By Beth Carpenter, GAMMA Brand Partner
It’s that time of year: temperatures are falling, snowflakes are flying, and outdoor pickleball courts are closing for the season. This means that if you want to continue to play Pickleball over the winter, you’re going to have to drive south, or transition to indoor Pickleball for the next several months. This transition can be rough at first for several reasons:
I thought I’d start with the good news first! Playing indoors for the winter, you’ll no longer have to deal with extreme temperatures, gusty winds, or sun in your face! Your swings and the trajectory of the ball will be more consistent without these natural variables outdoors.
One major change you’ll have to get used to is a different playing surface. Outdoors, you’re likely playing on a grippy cement surface. Indoors, you may play on tile, hard wood, or a plastic surface, all which affect the bounce of the ball differently. On these surfaces, dead spots in the floor will take away the bounce of the ball, or could even change the direction. The ball will also slide or skid a bit when it bounces, instead of bouncing more vertical. Additionally, your shoes may slide more on these surfaces, and you may not have the ability to stop and turn as quickly as you would on a cement court.
Indoors, you’ll most likely be using a temporary net versus the permanent nets on most outdoor Pickleball courts. The major difference between a permanent and temporary net is the tautness of the top of the net. With temporary nets, this will be looser and often lets balls fall over the net that were hit hard into the tape. Temporary nets will sag more in the middle than permanent nets as well, since there is no way to tighten them. The entire net setup may also shift during the game if not weighted down.
Indoor Pickleballs are quite a bit different than outdoor balls. Indoor balls are lighter with bigger holes, which are designed to bounce better on indoor surfaces. Outdoor balls are heavier with smaller holes, which do better against wind and are more durable when bouncing on the rougher concrete surface. At first, you may notice that you have seemingly less control from hitting the lighter ball, but after a few games you’ll get the hang of it.
While natural variables are taken out of the equation when playing Pickleball indoors, there are a new set of challenges you’ll face. Indoor courts are often multi-use surfaces and usually have other lines or tape from sports such as basketball, volleyball, floor hockey, and more. These lines can be confusing to decipher and you may find yourself standing at the wrong line or find it difficult to make calls. Additionally, factors like low ceilings, bright lights (or dim lights), close walls, basketball goal interference, etc may affect game play.
All in all, adjusting to indoor Pickleball for the Winter season should only take a short time for most players. After a few games, you’ll begin adjusting to the court, ball, and other variables that you hadn’t previously dealt with. Happy pickleballing!