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6 min read

7 Tips to Beat the Heat and Your Opponents on the Pickleball Court

Strategy & Technique Pickle4 Team 06-12-2024

Playing pickleball outdoors in the heat and bright sun can present some unique challenges, but with the right preparation and mindset, you can still enjoy the game while staying safe and comfortable. The sun can even provide some strategic benefits to help you dominate when the temperature rises. Here are some essential tips and considerations for pickleball players to make the most of their outdoor play during the heat of the day:

1. Hydration is Key

Staying hydrated can be a challenge when you are out on the pickleball courts all day, but is crucial when playing pickleball in hot weather. Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your games. Consider bringing a reusable water bottle and take regular sips to prevent dehydration. 

2. Use the Sun to Your Advantage

When positioned correctly, you can use the sun to your advantage on the pickleball court. Make your opponents look into the sun, which may cause your opponents to lose sight of the pickleball. The best way to make your opponents look into the sun is to hit an offensive lob or even a lob serve or lob return of serve. By consistently placing shots in the direction of the sun, you can create a tactical advantage and potentially force errors from your opponents. However, it’s essential to be mindful of the sun’s impact on your own vision and to adjust your positioning and strategy accordingly. Shadows can also be used strategically to make it difficult to see on the pickleball court. Beware of strange shadows on the pickleball court when playing in the bright sun. Watching the pickleball go in and out of shadows (including your own shadow) can make tracking the ball much more difficult. So, if shadows are hitting the court, put extra effort into watching and tracking the pickleball all the way to the point of contact. Understanding and utilizing the sun’s effect on visibility can give you an edge on the pickleball court. 

3. Beware of Temperature Affecting the Pickleball

Temperature on the court can also change the course of a pickleball game, as the temperature will affect the pickleball. Warm temperatures make the pickleball softer, which, in turn, affects its bounce and makes the pickleball travel slower with less pace. Warm temperatures are typically favorable for players that do not like pace or otherwise have strong defensive skills. When the ball becomes soft, players may find it more challenging to control their shots, leading to a shift in strategy during intense rallies. To reduce the effects of the heat and help to maintain the pickleballs’ firmness, you can consider storing the pickleballs in a cooler or shaded area when not in use.

4. Protect Your Skin

Exposure to the sun can be intense during outdoor pickleball games. Applying sunscreen, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, or wearing sunglasses can provide additional protection against the sun. Opt for lightweight and breathable clothing that wicks away sweat to keep you cool and comfortable on the court. Consider wearing moisture-wicking headbands or wristbands to manage sweat and prevent it from dripping into your eyes or affecting your grip on the pickleball paddle during play.

Five Tips for Avoiding Pickleball Injuries

5. Time Your Games Wisely

Schedule your pickleball games during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late afternoon, to avoid the peak heat and sun exposure. If playing in the midday sun is unavoidable, consider taking frequent breaks in the shade to cool down and rest. 

6. Be Mindful of Overexertion

Pay attention to your body’s signals and avoid overexertion in extreme heat. Conserve energy when possible by pacing yourself during games, taking regular breaks, and listening to your body’s need for rest and recovery. Open communication with your playing partners is crucial when playing pickleball in hot weather. Watch out for signs of heat exhaustion in yourself and others, such as dizziness, nausea, or excessive sweating, and take action if needed. Playing smart and staying aware of your physical limits is essential for preventing heat-related illnesses. 

7. Pick Ends Strategically

The effects of the sun may depend based on which end of the pickleball court you are on. Pay attention to which end of the pickleball court may be better suited for your game, taking into consideration the impact of the sun. If you are in a competitive play circumstance, consider what end of the court you would like to start on and which end of the court you would like to finish on. There are two schools of thought when determine which end of the court to play on:

  • Start Strong – Some pickleball players look to start strong, so they pick their preferred end. However, these players would then have to finish on the “more difficult” end—assuming that these players are switching ends to ensure that the elements are fair to all players (which is true of most competitive play formats).
  • Finish Strong – Some pickleball players look to finish strong—especially if they are playing in a best 2 out of 3 game format or a game to 15. This means that these players could potentially have a winning run on the “preferred” end.

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