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Can You Play Pickleball Without a Court? Without a Net?

Active senior playing pickleball on public court.

Pickleball players often start learning on grass, but grass play is not just for beginners. You can play it without a court, too. I recommend that you at least establish scoring boundary lines though.

First Off…What is pickleball?

A group of young people playing pickleball.

It just occurred to me that not everyone knows what this sport is. I describe pickleball as a cross between every other paddle sport that you know of. USA Pickleball mentions that it uses elements of badminton, ping-pong and tennis.

I see some racquetball in there somewhere too, However, pickleball usually calls for a 15- to 16-inch paddle instead of the 22-inch paddle used for racquet. Like racquetball, a pickleball racquet may have holes in it. Now, why would you play on grass instead of a hard surface?

Why play pickleball on grass?

Irish sport tall goal posts in a field on a bright sunny day.

Beginners often play pickleball on grass for reduced slippage when quickly maneuvering, as long as it’s not raining. If you’re in mud, playing on grass won’t prevent falls much though. You can play barefoot more easily on grass too.

I wouldn’t dare try that on a cement or poly-coated, hard surface. I especially would decline if the cement ground doesn’t have a semi-gloss finish that would smooth out the rough, stony surface. Another reason to play pickleball on the grass is if you want to include your children.

It’s an excellent place to start out teaching them the rules without having to drive them to a court. Grass play also provides you an opportunity to create a temporary court in your yard if you have enough space. Playing on this surface also suits informal play, and you can turn it into a neighborhood or family social event.

Grass play is not just for beginners though. There’s even a grass league that was formed, which I think started sometime after 2014.

When did league grass pickleball start?

I wish I could tell you for sure the exact date, but they don’t have a fully formed website yet, so I can’t. The earliest U.S. Lawn Pickleball’s (US LPA) public Facebook posts are dated from 2015.

One of the photo albums has pictures from a 2014 tournament too. I blame “Covid” (Covid-19 lockdowns in March 2020) for recent US LPA Facebook inactivity after 2019. It does seem, however, that grass pickleball is possibly here to stay.

Pickleball Master Course by Steve Dawson ($199)

I am assuming anyway, but I haven’t found out if the official grass league has resumed as of 2022.

How do you make a pickleball court?

Top view vector illustration with grid and shadow of a pickleball court.

Before you start building your pickleball court, you may want to measure the space you have. Then, compare and contrast that with the official court dimensions. If you don’t have enough room, you could always adjust your court size to scale.

It’s good enough for now until you do have the right amount of space for the court.

Court and Net Sizes

Seymour 20-644 Stripe Athletic Field Marker, White

You can refer to Sport Import’s guide on How to Build an Outdoor Pickleball Court for exact dimensions. The court size equals about that of a badminton court, and the net height is about what you would have when playing tennis, just slightly lower. If you have access to a private tennis court, that also may be acceptable too.

For tournament play, the court size may be a little larger than for when you play tennis. You also might want to set up a perimeter fence if your yard doesn’t have one. That’s just in case you serve too hard like I do when playing any outdoor racquet sport.

Your neighbors would also appreciate that, and you won’t have to ask them to retrieve your balls.

Play Boundaries

If you decide to play on a hard surface instead of grass, you could use tape for boundary lines. On grass, you might have to find some sort of eco-friendly athletic marking paint, string or flags. Colored rope also may work, and you can use stakes pounded into the ground with a hammer to hold them up if you don’t want to mark up your grass with paint.

Your net, by the way, will have to be pounded into the ground and held up by stakes. You could possibly adjust a badminton or tennis net to fit the height for pickleball play. I suggest buying a kit with all the supplies for your pickleball net included if you can find one.

Resources For Pickleball Court Making

Active retired women playing pickleball.

The American Pickleball Association offers a free diagram for making a homemade court. It shows the service, centerline and sideline areas. The diagram also shows where you would not volley the pickleball over the court and designates what would be “out of bounds.”