Can you use a badminton net for pickleball? Sure! However, it is not the same net as I can buy in the stores for purposely playing pickleball. If you want to play pickleball like I do, as a semi-professional, then you will want to invest in the right size and shape of net.
The net is the most critical part of the equipment as it divides the two teams for playing the game. Check out when it is a good idea to use a badminton net for pickleball–and what to look for in this style of net.
What is a Badminton Net?
A badminton net is, according to The Street Tennis Club, “a rectangular net placed in the center of the badminton court. The badminton net is held by…two poles of specific height and length. This net is the central element of the game, and the opponent players play on either side of the net.”
If you are at a badminton court, you will notice that it looks a lot like a tennis court. The key feature is the short net that extends across the court.
A badminton net is often sold as a pickleball net. So what’s the difference, and does it matter which one you use? Technically, the original game of pickleball started with a badminton net and some other off-the-cuff pieces of sporting equipment.
About the First Game of Pickleball Using a Badminton Court
According to the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA), “The property [on Bainbridge Island, WA] had an old badminton court so Pritchard and Bell looked for some badminton equipment and could not find a full set of rackets. They improvised and started playing with ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball.”
This was just the start of what would become a nationwide delight and the first official state sport of Washington State. The USAPA continues: “At first they placed the net at [a] badminton height of 60 inches and volleyed the ball over the net. As the weekend progressed, the players found that the ball bounced well on the asphalt surface and soon the net was lowered to 36 inches.”
Can I play pickleball using a net made for badminton?
Therefore, if you start out playing pickleball with a badminton net, you will not be far off the mark from the first game of pickleball. However, if you are trying to play in any professional capacity, there is the need to buy an official pickleball net. These do exist on the market and may be marked as a badminton and pickleball net.
The height of 36 inches is not far away from a tennis net, which reaches 36 inches at the center. Therefore, technically, you could even play pickleball using a tennis net. But the overall dimensions of the court for playing pickleball have to be smaller when compared to the size of court needed for a tennis match.
At the same time, a badminton net is set up a lot taller than both tennis and pickleball nets. The Government of Western Australia and the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries explains, “The [badminton] net is 760mm in depth and a minimum of 6.1m wide. The top of the net from the surface of the court is 1.524m at the centre of the court and 1.55m over the side lines for doubles. There must be no gaps between the ends of the net and the posts.”
At 6.1 meters, this is the equivalent of 20 feet tall. That is not a short net by any standard of measurement! If you do find yourself using a badminton net, keep in mind you will have to lower it to the right height for pickleball.
That height is much lower than 20 feet, I can go ahead and tell you. Therefore, if you want to use a badminton net for pickleball games, move the net lower toward the ground.
What is a Net for Playing Pickleball?
A net made for pickleball is different from that of a tennis or badminton net in a few ways. According to The Dink Pickleball, “The pickleball net is 22 feet wide. It extends past each sideline, 1 foot on each side. This is an important part of the game because the ball is not required to pass over the net. Players can hit the ball around the post, which is known as an ATP.”
This net is made using a netting material that is well designed to prevent a pickleball from going through the net. As a pickleball is lighter in weight compared to a tennis ball, and more comparable to a badminton birdie, a pickleball net is the right choice.
The net is smaller and lower in the center compared to a tennis net. This helps the players get the pickleball over the net along with the required bounces for each side.
How to Choose a Pickleball Net
Choose a pickleball net according to how it sways across the court. A pickleball net is different in the center of the court, as well as on the sidelines. Unlike a tennis net that reaches 36 inches in the center, a pickleball net only reaches 34 inches at the center point.
Additionally, the net used for a pickleball court is lower in the middle, so that it is easier to serve the ball in the middle of the court. A player can more easily get the pickleball over the middle of the net, which is the safest place to serve it.
From here, though, the game gets more challenging. The net is taller on the sides. Therefore, hitting the pickleball down the sideline is more difficult. This adds to the complexity of the game, and it helps players to maximize their serve.
By serving a ball on the sidelines, as with a volley, you are more able to achieve the all-elusive ace. An ace serve in pickleball is the best move you can make, as it can often be unstoppable. When a player hits an ace, they most likely will win the game due to the inability for the other side to hit the ball for another bounce.
Badminton Vs. Pickleball Nets
Even though the first game of pickleball was played using a standard badminton net, that does not mean it is the right size of net to use for an official and regulated game of pickleball. Instead, the USAPA recommends using an official pickleball net for this game.
Pickleball Galaxy explains the differences between the two: “First, the net is lower on a pickleball court, vs a badminton court and second, the no service line in badminton is 6.5 feet from the net vs the no volley zone in pickleball at 7 feet from the net. A pickleball court is 44 feet deep from the back of each baseline (2 inch wide lines) and 20 feet wide.”
As you can see, the size of the court makes a big deal, as does the size of the net, when you are playing pickleball. Pick up a game of pickleball in the official style and size of pickleball net for the proper performance.
Tennis Vs. Pickleball Nets
A pickleball net is different from that of a tennis net. But how? According to The Racket Life, “Pickleball, like tennis, uses a short net. On the other hand, badminton uses a high net which encourages players to loft the shuttlecock (ball). So, if you want to use a badminton net to play pickleball, you will have to lower it significantly.
Remember, the pickleball net is even shorter than a tennis net.” As noted, a tennis net reaches a maximum height of 36 inches, or the equivalent of three feet, at the mid-point. This is an extra two inches more on a tennis net compared to a pickleball net.
The reason that pickleball is more popular with some players who have tried tennis is it is easier to hit a pickleball over the middle of a pickleball net. You don’t need as much power to serve a pickleball on this shorter net, as compared to a tennis net that would be more difficult.
Since a pickleball is lighter in weight and designed to be full of air, as it is hollow, there is a major weight difference in comparison to a hard tennis ball that is full of rubber.