Can You Play Pickleball in the Rain?


With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, players had to get creative in finding places to play pickleball. Videos surfaced of enthusiasts shoveling snow off outdoor courts and even playing on ice rinks. However, it was during an interview with Cindy McCall from Dayton, NV, on the Pickleball Fire podcast that I first heard about someone playing pickleball in the rain.

Cindy, who traveled the West Coast in her RV, spent considerable time in Oregon, a region known for its frequent rain. Her experience led to an interesting rule for playing in wet conditions: avoid running. Instead, players were advised to take their time reaching the kitchen line, typically achievable with two to three large steps. The emphasis was always on not running to prevent slips and falls.

In a related discussion, I interviewed professional player Sarah Ansboury a few weeks prior. We talked about improving court movement, and her advice was surprisingly relevant. She recommended walking through an entire game. This technique helps players work on forward movement, maintain control, and accelerate when necessary. Walking faster to accelerate, rather than running, ensures better balance and shot accuracy. I tried this approach in one of my first matches after a long hiatus from doubles and singles play. The experience was enlightening; I felt more in control and balanced, leading to better shot execution.

So, what is the game like when you don’t run? It changes the dynamics significantly. Firstly, you end up hitting more balls in the transition zone. While this might be uncomfortable initially due to the increased distance from the net, players quickly adapt. Secondly, you find yourself hitting numerous dinks from the kitchen line, turning the game into an excellent opportunity to practice the soft game.

Playing pickleball in the rain required a shift in strategy and mindset, but it also opened up new avenues for skill development and enjoyment.

What do you think?

Written by Billy Pickles

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