If you’re someone who thinks they might enjoy playing racquet sports, you may be considering picking up pickleball or tennis. While both sports share some similarities, distinct differences between the two can make it difficult to decide which one to try.
Are you struggling to choose the right sport for you? Don’t worry, in this guide you’ll find everything you need to know.
Follow along for a breakdown of the key differences between pickleball and tennis, so you can make an informed decision and start playing the sport that’s right for you. Let’s dive in!
What Are the Key Differences Between Pickleball and Tennis?
There are many differences between pickleball and tennis. Here is an extensive list of the distinctions between the two:
- Court Size:
A pickleball court is smaller than a tennis court. A pickleball court measures 20 feet wide by 44 feet long, while a tennis court measures 27 feet wide by 78 feet long.
The smaller size of the pickleball court makes the game less physically demanding than tennis. The smaller pickleball court size also makes the sport a more accessible and beginner-friendly sport, as it requires much less speed and endurance as a competitive tennis match.
Pickleball is played with a small, table tennis-like paddle, while tennis is played with a larger racquet. Pickleballs are lighter and hollow with holes, whereas tennis balls are made with a rubber shell and pressurized gas.
In tennis, a player must win six games to win a set, and they must win two out of three or three out of five sets to win a match. In pickleball, a player must win 11 points to win a game, and they must win two out of three games to win a match.
Learn more about How Scoring Works in Pickleball.
In pickleball, the serve must be made underhand and the paddle must contact the ball below the server’s waist. In tennis, the serve can be made overhand or underhand and there are no restrictions on where the ball can be struck.
Pickleball is generally played at a slower pace than tennis, with shorter rallies and less running required.
Tennis is typically more physically demanding and requires greater skill and athleticism, making pickleball an ideal racquet sport for beginners.
Do Pickleball and Tennis Use Different Equipment?
Pickleball and tennis have some notable differences in equipment. Here are the key differences:
- Pickleball Paddles vs. Tennis Racquets:
In pickleball, players use a lightweight paddle that is usually made of materials like graphite or aluminum. Pickleball paddles are typically smaller than tennis racquets, with a length of around 15 to 16 inches and a width of 7 to 8 inches. Explore the Best Pickleball Paddles of 2023 guide.
Tennis players use a larger racquet that can be made of a variety of materials, including graphite, aluminum, or wood. These racquets are typically longer than pickleball paddles, with a length of around 27 inches and a width of 9 to 11 inches.
- Ball Size and Weight:
The pickleball is smaller and lighter than a tennis ball. A pickleball has a diameter of around 2.87 inches and weighs around 0.88 ounces, while a tennis ball has a diameter of around 2.7 inches and weighs around 2 ounces.
Tennis players typically wear form-fitting clothing made of moisture-wicking materials to help with sweat management, while pickleball players can wear looser clothing that allows for more mobility and breathability since it is a less physically demanding activity.
- Court Surface:
While both sports can be played on a variety of surfaces, including clay, grass, and hard courts, pickleball is often played on a hard court surface like asphalt or concrete, while tennis can be played on all of these surfaces as well as indoor courts with carpet or wood surfaces.
Can I Play Pickleball on a Tennis Court?
Yes, you can play pickleball on a tennis court. In fact, many pickleball players use tennis courts as a convenient and readily available option for playing. That being said, it is important to remember that pickleball and tennis courts have different court sizes and dimensions, and a pickleball court is significantly smaller than a tennis court.
When playing pickleball on a tennis court, you will need to adjust the court markings and boundaries accordingly.
Typically, pickleball can be played on a tennis court by drawing new court lines on top of the existing tennis court lines using chalk or tape. This allows you to create a smaller court within the larger tennis court, with proper pickleball court dimensions.
How Does Scoring Work in Pickleball and Tennis?
How Scoring Works in Pickleball:
- In pickleball, points can only be won by the serving team.
- The serving team serves the ball underhand from behind the baseline and must make contact with the ball below their waist.
- If the serving team wins the rally, they earn a point and the same server serves again from the opposite court.
- If the receiving team wins the rally, they become the serving team and the player who served last on their team serves next.
The first team to reach 11 points, with a lead of at least 2 points, wins the game. A match typically consists of best-of-three games.
How Scoring Works in Tennis:
- In tennis, either player can win points.
- The server serves the ball overhand from behind the baseline and must make contact with the ball while it is in the air.
- If the server wins the rally, they earn a point and continue serving for the next point.
- If the receiver wins the rally, they earn a point and become the server for the next point.
The first player to win four points, with a lead of at least 2 points, wins the game. The scoring system in tennis is more complex than in pickleball, with points being referred to as “love” (0 points), “15” (1 point), “30” (2 points), “40” (3 points), and “game” (4 points). In some cases, a tie-breaker may be used to determine the winner of a set.
What is the Difference Between Net Height in Tennis and Pickleball?
The net height is different between tennis and pickleball.
In pickleball, the net is 36 inches (0.914 meters) high at the sides and 34 inches (0.864 meters) high at the center. The net is lower in the center to allow players to hit an overhead shot or “smash.” This lower height also makes it easier to return serves and adds to the fast-paced nature of the game.
In tennis, the net is 3 feet (0.914 meters) high at the center and 3 feet 6 inches (1.07 meters) high at the posts for both professional and amateur matches.
The difference in net height is one of the factors that contributes to the unique characteristics of each game. Tennis is known for its emphasis on power and endurance, with a higher net making it more challenging to hit passing shots or winners. Pickleball, on the other hand, places a premium on quick reflexes, precision, and finesse, with the lower net height allowing for more aggressive net play and faster rallies.
How Many Calories Do You Burn in Both Sports?
In both pickleball and tennis, you can get a good workout in and burn some calories while having fun.
How Many Calories Does the Average Person Burn in an Hour of Pickleball?
The number of calories burned while playing pickleball varies by age, gender, weight, and activity level. However, here are some approximate values based on a 150-pound (68 kg) person playing for one hour:
- Casual pickleball play: 330-400 calories
- Competitive pickleball play: 400-500 calories
Pickleball is a great form of exercise that can help you burn calories, improve your cardiovascular health, and enhance your overall fitness. The fast-paced nature of the game, which involves quick bursts of movement and frequent changes of direction, can provide a challenging workout that is both fun and effective.
How Many Calories Does the Average Person Burn in an Hour of Tennis?
The number of calories burned while playing tennis varies depending on factors such as age, gender, weight, and activity level. However, here are some approximate values based on a 150-pound (68 kg) person playing for one hour:
- Casual singles tennis: 330-450 calories
- Competitive singles tennis: 450-550 calories
- Casual doubles tennis: 250-330 calories
- Competitive doubles tennis: 330-450 calories
Now that you know the difference between tennis and pickleball, get familiarized with pickleball in these helpful guides:
- Are You Allowed to Hit the Net in Pickleball?
- Are You Allowed to Double Hit in Pickleball?
- How Does 1-v-1 Pickleball Work? Guide to Pickleball Singles
- AZ Drive: Get to Know Arizona’s Major League Pickleball Team
- Atlanta Bouncers: Get to Know Georgia’s Major League Pickleball Team