There’s an old adage “Clothes make the man, accessories make the gentleman.” I’ll borrow and adapt that to “Equipment makes the pickleball player, accessories make the pickleball player better!” 😉
In this article, we will go over the three key accessories that need to be in your pickleball bag ASAP.
While practice may not make perfect, it can make you a better player. Getting on the court to practice outside of your competitive games can pay huge dividends.
Using targets (like cones) is a great way to improve your accuracy. These can be used for a number of drills (like your serve or third shot drop).
Cones are especially good for this as they usually have bright distinctive coloring and don’t move easily under normal conditions.
Don’t have someone to practice with? No problem. A ball machine is a great way to get consistent feeds and will stay on the court with you as long as you want!
Ball machines can vary in price considerable and will typically be differentiated by:
- ball capacity
- remote control
- battery life
- ability to add spin
- ability to vary directions
- A/C adapter
- and more…
When you go out to practice, you don’t want to be fetching balls every minute or two. When you have more than about 10 pickle balls, it’s convenient to have a ball hopper to collect them on the court and carry them to and from the court.
These will vary based on the materials (durability) as well as ball capacity. Bigger is good, but remember that you’ll be sacrificing portability. Find a happy medium that works for you.
If you don’t have access to dedicated pickleball courts, you can always make your own. Be sure to check out our comprehensive article on building a temporary court here. Once built, you can use the court for drilling as well as playing singles and doubles games.
At a minimum, you’ll want to get a temporary net and some tape (or chalk) to mark the boundaries of the court.
Considerations with a temporary net include portability/weight as well as how fast it sets up to play and breaks down when you’re done. You’ll want to spend as much time as possible drilling and/or playing and not getting your net setup.
Typically, the more sturdy, lightweight, and easy to setup nets will also be the most expensive. Expect to pay from $50 to over $200 depending on those factors.
Tape vs. chalk
Chalk is the least expensive option here but can fade and even be removed entirely from the court in spots that are heavily used or become wet (water, sweat,…). Tape is a more reliable option and can be bought in bulk if you’re using it often. It’s also quicker to remove if you’re setting up your temporary court on a surface dedicated to tennis or basketball. Tape is also your best/only option if you’re setting up indoors on a gym surface (like for basketball or volleyball).
Paddle accessories can help improve your game or improve your pickleball ‘quality of life’ between games.
Improved game playability
Once you’ve been playing for while, you may find that small ‘tweaks’ you make with your paddle can result in improved gameplay and more wins. These accessories can be both with the paddle as well as your contact with the paddle.
Adjusting the weight (and balance) of your paddle is something you can (and should) experiment with after you’ve been playing for a couple of months. This can be accomplished with the strategic placement of lead tape on your paddle. Benefits of this are discussed more in detail here.
Paddle grip can also improve your game. You can modify this by changing the paddle grip (or adding an overwrap) as well as by wearing a glove on your paddle hand.
Improved comfort and quality of life
While accessories here don’t necessarily improve your winning percentage, they do add convenience (and can improve your mindset). Pickleball bags belong in this category and may be more of a necessity than an accessory if you have a lot of gear.
Bags tend to vary based on size. You can get a bag that will hold a paddle or two and little else up to one that holds multiple paddles, shoes, a change of clothes and more. Start small and grow from there as you need.
Pickleball originated from a few ping pong paddles, a badminton court, a plastic ball, and a bored family. No matter what you have at your side, the most important accessories are a fun attitude and a willingness to learn.
If you’d like more information on how to get started, you can check out our comprehensive Pickleball Beginner’s Guide.