Play Pickleball on a Tennis Court
You want to play pickleball. But there are no pickleball courts available.
No problem; as long as there’s a tennis court nearby you can play pickleball. Just a basic tennis court – nothing else. And based on our travels around the country, there are available tennis courts almost everywhere.
A whole pickleball court is only 2 feet longer than a tennis court’s service boxes (the boxes closest to the net on the tennis court). The singles lines on a tennis court (the long lines running down the court nearest to the center of the court) are each only 3 ½ feet wider than the long lines along a pickleball court. You probably see where I’m going with this.
In order to play pickleball on a tennis court, you will need at least a few cones or other markers (you can use water bottles, clothing, or pretty much anything that will not permanently or semi-permanently mark the court). We do not advise using chalk, paint, tape (or other permanent or semi-permanent markings) without the permission of the court owner or manager.
An easy way to mark the pickleball lines on a tennis court is to use short rubber strips that are specifically designed for this purpose. The strips have the advantage of being relatively inexpensive, easy to store and transport, less obstructive on the court, and overall providing a better playing experience. Check out our “how to play on a tennis court” video for an example of what the strips look like on the court. You can find these strips on our Resource Link List (purchases using our affiliate links help support our effort to bring you this and other pickleball information).
Some guidelines for how to play pickleball on a tennis court that does not have pickleball lines on it:
The service box lines that run parallel to the net will be the baseline (backline) of your pickleball court.
2. The centerline of the service box will be the centerline of your pickleball court.
3. For the sidelines of your pickleball court, you have two options:
a. The recommended option is to mark off a sideline 3 ½ feet from each of the singles lines on the tennis court. You can do this by just walking it off – just remember to use the same person’s foot for each line. You can then place a few cones or other markers along the sideline. Line calls will be approximate, just give the benefit of the doubt to the ball being “In.”
b. Another option is using the singles lines from the tennis court as your sidelines. This option makes the court wider than a regulation pickleball court and will require much more side-to-side movement. This option should only be used if you don’t have enough cones for other markers and are physically able to cover the additional court.
4. You will also need to mark off the “kitchen” or no-volley zone as it is more formally called. This is the only part of the court that you must mark off in order to play pickleball on a tennis court. After all, the kitchen is what makes pickleball pickleball. To mark off the no-volley zone, you will walk off 7 feet from the net towards the baseline and drop your markers there. We recommend using 2 to 3 markers, one along each sideline where it intersects the kitchen line and one on the centerline, as long as it does not unreasonably interfere with play. Stating the obvious, make sure your markers do not create a safety risk for you or your fellow players.
5. The last thing you have to decide on is the net. A tennis net is 2 inches higher than a pickleball net. You have two options:
a. You can lower the tennis net 2 inches in the middle. To do this, you will slide the tennis net Center strap to one side approximately an inch or so. We do not recommend making permanent alterations to the tennis net center strap and further recommend placing the strap back into its original position at the end of play. Leaving the strap over to one side can cause the net to lose tension affecting both tennis players and future pickleball play.
b. You can leave the tennis net as is. Doing so will make the regulation net seem much easier when you get onto the pickleball court.
To play the game, you will follow the normal rules of pickleball with one exception and one recommendation.
The exception is that if the ball comes into contact with any marker on the court, the point is replayed (we refer to this as a “let”). The recommendation is that the benefit of the doubt is given on both “out” calls as well as kitchen violation calls. Our objective is to get some exercise and hopefully enjoy the game and it would be a shame for that to be overshadowed by close line calls.
That’s it. Suit up, grab your paddle and balls (if you need any of these you can find them at our product partner, Pickleball Central (https://www.pickleballcentral.com), and go play the new tennis on your neighborhood tennis court.
Enjoy yourself out there.
CJ and Tony
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