Pickleball vs Tennis: What are the Similarities and Differences?

Pickleball has become of the fastest-growing sports in the US. A survey shows around three million people regularly play pickleball in the US. However, those who know little about this sport often compare it with tennis. Seemingly, the two sports appear identical, yet there are so many differences, making each of them unique and distinct. 

Pickleball vs Tennis What are the Similarities and Differences

Pickleball is played with paddles, while tennis involves racquets. The ball used in tennis is made with hard plastic, stuffed with rubber, and is quite hard. Whereas pickleball ball is made of plastic; it is hollow and tough but not as rigid as a tennis ball. Moreover, a tennis court is so large that it can fit almost four pickleball courts simultaneously.

Besides these basic variations, there are tons of other attributes which distinguish pickleball from tennis. Continue with the following article to learn more comprehensively about pickleball vs tennis’s key differences and similarities. 

Pickleball vs Tennis: Similarities 

Before moving on to discussing the differences, let’s first scrutinize the similar aspects between pickleball and tennis; 

Court Shape

When you compare pickleball and tennis, the first similarity you notice is their court shape. Both pickleball and tennis are played on a rectangular-shaped court with a net in its center. This net horizontally divides the court into two halves. One team plays on one side of the court while the other plays on the remaining half. 

The two sections are further divided vertically into two parts, i.e., the right and left zone. These zones determine the position of the players in a team. The court is surrounded by sidelines, which determine its boundaries and outbound section. If the player steps into the outbound area, they will get a fault or penalized.  

Formats – Singles and Doubles 

Pickleball and tennis have similar formats, i.e., singles and doubles. In singles, there are two teams, each comprising one player. At the same time, the doubles format also has two teams, each consisting of two players. Though the basic structure of pickleball and tennis formats are similar, their scoring system and game rules are entirely different. 

Eye and Hand Coordination 

To play pickleball and tennis, you should have good eye-hand coordination. The players must keep their focus on the ball and then deliver a shot using the paddle. In fact, t mastering eye-hand coordination is a prerequisite for playing professional pickleball and tennis.

In pickleball and tennis training sessions, beginners and amateurs are taught how to coordinate their vision and movement. 

Pickleball vs Tennis Similarities 

Pickleball vs Tennis: Differences 

From the above context, you may have a rough idea about how pickleball and tennis are similar. Now let’s analyze the differences between the two sports. 

Equipment Difference 

Equipment variation is the most notable difference between pickleball and tennis. Generally, pickleball equipment is lighter than tennis, as they are smaller and has simpler composition. Below is a detailed breakdown of how pickleball differs from tennis. 

Pickleball Paddles vs Tennis Racquets 

In pickleball, players use paddles that are either made of wood or plastic. Most pickleball paddles weigh between 7 to 9 ounces, depending upon their quality (high-end paddles are heavier). Pickleball paddles resemble table tennis, with the only notable difference being that these are bigger. 

On the other hand, players use racquets in tennis. These racquets have a steel framework and metal strings. Since tennis racquets are solely made of metal, they are heavier, weighing about 11 to 11.5 ounces. Though tennis racquets appear identical to the ones used in badminton, their strings are sturdier. 

Comparing pickleball paddles with tennis racquets, it is evident that the latter weighs heavier. An average tennis racquet is about 24% heavier than a pickleball paddle. Moreover, there is visible variation between the materials used in their construction- one uses plastic/wood, while the other has a metal/rubber composition. 

Pickleball vs Tennis Balls 

Though pickleball and tennis both involve balls, they are much different in structure and composition. A pickleball ball is hollow and made from lightweight plastic. Being empty from within, these balls are much lighter. 

According to the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) regulations, the balls for sanctioned pickleball tournaments must weigh 0.78 to 0.935 ounces. This ideal weight allows pickleball to bounce at a maximum of 34 inches when dropped from a height of 78 inches. 

Conversely, the tennis balls approximately weighs an ounce more, around 1.975-2.095 ounces. They are made from stringent plastic and are stuffed with rubber- due to which they are so heavy. This weight allows tennis balls to bounce as high as 53 to 60 inches. 

