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Pickleball Holds Advantages over Tennis

Although the game of pickleball has been around since the 1960s, the rise in popularity over the past decade has led to an influx of new participants and the need for new courts. Communities of all sizes have been adding pickleball courts to parks and open spaces as an additional amenity for their residents. In fact, the landscape team at Snyder & Associates says pickleball court projects are one of the top requests they receive from park directors looking to enhance their park system.

The Mercer Park project in Iowa City was able to place eight pickleball courts in the same footprint as three tennis courts.

If you’ve never played (or heard of) pickleball, the concept is quite simple to imagine. Just picture a tennis court shrunk to about ⅓ the size. The rules are also similar to tennis, with some unique twists — all serves are underhand, the ball has less bounce, singles and doubles are played on the same-size court, and there is a seven-foot no-volley zone, called “the kitchen,” extending from the net. The ball can be hit in this area only after it has bounced. Because the surfaces for tennis and pickleball courts are similar, communities are increasingly converting underutilized tennis courts into multiple pickleball courts or adding dual markings to make the courts multi-use.

While both sports have health and social benefits, pickleball holds several advantages over tennis. Because of the smaller court size, numerous courts fit into the space of one tennis court. This tighter spacing allows for groups to get together, or for tournament play. The small court size also means less running — making it easier for just about any age group to play without as much wear-and-tear on body joints. Best of all, courts can be built indoors just as easily as out, accommodating year-round play.

Experienced Design Team Essential for Durable, Professional Results

When building outdoors, pickleball courts are typically constructed on asphalt surfaces and there are a number of surface coatings to choose from. However, engaging an experienced design team is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when considering adding pickleball courts. Using experts in the field ensures that you get professional results.

Courts with proper slope and adequate drainage are two critical components that need to be designed correctly. Courts that are too steep or develop standing water will certainly degrade the user experience.

Choosing the right surface coating for your unique situation is another decision that a professional design team can help make. Numerous coatings are available depending on the variables of your court’s location. Most surface coatings are acrylic-based and designed especially for coating asphalt and concrete. For outdoor courts, some coatings are textured with a smooth and rounded, non-aggressive silica sand. This provides a slip-free surface in dry and wet conditions. Options also exist to regulate the amount of cushion in the surface coating.

Project Sampling of Snyder & Associates-Designed Courts & Sports Complexes

Doanes Park in Pleasant Hill added three dual-purpose tennis and pickleball courts.

In 2013, Snyder & Associates was approached by leaders from the Pleasant Hill Parks & Recreation Department to design several new amenities for Doanes Park, including a new multi-use tennis and pickleball facility. This project called for three regulation tennis courts with markings for pickleball and tennis on each court. The design included all grading work, an HMA surface and all-weather coating, fences, and dual-purpose nets. These expansive park improvements added to a robust offering of ball fields, playground areas, and soccer fields that were designed by our team, as well.

A similar project in Altoona saw the removal and replacement of two tennis courts in Village Park with markings for pickleball added, as well. The Altoona Parks & Recreation Department commissioned our team to design and oversee this project which included two regulation tennis courts, a new all-weather coating, nets, and fencing. Site adjustments were necessary to accommodate the regulation size courts.

The Iowa City Parks & Recreation Department went in a different direction for their project in Mercer Park. An existing six tennis court complex was converted to retain three full-size tennis courts and add eight pickleball courts. Snyder & Associates professionals evaluated the current courts for resurfacing and expansion needs. Our design team then developed a plan that included new asphalt, partial fencing, posts, nets, resurfacing, and striping.

The demand in the Iowa City area for amenities like this had been strong for many years and mimics a nationwide popularity trend for this sport. Whether you’re community or organization is looking to convert existing tennis courts, or build a new facility from scratch, Snyder & Associates has years of experience designing pickleball and tennis facilities that meet our client’s customized needs.