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Pickleball: Indoors vs. Outdoors | 10+ Things to Consider (Balls, Paddles,…)

Similar to other racquet sports, Pickleball can be played both indoors and outdoors. So, it means that it can be played any time regardless of what the season is or what the weather is like. However, there are several things you need to be aware of playing Pickleball indoors vs. outdoors.

1. Balls

Unlike several other sports, Pickleball uses different kinds of balls for indoor and outdoor play. 

The ball is usually heavier for outdoor Pickleball; they have smaller holes (and more) than an indoor ball. This allows for less wind disruption. Consequently, the ball often goes faster and bounces higher.

On the other hand, the ball for indoor play is softer, lighter, and has larger holes since there is no need to fight the weather or wind. Also, they don’t bounce as high. As a result, players are able to have more control.

2. Rallies length

As we mentioned, when playing indoors (in a controlled environment), players have more control over the ball. This results in the rallies, on average, being longer compared to playing outdoors. 

3. Court

The court dimensions are pretty standard, both indoor and outdoor. However, often the court surface might be different. 

If you’re playing outdoors, you’ll usually play on a tennis court or on an actual Pickleball court, where the surface is known as hard court. The material is often asphalt or concrete, covered with acrylic resins.

If you’re playing indoor, you’ll usually play in a rec center or gym where they might have multi-sport courts or basketball courts. So, in that case, the surface is going to be different. 

Keep in mind that as the sport continues to grow, more and more Pickleball indoor facilities are being made.

4. Paddles

Usually, the paddle you’ll use for indoor and outdoor Pickleball will be the same. However, since the playing conditions are different, some players choose to play with different paddles when playing indoors or outdoors. For instance, if you’re outdoors and want to have more power on your shots, you can play with a heavier paddle.

5. Shoes

The shoes you’ll be using for indoor or outdoor Pickleball will actually depend on the type of surface you’ll be playing on. So, if you’re playing on a gym, basketball court, or hardwood floor, you’ll probably need soft-soled shoes. In contrast, if you’re playing on a tennis court (acrylic) like-surface, you’ll most likely need hard-soled shoes. 

6. Wind

The wind can be a big factor when playing outdoors. You need to keep in mind the wind direction and strength. You might have to adjust your shots depending on whether the wind is against or behind you. 

On the other hand, when playing indoors, there is little to no wind, which allows for a more consistent play. The controlled environment prevents players from getting any funny surprises.

7. Sun

If you’re playing outdoors during the summertime, the sun will definitely be something to consider. For instance, many players use sunscreen, a hat (or cap), and maybe sunglasses.

This is especially true if you’re playing during peak sun hours. As you face the sun, it becomes hard to see the ball coming, hampering your game.

On the other hand, a benefit of being outdoor is that you’ll get some sunlight exposure, which will provide you with the much-needed vitamin D. However, keep in mind that it is not ideal to be out in the sun for too long, but a daily dose of it should be beneficial!

8. Weather

This is an obvious one. When choosing to play indoors, you are not dependent on the weather. You get to play whether it rains or shines. In contrast, if you’re playing outdoors, you may want to check the weather forecast before heading to the courts. 

9. Sound (or Noise)

As you already heard, there is a peculiar noise when hitting the ball with the paddle. If you are outdoors, this might not be so annoying; however, when playing indoors, the sound can become pretty loud and distracting, especially when multiples games are going on simultaneously. 

10. Game Predictability

When playing indoors, you’ll have a more controlled environment, which will offer more predictability when it comes to bounces, ball direction, and speed. Unlike when being outdoors, you won’t have to worry about the wind, sun, shadows, or high or low temperature, among other things. 

11. Natural vs. Artificial light

For some players, this might be a big difference. For others, not so much.

When playing outdoors, you’ll most likely play with natural light (provided by mother nature), unless you’re playing at night, of course. When it’s not too sunny, this might be the ideal time and place to play. 

However, if you’re playing indoors, you’ll most likely be exposed to some kind of artificial light. Believe it or not, you’ll feel the difference. If you mostly play outdoor during the day, it might take some time for you to get used to the indoor light.

Also, some players struggle playing outdoors at night because of the abrupt change from darkness to artificial light.