Pickleball is a great sport that pretty much any age group can play indoors and outdoors. Pickleball is for anyone, from older retired folks looking to stay in shape to younger athletes wanting to get outside. Today, pickleball is generally played on a designated hardcourt surface, similar to a tennis court. But what if you want to play pickleball on grass, like in your backyard?
Can you play pickleball on grass? Although pickleball is mostly played on hard surfaces like a tennis court, pickleball can be played on grass for a more casual version of the game. Neighborly games of pickleball in the backyard grass can be achieved but only if you know how to set it up properly and use a different kind of ball.
Now that you know pickleball can be played on the grass, you may want to know what the game is like or if playing it on the grass is challenging. Keep reading as I discuss the topic further, plus tips on preparing your grass for pickleball. I’ll also talk about the U.S. Lawn Pickleball Association (yes, this is a thing!).
For a more in-depth on common venues where pickleball is currently played, read my breakdown here.
Playing pickleball on grass can be a fun addition to any backyard barbecue or party, where the rules don’t have to be as strictly followed as in a more serious, competitive game on a pickleball court.
Grass pickleball creates a casual, social atmosphere, and you can even play barefoot if you want or include your kids; it’s a great way to show them how to play the game and teach the fundamentals needed to enjoy it.
When the first game of pickleball was played in the backyard of an old, beat-up badminton court over on Bainbridge Island, Washington in the 1960s, players used the court, along with makeshift wooden paddles and a wiffle ball found in a utility shed to create the game.
So, historically speaking, the game was not originally played on grass. It was born on the hard surface used from a run-down badminton court and evolved from there over 30 years.
Click here for my in-depth breakdown of where pickleball originated.
Since the first game was played, a lot has changed since then. Playing in backyards is no longer as popular; players tend to use courts designed for pickleball, that span 20 feet by 44 feet…the exact same dimensions of the original pickleball court.
Whether it be on grass or a hardcourt, a pickleball court has designated areas each player must stay in during the game. If you were to play on grass, the zone markings may be a little harder to follow, especially if they are smudged or worn away. But it’s still possible.
So getting good field chalk or paint is a must. I’ll cover that in a minute.
Playing pickleball on grass can be an enjoyable, less serious version of the game and a great way to spend family time together. For a more competitive experience, pickleball’s more traditional hardcourt surface can’t be beaten.
In pickleball, scoring happens by performing faults. Faults can be anything from serving a ball out of bounds, not getting the ball completely over the net, or hitting the ball out of bounds during a rally. Letting the ball bounce too many times is also a fault. In fact, not letting the ball bounce in the no-volley zone is a fault too.
Another common fault isn’t waiting until the second bounce to hit the ball after it’s been served over the net. Bouncing is an integral part of playing pickleball, and it can prove challenging to be performed on grass.
This integral part of pickleball will be the most challenging aspect of the game to translate to homegrown grass court.
For a friendly beginner’s guide to faults in pickleball, I wrote this article here.
Have you ever tried to bounce a tennis ball on the grass? How about a wiffle ball? It isn’t the easiest thing to do. Pickleballs are made of plastic and outdoor balls have 40 holes, making them have a very small volume, about 0.8 ounces.
While this makes the ball easy to bounce on an asphalt or cement top, it makes it next to impossible to bounce on the grass; unless the yard you intend to play on has very short grass and hard-packed dirt, which could help for bouncing.
But even then, the bounce needed to properly play pickleball won’t be achieved consistently.
Another challenge can be the uneven surface of the grass. Unlike asphalt and cement courts which are intentionally contructed level, there may be a slope or dip in the terrain of your yard that can form an uneven pickleball court.
Now, this next part is probably the most important aspect to playing pickleball on grass.
What type of ball should you use to play pickleball on grass? To adapt to these challenges, some players use a rubber ball that’ll have a better chance of bouncing on the grass and scouting out and finding the most level space in the grass for your pickleball game.
In pickleball, players have to have quick reactions, and sometimes that involves moving to one side of the court from the other in seconds. Because of this, you’ll need a good amount of traction that will help keep you in place when you’re reacting quickly to the ball.
If the grass is wet from recent rainfall or if you’re playing in the morning when the grass is still damp, playing pickleball is going to have its challenges. You can avoid any mishaps like sliding or falling by playing on completely dry grass.
Choose a stable spot without hidden dips or holes to play pickleball on the grass in your backyard or at a public park. You don’t want to fall into a hole and sprain your ankle!
It’s helpful to keep the grass cut short; this will help create the best bouncing environment and enables you to move across the court quickly. You can also draw lines on the grass to make accurate dimensions of your pickleball court.
To make accurate and visible pickleball court lines on your grass field, I recommend spray paint, like the Bare Ground Winter Bare Ground Solutions Eco Stripe Aerosol Field Marking Water-Based Paint . This field paint won’t harm or brown the grass and will be long-lasting, so you won’t have to keep retracing your lines every weekend for your pickleball game.
If you’re playing pickleball for fun and recreation, the game can be played on just about any surface, including grass. If you decide to play pickleball as a sport and want to compete in tournaments, then these following surfaces will be your best options for optimal performance:
Who knew that playing pickleball on grass was so popular? The U.S.L.P.A began as a group for people who play pickleball on grass “the way God intended,” as stated in the About section on their Facebook page.
Here’s a video to give you an idea of how pickleball is played on grass and how enjoyable it can be: video
According to their page, the group, based out of Park City, Utah, hosts a “Pickle Cup,” a bracket-style tournament last played in 2018. Hopefully, the U.S. Lawn Pickleball Association will start up again this year!
You can play pickleball on the grass for casual play. For more serious play, most people will play on a hard surface designed for playing pickleball.
If your friends and family are coming over this weekend and you have a spacious backyard, why not play a few rounds of pickleball together on the grass?
Playing pickleball on the grass can still be fun and exciting way to get some exercise!