Pickleball vs. Tennis: What’s the Difference?

Pickleball has swept the nation as one of the fastest-growing sports. It’s easy to learn, and its rules and size regulations allow players of many ages and abilities to enjoy the game. Some people wonder about the difference between pickleball and paddle tennis, but even more people compare pickleball to tennis because of similar courts and equipment. However, the two games are entirely different.

We’ll help you learn the differences between pickleball vs. tennis so you can start playing today or even build your own pickleball court at home.

Pickleball vs. Tennis: An Overview 

Pickleball and tennis courts often appear similar to the untrained eye. They have similar surfaces, lines drawn on the ground, and a net. However, the games differ in history, rules, court size, and equipment.

The History

Tennis is old-school; it’s been around since the 1300s. In its early days in France, it was called “Jeu de Paume,” which means “game of the palm” because people used their hands instead of rackets. By 1873, when the first official rulebook was published, the sport had spread to England, and players used prototype rackets. The sport increased in popularity, eventually leading to the establishment of the Wimbledon tennis competition in 1877.

Pickleball is a newer sport. It was invented in the 1960s by a couple of dads creating a new game for their kids. It increased in popularity in their community and soon spread nationwide. Relatively recently, the sport has become wildly popular, with pickleball courts sprouting up left and right all over the country.

The Scoring System

In tennis, the scoring is done by 15, 30, and 40, and any player can score points no matter who served. Matches can sometimes be protracted with extended deuce tiebreakers, and games are typically played as best-of-three or best-of-five sets.

In Pickleball, each point scored is simply “one.” Participants play games to 11 points, with a win margin of 2 points, and a standard match involves playing two out of three games. This streamlined scoring system ensures brisk and engaging gameplay.

The Rules

Though many assume the sports are similar, the rules of the two games are very different. Tennis players can serve over or underhand, often using complicated or aggressive serves to try and win a point.

In a pickleball match, only the serving player or team can score a point, and all players only serve underhand. Pickleball also doesn’t allow players to hit a ball out of the air coming from the other side if they’re in the forwardmost part of the court, commonly called “the kitchen.”

Though participants play doubles and singles in both sports, tennis often has more singles matches, and pickleball often has more doubles games.

The Size: Pickleball Court vs. Tennis Court

The main difference between tennis and pickleball is court size. Tennis courts are usually 60 feet wide and 120 feet long. In tennis, edges on the left and right sides of the court are only used for doubles matches, extending the size of the playing area. Tennis courts are so much larger than pickleball courts that if you converted a tennis court to pickleball courts, four complete pickleball courts would easily fit.

Pickleball courts are only 20 feet wide and 44 feet long, and these courts stay the same size for singles and doubles matches.

Since a pickleball court can easily fit inside a tennis court, some court owners will draw the lines for pickleball and tennis courts overlapping on the same surface, so they don’t have to build separate courts and can choose which sport they feel like playing that day.

The Athleticism

Tennis is often seen as a physical and strategic sport involving running and powerful racket swings. 

Pickleball is far less rigorous and involves comparatively less running. This activity level makes pickleball more accessible for those with physical limitations or older individuals who can’t run as much. 

The Equipment

Although both sports use a ball, net, and hitting tool, each game has individual types. 

Tennis Nets vs. Pickleball Nets

Pickleball and tennis nets are very similar but have one main difference. A tennis net is pulled taut, so it’s 36 inches tall all the way across. A pickleball net is usually also 36 inches high, but it isn’t as tight, so it will measure 34 inches in the middle. A net made specifically for pickleball will be shorter also because the court isn’t as wide.

If you prefer a stationary net, purchase an in-ground pickleball net and start building your court today! If you need more portability, browse these portable pickleball nets and see how you can have a net you can move around and store during inclement weather.

Pickleball vs. Tennis Balls and Rackets 

In tennis, players use rackets with tightly pulled strings. The racket size changes depending on players’ age and strategic choices, like desired force and control. Tennis uses a felt-covered rubber ball filled with enough air to make it bouncy. When a racket hits the ball, the strings propel the ball at high speeds to quickly cover large distances.

There’s a big difference between pickleball paddles and tennis rackets. In pickleball, players use smaller hard plastic or wood paddles similar to a ping-pong paddle. Pickleball paddles dink the ball at slower speeds instead of propelling it faster and faster. 

A pickleball ball is a hollow, hard plastic ball with small holes. The ball doesn’t fly as far or as long as a tennis ball. Check out these USA Pickleball-approved paddle sets to make the best of your pickleball games.

Pickleball or Tennis: Choose Dominator for All Your Sports Needs

Both tennis and pickleball involve hitting a ball with a handheld instrument over a low net. However, each game’s rules, court size, and equipment differ, making them completely different sports. 

When you need pickleball equipment or are interested in building your own court, Dominator is your best resource. We’ll provide the optimal quality equipment and ensure you can play the sport you love as quickly as possible.