Adjusting to your environment – altitude and venue changes

Since it’s February, this might seem a bit late for many of you to read about adjusting from outdoor to indoor pickleball.  If you live in the northern hemisphere, and in a northern region, you would have moved indoors several months ago.  If so, sorry for my selfish timing. I’ve been in a warm climate in Florida, but will now be going to Colorado , and will have to make the adjustment for both court surface and altitude!  Both can play havoc on your pickleball game!

Lets just briefly talk about the altitude difference. Recently, I’ve had several friends mention that they will be going skiing so this might come in handy for them. We left Florida and flew to Colorado, heading immediately up into the mountains on Tuesday. This took us from sea level to approximately 9,000 ft above sea level, all in about 8 hours!  To ease the drastic transition, I’ve been drinking extra water everyday for about a week.  Why?  To avoid altitude sickness.  It’s no guarantee, but altitude sickness is really severe dehydration and it can make you feel miserable, or worse.  Not drinking enough, or jumping right into strenuous physical activity such as skiing or pickleball can cause you to sweat out precious fluids. You MUST drink more water if you’re going into high altitude!

Now, specific to pickleball, moving from playing outdoors to indoors will present many factors to adjust to.  Here are a few things you might face when moving indoors. 

  • Floor surface – There are many indoor surfaces including wood, tile, linoleum, concrete, tennis court surfaces, etc.  Each creates a different bounce of the ball, and also a different feel underfoot.  Some will allow your foot to slide, while others will be less forgiving.  Be cautious of your footing as you adjust.  (And always wear court shoes!)
  • Dead spots – if you’re playing on a wood or tile gymnasium floor, there’s bound to be dead spots.  These will cause the ball to bounce irregularly, often causing you to miss hit it or miss it altogether. 
  • Multiple sport lines – Indoor facilities are often multipurpose and have lines for several different sports.  Identify the color of the pickleball lines before you start playing, and be kind if someone makes a mistaken call, especially if the pickleball line is next to another sports line. 
  • Space available – Unlike outdoor pickleball, space is often a factor. Indoor courts are typically right next to each other with minimal space on the sides or baselines.  Caution must be taken when hitting a ball near a wall, or when running onto an adjacent court to hit a ball.  You may have let rules for serves that are not returnable because of a wall.
    • You also must be very cautious of balls from other courts rolling through your court. ALWAYS stop play when this happens to avoid serious injury.
  • Lighting and floor glare – You might find wearing a visor or ball cap indoors will help with glare, especially if there are windows at one or both ends of the courts.  Switch sides at 6 if the glare or lighting affects visibility.
  • Floor cleanliness – This is often a problem with indoor gymnasiums. Play might be scheduled after school, but before the janitors have cleaned the floors and they can be dusty and very slippery.  Perhaps place a damp towel at the baseline to clean your shoes between points.  Otherwise, take caution when moving/stopping quickly.
  • Type of net – indoor nets have improved over the years, but over time they all stretch out and begin to sag.  Balls that hit the tape of a saggy net don’t react the same as on a taut net.  Be aware of this and try to get the net as tight as possible. Be sure to measure them every time you put them up! And for heaven sake, take your turn with setting up and taking down the nets!!  Don’t be the last to arrive and the first to leave!!  People notice!
  • No wind – One of the best things about indoor pickleball is that there is no wind!  The ball will fly consistently, and be affected only by a player’s strike. 
  • Obstructions – Indoor, multipurpose facilities often have basketball hoops or other equipment on the walls and ceilings.  In some facilities, the ceilings are lower as well.  Just make sure everyone knows the club rules for hitting these obstructions in advance.

Everyone has their preference for playing indoors or outdoors. Both create their own challenges that players must adjust to and overcome. Enjoy the game, no matter where you’re playing it!

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6 thoughts on “Adjusting to your environment – altitude and venue changes”

  1. Went from indoor barn on a court to gymnasium and noticed three things… definitely the xtra lines were confusing, glare from the lights made it hard sometimes to see and my ball hit a dead spot once in front of my friend so I won the point. Does hitting the dead spot call for a redo or no?


    1. Hi Amy! Yes, any time you play in a multipurpose gymnasium you will find the extra lines confusing. Also, the color of the lines and the width can add confusion. However, dead spots are going to happen and do not allow for a re-do. Sorry!!


    1. Hi Linda!
      No, I play in Silverthorne and Breckenridge at their rec centers. I’m sorry to say I don’t know anything about Aspen pickleball, but there’s play in Vail too, I know!


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