Tennis and Pickleball are both racket sports that are enjoyed by many players around the world. But if you’re wondering which one is best for you, let us compare the similarities and differences. By knowing the details, you’ll be able to decide which of the two is best pursuing.
Both Pickleball and Tennis are played on a rectangular-sized court with a net down the middle. Players also have the choice to hold matches outdoors or indoors. The difference is in the size of the courts. Pickleball is played on a smaller one.
In Pickleball, the required court size is 20’ x 44’. This is about the same size as a Badminton court. In fact, you can use a Badminton doubles court to play Pickleball. And although the game can be played in singles and doubles format, this does not affect the court size. In other words, both formats use the same court dimensions.
As for the markings or lines on the court, they are similar to those you’d find on a Tennis court. By the way, a Tennis court is 78 feet in length and 27 (singles) or 36 (doubles) feet in width. Just take note that Pickleball courts have no-volley zones, which affect the gameplay. These are measured at 3.5’ from the net on each side, 7’ in total. You’ll hear players of this sport call this part the “kitchen”.
The ball used in Pickleball is made of perforated plastic. Officially recognized ball dimensions are between 2 7/8 to 3 inches in diameter. Weight-wise, the ball must be within the .08 to 1.02 ounces range. When it comes to color, any hue is acceptable as long as it is just one color. The USAPA (USA Pickleball Association) has approved certain balls for use during official tournaments.
Just as Pickleball has a regulating body in the form of the USAPA, Tennis has The International Tennis Federation and they are responsible for regulating the balls. These must be 2.57-2.70 inches in diameter and 1.98-2.10 ounces in weight. This makes the Tennis ball heavier but smaller compared to a Pickleball ball.
“The Pickleball court is about the same size as a Badminton court. In fact, you can use a Badminton doubles court to play Pickleball.”
Both Pickleball and Tennis are racket sports but there are differences in the racquets used. For starters, Pickleball racquets are smaller and are, in fact, paddles. They are bigger than Table Tennis paddles. These paddles also have a solid surface as opposed to the woven stringed surface of a Tennis racquet.
Pickleball paddles are constructed of high-tech composite materials. Meanwhile, Tennis racquets used to have wooden handles. Now, they are made of graphite and fiberglass. The woven strings are synthetic or natural gut material.
As for how much these racquets cost, you can expect to pay from $50 to $150 for a Pickleball racquet. Tennis racquets range from $50 to $250 depending on the materials used.
Both Tennis and Pickleball are played on a court with a net. In Pickleball, the net is hung lower at 34” from the ground in the middle. The ends of the net are set up at 36” from the ground. Tennis nets, on the other hand, must measure 3 feet tall from the ground.
Since the net on a Pickleball court is lower than that of Tennis, this affects the gameplay in profound ways. The most noticeable effect is on the serves. In Tennis, players really are not restricted that much when it comes to how they do their serves. It is quite different for Pickleball players.
One can only do underhand serves in Pickleball. None of those serves with spins and chops you see in Tennis. Pickleball players must serve the ball by hitting it below the navel with an upward movement or swing.
There is a similarity to Tennis though and that is the ball should be served diagonally to the opponent’s side of the court. The ball must go beyond the net and will remain in play until one of the players commits a fault.
Another major difference is the fact that in Pickleball, you can only score a point during your service turn.
Gameplay and Scoring
The gameplay and scoring systems of Pickleball and Tennis are similar but, of course, there are also differences. Highlighted here the major points to remember.
As mentioned above, a player can only score a point if it is his turn to serve in Pickleball. A score is awarded when the receiving opponent commits a fault. If the server committed the fault, there will be no score for either player but it will now be the receiver’s turn to serve. In Tennis, however, the players can score whether they are on the serving or receiving end.
Both sports differ in how they are won as well. In Tennis, opponents aim to win the most games out of 3 sets. In each set, points are awarded like so: 15, 30, 40, and game point (wins the game). Players start out with zero points or “love”. Pickleball games, meanwhile, are won when a player scores 11 points with a 2-point difference over the opponent’s score.
What faults are committed for the opponent to score? In Tennis, these often include failure to return the ball over the net to the opposing player’s side of the court, allowing the ball to bounce twice on the ground on their side, hitting the ball out of bounds, and playing in undesignated zones (i.e. a Singles players going to the part of the court meant for Doubles players).
In Pickleball, the faults are more or less the same. Additional mistakes to avoid are: volleying the ball during a service return, volleying the ball on the first return right after serving, and not getting the ball on the right box on your serve. Volleying the ball while inside the non-volley zone or the kitchen is also a fault.
Which One Is Best for You?
Both Pickleball and Tennis can be enjoyable for anyone who wants to be more active, get fit, or enjoy a racket sport. They are also social games, meaning you’ll have plenty of chances to make new friends on the court.
Through the differences highlighted above, hopefully, you’ll now be able to decide which one best fits your needs. And you can always try both out and see which one excites you the most!