difference between the 36-inch-high middle of a tennis court compared to the 34-inch-high pickleball net they’re accustomed to playing.
But frequent pickleball players may need to adjust the net or how they hit the ball to accommodate the change in net height.
The Ideal Number of Pickleball Courts on a Tennis Court
If you’re wondering how many pickleball courts an existing tennis court is large enough to house, the answer is four. Even though the tennis court itself measures 36 ft by 78 ft, the surrounding area measures 60 ft by 120 ft.
4 Pickleball Courts in 1 Tennis Court
Setting up four pickleball courts on a full tennis ground will ideally look like this:
In this setup, you center the four pickleball courts around the points where the singles' sidelines meet the middle of the "No Man's Land".
So, a four-pickleball court might be manageable if you have four sets of single games, which would have eight people on the makeshift tennis court.
2 Pickleball Courts on 1 Tennis Court
Where things get tricky is if you’re playing doubles on the tennis court. Having 16 people on the tennis court will feel like a crowd and will likely cause some unwanted situations between the games.
We recommend setting up two pickleball courts per tennis court. That way, you won’t feel short on space when playing, and spectators will have plenty of room to watch you play.
Tools You Need for Playing Pickleball on Tennis Courts
Now that you know the answer to “Can you play pickleball on a tennis court?” is yes, the better question to ask is the type of tools you need to start playing.
Luckily, it’s not expensive to do so.
Below are the items you should gather to design your makeshift pickleball court:
- Measuring tape (recommendation: Komelon 9905)
- Temporary marker
- Painter’s tape (recommendation: ScotchBlue Multi-Surface Tape 180 ft)
- Portable net (optional)
Determining the type of temporary marker you use is the most important step. If you’ll be playing on a tennis court that isn’t yours, it’s best to ask permission to convert it to a pickleball court.
Some tennis court owners will be okay with you using a temporary marker. However, others might balk at certain marker types, such as chalk, which can create a real mess.
A great option is to use rubber strips for the lines. These strips are gentle on a tennis court’s surface, won’t make a mess of your hands, and are easy to remove when you finish playing. Generally, however, they are on the more expensive side compared to painter's tape.
Of course, using paint is a viable option if you’re interested in turning your tennis court into a permanent pickleball court. Just be sure to start with a clean, solid-colored tennis court state. Otherwise, it can get confusing if you have too many white lines painted on the ground.
Step-by-Step Guide for Playing Pickleball on a Tennis Court
Now that you’ve gathered your materials read on to learn how to convert your tennis court nearby into a pickleball court.
Note that these instructions are for making pickleball court lines with pickleball nets. However, it’s possible to reverse the direction of the instructions here, using the net already on the course as if you were going to play tennis.
Total time: 15 minutes
Step 1: Set Up Your Net
Head to your local tennis courts and select one tennis court that you want to convert for pickleball.
Looking at the tennis court lines can feel overwhelming since pickleball court dimensions are different. But start by dividing the court surface into quarters using two portable pickleball nets.
You should place these nets at the center of the tennis court net perpendicularly. Whether you’re working with indoor or outdoor courts, feel free to measure or guess the center of the tennis net.
Step 2: Measure the Sidelines
It’s vital not to move your pickleball net at this point, as you’ll use the net as a baseline for your measurements. You’ll then use your tape measure, placing it approximately one foot inside your pickleball net.
From there, measure out to the 22-foot point and place a mark there with chalk or a temporary marker. Do this on both sides of your dedicated pickleball court.
Step 3: Measure the Baseline
Using the 22-foot mark as your base, determine the baseline by placing a mark at the 10-foot and 20-foot mark along the sidelines.
At this point, you’ll make your first pickleball lines by drawing or using tape to form a straight line, following your measuring tape to keep the line straight. Follow this step on both sides of the sidelines, connecting the 20-foot baseline marks.
Step 4: Measure the No-Volley Zone
Adding pickleball lines also involves marking the no-volley zone, which also goes by the name kitchen line. To do so, measure the first seven feet from the base of the pickleball net to the sideline service line.
Again, repeat this on either side, connecting the service box sidelines at this seven-foot point. You’ll also need to join the 10-foot mark between the baseline and no volley zone.
Step 5: Final Touches
At this point, you can use tape or sidewalk chalk to finalize the lines, ensuring they stand out when you play. Painting pickleball lines is also an option. But as mentioned before, only permanently paint pickleball lines if you want permanent lines. Repeat the process for the other side of the pickleball net and voila!
It’s also worth reiterating that you can create multiple or a single pickleball court from a single tennis court. Using this non-permanent method makes it easy for people to pick up a tennis ball and get playing tennis after you leave, given that you won’t be changing the tennis net height.
What About Using the Tennis Net?
If you’d prefer to set up your temporary or permanent pickleball lines using a tennis net, simply follow these instructions but reverse the direction of your pickleball court. It won't be possible to squeeze in four courts this way, however.
In either case, you’ll be able to use the same pickleball baseline and all the materials we discussed here.
Permanently Replacing Your Tennis Court
If you love pickleball so much that you’re ready to do an overhaul to the tennis court collecting leaves in your backyard, we recommend taking some extra steps.
For starters, you can hire someone to resurface your tennis court or give it a paint job yourself. If you choose to go at it on your own and it takes you more than a day to get the job done, wrapping your painting tools in plastic is an excellent way to keep them in good shape.
You can also opt to remove the tennis posts. Keep your fingers crossed that the builders installed sleeve posts—that way, you simply need to slide them out and purchase caps to cover the holes.
Then, set up your pickleball nets and follow the instructions we shared for making the lines. You’ll then be the proud owner of a new pickleball court.
An Exception to Standard Pickleball Rules
The good news is that you’ll be able to play pickleball on a tennis court following almost all of the same rules.
However, we recommend making one exception to the standard rules—if the ball contacts one of the markers on your makeshift court, you should replay the point. If you’re savvy with pickleball vocabulary, that’s called a “let.”
Other than that, you can play as usual. Of course, you and your pickleball friends can always adjust the rules, too, particularly if you leave the tennis net at its original height.
Does Pickleball Damage Tennis Courts?
Thanks to using plastic balls, you won’t have to worry about pickleball harming a tennis court as you play this paddle sport.
That said, if you’ve played tennis in the past and have tennis shoes, it’s not a bad idea to wear them to preserve the court’s surface. Otherwise, buy a pair of pickleball shoes and avoid wearing spikey sneakers that you would for different sports like golf.
Can You Fit A Pickleball Court Onto Other Sports Courts?
Now that you know the basics of how to make pickleball courts fit into a tennis court, it might get you wondering if you can turn basketball courts or a badminton court into a pickleball pass time.
The short answer is that you can as long as you have a portable pickleball net. Other sports like basketball don’t have nets, and a badminton net is significantly higher than a tennis or pickleball net.
So, if you’ve tried other racket sports and want to jump on the pickleball bandwagon, given that it’s one of the fastest-growing sports, you can improvise as much as you like for your doubles or singles play with pickleball.
Are You Ready to Play Pickleball?
The next time your pickleball friends ask, “Can you play pickleball on a tennis court?” you’ll know how to answer them.
There’s no need to worry about measuring half feet or forming blended lines on a makeshift pickleball tennis court. And once you arrange the lines, they can stay good for many uses, particularly on indoor tennis courts.
So, grab your pickleball balls and pickleball paddles and get playing.