How Is Pickleball Different From Tennis?

We know that pickleball shares a number of similarities with tennis, in fact, many tennis players have shifted to the pickleball court. However, they do have several key differences that put them apart.

How Is Pickleball Different From Tennis

In this post, we’re going to delve into the differences that make pickleball and tennis such different sports, despite the similarities that they seem to share.

The Courts Are Smaller

One key difference that lies between pickleball and tennis is the courts. Pickleball courts are considerably smaller than tennis courts, sharing more similarities with badminton courts.

Tennis courts are known for their large size, measuring 78 feet long, with a width of 36 feet for doubles matches.

Singles in tennis are played with a court width of 27 feet, and the net on a tennis court is 42 inches high at the posts, with a 36-inch height in the center of the net.

Pickleball courts, however, are known for having a length of 44 feet and a width of 20 feet.

Even a pickleball net is 34 inches high and goes up to 36 inches at the net’s post. The reason pickleball has a similar size to a badminton court is that it was originally invented on a badminton court. 

Pickleball Uses Paddles

Another key difference between the two sports is what we use to hit the ball.

Tennis players use racquets, which are larger than your average pickleball paddle. If you were to put a tennis racquet next to a pickleball paddle, you would see that it’s only half the size of the racquet.

Let’s not forget that pickleball paddles are more rectangular, while a tennis racquet is a rounder shape.

They behave differently, too. Tennis balls will compress when they hit the racquet so that the strings will bend. However, a pickleball paddle is like a wall. They won’t compress, so the pickleball deflects off it instead.

The tennis racquet will grip the ball to allow for a spin if necessary, while you can’t necessarily do this with a pickleball paddle. So, when playing each sport, you’ll notice that they each react differently. 

Tennis Balls And Pickleballs Are Different

You can see the difference immediately by looking at a tennis ball and a pickleball. The materials used to make each ball are different too. See, tennis balls are essentially bouncy balls with a rubber core that allows them to bounce as high as they do.

However, let’s take a look at pickleball. The balls used here are hard and made out of plastic. They’re not designed to bounce high and are, in fact, made to bounce low. 

As pickleballs were based on wiffle balls, which have air holes in them.

Pickleballs have been amended so that the holes are smaller so that the air won’t impact them as much.

You’ll also find that because they’re made of plastic, they’re a little more durable than wiffle balls too. Even the texture of each ball is different, with pickleball and tennis ball having their own distinct appearance. 

Underhand VS Overhand Serves

When you’re playing tennis, you have to perform an overhand serve.

However, pickleball requires its players to do an underhand serve. They’re also different in ranks of how important the serve is. See, serves in tennis can be used to win more points, so they need to be pretty powerful.

Pickleball isn’t about serving powerful hits but about where you hit it. Therefore, pickleball offers a more strategic serve than a powerful serve in tennis.

Different Scoring Systems

Let’s take a look at how we would score in pickleball.

How Is Pickleball Different From Tennis (1)

See, when you want to score a point in pickleball, only the player or team who is serving can win a point. If you want to win, you’ll need a score of at least 11, and you’ll need to be two points ahead of your opponent to win officially.

Tennis, however, is scored with a count of 0, 15, 30, 40, and a final play-off at deuce.

Once you reach four points, you’ve won the game. Then once a player wins six games, they win a set, with a match winner beating their opponent in two sets. Due to this, it’s hard to mix up the scoring systems, as they’re so different from one another. 

There’s a No-Volley Zone

You can go close to the net and smash your ball at the opponent when you play tennis.

However, in pickleball, you can’t do this. You can’t smash a ball in the no-volley zone in pickleball. You can’t volley shots in this area, which is otherwise known as the kitchen. 

You’ll find the kitchen is a seven feet section on both sides of the net.

If you’re in the kitchen, you’re forbidden from hitting a volley here. To hit a volley, you and any part of your body, paddle, or partner can’t go past the line to the kitchen. If you do, you’re subject to a fault.

Pickleball Is More Accessible

Tennis is a pretty grueling sport, and not everyone can play it at the same level. You need to practice more if you want to play tennis, while pickleball is more relaxed.

Pickleball is a better choice if you want a relaxed game to play with friends. Anyone can pick up a paddle and play; you need less strength to hit the ball. You don’t need to run around as much, either. Instead, you can play as slowly or as intensely as you want. 


As you can see, aside from having a net and a court, pickleball and tennis (Also check out Is Pickleball Easier Than Tennis?) aren’t actually that similar. In fact, the two are vastly different games with different rules and scoring systems.

Some people may believe they’re similar, as you could convert a tennis court into a pickleball court. However, they both require different equipment to play.

Generally, pickleball is more relaxed, and that’s why it’s steadily becoming one of the most popular sports in the U.S. and why even now, it’s still growing.

Damien Dansel
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