Pickleball and Tennis Differences and Similarities

Many people that have played tennis all their lives are now playing pickleball. And many others have not played pickleball yet, but are very curious as to the differences between these two great sports. Here’s a brief list of differences between the two sports:

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A pickleball court is smaller than a tennis court, it is 20’ x 44’ for both singles and doubles. And unlike tennis where you can volley from anywhere, in pickleball a non-volley zone extends 7’ back from the net on each side, commonly called “the kitchen”. The tennis court size is a rectangle as well, 78 feet long and, for singles matches, 27 feet wide. For doubles matches, the court is 36 feet wide.


In pickleball the net is a bit lower than in tennis. The net in pickleball is hung at 36” at the ends and 34” in the middle, and in tennis the height of the net at the center is 3 feet.


The balls used in tennis and pickleball are different as well. For pickleball, the official pickleball is made of plastic and is between 2 7/8 inches to 3 inches in diameter and weighs between .08 and 1.02 ounces. There are no color restrictions other than the ball must be a single, consistent color. The USAPA has tested and approved a number of outdoor and indoor balls for official tournament play.

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Tennis balls are fluorescent yellow at major sporting events, but in recreational play can be virtually any color. Tennis balls are covered in a fibrous felt which modifies their aerodynamic properties, and each has a white curvilinear oval covering it.


Racquets used in pickleball are smaller than the ones used in tennis, and constructed of different materials. Competitive paddles used in pickleball are constructed from a high-tech composite, ranging in cost from $50-$150 each. Pickleball paddles are a solid surface.

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Tennis racquets were made mostly of wood until the 1970’s, but more modern racquets now are made from fiberglass and graphite. This makes them lighter but just as strong and powerful for good strokes. The striking surface of a tennis racquet is a woven string, made of natural or synthetic gut material. Cost ranges between $50-$250 each.

Scoring System

We’re not going to go into all the details regarding the scoring systems for both sports, as that would make this blog post very long, but instead just mention a few of the biggest differences between the scoring systems for both tennis and pickleball.

One big difference is that in pickleball unlike tennis, you can only score on your serve. The receiving team can’t score. In tennis you play games and games lead to sets, matches usually played to 2 out of 3 sets. In pickleball, games are played to 11 points, with a team needing to win by a 2-point difference.

For both sports, it just takes 2-3 times of playing for anyone to pick up the scoring system well.

At the end of the day, both sports are very similar in the sense that both are highly social, entertaining activities that can be played for a lifetime, in both singles and doubles!

No matter which of the sports you decide to play (or play both of them!), you will find yourself being a kid out there on the courts, having fun, making new friends … and simply having a good ol’ time!! :-)

Get out there and play tennis and pickleball, no matter what level you are, you’ll always find players your level in your area, and have a ball!

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Warmest regards from the Golden Coast,

– Mani & Sindy