Pickleball vs Tennis: What's The Difference?

pickleball vs tennis

If you're looking for a sport that allows you to get some fresh air and exercise and provides the flexibility of playing alone or with a partner, pickleball and tennis are two great options. Both sports have definite appeal. Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the world as well as the U.S., and tennis has a rich history that makes it highly recognizable. With pickleball becoming more and more popular, many people are starting to compare pickleball vs tennis, wondering what the differences are. This guide breaks it down for you.

What Are the Main Differences Between Pickleball and Tennis?

There are several differences between the sports of pickleball and tennis. Let's take a look at each of them.

Pickleball vs Tennis Courts

A standard tennis court is 78 feet by 36 feet, which works out to 2,808 square feet. The average size of a pickleball court is 44 feet by 20 feet or 880 square feet. In other words, a pickleball court is much smaller. However, pickleball enthusiasts don't need a specially designed court to play the sport. Many people play pickleball on tennis courts but just use different lines. Tennis can't be played on a pickleball court due to the space requirements.

Pickleball vs Tennis Net Height

The difference in the net height for pickleball and tennis is not as dramatic as the court size. A pickleball net is 36" high at the post and 34" in the middle. Tennis net heights are 36" in the middle and 42" at the posts. This means that while you can easily use a tennis court for the sport of pickleball, the net normally needs to be repositioned. Using the center strap on the net to lower it can bring the net close to the height used for pickleball, but it will still be higher at the ends than what regulations call for.

Pickleball Paddle vs Tennis Racket

Another major difference when comparing tennis vs pickleball is the equipment used. Both pickleball paddles and tennis rackets come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes, but they have different designs. Tennis rackets are strung and have an open face that allows air to pass through. A pickleball paddle is smaller and has a flat, closed surface. Even if you compare the equipment for pickleball vs paddle tennis, you'll see that paddle tennis paddles have an airflow surface that differs from the pickleball paddle.

Although the head of a pickleball paddle and a tennis racket differs, the handles are similar in shape and usually wrapped in grip tape to increase control. The two types of equipment weigh about the same.

Pickleballs vs Tennis Balls

Most individuals can easily recognize a tennis ball. Usually, the ball features a fibrous felt covering in a fluorescent yellow color. Beneath that is a layer of a rubber compound that encloses a hollow air-filled interior. Regulations stipulate that tennis balls should be between 2.57" to 2.7" in diameter and weigh 1.98 oz. to 2.1 oz. The size, weight and design of a tennis ball make it possible for the pros to hit them at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour, and they have a lot of bounce.

Although it is often fluorescent yellow like a tennis ball, a pickleball typically has a smooth surface and 26 to 40 evenly spaced holes. A pickleball is normally 2.87" to 2.98" in diameter, slightly larger than a tennis ball, but they weigh 0.78 oz. to .935 oz., much lighter than a tennis ball. The holes in the ball and the light weight mean that a pickleball has little bounce and moves at a slower speed. There are some variations between indoor and outdoor pickleballs with ones intended for use on open-air courts slightly heavier due to the presence of a protective coating.

Pickleball vs Tennis Serving

In both tennis and pickleball, serving is a key part of the game, but serving methods differ. Tennis uses an overhand serve, and the technique usually takes a lot of practice to fully master. With pickleball, players use an underhand serve. The method of serving is easier to learn. Most people only need to try a few times to get the hang of doing so without hitting the ball into the kitchen or out of bounds.

Is Pickleball or Tennis Right for You?

Pickleball and tennis have a lot of the same benefits. They provide an opportunity for socializing and a chance to partner with a friend. A match of either will get you moving to burn calories and strengthen your heart and lungs.

Compared to other sports, pickleball and tennis are both relatively accessible because they require minimal equipment. However, pickleball paddles and balls do tend to be less expensive than tennis rackets and balls. Those who want to give the up-and-coming sport a try can purchase backyard starter kits that contain two rackets, one or two balls and an easy-to-set-up net that can be used anywhere that you have access to flat concrete.

Entry into tennis usually requires a larger initial investment, and due to the size of the space needed to play, tennis can normally only be enjoyed on an actual court. The main drawback to pickleball is that in some areas of the country where the sport has yet to fully take off, finding opponents may be challenging. Scoring is also a little more complicated, but we've put together a guide to Pickleball Scoring to make it all a little more simple.

If you're eager to give pickleball a try, Devereux can help you get dressed for the court. Our Pickleball Capsule collection includes apparel that will keep you focused and comfortable in any season plus pickleball t-shirts like our Kitchen Paddle Tee to complete your look.

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