Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in North America. According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, there were about 3.3 million pickleball players in the U.S. in 2019. With its popularity on the rise, many players are looking for ways to play year-round, regardless of weather conditions. One great option is playing indoors at a gym.
But is it possible to play pickleball in a gym? What kind of gym is best? Does it require any special equipment or setup? This comprehensive guide will provide all the details you need to know about playing pickleball in a gym.
- Can Pickleball be Played in a Gym: A Closer Look
- Indoor Pickleball Vs. Outdoor Pickleball: Differences and Similarities
- The Impact of Weather on Pickleball: Why Indoor Play Might be the Best Option
- Gym Pickleball: Equipment Needed
- How to Play Pickleball in a Gym: A Step-by-Step Guide
- Pickleball Tournaments in Gyms: An Insight
- Common Mistakes While Playing Pickleball in a Gym and How to Avoid Them
- Pickleball Strategies for Gym Play
- Is it Easy to Learn Pickleball in a Gym?
- Closing Thoughts: Why Gyms should Consider Incorporating Pickleball
Can Pickleball be Played in a Gym: A Closer Look
The short answer is yes – pickleball can absolutely be played indoors at a gym! In fact, indoor pickleball courts are becoming more and more common. Gyms and community centers around the country are starting to incorporate pickleball lines into their basketball or volleyball courts.
There are several key factors that determine whether a gym can accommodate pickleball:
Why would someone want to play Pickleball in a Gym?
There are many great reasons to play pickleball indoors at a gym, including:
- Avoid weather elements: Wind, rain, extreme heat or cold can all impact an outdoor pickleball game. Playing indoors removes these variables.
- Play year-round: Outdoor courts may be unavailable certain times of year in cold climates. Indoor play provides year-round access.
- Consistent playing conditions: Indoors you don’t have to worry about sun glare or changes in lighting. Surface and ball bounce remain constant.
- Develop skills: The consistent environment helps refine skills and techniques without external factors.
- Socialize & stay active: Indoor pickleball provides great low-impact exercise and a fun social activity.
What Kind of Gym Floor is Suitable for Pickleball?
Pickleball can be played on a variety of indoor court surfaces, including:
- Hardwood basketball courts
- Artificial sports flooring like TrueCourt
- Multi-purpose rubber flooring
- Low-pile carpet (under 1/2 inch pile height)
- Sport court tiles, like you’d see at the YMCA
The key is finding a surface that provides the right amount of traction and ball bounce. The floor must absorb impact to prevent injury. Hardwood or cushioned vinyl tiles tend to work very well. Avoid high-pile carpets, as they impede ball bounce.
Are there any Specific Gym Space Requirements for Pickleball?
Pickleball courts are smaller than tennis courts – measuring 20′ x 44′ for both singles and doubles play. This makes them a great option for smaller gyms. Ideally the gym space should allow for at least 2-3 courts with adequate safety runoff space between them.
Most basketball courts are 50′ x 84′, which allows enough room to fit 2-3 pickleball courts side-by-side. Volleyball courts are 60′ x 30′, so you may be limited to 1 court. Look for gymnasiums with high ceilings, as the ball can travel up to 20 feet high during play.
How to Set Up a Pickleball Court in a Gym
Setting up pickleball courts in a gym is relatively simple:
- Use removable/repositionable floor tape to mark lines – usually white or yellow so they stand out.
- Tape should be non-residue and non-slip to avoid leaving marks or causing falls.
- Place pickleball nets at 36 inches high for regulation play.
- Nets can be taken down after use if needed. Portable pickleball net systems work well.
- Add numbers/color tape to identify unique courts for players.
Having this portable equipment makes it easy to set up pickleball courts when the gym is not otherwise in use. And nets/lines can be removed after play so the space can be utilized for other activities.
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Indoor Pickleball Vs. Outdoor Pickleball: Differences and Similarities
How does playing pickleball indoors compare to playing outside? There are a few key differences that impact gameplay, as well as many similarities.
Does Playing Pickleball Differ Based on Indoor and Outdoor Settings?
There are some notable differences between indoor and outdoor pickleball:
- Lighting: No sun glare indoors, lighting remains consistent. Outdoors changes with cloud cover, time of day.
- Distractions: Outdoor settings have more distractions – people, nature, noises. Easier to focus indoors.
- Surfacing: Outdoor courts use various porous materials. Indoor floors are smooth, non-porous. Affects ball bounce.
- Space: Outdoor space is unlimited. Indoors have walls/ceilings in play. Ball can go out-of-bounds.
- Temperature: Outdoor temps fluctuate. Indoors remain climate controlled for comfort.
- Acoustics: Ball noise amplified indoors versus dissipating outside. Louder intensity indoors.
