As most pickle ballers know, there are two types of nets used for pickleball: portable and permanent. Now, depending on your court situation, you may be used to one type over the other, which is excellent. This article will compare portable pickleball nets vs permanent pickleball nets and explain some of the pros and cons of each net system to help you decide which one works best for you and your game.
The majority of permanent nets are set up on permanent pickleball courts. These are courts lined and colored specifically for pickleball. They are typically anchored into the ground and the netting itself is also strapped to the net frame, in the center of the pickleball court.
Also Check Out: Best Portable Pickleball Nets
Portable pickleball nets are typically used on multi-use courts. These are the courts that share use with other sports, such as tennis, basketball, or basic tarmac-type courts. These portable nets must be assembled and set up on the court prior to each use and come with a metal “frame” that supports the net and keeps it in place on the court
Regulation Pickleball Net Dimensions
First let’s start with a snippet from the official rule book, specific to our beloved pickleball nets. That piece of equipment that can break our hearts or save our butts, when the ball hits the net.
According to USAPickleball.org, a pickleball net must be at least 20 feet wide, to span the court. The side-line net height must be 36 inches high and the net’s center must be 34 inches high. The net posts (which are considered out of bounds during play) must be 24 inches high to support the net.
Finally, as a reminder, it is a fault if a player touches the net post or any part of the net while pickleball is in play.
Helpful Resource: Pickleball Court Dimensions
Benefits Of Permanent Pickleball Nets
Permanent pickleball nets are sturdy and made to handle weather and constant usage. The nets themselves are usually made of 3mm polyethylene braids that can handle the normal wear and tear of a pickleball match. The nets themselves also have a metal cable that runs through the top of the net (the headband or “tape”).
This cable is attached to the posts and can be loosened or tighter using a crank and ratchet system located on the posts. The cable is attached to the crank and is used to adjust the height of the net. There is also a center pole or band to maintain the proper height at the middle of the net.
The posts that support the net are typically made of a 1/4 inch powder coated steel frame and are permanently mounted in the ground using anchor screws or dropped in temporarily, using PVC sleeves to hold the posts in place.
Permanent pickleball nets with powder coated steel frame posts are pricey, with a full set including net, posts, cables, and crank running at least $600.00. This price does not include installation, which will require the proper tools to drill holes in the court to mount the steel posts.
Permanent nets are very durable but can be damaged by severe use or weather. In the colder pickleball climes, the nets themselves can be removed and stored during non-pickleball playing weather to protect them from damage. The sturdy steel posts typically remain on the court, until the weather passes, waiting anxiously for the net to be rehung and play to resume.
Once the net is installed on the court, the only setup required is minor adjustments to the net height as time passes. This typically involves tightening or loosening the net cable, using the crank and rachet system, and the center pole or strap.
Permanent pickleball nets play consistently. The cable, crank, and rachet system keeps the high-quality net system in place and gives true court play – does not flex when the ball hits the net and keeps pickleball net courts shots consistent. These net’s polyethylene braids are a heavy-duty material that does not give or stretch over time and provides consistency for years.
Benefits Of Portable Pickleball Nets
Portable nets can be set up and used anywhere. They are lightweight, usually having a total weight of between 20 and 30 pounds. Typically they come with a storage bag and can be set up anywhere quickly in 5 – 10 minutes. These portable nets must be assembled prior to each use, with the users having to join the interlocking painted steel tubes together to set up the frame and then attach the net to that frame. The nets themselves are usually made of nylon line and must be attached to the net, measured, and adjusted every time they are set up.
These portable pickleball net systems are much less expensive than their permanent counterparts, typically running between $80.00 and $300.00 depending on the quality of components used in the net.
Note, there are higher-end “Portable Nets” that are assembled with the frame on wheels and can be used as semi-permanent nets. These nets are usually assembled once and wheeled on and off the court as needed. The frames and net materials are made much stronger than the “nets in a bag” and can run between $400.00 and $600.00. These are a much more durable version of the portable net, but the emphasis of these is more on durability than portability. They will not fit in a storage bag in the truck of your car.
Portable pickleball nets are made to be quickly set up and taken down. They are great to carry in the trunk of your car and pull out when you have a spare minute to hop on the pickleball court to thrash your opponent. The carrying bag makes them easy to transport and set up, having a regulation net at your beck and call. The portable nets are sturdy but will stretch and wear over time. Much more so than the more heavy-duty permanent nets.
As time goes by, you will notice the net material stretch and you will see some stretching or net sag. Also, the nets themselves are made of a lighter nylon material, so you will not see the consistent ball play from net courts that you will from a permanent net. Also, the steel posts can bend or be damaged over time as they are built for portability and setup and not permanence
Portable pickleball nets are easy to assemble. Their steel frames are easy to interlock and set up on any court. If you are a player that regularly played on a multi-use court, the portable net is your best bet for easy setup and takedown, allowing you to jump right into playing.
As mentioned above, portable nets are lighter and not as durable as permanent nets, but they are considered regulation pickleball nets for use in official tournaments and of course rec play. They will stretch over time and net court shots will not be consistent, meaning balls that hit the net may or may not play the same during points.
Drawbacks Of Permanent Pickleball Nets
Permanent nets require a one-time installation/setup of the powder coated steel posts, but once installed they are meant to be permanent and ready for pickleball play at the drop of the ball. Over time and inclement weather, the net material will degrade, but they are made structurally strong and made to last. These permanent nets are meant to be set up and left on the court for play. The steady frame and heavy-duty braids will stand up to time and the weather, as long as you have a permanent court to mount them on.
Drawbacks Of Portable Pickleball Nets
Portable nets are lightweight and easy to set up. Over time the nets will stretch and the metal posts may bend, causing the nets to lose their shape and allowing the netballs to play differently on each point. The net court will sag over time as you lose net tension and you will have to continually adjust the net’s tightness to keep it at regulation height. That being said, most portable nets are sturdy and with the proper care, will last for several years before they need to be replaced.
Which Net is Right For me?
So, portable pickleball nets vs permanent nets, which pickleball net system is the right one, you ask? Well, funny you should ask that, but since you’ve made it this far, let’s wrap it up and give you the full pickleball net 411. As indicated above both the portable and permanent nets are considered regulation nets for tournament play, as long as their dimensions match the USPA’s defined dimensions.
When we look at net systems, we want the net system you use to be durable and allow you to get on the court and start playing as soon as possible. You also want to see consistent net cord play and have a steady metal frame to support that play. So it must be sturdy and easy to adjust on the court you are playing. Most importantly, it has to be a regulation sized net, to allow you to drill and play, like any APA or PPA player.
Buy a Portable Net If:
The portable pickleball net system – including a carry bag, steel frame, and the net is a great system to own if you play on multi-use courts, allowing you to set up and get to playing your pickleball game quickly. So, your game-day pickleball gear will include the storage bag, pickleball paddles, and ball which will get you up and playing within 10 minutes.
Buy a Permanent Net If:
The permanent net system is the best setup for you if you have a permanent pickleball court and there is no need to take down the net after playing. It provides a sturdy pickleball net, that will last a long time and provide consistent play for years. These permanent nets include a very sturdy frame and all the features you need to install and play pickleball on your permanent court.
Do you have any thoughts or questions about pickleball net systems? Either portable nets systems or permanent ones? Please drop a comment on this article and let us know what you think!