The most notable differences between pickleball and tennis is the equipment used, size of the court, and rules to make each game competitive.
Tennis Racquets vs. Pickleball Paddles
A pickleball paddle’s size, shape, and materials differ from a tennis racquet.
- A tennis racket consists of a racquet with a round frame intersected by tight nylon or synthetic strings in a criss-cross pattern.
- The wood handle is typically overlaid with synthetic material and bound by grip tape to allow for a good grip on the racket.
- Common materials used in tennis rackets include graphite and graphite composites such as kevlar and titanium, allowing the racquet to be light, strong, and flexible.
- A standard tennis racquet measures 27 inches long. The racquet has a maximum width of 12.5 inches. The hitting surface has a maximum length of 15.5 inches with an allowable width of 11.5 inches.
- A pickleball paddle is closer to a ping pong paddle than a tennis racquet. Pickleball paddles are larger than ping pong paddles and smaller than tennis racquets.
- Pickleball paddles have a more rectangular shape with rounded corners.
- Pickleball paddles can be made from wood, graphite, or composite materials. Some pricier pickleball paddles have a composite core made from aluminum, polymer, or Nomex and either a composite or graphite face.
- Most pickleball paddles have an edge guard to protect the edges of the paddle, which can be removed and replaced, so the paddle doesn’t get damaged over time.
- A standard pickleball paddle measures 16 inches in length and is 8 inches wide.
Pickleball Ball vs. Tennis Ball Differences
Tennis balls are meant to be lightweight and to fly fast and far while having excellent bounce and the ability to spin when struck with a tennis racquet.
Pickleball balls are designed to have just a bit of bounce. While a bounce is still desired, an excessive bounce on a smaller court would ruin the chance for volleying, which is part of the fun of the sport.
Pickleball players often will rally by hitting the pickleball back and forth from racquet to racquet without the ball hitting the court. This is desired in gameplay, and the ball design is tailored to this style of play.
Tennis Ball Characteristics
- Tennis balls are made to be as bouncy as possible and are stored and shipped in pressurized cans made to keep them bouncy before use
- Competition tennis balls and most standard balls are fluorescent yellows
- A tennis ball is made of a rubber compound with an outer covering of fiber felt, which gives it better aerodynamic properties
- Tennis balls are hollow in the middle and filled with air to keep them light
- The mass of a tennis ball should be between 1.98 and 2.1 ounces
- A tennis ball should measure between 2.57 and 2.7 inches.
Pickleball Ball Characteristics
- A pickleball ball is a plastic ball made of lightweight plastic with holes throughout
- Pickleball balls are made to bounce, but not as much as tennis balls
- Indoor and outdoor pickleball balls are different since they are exposed to different wind conditions
- Indoor pickleball balls have 26 holes and weigh 0.8 ounces, and are meant to be played on a smoother surface
- Outdoor pickleball balls have 40 holes and weigh 0.9 ounces, and are meant to be played on asphalt or concrete
- Professionals tend to prefer to play with outdoor pickleball because the extra weight allows for a harder hit, while indoor pickleball balls allow for more extensive volleying and lighter hits
Pickleball Courts vs. Tennis Courts
A pickleball and a tennis court look similar at first glance, but there are more differences than the court size.
Pickleball court dimensions are significantly smaller than tennis court dimensions.
- The standard size of a pickleball court is 44 feet long by 20 feet wide for both singles and doubles play.
- A tennis court is 78 feet long, and the width varies. If playing Singles, the width is 27 feet wide, and for Doubles, it’s 36 feet wide.
A Pickleball court net height is also shorter than a Tennis net.
- Pickleball nets are 36 inches at the net posts and 34 inches tall in the center.
- Tennis court nets are 42 inches at the net posts and 36 inches in the center.
Pickleball vs. Tennis Painted Zones
- Unlike a tennis court, a pickleball court contains a non-volley zone of seven feet that extends out from the net, indicated by a painted line. This area is informally called “the kitchen.”
- A tennis court has painted lines along the sides to indicate a court size depending on whether it is singles or doubles tennis
Tennis Court to Pickleball Court Conversion
The diagram below shows how four pickleball courts may be added to just one tennis court.
The No-Volley Pickleball “Kitchen”
The non-volley zone, called the “kitchen,” is a no-play zone that extends out from the net for seven feet on either side.
