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09/21/2021

Breaking Down Indoor vs Outdoor Pickleball

For the lucky ones, pickleball is always an outdoor sport! For most of us though, we have to venture into gyms, indoor facilities, and rec centers to stay active on the pickleball courts during the cold, winter months. Most pickleball players will agree, pickleball is better enjoyed outside! Nothing beats summer  in the air, the faint sound of pickleballs being dinked, a slight breeze, and the enjoyment of friends in the outdoors with a little competition. But other than the beautiful weather, is there a difference between outdoor pickleball and indoor pickleball? 

To get started let’s break down indoor pickleball. One of the major advantages of indoor pickleball is that the weather is always perfect - there isn’t a need for sunscreen and unless there is a large fan, your pickleball shots won’t be affected by the wind. Other than avoiding the elements, a large advantage of playing indoor pickleball is that the play is always going to be consistent. Because you are in a controlled environment, shots will come off your paddle the same, pickleballs will bounce true, and you will find consistency in each game. Depending on where you are playing indoors, an advantage can also be the court surface. Oftentimes indoor pickleball is played on a multipurpose surface that is more forgiving on a player’s body. This ultimately means more pickleball, more frequently! 

While there are some positives, a negative of indoor play is that typically it is in more confined spaces (such as gymnasium), which can make calling balls in or out confusing. In regards to squeezing pickleball courts into spaces, this can create another difference between indoor and outdoor play: Because indoor courts are often in large indoor spaces, there is typically (not always) a cost to play. Unlike the great outdoors where there are free options for courts, indoor courts are run by an organization or rec centers, so you may have to pay a small fee! 

Fluctuating between indoor and outdoor play does lead to a common question - is there really a need to play with an indoor-specific pickleball? Because the conditions differ, indoor-specific balls will actually be designed to maximize indoor pickleball. These balls are designed with a lighter and softer plastic, fewer holes (26 generally), and are easier to control. With the lighter and softer plastic, often indoor pickleballs can not be slammed as hard and typically, lead to longer rallies! With the lack of elements, indoor pickleballs will also have a much longer lifespan on the court.  

Below, we’ve provided a bulleted breakdown of indoor pickleball and what to expect! 

  • Gives players the ability to avoid the elements.
  • Pickleballs will not be affected by wind.
  • Play is consistent because of the controlled environment.
  • Oftentimes, the playing surface is easier on a player’s body.
  • Can be more costly than outdoor play.
  • Specific indoor pickleballs are recommended.
  • Good opportunity for longer rallies.

In our opinion, the most important thing is just getting out and playing! ! Even if you have to find court space indoors during the winter months, get out and enjoy it! 

The game of pickleball was invented on beautiful Bainbridge Island in Washington state and at its inception, it was played between family and friends outside. The sport started as an outdoor activity and many still prefer to play in the great outdoors. Summertime, family, community, drinks, and dinks are some of the many reasons why pickleball is loved outdoors. But how does an indoor game differ from one played outside? 

The biggest difference between outdoor pickleball and indoor pickleball is the weather. If you are in an area where the weather is relatively consistent year-round, call yourself lucky as there are some of us out there braving the elements! Wind, rain, cold, heat, snow, and sun stop for no pickleball! Because of this, your shots may be altered, you may feel the heat, or slip on a wet spot on the court. As is the case with any outdoor game, the weather can make or break how you perform out on the pickleball court. Sunglasses may be needed for outdoor play as you never know when a lob shot will result in you staring directly into the sun. 

Outdoor pickleball courts are generally made of asphalt or concrete and over time, extended play can create wear and tear on a pickleball player’s body. Along with a player’s body, the player’s pickleball shoes and paddle edge guard can potentially wear out quicker than what you would see when playing indoors. . The last consideration is the ball itself. Outdoor pickleballs are often the most used pickleball. Outdoor pickleballs will have a harder plastic, are heavier in weight, and have more holes (40) than indoor balls. Because of the harsh environments outdoor pickleballs could potentially encounter, these balls will generally have a shorter court life than indoor pickleballs. Below is a general guide of what you can expect when you are playing outdoor pickleball!

  • Elements - rain, sunshine, cold, heat, and everything in between!
  • WIND (you may have thought it was a good shot but Mother Nature had other ideas)!
  • Harder court surfaces.
  • Harder balls = faster play.
  • Wearing out of equipment quicker. 
  • Dinks and Drinks!

We love playing pickleball anywhere and everywhere! Indoors or outdoors - as long as you are playing the great sport of pickleball, that is all that matters! Where do you prefer to play? Are you braving the elements or inside enjoying some comfort? Wherever you play let us know and we will be with you from Click to Court(any court)!

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Looking for the perfect pickleball paddle? There are hundreds of paddles on the market, which is why we have an entire page dedicated to Pickleball Paddle Reviews! If you need more information, give us a call at 1-866-382-3465, email us at experts@justpaddles.com, or utilize our live chat to speak with a Paddle Expert today. We’re JustPaddles, and we’re with you from Click to Court!

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