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How To Adjust Your Game for Indoor Pickleball


Ever since that fateful summer of 1965 when Pickleball was invented, it’s been steadily growing in popularity. Today, almost 2 million players enjoy this amazing sport nationwide. It’s an inclusive game that both children and the elderly can enjoy. Some say it’s the fastest-growing sport in America, especially with the expansion into indoor pickleball.

To play year-round and in all types of weather conditions, indoor pickleball is necessary. If you’ve never played indoors before, it can take some adjusting to, whether you are new to the game or an experienced player. There are some key differences that you should account for before you get started.

The Versatility of Indoor Pickleball

Although it’s typically played outdoors, certain geographic areas, seasons, and weather events make outdoor play too difficult. Playing indoors is especially prominent during the winter or in rainy regions like Florida. It can be necessary to take advantage of indoor space in busy urban areas, as well.

You can play pickleball if you have a flat, open space of at least 30 by 60 feet. Gather up some tape, a net, a pickleball and some paddles and you’ve got yourself a match! The beauty of pickleball is its accessibility.

As the demand for pickleball grows, so will dedicated indoor spaces. However, until the commercial sporting world can catch up, pickleball players looking for an indoor space will have to be flexible. Shared facilities are still pretty common for indoor pickleball matches.

Preparation Is Key

Pickleball’s ability to take advantage of many different types of indoor spaces can lead to a lot of variability in playing conditions. You may find yourself in a school gymnasium, recreation center, sports club or even an indoor facility dedicated to pickleball. Each comes with its own unique set of conditions to get used to.

If you can, it’s a good idea to try playing in as many different situations as possible. This will improve your adaptability and skills as a pickleball player. Overcoming challenges is one of the best ways you can grow your practice.

As long as you prepare, there is nothing to worry about. It’s also helpful to keep an open mind. If you’re too stuck on a certain type of court or style of play, it will impede your flexibility as a player. Make sure you check out the space beforehand so you know what you are walking into and keep these tips in mind when getting ready to play indoor pickleball.

The Surface

Depending on the space, you could be playing on hardwood, tile or some type of synthetic substrate. These different materials will affect the bounce and tread of the ball in a variety of ways. In turn, this affects how you play the game.

In many cases, the floor will be more slippery than you’re used to, especially if there’s an accumulation of dust. Keep this in mind when picking out your shoes. You can always keep a damp cloth nearby to wipe your soles between plays.

The ball is also likely to skid or skip, so account for spin in your play. There are specialized paddles for spin that you can put to good use while playing indoors. The ball won’t be likely to bounce straight up and down but will bounce higher. However, you’re more likely to encounter dead spots that take away bounce or affect the trajectory.

This means that indoor pickleball makes use of more drives than rather than drops, taking advantage of the height of the ball in play. This may be something that comes to you naturally, as it’s easy to feel this difference during play.

The Court

Other than the surface itself, the court may look different to you. Visually, the space may be a lot more cluttered. Indoor venues are usually multi-use, so you’ll need to ignore irrelevant markings and lines. There may be basketball hoops and stadium seating to navigate. Depending on the space, you may even encounter a low ceiling or close walls. Keep your game focused and tight.

This also means that the net you’ll be playing with is a temporary setup. Temporary nets are seldom completely taught, leaving a slight sag in the middle. So, if you hit the ball hard into the tape it’s more likely to fall over to the other side. This is another factor that favors using more drives during an indoor game.

The Lighting

Some good news is that you won’t have to deal with the sun blinding you in an indoor setting. You’ll save your eyes from a lot of squinting. The lighting will be a lot more consistent. However, it may be consistently bad. You may find yourself on an indoor pickleball court that is too bright or too dim.

Take note of where the light sources are, so you can avoid looking directly into them during play. Keep in mind that you can use this to your advantage by lobbing high, which forces your opponent to look up into the lights or rafters. The higher plane of play during indoor matches supports these kinds of strategies.

The Speed

Indoor pickleballs are different from their outdoor counterparts. They are bigger and have more holes, allowing them to bounce better on indoor surfaces. They feel a lot lighter and you will need to adjust your power accordingly. They also bounce much higher.

Due to this, the pace of the game will feel softer and slower. The play will be up much higher, with much more volleying and driving. You may notice that points won’t come as quickly at this speed. It’s a great lesson in patience for pickleball players of all stripes.

Indoor Hard Courts

When talking about indoor pickleball hard courts, almost all of this goes out of the window. The surface will more closely resemble cement outdoor courts, with lower bounces and better tread. This ramps the speed back up to the pace of outdoor play, so drives will be harder to control. It’s best to use whatever outdoor strategy you are most comfortable with.

You will most likely still be using an outdoor ball, such as the Dura Fast 40 or Franklin X-40 pickleball. Indoor hard courts are usually dedicated pickleball facilities so you don’t need to worry about additional markings or distractions.

Think of an indoor hard court as the same as an outdoor court, but with all of the disadvantages of the outdoors taken away. There is no wind, blinding sun or inconvenient weather to deal with. Your play will be much more consistent because of this.

No Need To Start From Scratch

No matter where you find yourself playing indoor pickleball, you should always play to the strengths you’ve already developed. Play the game how you play best, only with slight adjustments. The overall strategy doesn’t change too much.

There’s no reason to lose your confidence or try to change your entire approach. Most likely, you won’t have to overthink anything. You’ll feel the difference and your body will react accordingly. Just emphasize certain moves or strategies over others. You’ll get used to it in no time at all with enough practice.

Speaking of practice, it’s much easier to practice for indoor conditions. You can even run basic drills in your home to get used to the feel of a wood floor. Before you do so, clear the space of anything breakable and stand about 6 to 8 feet away from the wall. Start small to be sure you have control before lobbing anything up high.

Gear Up for the Indoors

You may want to consider getting your hands on additional gear if you plan to continue playing indoor pickleball on a regular basis. As previously mentioned, playing indoors requires a different kind of ball. There are also specialized paddles, training aids, shoes and other equipment that can support your indoor play.

If you’re practicing indoors and don’t have access to a flat wall, you can use something called a rebounder. These adjustable standing nets are great for practicing skills and simulating play conditions. They are also designed to keep the ball from flying out of control if you are in a small or crowded space.

Shoes are especially important for indoor players. Stopping and turning quickly can be hazardous on slippery surfaces and you want to do everything you can to prevent falls or injuries. Look for lightweight shoes with grippy soles, like rubber. They will often be advertised as good for indoor athletics.

Learn More About Indoor Pickleball

Whether you are a seasoned player or just picking up the paddle for the first time, there’s always more to learn. Especially if you are getting into tournaments for the first time, you may not be as familiar with playing pickleball indoors. One way to prepare for indoor play is to consult with experts and do research online.

Pickleball Portal is an excellent, comprehensive resource for all things indoor pickleball. From strategy guides to product picks and reviews, the experts at Pickleball Portal have you covered. You can also keep up with all the latest pickleball news, either on their webpage or by signing up for the newsletter. Casual and pro pickleball players alike can benefit from the support of this platform.

About Dan Langston

With experience in the ecotourism industry and time well spent as a fly fishing guide in the remote absaroka mountain range for 6 years, Dan brings a unique perspective on customer service to the digital world. As the operator, Dan is now committed to revitalizing Pickleball Portal and plans to build a digital support system for content creators and provide helpful information for the pickleball community. dan@pickleballportal.com

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