Pickleball has been around since four years before man landed on the moon, but it took the sport nearly 50 years to grow in popularity beyond a small handful of fervent enthusiasts. However, once it caught on, pickleball became so intensely well-liked that people are now having a hard time finding dedicated courts where they can play that aren’t either entirely booked up, wildly expensive, or so congested with other players that there’s hardly room to move around courtside.
It’s hard to believe that a sporting event named after a fermented vegetable ever became popular in the first place, but it has, and in fact, is now so beloved that in order to partake, you may have to resort to making your own court at home. Not to worry, though — the entire process of making a homegrown pickleball court is pretty simple, and in most cases, it can be done by just one or two people using stuff you very likely already have lying around the house.
Depending on how accurate you want your court to be in terms of dimensions and net height, you can take these instructions as literally or as casually as you like. After all, this is more for the fun of the game, not really intended for the purposes of hosting a pro-level tournament in your own backyard.
Dimensions to Be Aware of: Varying Pickleball Court Dimensions
Importantly, you will want to ensure that the space you choose to set up your pickleball court is adequate, meaning there is plenty of room for the actual court, as well as enough room on either side of the court and behind each player on either side of the net. While there are varying dimensions people use when setting up a pickleball court, the official regulation size is 30 feet by 60 feet. However, many avid outdoor and backyard players will argue that the correct dimensions are 20 feet by 44 feet, which happens to also be the precise dimensions of a badminton court.
When we consider that the very first game of pickleball was played on a badminton court, if you are an originalist, you may want to stick with these measurements. If you would rather set up a tournament-sized pickleball court, then you will need to instead measure 34 feet by 64 feet. These measurements may also be preferable if your players are very tall, or if you would simply rather have more room for your doubles matches.
Items You Will Need to Make Your Court
First, let’s review the items you will need before you get started. You should be able to find most of this stuff around the house, but anything you don’t have on hand shouldn’t cost you more than a few bucks at a big box retailer or a sporting goods store.
Something to Mark Your Court Lines
Depending on how permanent you want your court — or the marks on your lawn, driveway, or pool deck to be — you can use something as simple and straightforward as sidewalk chalk. If you’re going for something that will give you lasting lines, as long as you’re marking on concrete or another hard surface, you can use latex paint, painter’s tape, duct tape, or hockey tape.
If you’re going for a really official look and feel, you can use authentic vinyl court lines, which can be found at most sporting goods stores or at almost any online retailer. Made of thin rubber adhesive, court marking tape can be a great option because it will make the marking process go much more quickly than trying to measure and adhere the tape to the floor.
Most vinyl court tape comes in sets of several straight pieces and at least four corner pieces, making it simple to determine where each piece goes. What’s more, vinyl court tape can make your court boundaries easier to see than if you were to use something like sidewalk chalk, for example. And, if you’re wanting a pro look on a budget, vinyl court tape might be your best bet overall.
Many other tape options will work well and stay in place, but keep in mind, if the idea is to remove the boundary lines after just a short time or a few matches over a single weekend, then something like duct tape may not be your best choice, as it will leave sticky residue behind when it is lifted off of just about any surface.
Whatever you decide to use, keep in mind, you will need enough of it to mark the entire perimeter of the court as well as all the lines within the boundaries of the court, meaning you will need a couple of hundred feet of whatever you plan on using, just to be on the safe side (you may make errors in measuring or when adhering the markings to the ground, so you want to account for that).
A Pickleball Net and the Stands to Hold It Up
For those of you that are not all that convinced that you need to be playing pickleball to the exact measurements and standards of a tournament game, you can use anything from a volleyball net to a tennis net, or even a badminton net if you happen to have one laying around. In a bind, and for a game that’s more about fun than following regulations, you can even create a makeshift pickleball net out of ripped sheets of fabric.
Next, you will need something to affix the net to on either side of the court. Most pickleball kits come with three metal stands or frames, but you can use wood stakes or even PVC piping if you have some of that lying about in the garage or basement. You will want the height of your net to be 34 inches off the ground. This means you will want to In order to keep the net from sagging in the middle, push or hammer your metal poles, stakes, or piping into either side of the net so that they match at between 36 and 35 inches in height. Then, the third pole or stick will be installed at the center of the net, and this one should measure 34 inches from the ground where it is installed.
Paddles and Pickleballs
This is the one area where you will want to spend the time and money to get the proper equipment, otherwise, you aren’t really playing pickleball. In a pinch, you can use Wiffle balls, but there’s no real reason to have to do that because any sporting goods store will have pickleball balls and pickleball paddles these days.
If you have the time to order this gear online, you can find a set of four pickleball paddles and four balls on Amazon or Walmart.com for around $29. If you prefer a higher-end set that is sure to last you a good bit longer, you may consider dropping a few extra bucks for a quality pickleball set — these will run you anywhere from about $50 to $75 depending on the brand and how many paddles and balls the set comes with.
Bringing All the Elements Together: Mark Your Lines, Set Up Your Net
Once you have everything you need from the above list, you can start to create your pickleball court by marking your lines and setting up your net.
Marking Your Pickleball Court Lines
The first step will be to choose your location, ensure you have more than enough space, and then begin to mark your lines. Begin by measuring the parameters, which will be your sidelines and baselines once complete. Going by standard pickleball court measurements, you’ll measure two sidelines at 22 feet each, then two baselines at 20 feet in length at either end of each sideline.
Next, you’ll want to create your no-volley zones. You will want these to be exactly seven feet out from the centerline where the net will be placed on either side of where it will stand. The third step is to mark your NVZ. To do this, you will go back to the seven-foot marks you just created, then mark 10 feet from the edge of the sideline, which will indicate your halfcourt point.
The last thing you will mark will be your service areas. To do this, you will take your tape measure and set it between the no-volley line and the baseline, then draw a line dividing the line the tape measure creates as it lays directly down the midcourt area.
Using your tape measure once again, you will repeat this same process on the other side of the net (or where the net will go once it is up).
Setting Up Your Pickleball Court Net
After you have marked all of the lines for your court, you can begin setting up your net. By now, you have picked out either metal, wood, or PVC piping to hold your net in place. Remember, you will need three posts, rods, or poles to do this: one on either side of the court, and one in the middle to keep the net from sagging.
Begin by choosing either the left or right side of the court, it doesn’t matter which you set up first. Ensure that the first pole — on either the right or left-hand side — is between 35 and 36 inches from the ground, and then repeat this process on the other side of the court.
Next, you will take your netting and stretch it across the midline of the court between your two stakes, poles, or metal stands. Affix the netting to both poles on either side of your court, ensuring that there is some amount of tension, as this will keep the net from sagging at the midcourt area.
Once you have completed this portion of the net installation, you will want to grab your third pole or stake to be installed in the center of the netting. This pole should be just 34 to 35 inches from the ground to where the netting is affixed.
Once these two steps are complete, you can either start your first game, or you can instead choose to go over the lines you have drawn with chalk using the vinyl tape, paint, or any other kind of tape, such as painter’s tape or hockey tape, depending on how permanent you want your lines and court to be.