Pickleball vs. Tennis: Understanding the Differences and Similarities
Pickleball enjoys the status of America’s fastest-growing sport. Much of the game’s popularity arises from its accessibility to people of all ages and various fitness levels.
The men who invented pickleball took inspiration from tennis, badminton, and ping pong to develop a game to entertain their kids. As a sport played on a court, it bears obvious similarities to tennis but has unique characteristics and rules.
Differences Between Pickleball and Tennis
1. Court Size
You play pickleball on a smaller court than tennis. The dimensions of a pickleball court are 44 feet by 20 feet.
The smaller court size creates a welcoming environment for beginners. You have less space to cover when playing. This does not mean that the game will not be intense for more advanced players, but it allows new players to build their skills without exhausting themselves.
A tennis court presents players with a larger space, measuring 78 feet by 36 feet. The bigger court forces players to move faster and extend themselves farther.
2. Net Height
Although the games are similar in that they both use nets, the net is lower for pickleball. It must be mounted 36 inches on the posts and may dip to 34 inches in the middle.
Tennis nets are higher. They are mounted 42 inches high at the posts and may sag to 36 inches in the center.
4. Playing Equipment
Tennis players use rackets with woven net interiors. Tennis racket weights start at about 11 ounces.
Pickleball players use solid surface paddles with short handles. The paddles are lighter compared to tennis rackets. Paddle weights range from 7 to 9 ounces.
The games also involve different types of balls. Tennis balls are heavier, with standard weights being 1.975 to 2.095 ounces.
Tennis balls are designed for a big bounce as well. The International Tennis Federation requires tennis balls to bounce at least 53 inches.
Pickleballs differ in that they are lighter and do not bounce nearly as much. The plastic balls only weigh between 0.78 and 0.935 ounces. When dropped from a height of 78 inches, the ball should not bounce more than 34 inches.
The lighter, less bouncy ball results in slower movement. This is another aspect that makes pickleball easier for a novice to try.
4. Scoring on the Serve
In pickleball, the team with the serve can score points. If the receiving team cannot return the ball or commits a foul, then the serving side gets a point.
If the serving team fails to keep the ball in play or commits a foul, the serve goes to the other side, but no point is awarded.
Tennis differs in that players win points regardless of whether they have the serve or not. Points arise from failing to return the ball after one bounce or going out of bounds, no matter who has the serve.
5. Non-Volley Zone (aka The Kitchen)
A pickleball court has a 7-foot zone on each side of the net where players may not enter to hit a ball that has not bounced yet. Pickleball players call this area “the kitchen.”
It exists to prevent players from standing near the net and hitting back balls as soon as they cross the net. Being able to do this creates an unfair advantage on such a small court. In contrast, tennis players may approach the net and hit the ball back.
Similarities Between Pickleball and Tennis
1. Singles or Doubles
Both pickleball and tennis allow for either two people or four people to play the game. Due to its popularity as an active game for socialization, pickleball tends to be played as doubles most often.
2. Announce Score Before Serving
Pickleball and tennis have different scoring structures and terminology, but servers announce the score before serving the ball.
3. Similar Physical Techniques
Eye-hand coordination is a central part of both games. Players perform better when they can correctly judge their reactions to incoming or bouncing balls.
Tennis and pickleball players move in ways that have them bend their knees, reach forward, and take quick steps. In either game, you make the most effective swings of the racket or paddle by putting your whole body into it. You can apply more force when coordinating your arm swing with your core and legs.
As you develop your skills in either game, you’ll learn to add spin to the ball. Topspin, backspin, or sidespin produce different results that allow you to manipulate how the ball moves to your advantage.
4. Professional Tours for Both Games
Pickleball and tennis generate enough enthusiasm among the public to support professional tours. Tennis, of course, has a long history as a professional-level spectator sport.
Pickleball represents a much newer entry into the world of professional sports. Since emerging in the 1960s, pickleball has gradually attracted millions of amateur players. As a natural progression, the sport established the professional association, USA Pickleball, and now has televised championships.
5. Welcoming to All Ages
Formal competitions for pickleball began at the Arizona Senior Olympics in 2001 due to the sport’s accessibility for older athletes. However, the game is not only for older adults because it’s easy for kids or adults to learn and play.
Tennis shares this all-ages feature with pickleball. Although tennis produces a more demanding workout on its larger court, it remains a game that reasonably fit older adults can play, whether for the first time or after a lifetime of sports.
Pickleball and Tennis Part of the Active Lifestyle at Bella Collina
The Bella Collina community, nestled in a sprawling 1,900-acre haven near Orlando, Florida, is a vibrant hub of activity and wellness. Our members and residents revel in an array of recreational activities, with top-notch tennis courts, three dynamic pickleball courts, and a championship Sir Nick Faldo-designed golf course.
Step into our on-site pro shops, where tennis and pickleball enthusiasts await a curated selection of premium equipment. Elevate your game under the guidance of our seasoned professionals. We take pride in offering certified instructors to conduct engaging clinics and personalized lessons for tennis and pickleball enthusiasts of every age group.
But Bella Collina is more than just a place for sports. It’s a lifestyle that epitomizes fun, fitness, and relaxation under the Florida sun. Our gated luxury community is a haven of tranquility, surrounded by lush green hills and serene freshwater lakes, providing an idyllic backdrop for our state-of-the-art facilities.
We invite you to explore the vibrant life at Bella Collina. Whether your interest lies in tennis, pickleball, or exploring luxury real estate options, we are here to answer all your questions. Get in touch with us at Bella Collina and discover a world where luxury meets leisure.