In the United States alone, there are over 4.8 million pickleball players. Even though pickleball is massively popular today, it actually started out as a backyard sport. Can you play pickleball on grass and enjoy this game in your own backyard?
It’s possible to play pickleball on grass as long as the ground is flat. However, since grass is softer than asphalt and concrete pickleball courts, it can be hard to get the ball to bounce. Playing on grass can slow reaction times, but it can still work for casual games.
Grass might not be the ideal surface for pickleball, but you can still have a great time playing on your lawn. Here’s how you can bring the excitement of pickleball into your own backyard.
What You Should Know Before You Play Pickleball on Grass
Even if you’re an experienced pickleball player, playing on grass can be a little tricky. No lawn is perfectly even, and even a flat patch of grass is likely to have some slopes. When you play pickleball on an inconsistent surface, it can be hard to predict which direction the ball will bounce in.
You can minimize these kinds of issues by playing pickleball on freshly mowed grass. To ensure that your lawn is as even as possible, don’t cut your grass until it’s completely dry. If your yard still isn’t even enough for your liking, you can use a lawn leveler rake to smooth out bumps and fill in low points.
Weather conditions can also make backyard pickleball challenging. If it’s recently rained, your lawn may be muddy, which will make it even softer than usual. Wet grass also tends to be slippery, which can lead to slips and falls during intense games. You’ll have a better experience if you stick to playing lawn pickleball on sunny days.
Creating a Makeshift Pickleball Court On Your Lawn
All you really need to play pickleball is a net, paddles, and a ball, but a temporary court can make your game feel more competitive and fun. Before you start setting things up, make sure you clear away any debris. From there, you can measure your lawn and use field chalk or tape to mark the outline of your court.
Once the outline is in place, mark off the left and right service courts on each side and the no-volley zone. After everything is outlined, you can set up the net in the center of the no-volley zone. You can use any type of pickleball net system, but a system that’s specifically designed for outdoor use is your best bet.
How large should your lawn pickleball court be? Pickleball courts are usually 20 by 44 feet, but if you have the space, increasing the size of the court could make the game easier. If you have a smaller yard or want your game to feel a little more fast-paced, a smaller court might be best.
How to Choose the Perfect Ball for Your Game
When your ball comes into contact with your lawn, the grass will compress, leading to a reduced bounce. Instead of playing with a standard pickleball, look for a smaller, heavier ball that’s made out of foam or rubber. These kinds of balls can achieve the same kind of bounce you see on standard pickleball courts.
“Outdoor balls have to withstand the wind,” says Barrett Kincheloe, the founder of Pickleball Kitchen. “They have to be a little more solid in their construction and the holes in the ball have to be smaller so that the wind doesn’t blow the ball around.”
If you’re concerned about your lawn, another option is to play with a ball made from plastic. Plastic balls aren’t as bouncy as rubber ones, but since they’re lightweight, they won’t cause any damage to your grass.
You don’t necessarily have to play with a ball that’s designed for pickleball. As long as a ball is the right size and can bounce on grass, any type of ball can get the job done. Some backyard pickleball players use balls designed for spikeball, while others get great results from foam tennis balls.
Why Playing Pickleball on Grass Can Be So Rewarding
Hard surfaces provide more grip and better bounce than grass, but playing on grass can still be a lot of fun. Games on grass tend to feel more laid-back and less competitive than traditional pickleball. Once you have a backyard court, you can even play pickleball and barbecues and backyard parties.
Balls can zip around quickly on a traditional pickleball court, but playing on grass naturally slows your game down. It can make pickleball feel more accessible to newcomers. Playing on grass is a fantastic way to have fun with friends, and it’s also a good way for new players to learn the basics of the court.
Don’t Be Afraid to Change the Rules of the Game!
Lawn pickleball is a casual game, which is why you shouldn’t feel obligated to play by standard rules. Switching up the rules can resolve some of the issues with playing pickleball on grass. Normally, the ball needs to bounce once before it’s returned to the other side, but your ball isn’t bouncy enough, you can allow players to return the ball before it touches the ground.
There are even alternative rulesets for pickleball that are designed for outdoor play. One popular option is Sandy Pickle, a fast-paced version of Pickleball that’s played on a smaller court.
“Sandy Pickle is a modified, volley-only version of pickleball,” says Brady Whittingham, the co-creator of Sandy Pickle. “It’s made to play on the grass or the sand; in your backyard, at the park, or at the beach.”
People are drawn to pickleball because it’s an entertaining sport that’s easy to play. If you’re not having a good time playing pickleball on your lawn, switch up the rules that are causing problems. Whether you’re playing on concrete, grass, or sand, the most important thing is that you have fun.