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Difference Between Pickleball and Paddle Tennis

Pickleball and paddle tennis are both popular racket sports that share similarities in terms of gameplay and equipment. In spite of this, the two differ in a number of ways that make them distinct from one another.

It can be helpful to understand these differences so that players can choose a sport that best meets their preferences and abilities. It is the purpose of this article to highlight the characteristics of pickleball and paddle tennis and to compare their rules, equipment, and strategies.

No matter how experienced or new to these sports you are, you will find this guide useful for understanding the unique features of pickleball and paddle tennis. So, let’s dive in and discover the difference between pickleball and paddle tennis.

What is Pickleball

Pickleball is an exciting and strategic sport that brings together elements from tennis, badminton, and table tennis. It offers a fast-paced experience on a court that is the same size as in doubles badminton.

In this game, players utilize pickleball paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball. This unique sport has a fascinating history that dates back to 1965, when it was created on Bainbridge Island, Washington in 1965, by a group of friends.

These friends wanted to come up with a new game that combined the best aspects of their favorite sports. They succeeded in creating pickleball, a game that quickly gained popularity.

In 1967, the first permanent pickleball court was built at the home of Bob O’Brian, another resident of Bainbridge Island.

This marked an important milestone for the sport, as it provided players with a dedicated space to play and further refine their skills. The first known pickleball tournament took place several years later, in 1976, in Tukwila, Washington.

During this tournament, players had the opportunity to showcase their skills and compete against each other, demonstrating the growing popularity of the sport. Over the years, pickleball tournaments have become a regular event, attracting players from all over the world.

What is Paddle Tennis?

Paddle tennis, also known as Pop tennis, deck tennis, or simply paddle, is a sport that bears similarities to traditional tennis but with a few notable differences. Instead of rackets, players use paddles, and the ball used is softer and made of compressed rubber, resembling a tennis ball.

Due to its softer nature, the ball is easier to control and moves at a slower pace through the air. The court used for paddle tennis is smaller than a traditional tennis court, and the net height is set at 31 inches, shorter than the 36-inch nets used in pickleball.

Although paddle tennis can be played both as doubles and singles, doubles is the more popular form of the game. A full-size paddle tennis court is suitable for both doubles and singles matches.

In 1915, paddle tennis was invented. The sport gained recognition and popularity quickly, with the first paddle tennis tournament taking place in 1922. Following the tournament’s success, the United States Paddle Tennis Association (USPA) was established in 1923, further solidifying the sport’s presence and providing a platform for organized competition.

Differences Between Pickleball and Paddle Tennis

Pickleball and paddle tennis are two popular racket sports that have been gaining a lot of attention in recent years. Both sports provide a great workout and are a lot of fun to play, but they do have some key differences that set them apart.

Pickleball vs Paddle Tennis

This section explores the differences between pickleball and paddle tennis to help you decide which sport is right for you.

Pickleball Vs Paddle Tennis Court Dimensions

One of the most significant differences lies in the paddle tennis vs pickleball court size. They are 50 feet in length and 20 feet in width on a standard paddle tennis court.

On the other hand, a standard pickleball court can have the same width but is six feet shorter in length. However, it’s important to note that pickleball courts converted from tennis courts may be larger, measuring 60 feet long and 30 feet wide.

Additionally, tournament-designed pickleball courts may be even larger than that. These variations in court dimensions play a crucial role in the gameplay experience of each sport.

Court Layout

Standard pickleball courts are slightly shorter in length compared to paddle tennis courts. However, pickleball courts increase the challenge by providing players with even less space to hit the ball.

To build an outdoor pickleball court, first, measure and mark the dimensions of the court, which is 20 feet wide and 44 feet long for a doubles court. Ensure the surface is level and free of any obstacles.

One notable feature of pickleball courts is the “non-volley zone,” which extends seven feet from either side of the center. This zone restricts players from hitting the ball back over the net and adds an extra layer of strategy to the game.

Next, install a net at the center of the court, at a height of 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches at the center. Properly secure the net posts to ensure stability.

Paddle tennis courts, however, feature a “backcourt” that spans the last three feet of the court’s length, located between the baseline and a service line. Other than these differences, the layouts of both sports are quite similar. Both sports have four service zones and do not include double alleys.

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Pickleball Vs Paddle Tennis Racket.

Handheld rackets are the main tools used in both pickleball and paddle tennis. Interestingly, both sports have regulations regarding racket size. In pickleball, rackets cannot exceed 17 inches in height, while paddle tennis is more strict, with a precise height requirement of 17.5 inches, allowing no deviation.

When it comes to the balls used in each sport, pickleball initially used Wiffle balls but later switched to smaller plastic balls with holes. These specialized balls offer better control and maneuverability during rallies. In contrast, paddle tennis uses rubber balls with lower pressure than standard tennis balls, following a more conventional approach.

Scoring System

The scoring system in pickleball and paddle tennis differs in terms of earning points. In pickleball, only the serving team has the opportunity to accumulate points. The games are usually played until a team reaches a score of 11, with the requirement of winning by 2 points.

Difference Between Pickleball and Paddle Tennis

On the other hand, paddle tennis follows the same scoring system as traditional tennis, where both sides have the chance to score points during a round.

Even though pickleball and paddle tennis are both enjoyable racket sports, they have their unique characteristics. Ultimately, the choice between the two sports depends on your preferences and what you’re looking to get out of the game.

Final Thoughts.

There are similarities and difference between pickleball and paddle tennis, although there are also distinct differences between them. Pickleball is played on a smaller court with a larger and lighter ball, while paddle tennis is played on a standard tennis court with a heavier ball.

Furthermore, the rules and scoring systems differ between the two sports. Ultimately, whether you prefer the fast-paced action of pickleball or the strategic gameplay of paddle tennis, both sports offer unique experiences and opportunities for fun and exercise.


Can You Play Pickleball on a Paddle Tennis Court?

According to the official rules of USA pickleball, it is not permissible to play pickleball on a paddle tennis court. However, for those who engage in pickleball casually and want to enjoy the game for fun, it is possible to play pickleball on a paddle tennis court with some minor modifications.

Is There a Difference Between Pickleball and Paddle Ball?

Pickleball uses a lightweight plastic wiffle ball with holes in it. Typically, paddleball is played with small, soft rubber balls, but it can also be played with racquetballs or tennis balls. Scoring in pickleball is different in both versions of paddleball. The method of serving is also different.

Are Pickleball and Padel the Same Sport?

No, Pickleball and padel are two different sports. While both are played with paddles and involve hitting a ball over a net, they have distinct differences in terms of court dimensions, rules, scoring, and equipment. These variations stem from their evolution from separate racket sports.

Jimmy Wang

Jimmy Wang

Jimmy Wang is a basketball enthusiast and recent graduate with a strong passion for the sport. With a focus on sports performance and health-related topics, Jimmy brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his work. His dedication to providing the best sporting tips and inside knowledge about various sports, along with his comprehensive analysis and behind-the-scenes stories, sets him apart. Combined with his personal touch as a father of four and his interest in outdoor activities and traveling, Jimmy offers a unique perspective and a well-rounded approach to sports blog.

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