Pickleball and tennis share some similarities, but they also have several key differences. Here are some of the main distinctions between the two sports:
Court size: A pickleball court is smaller than a tennis court. The dimensions of a regulation pickleball court are 20 feet wide by 44 feet long, while a standard tennis court measures 36 feet wide by 78 feet long for singles and 36 feet wide by 108 feet long for doubles.
Net height: The height of a pickleball net is 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches at the center. A tennis net is higher, measuring 42 inches at the sidelines and 36 inches at the center.
Scoring system: In pickleball, only the serving team can score points, and the game is usually played to 11 points (win by 2). Tennis uses a more complex scoring system, including points, games, and sets, with a combination of 15, 30, 40, and “deuce” points.
Equipment: Pickleball uses a perforated plastic ball, similar to a Wiffle ball, and solid paddles made from materials like wood, composite, or graphite. Tennis uses a hollow rubber ball covered with felt and strung rackets made from materials such as graphite, carbon fiber, or aluminum.
Serve: In pickleball, the serve is executed underhand and must be hit diagonally across the court into the opponent’s service box. In tennis, serves are generally executed overhand and can be hit with more force and spin.
Double bounce rule: In pickleball, each team must let the ball bounce once on their side of the court before hitting it on both the serve and the return of serve. This rule does not apply in tennis.
The non-volley zone (kitchen): In pickleball, there is a 7-foot zone on either side of the net called the non-volley zone or kitchen, where players cannot hit the ball in the air (volley). Players must allow the ball to bounce before hitting it when they are within this area. There is no equivalent zone in tennis.
Pace of play: Pickleball is generally played at a slower pace compared to tennis, due to the smaller court size, lighter ball, and underhand serve.
These differences make pickleball and tennis distinct sports, each with its unique strategies, techniques, and challenges. While players with a tennis background may find it easier to transition to pickleball, both sports can be enjoyed by individuals of all ages and skill levels.