Raining outside but still want to play some pickleball? Or perhaps you’re hosting a tournament and wondering if playing under the rain is against the rules of the sport?
Playing any kind of sport in the rain can be hazardous, and pickleball is no exception. The court is much more slippery when wet, increasing the risk of injury. The sudden dip in temperature from being soaked in the rain can also make some people sick after a couple of hours.
There are a bunch more reasons why playing pickleball in the rain isn’t a good idea. Here’s all of them.
Can You Play Pickleball in The Rain?
Technically speaking, no. You can’t play pickleball in the rain.
It’s against official tournament rules to play pickleball while it’s raining, especially if the rain and winds are strong. A match may be suspended due to inclement weather, and the tournament director has to make the decision to postpone or reschedule the match in order to ensure fair play and safety for everyone involved.
Often, matches are relocated to an indoor court or an alternate location that is not affected by the weather. The safety of the players is always the top priority in any sports tournament, pickleball included.
Why Can’t You Play Pickleball in The Rain?
It isn’t advisable to play pickleball in the rain, even if you’re close to the match point and only need to play for a few more minutes. Outside of possibly slipping and increasing the risk of injury, every minute you spend under the rain also increases the possible damage the water can do to your paddles.
Here are four compelling reasons why you shouldn’t play pickleball in the rain.
Waterlogged and Damaged Pickleball Paddles
If water gets inside a paddle, it can cause the core material to expand and weaken, which can compromise the paddle’s integrity and affect its performance. Worse, a waterlogged paddle may develop mold or mildew over time, both of which pose health risks.
Some paddles have a foam core, which is particularly susceptible to water damage. Once the foam becomes saturated with water, it becomes heavy and mushy, and more difficult to maneuver. This adversely affects the paddle’s power and control, making it harder for a player to hit the ball with precision.
Paddles that are made of wood or have wooden cores are particularly vulnerable to permanent damage because wood is a porous material that can absorb moisture. Once water seeps into a wooden paddle’s interior, it can cause it to warp or crack over time. This type of damage is irreparable.
Rain Affects the Bounce of The Ball
The pickleballs themselves also become heavier, softer, and more pliable when they’re waterlogged.
Misshapen balls tend to wobble or fly differently in the air. This makes it harder for players to anticipate the ball’s trajectory and increases the likelihood of unexpected bounces and errors. Not only that, but if the outer layer of the ball is saturated with water, it will soften and lose its bounce.
In some cases, waterlogged balls even break open or split, becoming completely unusable.
Reduced Surface Friction of The Court
Rain can also affect the surface friction of the court, further impacting the ball’s performance. A wet court will cause the ball to skid and slide over the surface. This can be particularly challenging for players who rely on spin shots and other advanced techniques since they will be less able to hit with precision.
If you must play in wet conditions, remember to use appropriate gear and equipment, and be cautious while playing. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Risk of Slipping
Pickleball courts are usually covered with synthetic materials like acrolytex and polyurethane. These surfaces are smooth and perfect for bounce under normal conditions, but when wet become extremely slippery and hazardous to play on. The reduced friction can cause players to lose their footing, making it difficult for them to move quickly or change direction.
If a pickleball court is not properly maintained, rainwater can also seep into cracks and crevices in the court surface. The court will gradually deteriorate and become rough or uneven. For a sport like a pickleball that requires a smooth surface to play on, this poses its own risks and dangers.
Can I Play Pickleball After It Just Rained?
There’s really nothing stopping you from playing pickleball after a bout of rain, just don’t do it immediately after. To avoid injuries and ensure a more enjoyable game, make sure that the pickleball court is dry enough or at least not puddled with rainwater. You should also inspect the court for any damages or potential hazards like stones or leaves that can cause slippage.
Another precaution to ensure your safety is to wear appropriate footwear with good traction and to take your time moving around the court. Be careful not to make sudden movements especially when changing direction, as these actions can be more difficult on a wet court.
Pro Tip: Use a Leaf Blower to Dry a Wet Pickleball Court
A leaf blower can be an effective tool for drying a wet pickleball court and removing small debris from its surface, thus preventing players from slipping and falling, and damaging their equipment.
Start by sweeping away or picking up any large debris, such as clumps of leaves or twigs. Once the surface is clear of debris, use the leaf blower to blow air across the surface of the court. The high-velocity air from the leaf blower will help to evaporate any remaining moisture on the surface, leaving it dry and safe for play.
Be careful when using a leaf blower on a pickleball court. Avoid blowing air directly at other players or nearby objects. It is also important to use a leaf blower that is appropriate for use on a sports court, as some types of leaf blowers may be too powerful and can cause damage to the court surface.
How Can I Play Pickleball in The Rain?
We strongly discourage anyone from playing pickleball in the rain. But if you’re really insistent on doing so, then here are some tips you can follow to help you play more safely.
First off, it’s better to walk rather than run. Brisk walking might even be safer and better than running or sprinting if you insist on playing pickleball on a wet court. This also ties in with the second way to play pickleball in the rain, which is to:
Not Be Competitive
This isn’t the time to be competitive. Playing in the rain provides severe handicaps in terms of player performance and pickleball consistency. The ball, influenced by the rain, will not bounce correctly.
Have a Proper Grip Attachment on Your Paddle
Lastly, you should have a proper grip attachment on your paddle. A proper grip ensures that your paddle doesn’t go flying around every time you try a forehand or backhand stroke. Not only is this safer for your competitors, who are on the other side of your paddle, but it’s also safer for your paddle because a good knock to the ground could damage the edging.