Yes, you can play pickleball on a grass court. Somehow, pickleball developed into a mostly hardcourt game, but it began as a grass-court game. Getting started with this sport, most individuals play their first games in someone’s backyard.
You could argue that this makes them better players, since they must work harder to get to the ball. The ball also responds differently on grass. As the sport grew, it came to compete with tennis and badminton.
Since these racquet sports use hard courts more frequently, this could have led to the move from using grass as the first choice for pickleball. However it happened, the majority of the community courts built use hard courts, but the majority of players first participate in a pickup game in someone’s backyard.
Pickleball Historically Played on Grass
CUTLINE: The first pickleball court on Bainbridge Island, WA, consisted of a grass court modified from a badminton court.
When invented in the 1960s, three dads made up the game on a rainy afternoon on an island off the coast of Seattle, WA. They modified the grass badminton court at their summer home by diving it into the kitchen and the play area. You could not step into the kitchen while playing with the pickle or you faulted.
Put in modern terms, you could not step into the non-volley zone (kitchen) with the pickle (ball), or you lost the ball and your turn. In its early years of development, you only played pickleball on a grass court, so you certainly still can.
Playing Differences on Grass
CUTLINE: Grass courts don’t just refer to backyard courts. They also refer to courts that use turf, such as the one pictured above.
Grass reacts to the ball differently than with a hard court. The ball experiences less bounce and variation in the bounce. To help with this difference, most players use a heavy-density ball designed for grass play.
Outdoor pickleball balls use smaller, more frequently distributed holes throughout the surface. To help correct the bounce on grass, they feature harder plastic and a smoother surface.
Size and Composition of the Court
CUTLINE: Pick the right whiffle/pickleball for playing on grass. It requires a heavier ball.
Most individuals play on backyard grass when they begin playing. Because it began as a backyard entertainment, sports equipment manufacturers still make pickleball kits. These kits include a portable net, paddles, and balls plus some court tape.
The purchaser can set up a court in any yard space at least 20 feet wide and 44 feet deep. The design of the court remains the same. The size and areas of the court don’t change.
You’ll still create a non-volley area of seven feet. The volley area will still consist of an equal-sized left and right zone of play. Typically, when setting up a court on grass, the players use tape designed for marking the areas which stick to the grass relatively well.
Another option, turf paint, works well if you plan to leave the grass court in place permanently. You can use this type of paint on normal grass, but it works best on turf. You can plant or place turf grass after clearing and cleaning up your court area.
Use a lawn leveler to ensure your grass all measures the same height.
Best Type of Shoes for Playing on Grass
CUTLINE: Some areas still use grass or turf pickleball courts.
When playing on a grass court, wear either standard pickleball shoes or shoes designed for outdoor grass activities. Options for these include cross-training shoes or tennis shoes. Avoid shoes you would use for indoor or hard court play because their design works better for surfaces like those of a basketball court.
Playing in Tournaments or Playing Professionally
Perhaps you developed a deep-seated love for the sport of pickleball. If you want to play professionally, you will need to practice on a hard court. The speed of play and ball control differ enough that you will need practice on both courts to compete successfully.
That’s because most tournaments take place on hard courts. If you can’t afford to build your own hard court, never fear. You can use community courts for your practices.
Perhaps if enough people suggest it though, players can re-popularize playing on grass.