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What outdoor pickleball players need to know about indoor pickleball


By Brynn Grissom

on Mar 27, 2024

A teenage boy plays pickleball indoors. He stands on a wooden floor ready to hit a ball at the net.

Pickleball enthusiasts worldwide often enjoying playing outdoors, where the game was born and thrives. However, whether you're dodging the scorching sun, braving the biting cold, or seeking shelter from unexpected downpours, there are times when the great outdoors just doesn't cooperate with your pickleball plans.

Such moments call for a shift to indoor courts, a transition that introduces its own set of challenges and adjustments. To ensure your game remains unaffected by the change in venue, we've compiled a comprehensive guide full of tips and tricks to help you adapt and thrive in indoor pickleball settings.

Essential gear for indoor pickleball success

Indoor courts, often designed to accommodate various sports, can have polished, shiny floors that affect how we see and interact with the pickleball. The reflections from bright indoor lighting can make tracking the ball difficult, a challenge compounded by the court's existing lines and wall colors.

To navigate this, equip yourself with pickleballs in several distinct colors to enhance visibility and contrast. It's crucial to use indoor-specific pickleballs, characterized by their 26-hole design, for optimal performance. Avoid two-tone balls, as they can complicate visibility rather than aid it.

Additionally, investing in a quality set of court markers can be a game-changer. These markers help clearly define your playing area, ensuring clarity and precision during fast-paced indoor matches.

Ensure safety and comfort with proper footwear

Indoor courts, especially wooden gym floors, can be slippery, posing a risk to mobility and safety. An easy fix is to keep a damp towel handy to wipe your shoes, increasing traction.

For even better performance, consider wearing shoes designed for racquetball or volleyball. These are specifically engineered for indoor courts, offering superior grip and support compared to standard outdoor tennis shoes or pickleball shoes.

Adapt your playstyle for indoor conditions

One of the most noticeable differences when switching to indoor play is the duration of rallies. Without the outdoor elements, indoor pickleball games tend to feature longer rallies.

The unique construction of an indoor pickleball slows down its pace and softens its bounce, requiring a shift in strategy. Instead of relying on powerful put-away shots, which are less effective indoors, focus on control and positioning.

You'll find that driving the ball becomes a more viable strategy, as does using lob shots, thanks to the predictable bounce and absence of wind.

Indoor nets may differ from outdoor nets, often lacking a top cable, which affects how the ball interacts with the net. This can influence your strategy, encouraging more drive shots over drop shots.

Additionally, the ball's flight and bounce behavior indoors can give your opponents extra time to respond, emphasizing the need for strategic play and patience.

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