Overall indoor pickleball involves fewer external variables. This allows players to refine skills and strategy in a consistent environment.
What are the Benefits of Playing Pickleball in a Gym?
Beyond simply avoiding weather, playing pickleball indoors provides many advantages:
- Non-slip even flooring minimizes risk of falls or injuries
- Climate control keeps players comfortable year-round
- Less wind means more control over ball placement
- No bright sun glare in players’ eyes
- Gym lighting is consistent and doesn’t vary over time
- Indoors provides 11 months of accessible play in cold climates
- Noise is contained compared to disturbing nearby residents outside
- Indoor bathrooms/amenities provide convenience
Pickleball players looking for maximum fun and minimal hassle should consider heading inside their local gym.
The Impact of Weather on Pickleball: Why Indoor Play Might be the Best Option
One of the prime advantages of playing pickleball indoors at a gym is avoiding the impact of outdoor weather conditions. How exactly does weather affect pickleball? And what benefits does indoor play provide?
How Weather Conditions can Impact Outdoor Pickleball Games
The effects of weather on an outdoor pickleball game can be significant:
- Wind – Strong winds impact ball control, limits shot placement accuracy
- Rain – Wet courts become extremely slick, increasing injury risk
- Heat – Extreme temperatures lead to dehydration, exhaustion, overheating
- Cold – Frigid temps cause stiffness, won’t be able to grip paddle well
- Sun glare – Bright sun in eyes makes it hard to track balls in flight
- Snow/ice – Frozen courts are unplayable and potentially hazardous
- Poor air quality – Smoke, smog, pollen can cause breathing issues
The ideal weather conditions for pickleball involve moderate temperatures, low humidity, and low wind. But these “perfect” days are infrequent in many parts of the country. Playing indoors solves all weather-related issues year-round.
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Gym Pickleball: Equipment Needed
In order to enjoy a game of pickleball at your local gym, you’ll need to gather some basic equipment. Here is an overview of the essential gear for indoor pickleball.
What Type of Equipment is Necessary for Playing Pickleball in a Gym?
Pickleball requires a few key pieces of equipment beyond just a court and net:
- Paddles – Lightweight composite or wood paddles. Various sizes/shapes for control.
- Pickleballs – Wiffle-type balls with holes. Created specifically for pickleball.
- Court shoes – Athletic shoes with good traction and lateral support. No marking soles.
- Comfortable clothing – Activewear that allows free range of motion. Layers for climate control.
Many gyms will provide the pickleballs and nets. But serious players will want to invest in their own high quality paddles and footwear. Some other optional pickleball equipment includes:
- Safety goggles – Protect eyes from fast moving balls
- Gloves – Absorb sweat, enhance grip strength
- Wrist/knee braces – Add support for tender joints
- Gear bag – Transport paddles, balls, accessories conveniently
Proper gear helps maximize fun and safety during indoor pickleball games.
Where to Purchase Pickleball Equipment?
Quality pickleball equipment can be purchased from a variety of retailers, including:
- PickleballCentral – Largest online retailer, huge selection
- Local pro shops – Specialty stores catering to racquet sports enthusiasts
- Amazon – Convenient for paddle sets and ball packs
- Big box sporting goods – Stores like Dick’s, Modell’s, Dunham’s may carry gear
- Manufacturer websites – Purchase directly from top brands like Selkirk or Onix
Be sure to demo different paddles to find the right size, weight, grip material. Correctly fitted shoes also help maximize comfort and safety during play. Investing in proper gear makes the indoor pickleball experience much more enjoyable.
How to Play Pickleball in a Gym: A Step-by-Step Guide
Once you have the necessary equipment and court space, it’s time to play some indoor pickleball! Here is a helpful step-by-step guide:
How to Serve in Pickleball
Serving initiates each new point in pickleball:
- Stand behind baseline. Toss ball up & hit after bounce.
- Serve diagonally into opposite service court.
- Only one serve attempt per side.
- Serve underhand – paddle must be below waist.
- Serve initiates when racket contacts ball. Don’t move too soon.
- Rotate serving sides after each point won.
Consistent underhand serves take practice! But this foundational skill is key for pickleball success.
How to Keep Score in Pickleball
Scoring pickleball games helps make them competitive and fun:
- Only serving side can score a point.
- First side to 11 points wins game.
- Must win by 2 point margin.
- Use score sheets or chalkboard to display.
- Call out score before each serve attempt.
- Track number of games won for match scoring.
Keeping accurate score is essential for fair pickleball competition in the gym.
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Pickleball Tournaments in Gyms: An Insight
As pickleball popularity has exploded, more competitions are popping up across the country. Gym spaces often host indoor pickleball tournaments.
