Playing Pickleball Under the Influence of Weather

Conditions that can be game-changing on the court

Pickleball Players Under the Influence of Weather  graphic by The Pickleball Broadcast

Playing Pickleball Under the Influence of Weather

Conditions that can be game-changing on the court

One advantage to playing pickleball indoors is the predictable environment. Indoor pickleball has no blinding sun, ever-changing wind conditions with sudden gusts and certainly no rain, hail, snow or ice. Yes, players are some facilities do wear visors for the lighting and there could be glare on the flooring, but again that's predictable thus manageable.

Blinded by the Light

When there's not a cloud in the sky and the sun is shining bright, conditions can be brutal on the court. Depending on when and where you play outdoors, you might need several pairs of sunglasses including clear eye protection.

For long tournament days, I prefer Oakley sunglasses with interchangeable lenses so I can keep adjusting as the day goes on. And, need to have clear protective safety glasses available for when the sun finally goes down - after the excruciating glare as the sun sets. Also, doesn't hurt to have both a visor and a baseball cap in the bag as well.

Let's talk about lobbing. Lobbing is a great tool to have in your toolbox. Sometimes, it needs to be used defensively and sometimes it's advantageous to put up an offensive lob when playing at the net to push your opponents back.

One thing, however, that tends to annoy players the most during sunny conditions is the excessive lobber.

During tournaments, I believe you need to bring all of your strategies and resources (weapons) to the table. But it is considered to be poor etiquette and frowned upon when players lob during rec play; especially under these conditions:

  • lobbing to the team facing the sun

  • lobbing excessively...just because

  • lobbing as the default both offensively and defensively because the player hasn't developed a wide variety of other useful shots and strategies

  • lobbing to those with mobility issues or the elderly (especially when multiple requests have been made by the local pickleball community to avoid lobbing to certain people)

Interestingly, many players will do whatever they can to avoid playing with AND against excessive or inappropriate lobbers.

Aside from avoiding games altogether with excessive lobbers, many players have adopted a simple strategy: direct as many balls as possible to the excessive lobber's partner. Others will deliver very short shorts to the excessive mid-court/baseline lobber to bring them in. Regardless of how you choose to handle the excessively lobbing opponent, you and your partner will want to form a plan for responding to lobs.

When the Wind Blows

Some players like to play indoors simply to avoid playing in the wind. Some players live in places where the wind is a normal occurrence. Regardless of whether they're used to windy conditions or not, tournament players have to feel comfortable playing in it to perform well on tournament day, as you never know...

Recently, our league team made it to the state semi-finals. Unfortunately, the winds were blowing at a steady 15mph, with gusts over 20mph, and getting worse by the minute. For the first time, I found myself standing 2-3 feet in the court to receive serves! And, then had to hit low and soft so returns wouldn't go out... What a day!

When it's windy, we may need to make modifications to our game. And, if there's a windsock around, check it frequently.

A few things we may need to adjust in our pickleball game during windy conditions include:

  • focus on our footwork and be prepared to make many small adjustments as we track the ball

  • track the ball as it could suddenly curve or drop

  • hit softer, aim lower and use topspin when hitting with the wind

  • hit harder and maybe aim a little higher when hitting against the wind

  • adjust where we stand to serve or receive and adjust when changing ends of the court

Humidity Doesn't Just Affect The Hair

Humidity can also be a challenge on game day.

There are several things you can do to ensure that your paddle stays in your hand. Here's what some players do:

  • Regularly re-grip their paddle handle.

  • Put an infant sock on their paddle handle.

  • Put tacky grip on their hands (sticky pad or spray).

  • Wear a glove or two. Although only one is needed, many players feel "unbalanced" with just one glove. There are many glove styles available so you'll have to experiment to find the ones for you.

I personally prefer thin UPF 50+ Coolibar gloves. You can use your electronic devices with them and they have silicone on the palm and fingers for added grip.

Mindset Matters...

Now that you're aware of court conditions that require adjustments in how you play, where you stand and what you do, getting your mind on board will be important. You'll want to remember that, whether the conditions are favorable or not, you have the ability to play well.