Players can be fickle if your lights are at a trickle. You can make them spend a nickel if there’s luster on their pickleball court.

Key Takeaways:

  • Pickleball is gaining popularity nationally and globally
  • Its similarity to tennis means it can be played on the same court with some modifications
  • Low or excessive lighting negatively impacts players and the surrounding community
  • Optimal pickleball lighting can preserve wellbeing, boost player performance, and potentially increase visitor numbers

Everybody knows tennis, but all the coolest cardio cats know where the real buzz is: Pickleball! This American invention was first played in Washington in 1965 and is currently taking recreational sports by storm. There’s even an International Federation of Pickleball, so it’s all nice and official.

It’s easy to get things wrong involving this pastime, and one of the biggest mistakes is incorrect court lighting. Since pickleball is often played on a modified tennis court (you can fit four pickleball courts into one regulation tennis court), this guide will explain how to light a space successfully and attractively for both pursuits whether you already run a court or are thinking of constructing one.

The basic factors in lighting a pickleball court

The first consideration involves everyone not on the court. This is due to spill light – the amount of radiance that escapes a structure and is visible to the surrounding structures and roads. Excessive light spillover from a sports zone can become a source of annoyance and complaints from those living or driving nearby. This could lead to the court being closed or limited to daylight use, thus decreasing profits.

Next, it’s time to factor in how much glare is being generated inside and onto the court. This is as simple as players not wanting blazing bulbs in their faces. Controlling glare also helps to reduce or eliminate dark zones on various areas of the court that can be created by contrast with high glare. Remember: uniform court lighting is the goal!

How cut-offs can help court glare

Courts can install cut-off lighting (here’s the technical definition) that focuses the beam where you want it to go and doesn’t rise above the horizontal. This reduces court glare, prevents useless upward projection – thus decreasing spill – and protects the eyes since cut-off lamps must meet set luminosity limits.

The exact optimal angle for cut-off lights can vary between courts as can the number of “foot candles.” This is the term used for the amount of luminance necessary to illuminate the court’s square footage. Most courts will fall under the Class IV category for lighting requirements set by professional sports bodies and engineers.

This means the court is used purely for recreation and doesn’t require the near-surgical levels of light necessary in professional competition. The pros at Philips recommend lighting levels of between 300 and 500 lux for anything less than an official match.

More considerations when lighting a pickleball/tennis court

Lighting height and positioning are two more important elements. Court construction experts recommend that lighting should be pole-mounted and set 18 to 20 feet above the playing surface. Poles will require at least two 1500-watt lamps to create a comfortable and relaxed light level. More may be needed depending on the court’s square footage and whether it’s an indoor or outdoor space.

Lamps should be set back a minimum of 24 feet from the court along the centerline to help prevent dark shadows. Poles are projected to cost between $1500 and $2000 each, however, this figure can vary depending on the site, job scope, and contractor. Don’t forget that dim or excessive lighting is also a problem for any pickleball or tennis spectators.

Factor in where the fans will be when positioning lamps and selecting luminance strengths to avoid roasting spectator retinas. Keeping court lighting at optimal levels is also a particularly important age-based consideration since many pickleball enthusiasts are seniors increasing their chances of having poorer vision and suffering greater impact from glare and potential court injury under bad lighting.

An often-overlooked factor is the reflectivity level of hardware fixtures on lamps and other nearby objects. Be sure to ask your electrical team how this may alter the way your court lighting is dispersed. You’ll also want to check how existing physical structures in or near the play zone may cause unwanted shadows.

Some final factors in successful pickleball court lighting

Wider community responsibility is necessary since not only humans can suffer from poor court illumination. The unnecessary “skyglow” created by uncontrolled uplighting can be very harmful to everything from microbes up to the carbon balance of entire ecosystems. This is of utmost importance here in Florida as one of the nation’s most biodiverse states.

Then there’s the inevitable wear and tear. Installing a bright new lighting setup is a warm glow that won’t last forever. Luminosity gradually fades over time as lamps fizzle out and fixtures grow more fragile. This makes it essential to have all parts of the system regularly checked and maintained by an electrical team you can count on.

It only takes one lamp underperforming to alter an entire court’s lighting dynamic. Lastly, all that lighting will have to be expertly wired to meet all necessary local codes and regulations. That kind of peace of mind only comes from a team who knows and plays by the rules.

Speak to the electrical experts when lighting a pickleball/tennis court

Following our advice is much better than measuring light levels in how many pickleballs you’re retrieving from the parking lot. We can assist with upgrading an existing court’s lighting system or constructing a new one that looks inviting at any hour of the day. That way, you’re more likely to keep your current patrons happy and attract new players to your site.

The Universal Electrical Team has more than 20 years of experience in providing top-class electrical setups and maintenance. Just drop by our contact page if you have any questions or concerns about illumination and we’ll get right back to you!