What’s The Difference Between Pickleball And Tennis?

Introducing two popular racquet sports, pickleball and tennis, this article unravels the distinctions that set them apart. While both offer fun and competition, they vary in terms of court size, equipment, and rules. Let’s dive into the world of these two engaging sports and learn what makes each unique.

Pickleball, often hailed as the fastest-growing sport in America, and tennis, a timeless classic with a global following, share a common thread of racquets and balls but diverge in countless ways. Imagine this as a friendly match between two friends—Pickleball and Tennis, each vying for your attention. So, let’s step onto the court, explore the rules, navigate the equipment, and unveil the distinct characteristics of these two beloved sports.

Pickleball and tennis, two racquet sports that share some similarities, have captured the hearts of millions of players around the world. Both offer fun and engaging ways to stay active, enjoy some competition, and make new friends. However, they differ in various aspects, from the equipment used to the rules of the game. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the differences between pickleball and tennis, allowing you to understand the unique characteristics of each sport and choose the one that suits your preferences and skill level.

The Basics

A. Origins


Tennis, one of the oldest racquet sports, has a history dating back several centuries. It originated in England in the 19th century and has since become a global phenomenon with a rich tradition of major tournaments, including Wimbledon, the US Open, the French Open, and the Australian Open.


Pickleball, in contrast, is a relatively young sport, having been invented in the mid-1960s by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. It was created on Bainbridge Island, Washington, and has rapidly gained popularity, particularly among older adults.

Court and Equipment

Court and Equipment




 A regulation tennis court is much larger than a pickleball court, measuring 78 feet long and 27 feet wide for singles matches, and 36 feet wide for doubles matches.


 Tennis racquets are larger and heavier than pickleball paddles, designed to withstand the faster pace and heavier ball of tennis.


 Tennis uses a heavy-duty felt-covered ball, which is pressurized to maintain its bounce.




 A pickleball court is significantly smaller, measuring 20 feet wide and 44 feet long, with a 7-foot non-volley zone (“the kitchen”) at the net.


Paddle Pickleball paddles are smaller and lighter, made of materials like wood, composite, or graphite. They have a shorter handle and a larger face when compared to tennis racquets.


 Pickleball uses a plastic ball with strategically placed holes, designed for a slower and more controlled game.



 Tennis uses a point system where players score 15, 30, 40, and then win a game. A player must win at least four points with a margin of two to secure a set. Matches typically consist of three or five sets, depending on the level of play. Tennis has a tiebreaker system, known as the “Tiebreak,” to break ties in sets. The first player to reach seven points with a margin of two wins the tiebreaker.


 Pickleball employs a simplified scoring system where only the serving team can score points. Games are played to 11 points (win by two), and matches often consist of best-of-three games.

 Rules and Gameplay


Tennis follows a let system where players can replay a point if there is interference or an unexpected distraction during a point. The serve in tennis must be hit over the net and into the opponent’s service box, and it must land within the boundaries of the court.Tennis matches can last for hours and may consist of multiple sets, especially in professional tennis.


 Pickleball uses a no-let rule, meaning that if the ball hits the net and goes over on the serve, it is considered in play. The serve in pickleball must clear the non-volley zone (the kitchen) and land in the opposing service area. Unlike tennis, there is a fault if the ball doesn’t clear the kitchen on the serve. Pickleball games are relatively quick, often lasting between 20 minutes to an hour. Matches typically consist of best-of-three games to 11 points each.

 Physical Demands

 A. Tennis

Tennis is physically demanding, requiring players to cover a larger court and exert more energy with each point. It involves more running, sprinting, and lateral movement, placing a higher demand on endurance and cardiovascular fitness.

 B. Pickleball

 Pickleball is generally less physically demanding compared to tennis. The smaller court and slower ball make it a sport that’s accessible to a wider range of ages and fitness levels. The reduced court size and slower ball contribute to a more leisurely pace, requiring less intense physical exertion.

Community and Social Aspects


 Tennis is played at a more competitive level, with leagues and tournaments available for players looking to test their skills. Tennis has a strong tradition of individual and doubles play, and it can be more challenging for beginners to enter.


 Pickleball is known for its social and recreational aspects. It’s often played as a social activity in parks, community centres, and retirement communities. Pickleball is highly inclusive and beginner-friendly, making it easy for new players to join the community and enjoy the sport.

Pickleball Is More Accessible Than Tennis

Pickleball is generally considered more accessible than tennis due to its smaller court, slower ball, and easier learning curve, making it accessible to a wider range of ages and fitness levels.

Why Are Tennis Players Switching to Pickleball?

  • Accessibility
  •  Pickleball is more accessible for people of various skill levels and ages due to its smaller court and slower ball speed. This makes it easier for tennis players to transition.
  • Social Aspect
  •  Pickleball is often seen as a more social sport. The close proximity of the players on a smaller court encourages interaction and creates a friendly and inclusive atmosphere.
  • Reduced Physical Demands
  •  Pickleball is generally less physically demanding than tennis, making it appealing to those who want a less strenuous but still engaging racquet sport.
  • Faster Play
  •  Pickleball offers faster-paced games with shorter rallies, which can be attractive to players seeking a quicker and more dynamic experience.
  • Community and Growth
  • The pickleball community is growing rapidly, providing ample opportunities for players to engage in the sport and be part of a burgeoning movement.
  • Inclusivity
  •  Pickleball is inclusive of all ages and skill levels, which makes it an ideal choice for those looking for a sport that can be enjoyed with friends and family.
  • Varied Strategy
  •  Pickleball’s unique rules, such as the Two-Bounce Rule, add strategic depth, making it appealing to players who enjoy thinking strategically on the court.

of tennis players making the switch to pickleball. These factors, among others, contribute to the increasing number all.


Is pickleball played on a smaller court than tennis?

Yes, pickleball is played on a smaller court, measuring 20 feet wide and 44 feet long, while tennis courts are significantly larger.

What equipment is used in pickleball compared to tennis?

Pickleball uses smaller paddles and a plastic ball with holes, whereas tennis involves larger racquets and pressurised felt balls.

How does the scoring system in pickleball differ from tennis?

In pickleball, games are typically played to 11 points, whereas tennis games use a 15-30-40 scoring system, with sets requiring a margin of two games.

What are the major physical differences between pickleball and tennis?

Tennis involves more running and physical exertion due to the larger court and faster ball speed. Pickleball is generally less physically demanding.

Can I use my tennis skills in pickleball, or are they completely different sports?

While there are similarities in racquet skills, the games have distinct rules and strategies. Tennis skills can be an advantage in pickleball, but the transition may require some adjustment.


Both pickleball and tennis are incredible sports that cater to diverse tastes and skill levels. When it comes to pickleball, knowing how to hold a pickleball paddle is essential. Tennis, on the other hand, offers a rich history, intense physical workouts, and a competitive edge. Pickleball, which is gaining popularity, provides a more leisurely, inclusive, and social experience. The choice between the two sports ultimately depends on your personal preferences and physical abilities. So, if you’re wondering, How to hold a pickleball paddle? be sure to learn the correct grip and technique for this unique sport.

Regardless of your choice, both sports provide an excellent opportunity for exercise, fun, and building new friendships. Whether you’re rallying on a tennis court or enjoying a game of pickleball, these sports offer a fantastic way to stay active and engaged, proving that racquet sports have something for everyone. So, why not grab a racquet, find a court, and start enjoying the game that suits you best. 

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