How to Convert Tennis Courts to Pickleball Courts

Years ago David wrote this article for the USA Pickleball Association’s newsletter. We’re getting more and more questions on how to convert tennis courts to pickleball courts, so we thought we’d reproduce David’s article in our blog.

If you have underutilized tennis courts – or basketball courts for that matter – you might want to turn to an up-and-coming sport that is uniquely suited to adding new life to old courts, pickleball.

Pickleball is a fun court sport played on a badminton-sized court with the net lowered to 34 inches at the center. It is played with a perforated plastic ball similar to a whiffle ball and wood or composite paddles about twice the size of table tennis paddles. It can be played indoors or outdoors, is easy for beginners to learn – but can develop into a fast paced, competitive game for experienced players. In addition to being fun, the game has developed a reputation for its friendly and social nature.
Pickleball can be played as singles or doubles. New players can learn the game quickly in a single session. No special apparel is needed – just something comfortable and appropriate for a court sport. Equipment is inexpensive and easily portable. The game can be played by all ages and is particularly popular in school P.E. programs and senior citizen hangouts.The popularity of pickleball is really being driven by seniors. The reasons they enjoy pickleball in many ways parallels the reasons that they can better utilize many tennis courts:
  • They have lots of free time and can use the courts in peak as well as off – peak hours
  • Many former tennis players find pickleball a good “step -down” sport when tennis becomes too demanding
  • Pickleball is easy to learn so new players can be introduced to it and playing in minutes
  • Because the pickleball court is considerably smaller than a tennis court more courts can use the same space, allowing for more players at one time.

Court Conversion – One Pickleball Court Per Tennis Court

There are two paths to converting existing courts to pickleball courts: shared use and dedicated use.

With shared use simply add pickleball lines to an existing court and players of both sports can use the facility. This may cause some initial confusion, but players quickly get accustomed to the lines.

The simplest way to add one pickleball court is to just lower the tennis net to 34″ in the center.   The center strap could be used to bring the net down to 34 inches in the center. If the tension on the net cord is very tight, the tension might have to be loosened slightly by adjusting the ratchet on the net post.  Another option is to purchase a Tennis Net Adjuster to lower the net for pickleball or you can do it yourself using two eye hooks, two expandable sleeves and some tie down straps, but first make sure and you  have permission to drill a couple of holes into the court surface .

Lines can be painted on the court for pickleball. Then the court can be used for both tennis and pickleball very easily. Because of the size of the tennis court, you might want to have some sort of temporary barrier for the balls so that they don’t have to be chased the full length of the tennis court.

How to Adjust a Tennis Net to Regulation Pickleball Height

How to Adjust a Tennis Net to Regulation Pickleball Height

 

One Tennis Court Converted into Two Pickleball Courts

One Tennis Court Converted into Two Pickleball Courts

The diagram above shows 2 pickleball courts laid out on a tennis court. A standard tennis court pad is 60’x120′. The minimum recommended size for a pickleball court is 3 0’x60′. That is exactly one fourth the size of a standard tennis court pad. Therefore, it is possible to put 4 pickleball courts in the space of a tennis court except for the possible existence of angled corners that are on some tennis courts.

If the corners are angled, then two courts can fit very nicely as shown. If the conversion is temporary or it is desired to be able to continue to use the court for tennis, then portable net stands can be used for the pickleball courts and the tennis net can be left in place as a backstop for the two pickleball courts.
One Tennis Converted into Four Pickleball Courts

One Tennis Court Converted into Four Pickleball Courts

The diagram above shows four pickleball courts on a tennis court. Note how the position of the pickleball courts has been shifted by two feet to allow for the angled corners of the tennis court.  That leaves only 6 feet between the pickleball baseline and the tennis net. That is a little tight, but works in a pinch.
If the tennis court does not have angled corners, then move the courts 2 feet so that there is an 8 – foot distance between the pickleball baseline and the backstops. Note how the lines are made to coincide as much as possible with the tennis court lines in order to minimize line confusion for the players. Note also that this layout does not allow room for fences between the side-by-side courts.
Permanent Courts
This diagram (below) shows 2 tennis courts that are permanently converted to 8 pickleball courts. If a single tennis court is converted, just refer to half of the diagram. Angled corners are squared off if necessary. If the tennis court is a standard dimension of 60’x120′, that only allows 5 feet between the pickleball sidelines and the fences. That should be considered the minimum dimension. If space and budget allow, add some additional overall width. That will give the more active players more room and also give room for seating on the courts.
Conversions are happening across the United States with great success.
Two tennis courts can be converted into eight pickleball courts

