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5 Key Differences Between Pickleball and Tennis

5 Key Differences Between Pickleball and Tennis

It may surprise you to learn that pickleball and tennis are more different than alike. Five key differences include the court, the net, the equipment, the rules of the game and the difficulty.

The Court

Tennis courts are much bigger than pickleball courts, and in fact you could fit up to FOUR pickleball courts in the same space that a tennis court takes up (if you include the area around the court lines). Pickleball courts measure a mere 20’x40’ (compared to 36’x78’ for tennis courts). In tennis, the court sides are called deuce and ad. In pickleball they are called even and odd.

Pickleball Courts Play-PKL

The Net

A pickleball net is 36” tall at the posts and 34” at the center. A tennis net, on the other hand, is 42” at the posts and 36” at the center. A tennis net is also longer, of course, since the court itself is nearly twice as wide. Some people improvise by using the tennis net and a center strap that lowers the height at the center (even though the sides are still technically a little too high).

The Equipment

One of the biggest differences between tennis and pickleball is the racquet or paddle (yes, it’s called a paddle in pickleball). A tennis racquet is heavier (10-11oz) and longer (27-29”) and made of graphite with nylon strings. A pickleball paddle is lighter (7-8.5oz) and much shorter (15-16” long). They are made of graphite or fiberglass with a solid surface. The balls used in pickleball are also totally different from tennis. Tennis uses heavier rubber-covered balls (about 2oz), while pickleball uses lighter, hard plastic balls (under 1oz) that resemble wiffle balls, but slightly heavier.

The Game

Once you get past the idea of winning points by hitting back and forth across a net, the rules of pickleball are quite different from tennis. Here are a few of the key differences:

Tennis vs Pickleball

The Difficulty

One of the reasons for the fast rise in popularity of pickleball is the low barrier to entry. It is MUCH easier to learn and to play than tennis. That is because there are less rules, it requires less strength and accuracy to hit the ball, and since pickleball has a smaller court than tennis, there is less moving around.

Do Tennis Skills Help in Pickleball?

Tennis skills can definitely be transferred to pickleball, as several ex-tennis pros have shown. Both sports require hand-eye coordination, good footwork and control of the ball. But some tennis players struggle with the completely different behavior of the ball (much lower bounce) and taking too big of a backswing (no time for that!).

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