Unlike tennis, volleys at the net are not allowed in pickleball.
Balls can first bounce within the kitchen and then be hit. But if the ball hasn’t yet touched the surface of the kitchen, it can’t be hit.
Pickleball vs. Tennis Atmosphere and Tournaments
Tennis and pickleball have different atmospheres and draw different kinds of crowds.
Tennis Matches and Tournaments
- Tennis has been around for over a hundred years and has built a prestigious reputation.
- Tennis tournaments such as the US Open are serious events. The crowd is expected to be quiet so as not to break the player’s concentration. Polite clapping accompanies a winning point.
Pickleball Matches and Tournaments
- Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the United States and has been around for less than half the time of tennis.
- It has a reputation for being fun and rowdy.
- In pickleball, fans often talk and cheer while the match is being played.
- Professional pickleball players exist in this competitive sport, but tournaments such as those by USA Pickleball aren’t as severe as in tennis.
Tennis Rules vs. Pickleball Rules
There are key differences between tennis games and pickleball when it comes to playing and winning. The rules of pickleball more closely resemble ping pong and badminton than tennis.
One of the main differences between pickleball and tennis is how points can be scored.
- In pickleball, the only way to win a point is if you, or your partner, served during that point. You can win a point in tennis regardless of whether you serve the ball.
- In tennis, failure to return the ball to the opponent’s side of the court within bounds can result in points being scored by the opponent in tennis. The same is true of pickleball, provided you or your partner served first.
- In tennis, an opponent can win points on a server if it is not completed entirely behind the baseline or fails to land in the correct in-bounds area. The server is given two chances.
- In pickleball, one foot must remain behind the baseline during the service and maintain contact with the ground. However, the opponent cannot win points during service, even if the service is unsuccessful.
The Double Bounce Rule
The Double Bounce rule is unique to pickleball. This does not mean you can keep a ball in play if it bounced twice!
- In pickleball, after a service, the ball must bounce once on the opponent’s side before being returned.
- Once the ball has been served, bounced, and then returned over the net, it must bounce again before the team that served can return the ball.
Two bounces are required—one on either side immediately after a serve.
In Play and Out of Play
- In tennis, the playable area is the entire court. If a ball bounces within the playable area’s boundaries (or on the line), it is considered in play.
- The “kitchen” area can’t be entered in pickleball unless the ball has bounced first. The rest of the pickleball court and lines are playable and considered in bounds.
Winning the Game
- To win in pickleball, you must be the first to reach 11 points. You must win by two. Pickleball matches are decided by the best two out of three games.
- To win in tennis, you must win at least four points to win a game. There are typically six games in a set, and a tennis match usually has two to three sets.
Serves Aren’t Everything in Pickleball
Serves are critical to tennis, and points are often won during a serve. In tennis, serves are performed overhand and are typically hit strategically so the opponent misses the ball.
In pickleball, underhand serves are the only type allowed. While only the team who originally served is eligible to win a point, it is rare that a point is won immediately during the serve as most balls are easily returned.
Pickleball is Primarily a Doubles Game
Pickleball is mainly a doubles game. Pickleball can be played in singles, but it is uncommon. Playing singles in pickleball is quite tiring due to the size of the court, which is another reason that most games are played with doubles.
In tennis, it’s common to play singles. Tennis is often considered a solo sport, despite the ability to play doubles matches.
Pickleball is More Accessible than Tennis
Pickleball’s smaller court size makes it more accessible. Less stamina is required to play, particularly when playing with a partner.
Tennis requires far more running and agility due to the ball’s flight and speed and the larger area of play.
Many people consider pickleball easier to learn and play than tennis. It was created to be a family sport and is meant to be social and fun. It is easy to pick up and doesn’t have as many complicated rules as tennis.
Drama Between Pickleball & Tennis
Part of the reason for Pickleball’s meteoric rise in popularity is how easy it is to convert a tennis court into a pickleball court.
This causes beef between tennis players and pickleball players, as the demand for pickleball courts is greater than for tennis. Even popular tennis clubs are taking advantage of the sport’s growth by converting tennis courts to standalone pickleball courts.
Watch our video below to see how heated the war between tennis and pickleball has become.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?