Two Tennis Courts Converted into Eight Pickleball Courts

Stanley Volkens, USA Pickleball Association Local Ambassador for Southwest Ohio, and seasonal resident of Arizona, surveyed the 16 tennis courts in Middletown and found them greatly underutilized. Stanley approached the park board with a plan to convert two under-utilized tennis courts into 6 beautiful new and regularly used pickleball courts. The Park Board gave Stanley and his pickleball players permission to convert 2 tennis courts over to 6 pickleball courts. The dimensions worked out perfectly. The courts have 14 ft. between them with 8 ft. at the ends. The tennis nets are the backdrops between the ends of the courts. The courts are laid out north and south. The pickleball players did all the work and paid all the cost ($3,956 total). They presented the new courts to the city with a ribbon cutting ceremony with park board and city council members.Paul Barksdale and Rex Lawler, Local Ambassadors for Greater Terre Haute, Indiana played on the new Middletown courts in the SW Ohio Senior Games and were so impressed that they brought a similar plan back home. They found underutilized tennis courts and proposed a shared cost plan to their park and recreation department. The players raised $1500 to cover nets, posts, and other supplies and the park and recreation department agreed to provide the labor following the same step-by-step process and court format used in Ohio.In Port Angeles, Washington two deteriorating tennis courts were converted into six pickleball courts. Originally donated to the city by the Elks in 1951, the $30,000 conversion cost was
shared by the Elks and the city. The courts are now often maxed out with 24 players at a time having a fun and getting exercise.The USA Pickleball Association has over 300 local ambassadors who are ready and willing to assist with the development of more pickleball courts and community involvement efforts.Pickleball is a great sport for seniors but is also popular with all ages. Just witness a heated inter-generational game and you will see why this sport with a funny name is becoming so popular.

By David Johnson, partner at PickleballCentral.com and former Media Relations Chair for the USA Pickleball Association.

 

 

What’s the Best Pickleball Net System – 3.0 Tournament Net, USAPA Net or the PickleNet?

Portable nets are critical to pickleball. Parking lots, cul-de-sacs and gyms can be converted into pickleball courts in a matter of minutes thanks to these smart pickleball portable net systems.

PickleballCentral.com sells three brands of portable nets – the USA Pickleball Association Net, the PickleNet and the new 3.0 Tournament Net from Pickleball Inc. The USA Pickleball Association Net and the PickleNet are identical in every way except paint color and logo.

All three of these portable nets:

  • meet the net specifications provided by the Official Tournament Rulebook,
  • are 22 feet long,
  • have two large bases on either end of the net span,
  • have a small center base,
  • have a flexible fiberglass center pole that connects to the center base,
  • have similar netting material,
  • have a carrying bag, and
  • weigh 23 pounds.

The nets differ in six areas—end base size, center base size, tightening straps, net size, cross bar height off the ground and bag. 

Characteristic 3.0 Tourn. Net System PickleNet/USAPA Net
1. End base size 36 x 1 inches 20 x 2 inches
2. Cross bar height off ground 8 inches off ground 12 inches off ground
3. Center base size 8 x 1 inches 15 x 2 inches
4. Tightening straps threaded tightening strap Velcro tightening strap
5. Net size 22 feet x 30 inches 22 feet x 32 inches
6. Bag ball and paddle pockets sectional dividers


1. End base size
The USAPA and PickleNet both have two large bases that lie prone on the floor and one smaller base in the middle on the net. The 3.0 net has two big bases on the sides and one tiny base in the middle. The tips of the bases rest on the floor and the mid-section arches up a little. We think the 3.0 net’s design may make it more stable in windy conditions.

Pickleball net system bases

2. Cross bar height
All the portable nets have cross bars that arch up and run across the width of the net.  The 3.0 net doesn’t arch up as high as the other nets. We like the lower height; it looks good.

Pickleball net system center bases

3. Center base size
The USAPA and PickleNet’s center base is 2 x 8 inches in size and lies prone on the floor. The 3.0 system’s center base is, 1 x 8 inches, about half the size of the USAPA and PickleNet’s center base.  The center base has two functions 1) to provide a base for the fiberglass center support rod and 2) to provide support to the cross bar. We don’t think the size of the center base is that important as long as it fulfills both of its’ functions.

4. Tightening straps
The USAPA and PickleNet both have an easy to use Velcro system for keeping the net taut. The 3.0 net has a tightening buckle that requires you to weave the strap through the buckle in just the right manner to have it work. We prefer the simple Velcro tightening strap on the Pickle and USAPA Nets.

USAPA and PickleNet use Velcro to tighten the net

USAPA and PickleNet use Velcro to tighten the net

3.0 Tournament Net uses a strap woven through a buckle to tighten the net

3.0 Tournament Net uses a strap woven through a buckle to tighten the net

 5. Net size
The USAPA and PickleNet are 22 feet wide and 32 inches deep.  The 3.0 Net is 22 feet long and 30 inches deep. This means there is slightly more empty space under the 3.0 net than under the other two nets, but it is hardly noticeable.

6. Bag
The USAPA and PickleNet both have build in bag dividers help keep the pieces organized in the bag. The bag 3.0 system has a mesh pocket with a zipper that will hold four  pickleballs. It also has an interior side pocket that will hold four paddles. The 3.0 Net’s bag is designed so you can carry paddles, balls and the net in one bag. Our only concern is that the paddles could be damaged inside the bag as they are next to the steel net poles.

USAPA and PickleNet both come with a bag

USAPA and PickleNet both come with a bag designed to contain the entire net system.

3.0 Tournament Net bag can hold 4 pickleballs and 4 paddles plus the entire net system

3.0 Tournament Net bag can hold 4 pickleballs and 4 paddles plus the entire net system

In conclusion, all three of these pickleball net systems are great high quality products.