So you want to play pickleball but all you’ve got is a tennis court – a common issue! Your options for setting up your pickleball court on a tennis court will be dependent on whether you can install anything permanent/semi-permanent or whether you’ve got to set up and take it all down. So here your best options for how to play pickleball on a tennis court.
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Whatever you do, make sure you clear the plan with the owners of the court! And make sure you have outdoor balls if you’re playing outside and indoor balls if you’re indoors.
Option 1: Playing pickleball over the tennis net
Okay, first up you’ll need to set up the net so that it’s at the right height. Unfortunately, tennis court nets are a couple of inches higher than pickleball court nets. Helpfully, we have a complete guide to setting your tennis net to the right height here in our article How high is a pickleball net?
But long story short: to get at the right height you’ll need to lower the center of the net to 34 inches high at the center and 36 inches at the sidelines using either temporary (here’s one from Convertanet) or permanent tools (like these straps that require you to drill into the court).
One downside of playing over the tennis net is that you have a huge space behind you if the ball gets by you. So it could get annoying if you have to keep going all the way to the fence from the pickleball baseline.
Option 2: Playing over a pickleball net
Did you know that most tennis courts are generally aligned so that you avoid staring directly into the sun (oriented north/south) when you’re playing? Take advantage of that! When you set up your pickleball court you should orient it in the same direction as the tennis court.
If the court is going to continue to be used as a tennis court when not being used for pickleball, you’ll either need to get some temporary/portable pickleball nets and posts or – if you’re really serious – build removable posts that are embedded in the ground (which is out of scope of this article. If you’re curious to learn more, here is a brief video about installing permanent pickleball post).
One positive of setting things up this way is that the tennis net and the fence act as barriers so the ball never gets too far away from you.
Pickleball Court Dimensions
A tennis court pad is generally 60 feet by 120 feet and the minimum required space for a pickleball court is 30 feet by 60 feet so you can technically fit up to 4 pickleball courts on a single tennis court if you are playing on temporary nets (i.e. not using the tennis court net as the pickleball net).
The actual in-bounds play area is 20 feet by 44 feet – exactly the same dimensions as a badminton court — but you need the extra space around the court for movement, serving, chasing after shots, etc.
The net is 22 feet wide and 36 inches high at the posts, 34 inches high at the center of the net.
Some tennis courts have angled/curved corners which will limit your space somewhat and will make it a bit cramped if you try to fit 4 courts in one tennis court. If you’re just setting up one or two pickleball courts, this won’t be a problem.
Pickleball taped, painted or chalked lines?
This is probably the part that takes the longest. You can’t play if you can’t tell whether a ball is in or out!
If you’re still going to be playing tennis on the court, you’ll need to set up blended lines.
This involves painting different colored lines for pickleball play vs tennis. I’ve never done it myself, but from what I gather, the cost to have someone paint the pickleball lines are in the ballpark of $300 to $600.
One bummer about playing on the court is potential for line confusion since you’ll have both tennis and pickleball court lines at the same time. The layout can be done in such a way as to limit this issue as much as possible.
The best bet for paint color for the pickleball lines is using one that is either a lighter or darker version of the base color of the tennis court – just avoid using white to limit confusion with the tennis court lines.
Tape is another option. It’s not permanent. You will need about 200 feet of tape to fully lay out the court (the exact court lines add up to 198 but better to have a few extra feet just in case!)
You can buy pickleball court tape or you could try using gaffer tape.
Gamma provides Court Marker lines that work okay. It comes with thin rubber markers that that you can place around for each portion of the court. This is quicker, can be cleaned up right after you’re done playing and is reusable. However, since the lines aren’t stuck to the ground and they aren’t complete lines they are liable to move around a bit during play if you kick them and might cause some difficulty in distinguishing out of bounds on some shots.
If you aren’t going to the trouble of painting or taping the lines, why not use some chalk? It’s a fast and easy option. That will work in a pinch, you’ll just need a measuring tape to measure it out and draw out the straight lines.
Finally, if you like the chalk option, want straighter lines and don’t mind spending a bit more, try using a contractor’s chalk line to snap out the straight lines quickly.
If you are still looking for further guidance or need some specifics around different possible configurations, this is a good overview from the USAPA.
And if you have your own tips for how to play pickleball on a tennis court, drop a comment below!