To be honest, I felt a little awful when I first heard this question: “Can You Play Pickleball on Grass”? A few games with a little restyling and Whosh! I can’t believe what I just discovered. In short, my findings say “yes” to playing pickleball on grass, but there’s a lot of it that you need to acknowledge before you hit your garden or lawn.
Well, Pickleball was originally invented on a badminton court–a hard surface–and it’s supposed to be played on alike surfaces. Ever since its origin, however, so much has changed. I don’t see the wooden paddles anymore, and that topspin’s crazy tricks? My mind would never accept that to be an invention of 1965 and neither would yours. For how everyone has modified the game to their own personal style, I’d rather call it a “People’s Ball” than “Pickleball”. Yet, it still is growing and getting popular–even replacing the greatest ever “Tennis”. Tennis seems like a little jealous old brother, though, but never mind. However, it was all the flexibility in the game that made it one of the fastest growing sports, and today I’m gonna reveal how and why you should play pickleball on grass.
Can pickleball be played on grass?
Yes, you can absolutely play Pickleball on grass, however, with a little modification. This includes: leveling up for grass for a better bounce, making lines in a 44X20 dimensions and 7 foot for the kitchen, and replacing the wiffle balls with rubber balls.
It’s somehow legal though, but more often, grass pickleball is for family and fun. In fact, there’s a whole renowned community of grass players that officially made this “The U.S. Lawn Pickleball Association”. I’ll come on that later. For now, the more important are the challenges, because pickleball has a 360-degree turn when you switch your surface from rigid one to grass. So, let me come to the…
Challenges of playing pickleball on grass:
Uneven lawns and backyard:
Go back to your yard or lawn and say without lying that you’ve got an even law. I bet 95% of you can’t say that and there’s nothing wrong in it. Yards and lawns are meant to be like this. They’ve slopes, dips, terrains, grown up grasses, and the lawn might have hidden pebbles, little stones or even dirt. You may fall on the hole, the bounce may be zeroed by hitting a stone, your gears might get dirty, let alone your clothes in the grass, and the slope may completely alter your game. So, you first need to modify the playing field first, which I’ll be guiding you in a minute.
The second biggest challenge is the bounce. Grass and wiffleball have the worst chemistry and no matter how hard you try, the surface won’t give you the same feel as any asphalt or concrete surface does. This is because wiffleball has holes and that physically makes it possible to get it bounce on soft and grassy surfaces. The only way you can get away with this is; cut off the grass or get a heavier ball. And both conditions are either exhausting or alter the original spirit of the game.
When you don’t have a proper bounce, your game will potentially get slow. It’s an expected result, though. Sometimes it’s a dead ball when you accidentally hit the ball on any rough surface in the lawn; the grass might be wet from rain or of night dews. If you play fast dink rallies, just forget it, especially with a wiffle ball.
Not following Official rules:
This one is a little horrible and frustrating. Because the game isn’t official and it’s more likely with friends and families, so most of the rules are often overlooked. For example, no one would really care about the double bounce rule. Even dedicated players rule from bouncing to just touching the ground. This is one of the rules of sandy pickleball. Also, the game has no referees, the accusation of faults likely becomes a rivalry, and the entire game is like “play how you like it”. However, this is where the real fun begins, you’re all on your own, and this way, the game gets more exciting.
How To Prepare Your Pickleball Grass Court? (Converting Lawn to Pickleball Court):
Well, the challenges can be a major barrier. Well, not too soon lad. These can be easily adjusted with a little modification, and you can turn everything into your favor. You just have to be a little wise when converting a lawn to a grass pickleball court. Here’s how you can make a great pickleball set up:
Find the most flat spot in your lawn:
Well, your lawn can be bumpy, but still you’d have at least one spot with a flat area. And if not, you can work on at least 30 yards to make it even and clean. Trim the grass of that area finely and broom it if you can, to avoid any injury. Make sure you’re not facing direct wind.
Mark the dimensions by 44×20 foot:
In that area, take your measuring tape and mark 22 foot vertically, and that’ll be your baseline. From the point you end measuring it, measure 44 foot and mark it as the length. Draw 2 parallel lines, such that it makes a square-like box. Keep in mind the north-south orientation, because you don’t want sun rays smacking your eyes.
Draw the kitchen, baseline, and sidelines.
After you measure the 44×20 area, you’ll start drawing the lines. With what? Let me give you some options:
- Chalk: a cheap and temporary way. This is for a one time play, when you go out on picnics, or setting up the zone for the kids.
- The lines can easily be vanished, if stepped on or rubbed against.
- Markers: it’s a semi-permanent way, depending on the marker you’re using. It can be vinyl floor markers or vinyl court market sets. I’d rather go with the latter one. Vinyl court market sets hold the lines longer and keep them mess-free even if it rains. This is your best option if you’re making pickleball court in backyard.
- Tape: tapes are another economical option to draw lines. You can get gaffer tape from Blue Painters or Green Frog. And, you’ll need at least 200 meters of them. Taping the ground will be permanent for 1-2 weeks, can withstand rain to some extent, and doesn’t stick to the ground.
- Paint: painting the lawn will forever be permanent. They’re vibrant and visible, and give an original feel of a pickleball court. Although you’ll have many options for choosing the paint type, I’d recommend acrylic.
