Most people in colder weather climates struggle with when to first turn on the heat as the temperature starts to drop in the Fall. Inflation may be down (?), but high heating costs this Fall saw many furnaces sit idle until past Thanksgiving.
In a pickleball family, even with one fanatic, the focus is more about planning the number of pickleball games that can be played outdoors before the chance of frostbite sets in. And even then, they’ll put on more layers.
Let us lift the veil for you…
The thrill of pickleball under the open, wintry sky, where each serve cuts through the cold air and the game heats up even as temperatures drop is a passion for many players and they can’t wait for the temps to drop.
Winter transforms outdoor pickleball courts into a playground for the dedicated and adventurous, challenging players with a brisk breeze and a blanket of snow. It’s more than just a game; it’s an exhilarating battle against the elements. This is pickleball at its most daring and invigorating.
There are even the die-hard winter / pickleball extremists who relish the thought of playing on a court that’s either literally on the ice or one they just shoveled off at the local high school.
No matter the conditions, playing outdoor pickleball is somewhat different than playing indoor pickleball.
Winter Pickleball Differences
Here’s best part…
None of these s0 called challenges will deter folks from playing outdoor winter pickleball. There’s a work around to all of these.
Let’s talk about how to get started and have some fun creating memories.
The gear you need for winter pickleball: balls, paddles, and court
Let’s assume, and it’s not a stretch, that all outdoor pickleball courts and facilities will be closed for the winter and you will need to use your own pickleball balls and paddles.
Rest assured, you rec. department is not offering pickleball paddles and balls over the winter even if they did during the warmer temps – you’re on your own here.
Outdoor pickleball paddle
Whether you are brand new or have some pickleball experience, one of the most common questions is “what is the best pickleball paddle?“
Unfortunately, this question is more complicated than a quick answer because it really depends on you, the pickleball player! All pickleball players have distinct strengths, weaknesses, and preferences when it comes to their paddle.
In colder climates, the performance of your pickleball paddle remains reliably high, regardless of its material. Graphite, carbon fiber, fiberglass, or various composite materials, all maintain their integrity and playability even as temperatures plunge below 40 degrees. However, for the few enthusiasts who prefer wooden paddles, it’s advisable to switch to alternative materials during the colder months, as wood may not fare as well in such conditions.
As far as an outdoor winter pickleball paddle you can most absolutely use your existing one or trade up to the season for some flair. Beside you’ll want something to stand out in the pics you’ll be taking and sending along for “likes”.
If you have the resources, it would be fun to have a paddle for the winter games.
Keep your paddle in good condition especially in the fall months leading up to the more cold weather. Do not leave your paddle outside (e.g., in the car, unheated garage, etc.) and the look at your grip for signs of damage and brittleness from cold weather play. There are too many pieces of pickleball equipment and treating your paddle like a good friend will make sure the “relationship” lasts a long time!
The Onix Graphite Z5: The Ultimate Beginner’s Paddle
The world of pickleball paddles is vast and varied, with myriad options available for every skill level. However, for those dipping their toes into the sport and playing winter pickleball, finding the ideal paddle can be a daunting task. Enter the Onix Graphite Z5, a game-changer in the realm of beginner paddles. Let’s dive deep into what makes this paddle a top choice.
Features of the Onix Graphite Z5
- Graphite Face: Designed to provide both power and finesse.
- Weight: A lightweight paddle, ranging between 7.5oz and 8.2oz.
- Sweet Spot: Generously wide, accommodating those imperfect shots.
- User Level: Perfect for beginners but also suitable for advanced players.
Note: The sweet spot is a term used in sports to describe the point on the paddle (or racket) where the shot feels best. With a wide sweet spot, the Z5 ensures players get a solid hit more frequently even if much lower temperatures.
The Pros and Cons
To give you a clearer understanding of the Onix Graphite Z5’s strengths and potential areas for improvement, we’ve compiled a handy table:
The Onix Graphite Z5 stands tall as a top contender for those looking for a winter pickleball paddle. Its unique combination of features ensures that players can focus on improving their game, rather than struggling with their equipment in the elements.
Outdoor pickleball balls for the winter cold
As you may know, pickleballs are plastic. Durable plastic, but plastic.
