Pickleball Vs Tennis: Difference Between Pickleball And Tennis

pickleball vs tennis

Are you a fan of racquet sports but unsure if you should take up pickleball or tennis? Perhaps you’re already familiar with tennis but are curious about pickleball vs tennis and this newer, increasingly popular sport called pickleball.

Pickleball differs from tennis in court size, equipment, ball type, rules, and gameplay. Pickleball is played on a smaller court with a smaller, lighter paddle and a plastic ball with holes, while tennis is played on a larger court with a heavier racket and a felt-covered ball.

In this article, we will explore the similarities and differences between pickleball and tennis, including court size, equipment, and gameplay, so keep reading to discover what pickleball has to offer.

How Is Pickleball Different From Tennis?

Court Comparison

When comparing the pickleball court vs tennis court, the court is one of the most significant differences between the two sports. While both sports can be played on various surfaces, including grass, clay, and asphalt, the dimensions of the courts differ significantly.

A standard tennis court measures 78 feet long and 27 feet wide, while a pickleball court measures 44 feet long and 20 feet wide. The difference in size means that pickleball players cover less ground during a match, and the ball travels a shorter distance.

Pickleball courts also have smaller nets, which are 36 inches high in the middle and 34 inches high on the edges. In contrast, tennis nets are 3 feet high at the center and 3.5 feet high at the posts.

Overall, pickleball courts are smaller and require less space, making them more accessible to players who don’t have access to a full-size tennis court.

Difference Between Pickleball and Tennis Equipment 

In addition to court differences, pickleball, and tennis also use different equipment.

Here’s a comparison table that shows the average weight range for the equipment used in tennis and pickleball:

EquipmentPickleball Weight Range (ounces)Tennis Weight Range (ounces)
Paddle/Racket6 – 109 – 13
Ball0.78 – 0.9351.975 – 2.095
Net22 – 3413 – 23

As you can see, the equipment used in pickleball is generally lighter than that used in tennis.

Overall, the lighter equipment used in pickleball may make it more accessible and easier to play for some individuals, especially those who may have difficulty maneuvering heavier equipment.

Here are the main equipment differences between tennis and pickleball:


Pickleball: A plastic ball with holes, similar to a wiffle ball but smaller.

Tennis: A felt-covered rubber ball.


Pickleball: A smaller, solid paddle usually made of wood or composite materials.

Tennis: A larger, strung racket usually made of graphite or other lightweight materials.


Pickleball: Court shoes designed for indoor and outdoor play.

Tennis: Court shoes designed for quick movement and traction on hard or clay courts.

Pickleball Vs Tennis Rules and Gameplay

When it comes to the rules and gameplay, there are some notable differences between tennis and pickleball:

Service: In tennis, the server must be hit over the net and into the service box diagonally opposite, which can require a lot of power and precision. In pickleball, the serve is hit underhand and diagonally cross-court, which allows for more control and accuracy. 

This difference in service style can also affect the pace of the game, as pickleball serves are generally slower and easier to return than tennis serves. 

Scoring: In tennis, a game is won by the first player to reach four points with a two-point lead. In pickleball, games are played to 11 points, and a two-point lead is required to win.

Volleying: In tennis, players are not allowed to touch the ball before it bounces on their side of the court. In pickleball, players are allowed to volley the ball (hit it in the air) as long as they are not in the kitchen (the area near the net).

Double Bounce Rule: The Double Bounce Rule is unique to pickleball and requires each team to let the ball bounce once on their side of the court before they can start volleying. This means that the return of serve must bounce once before the receiving team can hit it back.

This rule is not applicable in tennis, where players can hit the ball in the air (volley) right from the start of the point.

Ball Speed: Pickleball is often considered a slower version of tennis, as the ball travels at a slower pace and requires less power to hit.

Overall, the rules and gameplay of pickleball and tennis are quite different, despite some similarities.

Skill and Fitness Comparison

Both pickleball and tennis require skill and fitness to play, but there are some notable differences between the two sports.

Skill Comparison

Pickleball is a game of finesse and precision.Tennis requires a combination of power, speed, and finesse.
Players need to have good hand-eye coordination to hit the ball accurately.Players need to have good footwork, hand-eye coordination, and technique to hit the ball accurately.
The smaller court and slower ball speed make it easier for beginners to learn the game.The larger court and faster ball speed make it more challenging for beginners to learn the game.

Fitness Comparison

Pickleball is a low-impact sport that is easier on the joints.Tennis is a high-impact sport that can be tough on the joints.
The shorter court and slower ball speed make it less physically demanding than tennis.The larger court and faster ball speed make it more physically demanding than pickleball.
However, players still need to be in good cardiovascular shape to play at a high level.Players need to have good endurance, strength, and agility to play at a high level.

Overall, both sports require skill and fitness, but pickleball may be a better option for those who are just starting out or who are looking for a low-impact alternative to tennis.

Why Are Tennis Players Switching to Pickleball?

Tennis has been one of the most popular sports for decades, but recently, pickleball has been gaining popularity among tennis players. One of the main reasons for this switch is the lower physical impact of pickleball. 

Tennis requires a lot of running and explosive movements, which can put a strain on the joints and increase the risk of injury. Pickleball, on the other hand, is a slower-paced game that is easier on the body, making it an attractive option for older players or those with previous injuries. 

Pickleball courts are smaller than tennis courts, which means less ground to cover and less time spent chasing after the ball. The switch from tennis to pickleball is driven by a desire for a lower-impact, more social, and enjoyable sport.


Here are some frequently asked questions about the comparison between pickleball and tennis:

Is pickleball easier than tennis?

Pickleball is often considered easier than tennis because the court is smaller, the ball is lighter, and the game is slower-paced. However, both sports require skill, strategy, and physical fitness.

What’s the difference between pickleball and tennis?

Pickleball is played on a smaller court with a smaller, lighter paddle and a plastic ball with holes. Tennis is played on a larger court with a heavier racket and a felt-covered ball.

Can you play pickleball and tennis?

Yes, you can play both sports. However, you will need different equipment for each sport and the rules and gameplay are different.

Why is pickleball called a slower version of tennis?

Pickleball is often called a slower version of tennis because the ball is lighter and the court is smaller, which makes the game slower-paced. However, the game still requires skill, strategy, and physical fitness.

What is the difference between pickleball and tennis ball size?

The pickleball is smaller than the tennis ball. A standard pickleball is about 2.9 inches in diameter, while a tennis ball is about 2.7 inches in diameter.

Conclusion: Is Pickleball Like Tennis

In conclusion of tennis vs pickleball, both pickleball and tennis are great sports that offer unique advantages and challenges. While tennis has been around for centuries and offers a fast-paced, high-energy game, pickleball is a newer sport that offers a slower pace and is easier on the joints. 

Whether you prefer the larger court and faster pace of tennis or the smaller court and more strategic gameplay of pickleball, both sports offer great opportunities for exercise, fun, and socialization. So, grab a racket and a ball, and get out there and play!

Casey Degnan

Casey Degnan

I'm Casey Degnan, a certified Pickleball Coach and Athletics Professional with over 20 years of sports coaching and event management experience. Previously coordinating golf operations and student activities, I now offer private pickleball lessons while blogging tips and insights at "The Pickleball Freak." My passion is helping people achieve their goals through sports.

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