After you decide the paint, you’ll first draw the boundaries or the baseline and sideline that you marked 44×20 foot. After it, draw the kitchen or Non-Volley Zone, which is 7 foot each from the center where you’ll install the nets. Finally, draw the center lines for the double’s play.
Install the nets:
In the last step, you’ll just install the nets, just like you’d do in a normal pickleball court. It should be 34 inches in the middle and 36 inches from the sides and you’re done.
What pickleball ball should I use for grass?
Now comes the hit-or-miss factor. The ball is the main reason behind the failure of a grass pickleball game, so just change it and here you go! A Rubber ball solves all the problems with which you can play pickleball on grass with little to zero issues. You’ll have many options available, but I’d recommend Pinky Bouncy Ball, Gamma Foam or Spalding High Bounce Ball. If you’re going for other options, keep the weight between 25-30 grams and check if it’s compatible with grass surface. This way you can keep playing your natural game in the same momentum.
Reasons to play pickleball on grass:
Well, there are many reasons you’d want to play pickleball on grass. So far, the reasons i found common was;
- Players can’t find any nearby courts. Although many tennis courts are turning to pickleball courts, the time zones are different and they’re often polluted.
- For picnics and hangouts. Just like how pickleball was invented on a family vacation when they got bored, it still, in the 21st century, turns boredom into fun.
- Grass pickleball is one of the easiest ways to get started playing pickleball.
- You want to improve your game and your backyard lawn is the only good place you’ve.
- For fun, experiments, and just trying new things.
The U.S. Lawn Pickleball Association:
As I said earlier, it has now become official and the team behind it is the “US LPA” a.k.a “The U.S. Lawn Pickleball Association”. For now, they just have a facebook page which says they founded in 2018, in Park City, Utah and hosts “pickle cup” the same year. Whoever wins the tournament, they also give them prizes and trophies. However, there were just two tournaments since then, and no hearing after the 2019 pickle cup. Hopefully, we’ll see them soon.
Benefits of playing pickleball on grass:
“Playing pickleball on grass is challenging”–This is what you may hear everywhere. However, there are certain benefits of it too. Here I listed a few of them;
- Pickleball on grass is the cheapest way to get started with pickleball. You’ll save several hundreds of dollars in building or altering an existing tennis court.
- It’s fun and friendly to everyone.
- There’s no restriction on the paddles and ball. You can play with anything available to you.
- It keeps you fit and healthy, and of course, you’ll have a great hobby. Even if you’re a lazy freak, you can still manage to walk around your backyard and have 15 blissful minutes that your body will thank you for.
What surface can you play pickleball on?
Pickleball is usually played on a tennis court, badminton, or even at a gym floor. The requirement is “hard and even surface”, and the popular ones with this description on which people play pickleball are:
Asphalt is the most popular pickleball court material. It’s super affordable and lasts for a pretty good time, even if you play longer. It also comes coated, so it serves as a shield from injuries and bruises.
Concrete is the sturdiest and next to the best material one can have to build the court. The material is pricier but bounce and playability is worth it all. Most professional pickleball court contractors use specialized concrete to build courts for extra manageability.
Court tiles are basically used for tennis. They’re flexible and affordable. In fact, you can cover your grass with it for a more smooth and predictable game.
Wood is another great option to have your game go on. In terms of that, “Maple wood” makes a great playing arena. Mostly, gyms have these kinds of floors and are ideal for many sports. However, it can be slippery.
Sportmaster RTU (Ready To Use):
Well, this one is the official coating of the pickleball court. Sportmaster RTU is a paint and coating used to make the court friendly to the pickleball players by enhancing the bounce and cushion.
Polyurethane is a type of coating. It’s not actually a whole material, you can coat your floor (of any material) with Polyurethane this way, you’ll have a more ergonomic and supportive floor.
Sandy pickleball was introduced during the corona pandemic. It’s more like a beach pickleball game. In sandy Pickle, the rules are a bit different which makes it further easier than pickleball to get a hang on. In fact, sandy pickle is most of the time referred to as grass pickleball.
- It doesn’t have any bounce rule, so the ball doesn’t matter whether you use rubber or plastic.
- Sandy pickle is totally based on volleys.
- Instead of volleys, they’ve Non-spike zone which is 5 foot from the nets.
- The net height is adjustable to whatever the players like.
- Courts are smaller, so the game is fast and quick.
- Overheads are allowed.
- You can also serve from behind the baseline.
In case you’re planning on setting up your backyard, check out my recommendations. All of these products are well-budgeted and will definitely make your court versatile and playing-worthy.
- Best rubber ball for pickleball: Spalding High Bounce Ball.
- Best all-round ball for kids: Gamma Foam
- Best cheap rubber ball: Pink Bouncy Ball
- Most versatile pickleball markers: Franklin Sports Pickleball Court Marker Kit
- Best court lines: Gamma Court Lines
- Most consistent pickleball court tape: Green Frog tape
- Best evergreen pickleball net: Pickleball Inc net system
By answering “can you play pickleball on grass”, I’ve further taken you on how’s and why’s of a concerning topic. Despite its challenges, I personally find grass pickleball much more friendly and exciting. Playing pickleball at home is a good way to catch up with your neighbors and family members. In the century where people are “dead lost” in their phones and physical bond between members seems like moving pyramids, Pickleball on grass is a doorway that keeps people closer. It brings back the old times, the nostalgia of the golden days when there was no polluted internet type thing. So, take out your paddles and revive your ghosted lawn for good. See ya again!
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