If you are a tennis player, surely the growing popularity of pickleball has your attention in some way. It has many similarities to tennis, but knowing the difference between pickleball and tennis is important if you want to get a better understanding of these two sports.
Pickleball is a fast-paced, outdoor game that combines the games of ping-pong, badminton, and tennis. Many people around the world enjoy both sports.
However, before picking one sport over another, there are always a few important distinctions to consider. Therefore, in this article, I am going to explain the differences between both sports to make things clear and simple for you.
How is Pickleball different from Tennis?
People of all ages and abilities can play both pickleball and tennis. They are simple to pick up and a terrific way to get your heart rate up. In addition, the main thing in both sports is that people of all genders and orientations can enjoy them.
Even though pickleball adopts some rules from many racket sports, it is always been a completely different sport having its unique flavor. So then, what is the difference between pickleball and tennis?
Here are a few of the minor variations between these two great sports.
1- Slow vs Fast
For one, pickleball is a much slower sport when compared to tennis. This means that it is more suited to those who are looking for a leisurely activity that they can enjoy with friends. On the other hand, tennis is a much faster sport and is more suited to those who want to play an intense sport.
2- Shoes vs Pickles
Pickleball players do not wear shoes when they play pickleball; instead, they use specially designed paddles called “pickles”. However, tennis players wear shoes called ‘tennis shoes’ specifically made for playing this sport.
3- Underhand serve vs overhead serve
In both tennis and pickleball, the serving procedure is the same. You have to go cross-court to serve the opponent player. However, there is a minor difference in serving methods.
The overhead serve in tennis is not allowed in pickleball sport. You need to do the underhand serve and the contact point should be made below the hip.
4- Point scoring system
Another minor difference between pickleball and tennis is the point-scoring system. Unlike tennis, there is no game-set system in pickleball. You need to win 11 points to win a pickleball game and that too with a difference of 2 points.
Major Difference between Pickleball and Tennis
With this little worth mentioning differences, it is time to explain the big differences between pickleball and tennis.
1. Tennis balls vs Pickleball balls
Tennis balls are made of rubber, while pickleball balls are made of plastic. The difference is that the material used in tennis balls is more resilient and durable than the one used in pickleball.
Therefore, tennis balls tend to bounce higher due to the rubber core inside the ball, which compresses when it hits the ground and makes the ball bounce. For a tennis player, dealing with this kind of bounce is easy and adjustable.
While on the other hand, the balls used in pickleball are lightweight and have holes on the ball. This kind of ball is also known as a “Wiffle ball”. Since they lack a rubber core, so upon striking the ground they cannot be compressed. This results in low bounce which is quite surprising, especially for a tennis player.
Moreover, a pickleball moves faster through the air when hit with full force than tennis balls. The holes on a pickleball make the ball lighter and create a clean passage with less resistance.
2. Tennis Racquets vs Pickleball Paddles
Another notable difference between both sports is the type of equipment used for playing. Tennis is played with string racquets while in pickleball, a flat paddle is used.
Tennis racquets are made of wood or metal, while pickleball paddles are made of plastic. The size of a tennis racquet is larger than that of a pickleball paddle and the head size for both types of racquet is about 2 inches (5 cm).
Both tennis and pickleball lovers enjoy the beautiful sound when the ball hits their respective instruments. Just like tennis racquets come in different sizes and thicknesses, pickleball paddles are also available in a wide variety of sizes and shapes depending on the player’s preferences.
Generally, a pickleball paddle comes with a shorter handle having a rectangular shape. Moreover, the length of a tennis racquet is twice that of a pickleball paddle. Many players consider the pickleball paddle just an extended version of the ping-pong paddle.
More than the size and shape of these two sporting instruments, it is the difference in performance that makes these pieces of equipment different from each other.
As I mentioned earlier, when a tennis racquet hits a tennis ball it compresses it, and the strings attached to the racquet slightly press back to make room for the ball.
Meanwhile, this is not the case in pickleball sports. As there are no strings attached to the pickleball paddle, a pickleball will not compress when hit with a paddle. Therefore, if you strike a pickleball with a flat surface paddle, it will deflect quickly rather than compress.
3. Court Size
Like instruments, court size also differs greatly in both of these sports. In terms of size, a tennis court is superior to a pickleball court. The standard pickleball court size is 20’x44’, which is eventually excessively small especially if you are a tennis player. Tennis courts are twice the size of a pickleball court.
Pickleball game is mostly played in doubles, so for four players to play together on a court of this size is quite challenging indeed.
When it comes to the size of the nets, it is the same case. Pickleball nets are much smaller as compared to tennis nets. Pickleball nets are also quite narrow because of the small courts in comparison to wide tennis courts.
34 x 36 inches is the standard size of a pickleball net while the dimensions of a typical tennis net are 36 x 42 inches. Despite the small net size, sending the ball over the net is still a big task for any player in a pickleball game.
4. No Volley in the air
For a beginner in pickleball sports, the most confusing thing that is different from tennis is the restriction of playing a volley in the air without bouncing it. Unlike tennis, where you can smash a volley at the net even without the ball touching the ground.
Well, that is quite the opposite in pickleball. There has to be one bounce on either side of the court before you can allow playing the volley.
5. No sideways hitting
In tennis to win a point, you can play shots on either side of your opponent player. That is completely normal in this sport. The purpose is to rotate the body sideways so that you can play the shot in that direction.
In pickleball, not the same. You cannot allow the ball to get closer to your body. In tennis, swinging forward and hitting the ball to generate pace is much easier. However, in pickleball, creating such power in your shot while hitting forward is rather difficult.
The reason is that when the tennis ball hits the racquet, it sinks into it and because of the rubber material, the ball is bounced. In pickleball, you have to swing much harder to produce power on that lightweight Wiffle ball.
Therefore, it is important to keep the ball away from your body in trying to play a powerful shot. The closer the pickleball is to your body, the harder it will be to hit the ball with enough pace.
Pickleball and tennis both are completely different sports. Both pickleball and tennis share several commonalities. They both require good hand-eye coordination, stamina, and footwork. They are both fun and challenging games to play.
However, you cannot ignore the fact that there is also a difference between pickleball and tennis. Therefore, to help you in that regard, I have explained some of the key differences between the two respective sports. I hope this post will be helpful to you in clearing all that confusion about pickleball and tennis.