Should You Play Pickleball Indoors or Outdoors?

Barrett Kincheloe article, Basics, beginner 7 Comments

One question that gets asked a lot in the pickleball world is whether you should play indoors or outdoors. The great thing about pickleball is that it’s non-seasonal. You can play any time of year regardless of outside temperature. In general, whether you decide to play pickleball indoors or outdoors is up to your personal preference, or the preference of the group. However, there are some benefits and drawbacks of both that I will help explain.

Keeping it indoors

For most players, playing indoors is the preferred method to play pickleball. The reason is because playing indoors offers a consistent environment that is not affected by the random whims of nature. The benefits are pretty clear especially if you’re a serious player. Having a controlled environment means that both practice and play are going to be more precise. You’ll be able to understand your game better considering that you won’t be wondering if the wind is what made your groundstroke go out or if the court temperature is affecting the bounce.

When you’re indoors, everything is normalized.

That doesn’t mean that playing indoors doesn’t have it’s drawbacks. Although they aren’t game-breaking, they are worth mentioning.

Potential indoor drawbacks

One drawback is the noise indoor pickleball makes. This is especially prevalent for multiple indoor courts with multiple people playing on them. We all know how wonderful pickleball paddles sound, but when you have an entire facility filled with players, the constant symphony of pickleball echo can get distracting. This may not be a drawback to some, but if audio queues in your pickleball game is important, then you may have a tough time hearing your own court.

Another potential drawback has to do with the court itself. If you’re not playing on an indoor tennis court, then you’re probably playing on basketball court or something similar. As far as I’m concerned, there are more lines on a basketball court than there are in a DMV office. Although different colored tape will be placed over the lines, it can still be very difficult to see, and you can easily get confused.

The great outdoors

Playing pickleball outside has some unique advantages that are more health focused. The greatest benefit of playing outside is sunlight exposure. Scientific studies done over recent years have continually shown the benefits of sunlight. Not only does it produce Vitamin D, an essential component to your immune system, but recent studies have shown that it can actually produce serotonin. The sun makes you feel good! Obviously, the last thing you want to do is bake in the sun until you turn into a delicious lobster, but playing pickleball outside is a great way to get your daily dose of sunny delight.

The drawbacks of playing outside include unbearable temperatures and gusty wind. These are significant downsides, but it depends on what part of the world you live in. Players in Florida and Arizona may have a much easier time playing outside than players who live in tumultuous climates. I live in Dallas, so playing outside in the summer is like playing in a sauna in the middle of an asphalt parking lot. Quite unpleasant.

There’s a pickleball for that

You may want to consider switching the type of pickleballs that you use when playing indoors or outdoors. Indoor pickleballs have larger holes, weigh slightly less and are more difficult to smash. Outdoor balls have smaller holes which make them more wind resistant and heavier. However, since they have more plastic, they break easily and they hurt more if you get pegged by one.

Some people like to use indoor balls for outside and vice versa. Again, just see what your group would like to do and don’t be afraid to experiment!

A balancing act

To get the best of both worlds, try to switch up where you play. Is it a perfect day outside? Convince your group to play outside! Does the weather look like something out of an apocalyptic movie? Head inside for some cozy pickleball. As I said above, whether you play indoors or outdoors is up to your preference. Personally, I will be taking advantage of the rare beautiful spring days that we have here in Dallas before the inferno arrives in June.

What is your local climate like for pickleball? Do you prefer indoors or outdoors? Let me know in the comments below!

Comments 7

  1. We have been playing every week outdoors here in MA. We dress in layers and get moving as soon as we get on the court. I have noticed the balks do not last very long in the cold though! We have been wondering if there is a special ball for cold weather play. Thank you for this informative article. Lyn

  2. I want to form an indoor facility in a vacant warehouse. What clearance do I need to the bottom of the rood joists?

  3. I think the biggest issue for indoor play is the limited time courts are available and the associated costs. Outdoor play just seems freer and a little wind and weather make it interesting.

  4. Barret, I play both inside and outside depending on the weather. We play inside while school is in session and outside on the weekends and when the weather is cooperative. However, it can be difficult to transition from indoor to outdoor in a short time frame. The difference in balls(soft to hard) make it difficult to judge distances on shots. With this is mind, should I consider using different paddles for inside and outside play? A lighter, softer paddle for outside and a more powerful one for inside would seem to make sense but is this over analyzing the situation too much.


    1. Post

      So this is an interesting topic. I know some people that use a different paddle based on if they’re playing with outdoor balls or indoor balls. In general, this is what I’ve seen.

      People will use a paddle with more “pop” and explosiveness for outdoor play, and for indoors they use a softer paddle. But I don’t see it very often. I personally don’t, but that’s just what I’ve seen. Honestly, I wouldn’t worry about it.

      However, there’s nothing wrong with testing this out for yourself. If you can find a bit more powerful paddle that you can use for outdoor play, then go for it! Just test it. Again, I don’t want to do this because I don’t want to have to get used to two different paddles, but there are some people who do it just fine. Let me know if that helps!

  5. I preferred outdoor Pickle ball, especially if there is a slight wind, and I mean as slow as a one legged turtle going up a hill of peanut butter. It changes the dynamics of the game, just enough that i have to strategize more, move better, and concentrate on hitting better shots, which makes me a much better indoor player. Only draw back is that it is a rare occurance, that the wind cooperates.

Leave a Reply to Pat Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.