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by Kelly Campbell

Interested in building a backyard pickleball court but don’t know where to start? TrackitHub interviewed the owner of Phoenix-based Rhino Sports and Cactus Courts to find out everything you need to know.

Picture this: No wait times. No sign-ups. No packing up pickleball equipment. Dinking lunch breaks & morning coffee matches. Hosting pickleball pool parties and private practices. Pickleball all day, every day. It’s possible – and becoming popular – for pickleball players everywhere to enjoy the game they love without even having to leave the comfort of their homes. Backyard pickleball courts are the latest trend in the pickleball community, and we can see why. Who wouldn’t want to bring their favorite sport home with them? 

According to USA Pickleball’s 2022 Fact Sheet, there are about 38,000 known pickleball courts for the 4.8 million pickleball players in the US. That’s a pretty big gap, and pickleball’s rapid 39% growth rate since 2019 is likely to blame for the inability to keep up with pickleball demand. Aside from the lack of public courts to choose from, the convenience and accessibility of personal backyard courts cannot be matched by public courts. 

Trackithub chatted with Gavin Hensing, owner of Arizona-based companies Rhino Sports and Cactus Courts. Hensing has over 20 years of experience building multi-purpose sports courts. Rhino Courts specialize in modular-tile sports courts, perfect for combating Arizona sun while providing joint relief. Rhino Sports surfaces can accommodate various sports – basketball, paddle tennis, badminton, volleyball, roller hockey, and pickleball. Cactus Courts, created to meet the growing demand for pickleball courts, use an acrylic surface built specifically for pickleball ball response and play.

Hensing says that his primary goal is to create fun backyard spaces for families to stay active and play sports. 

Read the rest of TrackitHub’s interview with Gavin Hensing, where he weighs the pros and cons, explains the costs, and details his experiences building backyard pickleball courts. 

What is the average cost of building a pickleball court?

This is a difficult question to answer as every job is unique. Before we ever do concrete, we have to assess the accessibility of the yard (if we have access to a bobcat or a concrete truck), grading, removal of the existing landscape, retaining walls, permits, and a host of other things. Once that is determined, the homeowner has to decide on the size and style of surfacing. Finally, they have options in terms of lighting, fencing, adding a basketball hoop, and customizing logos. As a general rule of thumb, a court starts around $25,000 and can go up significantly from there

How much space is needed to build a court?

The interior dimensions of a pickleball court are 20’ x 44’.  As a result, you want a minimum of 28’ x 50’ or around 1400 square feet.  The ideal size is 30’ x 60’.  If [customers] don’t have the space, we can modify the game lines to fit, but it will not be regulation gameplay.

What does the process for building a court look like? 

Generally, a court project takes 60-90 days. This can be longer depending on permitting, drainage plans, and other projects going on in the yard. Once we start, we usually take about a week to grade the court, form it, and pour it. Once the court is poured, it needs to cure out a minimum of 30 days before it can be painted to ensure it lasts.  In that time, we can add fencing, lights, and any other steel amenities the customer may want. 

How long does it typically take to put in a pickleball court? 

From the start, (assuming no delays) it should take around 60 days total. This is usually pushed back as we like to be the last ones in once the majority of other work is done back there – landscaping, pool building, turf, etc.

What are some obstacles you might run into when you begin building a court? 

One of the biggest obstacles can be unforeseen issues underground once we start moving dirt.  These can be electrical lines, water pipes, or tree roots. Depending on the area of town or if it’s a commercial project, a lot of times, we need permits and extensive plans before we can start.

Are there any requirements to “approve” a space before building begins? 

Generally, most areas have setbacks regarding how close you can come to the property line with the court.  If the court has lighting or fencing, this distance is usually farther back from the property line so that surrounding neighbor are not bothered.

What’s something that clients don’t expect when they start this process? 

Pickleball is still so new in terms of popularity that a lot of people don’t understand the area required. They think a 20’ x 44’ space is adequate when in reality it provides no room for out of bounds. We are constantly repairing or redoing courts for people who have had another contractor who doesn’t specialize in pickleball court building.  Other things [customers] need to consider are orientation of the court for sun exposure and fencing to prevent constantly chasing balls.

What are some pros and cons for building backyard pickleball courts?

I think the pros far outweigh any cons.  It provides an awesome environment for families to play sports together and stay active.  People of all ages can play and have fun.  The only cons are because we live in the desert the courts can get dirty and people tend to overwash them which can damage them over time.  Additionally, because of the intensity of the sun, the courts do require being repainted every 4-5 years to keep them looking new.

In the Arizona area and interested in building a backyard pickleball court? Reach out to Gavin at Cactus Courts or Rhino Sports to get started.