There is a lot of confusion and mis-information when it comes to regulation pickleball nets. I wrote this article to help clear some of this up and to also give you my thoughts on which is the best pickleball nets out there. I’m of course talking about portable pickleball nets.
While a lot of the pickleball nets out there right now are extremely similar, there are a few important differences that actually matter when it comes to play and regulation. I’ll also give you my top pick pickleball net, the one I use and play on to this day.
What Makes A Good Pickleball Net?
Pickleball nets have come a long way since the invention of the sport and are now cheap, portable and rock solid. A great quality pickleball net can be hand for well under $200 that will last you for decades. They play just as well if not better than permanent court nets and can pack up and fit in your trunk. Add some court tape and you can play anywhere you have a flat piece of concrete.
Regulation Size? It Matters…
The most important feature when looking for a pickleball net is one that’s often overlooked. It has to be regulation size. Now you may think that all pickleball nets are regulation size but it’s simply not the case. Most popular nets out there are close but most portable pickleball nets are 34″ high all across. This is within regulation but the problem is, if you are planning to play in a tournament, tournament size nets are 36″ at the ends and 34″ at the center, much like a tennis style net. Currently there is only one pickleball net on the planet that has this tournament style net system and it’s also my #1 pick.
If you are playing for fun, it’s not absolutely essential to play with a perfect regulation size net, the 34″ nets will do just fine, but it’s worth mentioning because that feature is often overlooked. There are also a few very good quality 34″ nets out there and I will talk about those as well in this article.
The Official USAPA Pickleball Net (My #1 Pick)
My current #1 pick for pickleball nets is the Official USAPA Pickleball Net. It’s funny because as of last year this wouldn’t have been my top pick, but in June of 2016 they completely redesigned the net and now it is, in my opionion, the best one out there.
The USAPA net is the ONLY net in existence that is 36″ at the sides and 34″ at the center, which is how pickleball tournament nets are. This is CRITICAL if you are a tournament player or just someone who wants to play the game correctly the way it’s meant to be played.
Aside from this important fact the USAPA net is extremely well built and is of the utmost quality. It’s also very easy to take up and down and the velcro adjustable tension system works very well to keep the net tight and playable.
Like the other two nets on this page it comes with a nice carry bag that keeps it stored away nicely and will fit into any car, even tiny ones.
Two Other Good Alternatives
When it comes to other nets the differences are very very small. I figured it would be best just to lump my other 2 picks into one paragraph as they are very similar and really come down to a color choice.
The 2 other nets I’m talking about are the Picklenet by Oncourt Offcourt and the ONIX Portable Pickleball net. Having used both extensively I can almost guarantee these are made at the exact same plant in China. Not to say they aren’t good quality, they absolutely are. Change the paint color and the branding and you have the same exact net underneath.
But remember….both these nets are 34″ all the way across which is not how it is in tournaments. And seeing as these nets all cost the same amount, I would still 100% recommend the USAPA pickleball net as the one you buy. I’m just throwing in alternatives here.
It’s also worth noting that the ONIX net comes with wheels on the carry bag for another carry option.
So all in all, it really comes down to looks. I will say that the black paint job on the ONIX net does tend to contrast more with green courts so you may consider that.
Nets To Avoid At All Costs
There are a few really bad nets floating around out there that should be avoided like the plague. One of which is the Franklin Quikset Net. Yes, it’s only $40 but it’s not a regulation size net, even though it says it is. It’s also built extremely flimsy and has a history of breakage.
Another net to avoid would be the Optima Pickleball net. This net is about half the size of a regulation net, not honestly sure why they even make nets like this. Make sure you aren’t buying nets like these ones. Always get a regulation sized pickleball net like my #1 pick and you’ll be on your way to a good time playing pickleball with a net that will last you for decades.
BONUS: The Best Pickleball Court Tape
While we’re talking about pickleball nets I thought it was worth mentioning my favorite court tape which is the American Educational Products Court Tape. It’s by far the most durable and long lasting tape for the money we have used and believe me we have tried them all.
Also, for convenience, here is a diagram of a proper pickleball court layout with measurements.