Places to Play and USAPA
The USA Pickleball Association is the governing body that determines rule changes, enforces equipment regulations, and sanctions tournaments. It is their mission to help grow the wonderful sport of Pickleball. You can find places to play Pickleball by going to their Places to Play page. However, you can set up your court pretty much anywhere as described below.
As long as you have a hard surface, you can play Pickleball anywhere. It has been played on gym floors, concrete, asphalt, tennis courts, and carpet. Some people even set up courts in their neighborhood streets!
Pickleball courts are often placed over existing tennis courts by simply painting lines or adding temporary painter’s tape. A tennis court net is slightly higher than a Pickleball net. To shorten the net, many players wrap bungee cords around the net posts and connect them to the net. This lowers the net to the appropriate height of 34″ in the middle and 36″ on the side.
However, if you are going to be playing indoors, on a parking lot, or elsewhere, there are portable nets for sale through various retailers. You would then need to set up your court lines. There are a plethora of ways to create removable lines. Some more common methods include chalk, chalk paint pens, or tape. As a note to the wise, set up your court in a north/south direction so that neither team needs to face the sun head-on.
Courts are 44 feet by 20 feet. The length of the court is divided into four sections. The centerline of the court where the net is placed is located 22 feet from either baseline. Seven feet away on either side of the net are two more lines called the non-volley lines. The remaining 15 feet of court remaining on both sides are the service courts. There is a centerline lengthwise down the court, ten feet from either side.
The only equipment that is truly necessary to play Pickleball is a paddle and Pickleball.
Pickleballs look like wiffle balls, but are slightly heavier. There are different balls for outdoor courts and indoor courts. Outdoor balls have approximately 40 smaller holes and are heavier than indoor balls. This is to help compensate for the wind that will inevitably come up and affect your killer shot. Indoor balls are lighter and have about 26 larger holes.
Originally, paddles were made of plywood. But a necessary skill at the high levels of Pickleball play is quick hands and controlled play. A heavy wooden paddle slows the reaction time and has very little control, so a new type of composite paddle was created while keeping to the traditional shape of the wooden paddles. Most paddles, currently, have a polymer honeycomb core with either a fiberglass or graphite surface.
Local Pickleball Club
One of the best ways to join the Pickleball craze is to check out your local Pickleball club. Many clubs post places and times to play on their website, as well as people to contact who would love to help you get started. Many local clubs have free demo paddles for beginners to play with.
If you do not want to play in a large tournament, not to worry! Clubs will often have small tournaments or round robin events that you can join. These are great ways to meet more players in your skill level. And you may even find the one…your perfect Pickleball doubles partner that is.
If you want to hone your skills for perfect ball placement, clubs will also put on clinics or bring in professional players or coaches to run them. They have beginner as well as intermediate level sessions.