Chalking-off a Temporary Pickleball Court

You’ve decided to use your new (or borrowed) portable pickleball net, and want to “chalk-off” your own court…somewhere. Perhaps there’s a little-used parking lot nearby, a school playground, or one of the city’s countless zombie tennis courts. All you really need is a flat surface with approximately 25 x 55 feet of space.

You’ll need about 30 minutes to chalk off your first court. If you mark the corners as indicated in the last step of these instructions, you’ll be able to chalk future courts in the same place in under ten minutes. [1]

The surface doesn’t have to be perfect. You’ll have fun even if there are a few cracks. Just give it a good sweep before you start.

Here are the basic dimensions of a pickleball court:

Normal pickleball courts use lines that are two inches wide. In this article, we’re mainly talking about using chalk lines that are fairly narrow. But if you decide to line the courts, say, with painter’s tape, put it inside the dimensions shown.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Two people, each with good sense of humour.
  • Railway or sidewalk chalk—available at hardware stores and toy stores.
  • Tape measure – at least 25 feet long. But the longer the better.
  • (Optional) Nail polish to discretely mark the points for future chalking
  • (Optional) A broomstick to hold the chalk and either rubber bands or tape to hold the chalk on the end of the broomstick.
  • (Optional) Painter’s tape.
  • (Optional) A  “chalk line” (also known as a “chalk snap line”) to mark long, straight lines instead of using the tape measure as a straightedge.  See

Detailed step-by-step instructions for chalking off a pickleball court.

  1. For the first sideline, use your chalk to draw a straight line 44-feet long. Mark the beginning and end points with a right angle pointing to where the opposite sideline will turn at each end.
  • Hint:  Use your tape measure as a straight edge. Or if you have a chalk snap line, you can use that to draw a long straight line—but you’ll need to go over it with sidewalk chalk if you do.

  • Hint:  If you have an existing painted line, say on a tennis court, you can simply use that instead of having to draw your first sideline. Alternatively, if you don’t have a painted line, use a wall or curb nearby as a reference line to measure an offset from. (If you have just a 25-foot tape measure, you’ll need multiple points no more than 25 feet apart at that offset in order to draw a straight line.)

  1. Draw cross marks at 15 feet, 22 feet and 29 feet from the beginning of the 44-foot line (i.e. from the leftmost endpoint of the 44-foot line).

  1. Measure 20 feet across from the beginning point of the 44-foot line, and draw an approximately 1-foot line representing the opposite sideline about where you think the corner of the opposite sideline will be.

The problem now is that you don’t know exactly where the opposite corner is, but you should be pretty close.  You can get an exact location by doing the following:

  1. Measure 25 feet diagonally from the 15-foot mark on the original sideline across to the 1-foot line you drew in step #3 above. Where it intersects with the one-foot line from step #3 is where the corner should be. Mark that corner line at a right angle to the new sideline, and pointing toward the original starting point.

  1. Repeat steps #3 and #4 at the opposite end of the pickleball court. But this time, measure 25 feet diagonally from the 29-foot mark on your original sideline.

Now you have one sideline and the four corners of the court marked.

  1. Use your tape measure as a straight edge to complete the second sideline. It’s easiest to draw an approximately 1-foot reference line 20 feet across from the 22-foot mark on the first sideline. Then mark from the corners to that 1-foot line, giving you a complete sideline.

  1. Draw cross marks on the second sideline at 15 feet, 22 feet and 29 feet from the beginning.

  1. Use your tape measure as a straight edge to draw the 20 foot baselines at each end of the court using the corners you drew earlier, and do the same at the 15 foot and 29 foot marks for the NVZ/kitchen line. (You don’t need a line all the way across at the centre of the court where the net will be).

  1. Put a mark 10 feet from the sideline on the baseline and on the NVZ/kitchen lines at the 15 foot and 29-foot marks. 

  1. Use your tape measure as a straight edge to draw the center line between the baseline and the kitchen line on each side of the court.

You’re done!

You can now set up your net and play Pickleball.

Although, there is one more bonus step:

  • A series of very small, very discrete marks at the following 14 points using a Sharpie or nail polish. This allows other players to use those as reference points so that they don’t have to measure anything the next time they want to chalk-off a Pickleball court at the same location. (Please be aware that this may not be legal to do in some places – like on tennis courts).

[1] While you’re not necessarily trying to create a tournament-quality court, do consider the orientation of the court. Ideally, courts oriented north/south are best.  The problem with an east/west orientation is that the sun is lowest in the sky when in the east or west.