Owing to the difference in bouncing distances from the ground, overhand delivery is used in tennis, while only underhand shots are allowed in pickleball. If players use an overhand technique to make serves, the core of pickleball will get tempered, and it will become a completely different sport. 

Court Difference

Another significant difference between pickleball and tennis is their courts. While the structure of tennis and pickleball courts is similar, they broadly vary in size. Pickleball courts are much smaller than tennis courts. 

A typical pickleball court is about 44 feet long and 20 feet wide. Similarly, the net height is 34 inches from the center and 36 inches from the posts. The size of the pickleball court remains the same for both of its formats, i.e., singles and doubles. 

However, the same is invalid for tennis, as its courts differ for singles and doubles. Though they have the same length, their widths are different. The dimensions of singles courts are 78 feet long and 27 feet wide. And the size of the doubles tennis court is 78 feet long and 36 inches wide. 

Court Difference

Rules Differences

Since pickleball and tennis are two different sports, their rules also vary. Below are some aspects to help you understand how pickleball and tennis rules differ. 

Serving Technique 

Though the serves are made diagonally in pickleball and tennis, their techniques are different. In pickleball, all the serves should be made with an underhand motion. At the same time, tennis players are not allowed to use the underhand technique and can only use the overhand method. 

It is also crucial to note that underhand techniques are easier than overhand. Beginners usually find pickleball serving methods easier than tennis, as they are low-intensity. Whereas to play tennis, players must learn technical methods, which often become too complicated and complex.

Bouncing Rule

Pickleball has a “double-bounce” rule, which states that the ball must touch once before the player hits it. Similarly, the ball should bounce when the player on the other side returns it. Since the ball bounces on either side of the net once, it is called the double-bounce rule. Also, check the Paddleball Vs. Pickleball.

However, the tennis protocol strictly opposes this rule. The tennis ball must not touch the ground before the player strikes it. If the player lets the ball bounce, it will be immediately counted as a fault, leading to a score for the opponent team. 

Non-Volley Zone (Kitchen)

Another significant difference between pickleball and tennis courts is that the former has a non-volley zone NVZ (kitchen), while the latter does not. Non-volley zone is a 7 feet section on either side of the net, where players are forbidden to volley the ball. Also, check the Best Pickleball Shoes.

The purpose of the non-volley zone is to ensure that neither of the two teams smashes hard shots and follows the underhand rule. However, there is no such requirement in tennis. Players can deliver smash shots as overhand serving is allowed in pickleball. 

Scoring System 

The scoring system of pickleball and tennis is also completely different. In pickleball, matches are played to 11 points, with a lead by two scores. However, the scores are calculated in tennis matches as 0, 15, 30, and 40. 

The first team/player to score 4 points win the tennis match. Whereas the team/player which wins six consecutive matches wins the set. From this, it is evident that pickleball and tennis scoring systems are utterly different. In fact, you would be intrigued to know that pickleball resembles table tennis more than tennis. 

Accessibility Difference

Lastly, there is a notable difference between the accessibility levels of the two sports. Not only does the pickleball courts are smaller, but their match duration is also shorter than tennis. 

Tennis is usually fast-paced, while pickleball is comparatively lightweight, low-intensity, and more relaxed. Anyone can play pickleball regardless of age, skill level, and experience. 


Which is harder, pickleball or tennis?

Comparatively, tennis is harder than pickleball. It is a fast-paced sport requiring you to be attentive and hyperactive. The tennis court is much bigger than pickleball, so you have to move around it a lot while playing pickleball.

Who invented pickleball?

Pickleball was invented during the summer of 1965 by three friends, Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum.

What is the purpose of a non-volley zone?

A non-volley zone is a 7-feet area on either side of the net. It prevents the players from coming too close to the net and smashing the ball intensely.


Pickleball and tennis may have similar court shapes, but in reality, they are much different. Comparatively, pickleball is easier, low-impact, and less strenuous than tennis. To play tennis, you must have higher agility and endurance level. 

Many tennis players are transitioning toward pickleball because the latter is much easier. You don’t need specific experience or skill level to play pickleball. This sport is so safe that one can play it even with health conditions or disabilities.

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