How to Play Pickleball in Cold Winter Weather

Is it cold outside? Do you see snow and ice and fear your outdoor pickleball season is ending or done? Don’t worry. We have great tips for you to keep playing pickleball outside in cold weather! 

Playing pickleball outdoors through the cold weather season is not for the unprepared. So let’s get prepared! We will review the general points to consider when playing outdoor pickleball in the winter. Depending on whether winter in your area is cold or c-c-c-c-c-old, you may have to adjust our advice to suit your exact winter conditions. 

We’ll cover the following:

Say goodbye to wait times for the courts

If you play pickleball in an area where pickleball courts are in short supply, the colder fall and winter months will surely reduce courts’ waiting time. After all, those “less extreme” picklers will take a break or move indoors.

Warm clothing for pickleball

If you’re playing outdoor pickleball in the winter, you want to avoid the cold interrupting you after just one game. Our top advice: wear layers to stay warm! When exercising in winter, you might feel cold when you start but warm up as you play. Wearing layers will give you more control over maintaining your comfort.

Stick with activewear long-sleeve shirts and leggings to help wick away sweat and prevent chafing. Add a vest to keep your core warm while allowing maximum movement. A pair of comfortable sweatpants can keep your legs warm.

A beanie or some other hat will prevent your body from losing too much heat through your head. You could also wear a headband or ear muffs.

If it’s freezing, have a jacket on hand to throw on after you play! Wear common sense winter clothing that is comfortable, fits well, and allows movement.

Pickleball gloves for winter

In some areas of the country, you can play cold weather pickleball without a pair of gloves. However, if it snows in the winter, you’ll need gloves. Look for thinner gloves that can still keep your hands warm. Thinner or lighter gloves will allow you to feel the paddle’s feedback when you make contact. Check that the outer surface of your gloves lets you properly grip your paddle without slipping. If your hand is slipping on the paddle, try to find different gloves or try different grip tape.

Or, we recently discovered the Hot Glove Mitt on Amazon, which goes over your hand and the handle so you can hold the paddle directly. (When was this thing invented? How did we just learn about it now?)

Pickleball shoes for winter

You don’t necessarily need different shoes for winter pickleball but rather to ensure your shoes are in good shape. It’s cold out there, which means surfaces can be wet or more icy and slippery. How’s the tread of your shoe? Is it still grippy enough on the court? You don’t want a slick shoe that causes a trip and fall.

Furthermore, how is the fit of your shoe? Is it snug and comfortable? A sprained ankle is a prevalent injury in pickleball, and cold weather exercise can exacerbate things. Similar to winter clothing for pickleball, shoe comfort is essential!

Finally, ensure your shoe and sock combination keeps your feet dry and warm without blisters. 

Socks for playing pickleball in the cold

Wool is an excellent material overall for winter! Try using wool socks for winter pickleball (and exercise). As many readers who are hikers, skiers, and snowboarders tell us, wool socks are a perfect combination of warmth and sweat-wicking. 

Paddles for cold weather

There’s no way to get around materials science: extreme cold weather is terrible for pickleball paddles and pickleballs because they are (mostly) made of plastic. 

Pickleball paddle cores and faces can crack because extreme cold temperatures will make them brittle. Unfortunately, we only have a little advice here. You could try a thicker paddle with a non-polymer core (aluminum) or swap for a heavier wooden paddle, but neither is a much better solution. Our best suggestion? Don’t use your favorite pickleball paddle. Keep it comfortably at home and break it out again for warmer weather).

Pickleballs for cold weather

What are the best pickleballs for cold weather?

It depends! Cold weather makes pickleballs more brittle and likely to crack, so you want balls that are more durable and have better welding so that they last longer. Read on to learn about our picks for best pickleballs for cold weather and tips on how to care for the balls.

