What Is The Difference Between Pickleball And Tennis?

Tennis and pickleball are both racquet sports. There are several similarities between them: you can play them either indoors or outdoors; you need at least two players; or the rule is that one person serves first, then alternates back and forth until someone wins.

So, what is the difference between pickleball and tennis?

This blog post will explain how these sports differ from one another so that you can choose the one that best suits your ability level. Scroll down to see more!

What Is The Difference Between Pickleball And Tennis?

To better grasp the similarities and differences of these two games, let’s discuss them further in some crucial criteria.

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Instead of the fuzzy yellow wool-like material ball in tennis, it’s the plastic ball that is used in pickleball. It has many holes and is very lightweight, contributing to its ability to bounce far and high.

The pickleball ball is made of plastic and comes in a variety of sizes. It is bigger than a regular tennis ball and is approximately 2 7/8 – 3 inches in diameter. Its weight ranges from .08 to 1.02 ounces.

These balls at major sporting events usually have a fluorescent yellow color, but they can be virtually any other color for recreational use. They’re covered with fibrous felt that modifies their aerodynamic properties and has an oval white cover to optimize visibility during play.

Paddles Vs. Racquets 

Though they are both sports racquets, they are different in use. The paddle is much smaller than the racket used for tennis. It also has a solid surface instead of the woven thread that you see on tennis racquets.


Paddles vs racquets

A tennis racquet is made with holes and carbon fiber. Different players can choose strings that are spaced out differently depending on how intense or competitive they are playing.

The paddle of this sport is like a Ping-Pong paddle that is flat and has no holes. It’s bigger than ping pong but smaller than a tennis racquet.


Difference between material

The paddles are made of high-tech materials. Tennis racquets have been going through a lot of changes, with wooden handles giving way to graphite and fiberglass in recent decades due to their increasing popularity. The woven strings are synthetic or natural gut material.


The pickleball racquet costs between $50-$150. Its opponent can vary in price, depending on the materials used. They often range from 50 cents to 250 dollars.

Playing Area (Court)

Difference between court

The court size for tennis is 78 feet long by 27 feet wide, while the court size for pickleball is shorter at 44 x 20 feet. This makes it much harder to hit a “drop shot” with your backside to the net. 

Gravity and friction work against you more in pickleball than you do in the other. This means that the ball will have a higher bounce off the court, making it difficult for players to get drop shots.

Net Height

The height of a pickleball net is less than the height of most tennis nets. A tennis net is 42 inches high at the side posts and 36 inches in height. A pickleball net has a similar shape, but with a height of 36 inches at the side posts and 34 inches in the middle. They both have a very similar composition setup for setting up on courts.


The below difference in net height results in how you serve the ball in each sport. In tennis, you can do an underhand serve or one with a lot of spin and speed. But in pickleball, you can only serve the ball with an underhand swing or an upward movement.

One similarity is that the ball should be hit diagonally to your opponent’s side. The ball can stay in play until one person commits a fault. However, pickleball is different because you can only score a point when it’s your turn to serve the ball.

Scoring System 

Tennis is a much more physically intense sport than pickleball. There are six chances to score in this game, but in pickleball, you only have one chance. Pickleball only has scoring when the ball is being served while it doesn’t matter who is serving or receiving the ball in tennis – both players can get points when they are on their turn.

In pickleball, you win when you get 11 points with a 2-point difference over the other player’s score. While you can only win a tennis game if you have more points than your opponent for three sets, and each set is different depending on how many it has been decided will play (15, 30, or 40). You will start with zero or “love.”

If you commit a fault in a tennis game, your opponent will get the point. This fault might be one of the issues below:

  • Do not return the ball over the net to your opponent’s side of the court
  • Let the ball bounce twice on your side of the court
  • Hit a ball out of bounds
  • Play in a zone that is not for singles players

And you can make mistakes playing pickleball, too. These would be considered as a fault:

  • Volley the ball during a service return
  • Volley the ball on the first return after serving
  • Do not get it in the right box when you serve
  • Hit the ball out of bounds

Game Length

Pickleball games are typically shorter in duration than tennis games. It often lasts between 10 and 25 minutes, with most games taking about 15 minutes.

A regular tennis match usually takes from 90 minutes to over 2 hours. However, the fastest professional match ever lasted only 20 minutes. The longest recorded game extends to 11 hours and 5 minutes long, so it’s clear that this sport requires much more stamina!

Equipment Needed

The only things you really need to bring with you when playing pickleball are some rubber or plastic paddles and balls. These are the same paddles that people use for badminton, but they’re more similar to ping pong paddles than tennis racquets.

You also need some equipment to play tennis. Equipment for this game is more expensive due to all the different kinds of racquets. Many people like to collect these racquets if they are interested in sports memorabilia. Many of these racquets were made for professional players, and they can become very valuable.


Difference between popularity

Since pickleball is played with a larger ball, it’s easier to play for older people. There are also fewer injuries because of the shape and size of this ball compared to regular tennis balls.

The game has become very popular with seniors. The reason is that they favor the way it doesn’t cause too much strain on their bodies. In addition, it is also popular with people who have a difficult time playing with the tennis ball because of a physical disability.


Although there are still many similarities between the two sports, pickleball is a bit more relaxed. It’s also easier to learn and there are many variations of the game that can be played depending on what you want (singles, doubles, mixed doubles).

The main difference you’ll notice right away is that pickleball balls have holes in them and they can be hit with any part of your paddle, not just the top like in tennis. Other differences include the court size, net height, scoring system, game length, etc. Which one do you prefer? 

We hope we were able to help clear up any confusion about these two games. Still, if not, please feel free to reach out with your questions or comments!

Further reading:

Pickleball: a little bit Ping-Pong, a little bit badminton, a lot of momentum

Comparing the health benefits of tennis and pickleball

Tennis vs. Pickleball – What’s The Difference?

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