Pickleball vs. Tennis: What's the Difference? (2024)

Pickleball vs. Tennis: What's the Difference? (1)

Pickleball and tennis have always been choices for recreational enthusiasts and competitive athletes alike. Among the wide array of options, pickleball and tennis have emerged as two highly enjoyable and engaging activities. While both sports share similarities, they also possess unique characteristics that set them apart. In this article, we'll delve into the similarities and differences between pickleball and tennis, exploring various aspects such as rules, court dimensions, equipment, skill requirements, and overall gameplay. So let's step onto the court and compare thesetwo sports.

Rules and Gameplay


Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. It is typically played on a smaller court size, measuring 20x44 feet, and can be enjoyed in singles or doubles format. The game starts with an underhand serve, and players must hit the ball back and forth across the net until one side commits a fault, such as hitting the ball out of bounds or into the net.


Tennis is a well-established sport played on a larger court, measuring 78x27 feet for singles and 78x36 feet for doubles. The game begins with a serve over the net height, and players take turns hitting the ball until one side fails to return it within the boundaries. Tennis features more complex rules, including the presence of different shot types like forehand, backhand, volleys, and smashes

Pickleball Court vs. Tennis Court Dimensions


Pickleball courts are significantly smaller than tennis courts, which makes the game more accessible to players of all ages and skill levels. The compact court size allows for shorter rallies and a faster pace of play, fostering quick reflexes and agile movement. The reduced court dimensions also make pickleball a popular choice for indoor play.


Tennis courts are larger, providing players with more space to cover and longer rallies. The increased court size allows for a wider variety of shots and strategies, emphasizing endurance, power, and precise shot placement. While the larger dimensions may pose a challenge for beginners, they offer greater opportunities for advanced players to showcase their skills.



Pickleball utilizes specialized paddles made of lightweight materials such as graphite or composite. The paddles are smaller than tennis rackets, measuring around 8-9 inches in width and 15-16 inches in length. The game employs a unique plastic ball with holes, similar to a wiffle ball, which provides slower flight and bounce characteristics.


Tennis is played with larger rackets, typically made of graphite or aluminum, featuring a larger sweet spot and longer handle. The tennis ball is made of rubber with a felt covering, designed to provide more speed and bounce compared to a pickleball. The combination of racket and ball characteristics in tennis allows for powerful shots and a faster-paced game.

Skill Requirements


Pickleball is often considered more beginner-friendly due to its simplified rules, smaller court, and slower-paced gameplay. The sport emphasizes quick reflexes, hand-eye coordination, and precise shot placement. While power is essential, pickleball also requires finesse, as players often engage in dinking—a strategic tactic involving soft, controlled shots placed close to the net.


Tennis demands a higher level of physical fitness, endurance, and technical skill. The larger court size and faster ball speed require players to cover more ground and employ a wider range of shots. Tennis players must develop strong serves, groundstrokes, volleys, and the ability to adapt to different playing surfaces such as clay, grass, or hard courts.

Comparing Pickleball to Tennis

So, is pickleball simply mini tennis? And what's better, pickleball or tennis? Obviously we have our own preference. But in truth, both sports offer unique and enjoyable experiences for racquet sport enthusiasts. Pickleball provides a social and accessible option with its smaller court, slower pace, and simplified rules, making it a popular choice for all ages. On the other hand, tennis offers a more physically demanding and technically challenging game, ideal for those seeking a competitive and fast-paced sport.

Whether you prefer pickleball's finesse and agility or tennis's endurance and power, both sports provide an excellent opportunity to stay active, engage in friendly competition, and connect with fellow players. Ultimately, the choice between pickleball and tennis depends on your personal preferences, skill level, and the type of experience you seek on the court. So grab your paddle or racket, head to the nearest court, and enjoy the exhilaration of racquet sports at its finest.

--By Eric Zhuo

Pickleball vs. Tennis: What's the Difference? (2024)


How do you play pickleball vs tennis? ›

In tennis, the player must serve diagonally into the opponent's service box, and the serve must clear the net and land within the service box. In pickleball, the player must serve underhand and hit the ball below the waist, and the serve must land in the opposite service box diagonally.

Why do people like pickleball more than tennis? ›

Accessibility: Pickleball is relatively easy to pick up, regardless of your age or skill level. The court is smaller than a tennis court, and the rules are simpler, making it accessible to beginners. This low barrier to entry means that people can quickly start playing and experiencing the enjoyment of the game.

What 3 sports is pickleball most similar to? ›

Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, table tennis, and badminton. The court is an abbreviation of a tennis court and net, and the game itself combines rules from a variety of racquet sports.

Why do older people love pickleball so much? ›

Aside from being great exercise, there are many reasons why pickleball is attractive to older adults. Since you don't have to cover as much distance as you would on the tennis court, especially if you play doubles, pickleball is physically accessible. There's some learning involved, but it's not too complex.

Why is pickleball so popular with seniors? ›

It can be played at different skill levels, which makes it accessible to people of all ages and abilities. Low impact: Unlike tennis or other racquet sports, pickleball is a low-impact game, which means it puts less stress on the joints and muscles. This makes it a popular choice for older adults or th.

Why can't you play pickleball on a tennis court? ›

Yes, but not without changing the dimensions of the court and the height of the net. A pickleball court is 20 x 44 ft while a tennis court measures 27 x 78 ft. A tennis net measures 42in at the post and 36in in the center. A pickleball net should measure 36in at the post and 34in at the center.

What is a pickleball ball called? ›

Ball. A Wiffle ball was the original ball used when the game was invented. USA Pickleball (USAP) and the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) have since adopted specific ball standards unique to pickleball.

Can you turn a tennis court into a pickleball court? ›

The simplest way is to just lower the tennis net to 34" in the center. Lines may be taped or painted on the court for pickleball (always check with facility first). Then the court can be used for both tennis and pickleball very easily.

Is pickleball an old man sport? ›

The adaptable nature of pickleball embraces all ages with open arms, especially seniors. And it's not just a game - it's a pathway to a healthy lifestyle, offering the perfect blend of low-impact exercise, balance improvement, and flexibility enhancement.

Is pickleball an old person sport? ›

You will see people of all ages, all physiognomy, and all athletic ability out on the courts having fun playing. Some of the attractions of pickleball, but not unique to it, are the social aspects.

Why is pickleball gaining so much popularity? ›

However, it really gained momentum in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. With many team sports off-limits, people turned to pickleball as a socially distant way to stay active. The game's low barrier to entry escalated its popularity. Unlike tennis, pickleball can be played anywhere.

Why are so many people playing pickleball? ›

Pickleball has long been a favorite in places like tennis and community centers. But, the court is only a quarter the size of a tennis court, making it easy to recreate at home in a driveway. Other than a net, a few balls, and paddles, you don't need any other equipment.

What is more popular pickleball and tennis? ›

Pickleball now more popular than tennis, finds Apple Watch study. Health.

Why is pickleball a rapidly growing sport? ›

Experts also pin the rapid popularity of the sport to a few other factors — the ease of play, the low cost of entry and sociability. Pickleball can be learned in a just a few lessons, and players can find tournaments at varying competitive level.

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