Pickleball is a rapidly growing sport. The number of people who play it grew from 3.64 million in 2019 to 4.2 million in 2020. That’s a 21.3% increase, which is the highest increase of any US sport that year.
If you are one of the ones who’s caught the pickleball fever, you may want to make your own court. That way, you can play whenever you want for free. You won’t need to wait in line to use a public court or pay for a special gym membership.
So in this guide, we’ll give you the main steps to making your own pickleball court. Here they are:
1. Choose a location
Before you start, you need to determine a location. The location will depend on a range of factors, including how many courts you want in the first place. A lot of pickleball courts are built in sets of 4, for example, which are roughly the size of a tennis court when put together.
However if you only want a single court, the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) puts the official court dimension at 20 x 44 feet. But plan for some extra space outside the perimeter of the court for an out of bounds area. And orient the court north-south instead of east-west to limit how much sun gets in players’ eyes and how many obstructing shadows form on the court.
Finally, check the local zoning regulations where you live to make sure you’re allowed to install a pickleball court on your property. Just because it’s your backyard doesn’t mean your housing laws will permit it. It’s also good to check that it’s okay with your neighbors, too, since playing pickleball can get noisy and you don’t want to disturb them.
2. Choose surface materials
Next, you need to choose surface materials for the court. Here, you have three main options: concrete, asphalt, and plastic tiles.
Concrete is very durable and has the lowest carbon footprint. You can usually get it poured for anywhere from $4 to $8 per square foot.
Asphalt is a more affordable option at around $2.50 to $4 per square foot, but it also requires more upkeep. You have to seal-coat it every 2 to 5 years to ensure it stays water-resistant.
Plastic tiles are ideal if you don’t want to permanently alter the ground under the court. Plus, they add a nice cushion under your feet when playing. Usually, plastic tiles snap together so you can easily modify the court’s size.
Whatever surface material you choose, make sure you hire a professional contractor to install it. One installation mistake could ruin your court and cost you a lot of money to fix. So it’s better to play it safe and get the help of an expert.
3. Paint the lines
Once the surface is done, you’re ready to paint the court lines. They should be white and 2 inches wide and you’ll need 5 different sets of lines: baselines, sidelines, non-volley zone (NVZ) lines, centerlines, and service court lines. If you’re not familiar with what these are, take a look at a court diagram.
And if you want to make your court really custom, you can even add some painted stencils or graphics in the middle of it. Just remember to let the paint dry for at least 24 hours before moving on to the next step.
4. Pick a net system
It’s not a pickleball court without a net. You can get a permanent net system or a portable one. Permanent versions are more expensive and have durable posts that can withstand poor weather. Portable ones are more affordable but will need to be disassembled and taken inside at night and during the off-season. Choose whatever you prefer.
The net system should include two poles, a rope ratchet, optional sleeves, and of course the net itself. The top of the net should be 36 inches off the ground at the sidelines and 34 inches high in the middle.
5. Set up fencing
Fencing keeps balls from flying and outsiders from intruding. It can also divide multiple courts. It’s important for keeping spectators safe from balls that go out-of-bounds and breaking the occasional fall of a player who goes in for a dive.
Pickleball fencing is usually made out of wires and can reach up to 10 feet high. If you want to save some money, you can opt for 4-foot fencing instead, but you’ll want to cover the top of the fence with padding to prevent any injuries from people falling on it.
6. Install lighting
Lastly, it’s nice to have outdoor lighting for your pickleball court when it gets dark. Fixtures should be installed near the center line on either side of the court. But keep them at least 24 inches away from the court so they don’t interfere with the game. Look for light poles that are 13-20 feet high, light fixtures that can handle 1,500 watts of power, and LED bulbs that are energy efficient. Then you’ll have a nice lit court to play on in the evenings.
And that’s it! Of course, making your pickleball court will take some time. But as soon as you complete all of the above steps, you’ll be ready to start playing your favorite sport with friends and family.
Just make sure that you budget appropriately as this is no small project. You should expect to spend at least $10,000 on the court surface, paint, nets, posts, lights, and labor.
But as long as you plan your expenses and schedule well in advance, you’ll be well prepared for the fun that awaits!