As anyone who has played tennis and pickleball can tell you, the two sports are quite different. Not only are the different court sizes, but the net height is also different. So, what is the difference in pickleball net height vs. tennis?
If you’re new to pickleball and don’t have access to a court, playing on a converted tennis or badminton court is a great way to get started. This post will cover all the information you need about each court type and the net height.
Pickleball Net Vs. Tennis Net Height
There are two net height measurements: one at the posts where the net is connected and one in the middle of the court. Pickleball nets are 36 inches tall at the posts, while tennis nets measure 42 inches in height. A pickleball net drops 2 inches to 34-inch in the middle, whereas a tennis net sags down to 36 inches. This happens because the width of the tennis court net is almost double that of a pickleball court net.
A temporary court setup usually uses portable pickleball nets with a horizontal bar along the base to keep the net stable, taught, and consistent. Portable nets have a center post or brace to keep them from sagging too much.
Can you Play Pickleball on Tennis Courts?
The answer is yes! Many tennis clubs now offer pickleball as an alternative to tennis, and some even host tournaments. You will need a few things to convert tennis court lines into pickleball lines. (check out this guide on how to play pickleball on a tennis court)
First, the pickleball court is smaller than a tennis court, so you’ll need to adjust the lines of the court. The way to do that is by using masking or painter’s tape. Second, the pickleball net is also lower than a tennis net, so you’ll need to bring your net or lower the tennis court net by 2 inches, although we don’t recommend this method.
Lowering the tennis net creates a lack of tension and an uneven height, making it challenging to play on. Also, if you play on a public court, most don’t have a tennis net adjuster or are locked at a certain height.
How Was the Pickleball Net Height Determined?
Pickleball’s unique history started in 1965 on Bainbridge island in Washington state. The game was invented by three fathers wanting to entertain their families. They started playing on an old badminton court and establishing the game’s rules. Initially, the founders set the net height to the same as badminton’s, but they quickly realized it needed to be lowered.
As a result, they eventually settled on the height of one of the father’s waist, which was 36-inches. When the net would start to sag, he would adjust the net by walking over and lining it up with his waist. If you want to read about the whole history of the game and the origins of the name, read our post, History of pickleball.
What are the Dimensions of a Pickleball Court vs. a Tennis Court?
Pickleball courts play both singles and doubles on the same size court. Pickleball courts are 20 feet by 44 feet, with seven feet on either side of the net, called the non-volley zone. In this area, players can only hit the ball out of the air with the ball bouncing first. The kitchen rule is designed so players can’t stand at the net and smash the ball directly into the opponent’s court, giving them an unfair advantage.
Unlike pickleball, tennis courts have different widths when playing singles vs. doubles. A singles court is 27 feet wide, while a doubles court is 36 feet wide, and the length stays the same at 78 feet long.
A pickleball court playable area is about 1/2 the size of a tennis court. The smaller size of the pickleball court means less space for errors and a faster pace.
How Many Pickleball Courts fit on a Tennis Court?
Assuming you are talking about a regulation tennis court, up to four pickleball courts can fit onto one tennis court. A regulation tennis court space is 120 feet long and 60 feet wide, while a pickleball court is only 44 feet by 20 feet. Therefore, four pickleball courts can fit length-wise and width-wise on a tennis court.
However, it depends on the total space a tennis court has. I recommend only putting two pickleball courts on a tennis court, so you have enough room to maneuver and return shots without feeling crowded. The USAPA recommends at least 5 feet around the court surface to play pickleball.
Pros and Cons of Playing Pickleball on a Tennis Court
As outlined in the post, you can play pickleball on a tennis court, and there are some advantages and disadvantages.
It’s a good way for beginners to start playing right away. There are over 200,000 playable tennis courts in the US, making them easy to find.
Playing pickleball on a tennis court can help improve your tennis game by forcing you to be more accurate with your shots.
It’s a great way to start up a conversation at the courts. Tennis players will be curious about the game is an excellent way to introduce new players.
Some of the cons of playing pickleball on a tennis court include the following:
The smaller pickleball court dimensions can be difficult to get used to if you’re accustomed to playing on a larger tennis court.
Lowering the tennis net height can be challenging, especially when playing on an old tennis court.
Finding a spot to set up your pickleball court can be complex if other people use the tennis court.
Taping off the pickleball lines takes time and can be confusing.
Remember, all you need is a flat playable surface to play pickleball that is big enough. You can set up a portable pickleball net almost anywhere, including basketball courts, which could help minimize line confusion when playing on established courts.
Can Pickleball Damage Tennis Courts?
The chances that a tennis court has gotten damaged are extremely low, and tennis court construction will withstand lots of use. However, many club owners complain about using the new courts for pickleball instead of tennis. In 2019, Maui News received complaints from tennis players about pickleball taking over their tennis courts. Players complained of damage to the court’s surface, shared lines, noise levels, and nets not put back up to regulation height. These complaints are pettier and lack any true damage to a tennis court.
Pickleballs are softer and have a lower bounce than tennis balls, so they should not cause as much damage to the court surface.
That said, it is always important to respect court facilities and ask permission before playing pickleball on a tennis court. Always return the net to its original height, and clean up any pickleball court lines you may have taped off.
Playing pickleball on a tennis court can have pros and cons. It’s a good way for beginners to play right away, but the smaller court dimensions can be difficult. Lowering the tennis net height can also be challenging. However, all you need is a flat playable surface to play pickleball that is big enough.
So if you’re looking for a place to play pickleball, remember that a tennis court could be an excellent option.