Pickleball balls can crack in the cold outdoors and usage on rough courts. The outdoor pickleball is specially designed with 40 small holes that make its tolerance threshold higher in a cold climate. They are more durable than indoor balls.
How and why pickleball balls crack in the cold
Pickleball balls become brittle and crack in the cold outdoors. Other than the material and durability of the ball, the court surface can also lead to cracks. As the balls gets whacked around for hours on a cold asphalt pickleball court, the ball can develop cracks – and even split.
You will want to get some outdoor pickleballs that’ll resist harsh weather conditions. You’ll want pickleball balls made for outdoor play (as opposed to indoor balls); these will have smaller holes and softer surfaces.
The best pickleballs for cold weather
Outdoor balls are made of durable, long-lasting plastic that is made to resist cracking. Think of all the bounces these balls are going to take on the hard, freezing court – which is most likely cement! You want to make sure your outdoor pickleball balls can take a beating.
The smaller holes on the ball help to create real flight, naturally minimizing wind interference so you can concentrate on your game rather than watching the ball take some unplanned flight path.
The heavier weight the more control you will have of the ball on very windy days.
We highly recommended the ONIX Fuse G2 (with a 5-star rating) as it is three times as durable as the original Fuse making it perfect for cold weather pickleball. They respond consistently and are made with a proprietary seam welding, so they resist splitting and cracking.
Because the ONIX Fuse G2 is a little heavier compared to other outdoor pickleballs it allows the ball to stand up to extreme cold weather conditions and temperatures. Most pickleballs are comprised of two pieces of plastic that are welded (or fused) together – sometimes very sloppily. The Fuse G2 has exceptional welding, making it extremely durable and helps resist splitting in cold weather play.
And on top of all that, this heavier and superbly constructed ball takes the hits on the cold weather courts which can be brutal on lower quality pickleballs.
Life span and cost of outdoor pickleballs
It would be foolish to say make sure you take care of your outdoor pickleball, and they will last longer. Wouldn’t anything?
Of course, pickleballs can last longer without cracking if they are properly played on the court. But are you going to play a different way to extend the life of your pickleball balls?
The balls become less bouncy after some months, and cracks start to develop on them. They are affected by temperature and crack in winters. The rough and dry conditions in winter make the court and environmental conditions harsh, and balls tend to more cracking.
The average (?) outdoor pickleball ball can last ten cold weather games tops before showing any signs of cracking or splitting.
Do’s and don’ts of winter pickleball ball care
Keep in mind:
The color of the pickleball ball will matter more than ever as you play outside in the cold. Think of a white ball against a snowy background – not!
Choose a color that will suit the court color, your opponents’ winter clothing and your surroundings.
How to dress for success: layers, hats, and gloves
If your enthusiasm for pickleball conflicts with the climate’s low temperatures, there are a variety of ways to help you tolerate the cold. Wearing layers of clothing is your best bet to stay warm and comfortable. Consider a thermal undershirt, t-shirt, sweater, long sleeve shirt and jacket for a layered look. Don’t forget about gloves and hats!
There is something relatively new that helps with cold fingers and hands designed for pickleball players: it’s called a Hot Glove Mitt. It fits better than a glove because it keeps your hand directly on the handle so you don’t lose any feel – which is rather important we think!
This new glove (mitten?) fits around your hand and pickleball paddle handle without impeding your play. Gloves are too slippery and make it difficult to hold the paddle – this allows you to hold the handle nice and secure (and warm) and protects against the cold and wind. May help with your pickleball tailgating as you prep for the outdoor games, too.
Cold weather pickleball injuries
As the weather gets colder in the winter months and you pay more games outdoors, it’s important to take extra care to avoid cold weather injuries while playing pickleball. Be sure to warm up before playing and stretch afterwards. It’s also important to stay hydrated throughout the game.
Perhaps the number one injury in winter outdoor pickleball is a sprained ankle. Just be careful but as you’re in the game it can be tough to watch every step you take.
Stretching out will help to minimize injury but playing on a frozen pickleball court, that may have some black ice on it, is asking for trouble. A high sprain ankle will having you sitting out games until spring training!