Here’s a look at some hallmarks of top-quality gym pickleball tournaments:
- Multiple courts – Allow larger draw sizes and more match flexibility
- Round robin format – Guarantees players multiple games
- Divided skill brackets – Matches players of similar abilities
- Fun social events – Mixers, meals bring players together
- Medals/trophies – Awarded 1st-3rd place per division
- Raffles & giveaways – Paddles, balls, gear prizes
- Pro exhibition matches – See elite play up close
- Vendors – Demo new paddles & equipment
Indoor pickleball tournaments offer competitive play and camaraderie for all ages and skill levels. Contact your local gym or rec center to find upcoming events in your area.
Common Mistakes While Playing Pickleball in a Gym and How to Avoid Them
Making mistakes is part of learning any new sport. However, understanding the most common indoor pickleball errors can help you improve more quickly. Here are some key mistakes to avoid when playing inside a gym:
- Inappropriate shoes – Lateral support is key. No black soles that scuff flooring.
- Hitting ceiling – Keep paddle low on overhead shots. Take pace off ball.
- Double bounces – Let ball bounce only once before hitting returns.
- Foot faults – Stay behind baseline when serving.
- Yelling – Maintain indoor etiquette/noise levels.
- Poor positioning – Stay centered at net line when partner serves.
- Ball abuse – Control paddle power to avoid popping balls.
Remaining aware of these common indoor errors will elevate your pickleball game fast. Seek coaching tips from experienced players as well.
Pickleball Strategies for Gym Play
Beyond simply avoiding mistakes, you can employ tactics to excel at indoor pickleball:
- Control shots – Finesse wins out over power on indoor surfaces.
- Move opponent – Force them to cover more court space.
- Target weaknesses – Identify flaws like backhand or mobility.
- Vary spin – Topspin or backspin changes ball bounce unpredictability.
- Soft volleys – Respond gently to balls already moving fast.
- Communicate – Discuss/adjust strategies with partner between points.
Having a game plan suited to the indoor environment will lead to more wins and enjoyment. Remain flexible and adaptable as well.
How to Improve Your Pickleball Game in a Gym
Here are some top tips for developing your skills rapidly while playing indoor pickleball:
- Take lessons from a certified pro
- Arrange play time with better, experienced players
- Train skills like volley and serve consistency
- Focus on precision shot placement
- Work on quick lateral movements and anticipation
- Analyze your own strengths/weaknesses honestly
- Cross-train for fitness with yoga, weights, cycling
- Watch instructional pickleball videos
- Invest in quality equipment fitted for you
- Maintain positive yet competitive mental outlook
Dedicated practice and training is key for excelling at this fast-paced indoor game.
Is it Easy to Learn Pickleball in a Gym?
For many beginners, learning pickleball inside a gym is ideal. The consistent environment simplifies initial skill development.
Here are some factors that make indoor gyms great for new players:
- Court lines are clearly marked – know where to move/hit
- Smooth level surfaces help practice groundstrokes
- Walls keep balls contained – long rallies help groove strokes
- Climate control keeps conditions comfortable
- Nearby amenities for restroom/water breaks
- Instruction often available on-site
- Existing players willing to teach newcomers
Starting out in a gym builds confidence and abilities faster thanks to ideal learning conditions. Helpful resources can further speed the process.
What are Some Resources for Learning Pickleball?
New indoor pickleball players have an array of helpful resources available:
- Pickleball Fire – Video lessons for beginners
- ASPEN Clinic Instructors – Get local pro instruction
- USA Pickleball Association – Core game basics
- NY Times – Pickleball Explained – Concise game overview
- Pickleball Lifestyle Guy – Tips to amp up your game
Classes, clinics, videos, articles and more enable aspiring players to develop pickleball skills quickly and enjoy this exciting sport. Don’t hesitate to ask fellow gym players for advice as well!
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Closing Thoughts: Why Gyms should Consider Incorporating Pickleball
As the information above illustrates, pickleball is clearly a gym-friendly sport. With its rapid growth among all age groups, gyms must keep up with demand for court time and instruction. The compact size of pickleball courts allows utilization of existing gym space without major renovations.
Plus the minimal required gear makes it simple for facilities to offer equipment to players. Hosting indoor pickleball helps gyms attract new members, while retaining existing patrons by offering fun variety.
While outdoor play will always have appeal, indoor pickleball provides unique advantages that complement any training or competition regimen. With creative court planning and scheduling, nearly any gym can realistically incorporate pickleball.
Doing so will likely prove a popular decision among recreational and competitive players alike. The definitive answer is yes – pickleball and gyms are a winning combination!