Choosing the right pickleballs for winter

Trying to figure out the best pickleballs for winter or cold weather? Since you’re playing outside, when it comes to pickleballs, we recommend sticking with outdoor pickleballs. Winter can also be extra windy, and the smaller holes and heavy weight will help the ball counteract the wind. You can also check ball specifications to find ones better suited for playing in the cold.

On the other hand, indoor pickleballs are a little softer and flex more. In some players’ experiences, indoor balls are less likely to crack or break in cold weather. 

Remember pickleball colors! If you’re playing in the snowy outdoors, it’ll be helpful to get a brightly colored ball for better visibility to avoid white or yellow balls on white snow.

Here are our picks for the best pickleballs for cold weather:

  1. Onix Fuse G2 Outdoor Pickleball: Our top pick due to it’s extremely high durability. The Fuse G2’s durability and great welding makes it especially good for cold weather pickleball. The Fuse G2 also has a heavier weight than many outdoor pickleballs, which works well in the windier, winter months. We also like that you can choose between neon-green (may be better in the winter) and yellow.
  2. Wilson Tru 32 Pro Outdoor Pickleball: We like the awesome red color of the balls because it contrasts so well with the winter background, especially if it’s snowy or there’s a lot of glare outside.
  3. Penn 40 Outdoor Pickleball: The Penn 40 is typically more expensive than the Fuse G2 and the Tru 32, but is also very durable. This pickleball is a little softer, and the extra flex makes it respond better and makes it less likely to crack.

Choosing the right ball for your winter weather will depend on your budget, play style, and cold temperatures. Regardless of which pickleballs you choose, you can always extend their winter play with the right care.

Winter pickleball care

The winter can be harsh on plastic pickleballs. Here are some tips on how to care for your pickleballs to extend their winter playtime:

  1. Wipe the balls after the game or practice. This helps get rid of water, which could turn into ice and damage the pickleballs.
  2. Store the balls in a relatively cold temperature. Your garage, trunk, or inside your car are good places for storing pickleballs in the winter. Doing this helps avoid sudden changes in temperatures, which can expand and contract the plastic and make your pickleballs more likely to crack.
  3. Don’t expect the balls to last forever in the winter. Readers have said on average pickleballs last about 5-15 games in the winter, depending on how cold it is, the ball quality, and care.

Avoid the ice

Beware of injuries when playing pickleball in the cold! Warm up slowly before starting your pickleball game. Always put on a jacket after you finish playing. 

You can set yourself up to play pickleball throughout the cold fall and winter months with the right set of clothes, socks, shoes, paddles, and balls. But one thing to always be wary of is ice. If the court or surrounding area is icy, we highly recommend playing on a different set of courts, indoors, or another day. Icy courts can easily lead to injury! 

If the conditions aren’t right outside, consider finding a good indoor court to play and practice on.

Setting up a portable court in your backyard can also help you sneak in more practice time and games, especially during the warm spurts in winter. Check out our 7 Best Portable Pickleball Nets.

Sun protection in the winter

Even though it’s cold outside, the sun is just as intense! (If there’s snow around, the sun is even stronger on your skin due to the reflection.) Remember to put sunscreen on your face (or consider a visor or hat too). Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you can’t get sunburned.

In addition to skin protection, stay hydrated! Even though it feels cold, the sun and exertion will still dehydrate you. So keep your water intake going! Bring a good, insulated water bottle and stay hydrated.

Lastly, use a pair of polarized sunglasses. In the winter the sun tends to be lower in the sky, which can cause more glare. Sunglasses provide UV protection for your eyes. And a good pair of well-fitted, sports sunglasses will help you see the ball better.

Conclusion

In many places, outdoor pickleball courts are closed for winter, so check the hours and availability first. If you’re in a snow region, you should shovel the court before you start playing. 

Most importantly, watch out for black ice on the court!¬†Or, better yet avoid the ice all together. Sometimes, outdoor conditions are just not conducive to safe and fun pickleball. If so, it’s a great chance to try out a local indoor pickleball court!

Crazy and not recommended: Unless you want to play pickleball on ice?

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