Pickleball vs. Tennis – A Comparison and Frequently Asked Questions

The factions have formed, and the world seems to be debating the merits of Pickleball vs. Tennis. Pitting one sport against another is one of the dumbest things ever. If a game can provide joy and produce fans, can’t we all just get along? But there I go, dreaming again.

Rather than look at a battle between racquet and paddles; plastic and rubber; skill and fun; let’s examine several main differences between pickleball and tennis.

Tennis and Pickleball History 

Tennis can be traced back to 12th century France, while pickleball was invented in the mid-20th century in the U.S. The start of tennis is rooted in religious ceremonies and games played by monks. It wasn’t until the 18th century that tennis became a competitive sport with documented rules. On the other hand, pickleball was created as a backyard game in the late 1960s for families in Washington state.

How Does Tennis and Pickleball Equipment Differ?

Tennis requires a racquet, tennis balls, and shoes with specialized grip. For pickleball, you need a paddle, a perforated plastic ball, and sneakers or other comfortable shoes. Both sports offer wooden, composite or graphite equipment, incorporating fiberglass, titanium, graphite and/or kevlar. And when it comes to pickleball shoes vs. tennis shoes, for now, they are essentially interchangeable, though I’m sure marketing departments are hard at work to change that.

Pickleball vs. Tennis Court Size

If size matters, tennis is king. A tennis court is 78 feet long and 27 feet wide, while a pickleball court is 44 feet long and 20 feet wide. But bigger isn’t always better, as both sports can get you a solid workout. A smaller court for pickleball means a shorter net, 42 feet compared to 21 feet 9 inches. 

pickleball net height vs tennis

Pickleball Net Height vs. Tennis

Pickleball nets have a height of 36 inches on the sides and 34 inches in the middle; tennis nets are 42 inches on the sides and 36 inches in the middle. Keep this in mind if you are ever practicing pickleball on a tennis court with a tennis net.

Pickleball Scoring vs. Tennis Scoring

Pickleball vs. Tennis is also different when it comes to scoring. Tennis scores go love, 15, 30, 40 and game. If both players have 40, that’s called a deuce, and the next player to score two points wins the game. For pickleball, scoring goes 0, 1, 2, 3, etc. Often, the first player or team to reach 11 (win by two) wins. In tennis, every ball in play results in a point. In pickleball, you must be serving to gain a point.

Should You Play Tennis or Pickleball?

Pickleball is an intergenerational sport with a low barrier to entry; most people find the basics easy to learn. Tennis generally requires more skill and takes longer to master. However, as with all sports, there are professionals and the rest of us. 🙂

Which Is a Better Workout, Pickleball or Tennis?

There has been much debate on the workout you get when playing tennis vs. pickleball. While it is true that playing tennis burns more calories, because of the longer rallies in pickleball, you could experience a more significant workout.


Reply to @nelsi1995 Tennis and pickleball are the two sports of my life 💜 #tennis #pickleball #tennistok #pickleballtok

♬ original sound – Simone Jardim | Pickleball Pro

Pickleball vs. Tennis – Expenses

The cost of playing tennis can be expensive as you need to purchase a racquet, balls, and shoes. The cost of playing pickleball is relatively low as all you need is a paddle and a ball. If you are just starting, pickleball costs less. A starter paddle can be purchased for $15, and a single ball will deliver hours and hours of playtime.

In my experience, it’s cheaper to play pickleball. I have joined open plays for as low as $7 per hour–tennis is normally twice that. Of course, supply and demand will dictate how much courts sell for in the future.

How Do Serve Rules Differ?

In tennis, serves can be made overhand, and players have two chances to get a successful serve in. In pickleball, the serve must be made underhand, and players only get one chance for a successful serve.

Pickleball vs. Tennis for Doubles Play

Although both tennis and pickleball can be played in doubles, the dynamics and strategies used in doubles play differ significantly between the two sports. In pickleball, stacking (a strategy where both players on a team are on the same side of the court) is common, while in tennis, the players usually cover one side of the court each.

Ball Spin and Speed in Tennis vs. Pickleball

Tennis players often use spin to their advantage, employing topspin and backspin to manipulate the ball’s movement and bounce. In pickleball, the plastic ball and paddle design make it more challenging to generate significant spin, making the game more about placement and strategy.

pickleball vs. tennis

When it comes to speed, tennis balls are faster and can be hit with more force than pickleball balls, which tend to be lighter and slower. This ball speed difference can affect the games’ intensity and pace.

Does Pickleball Damage Tennis Courts?

This one is simple: NO. Just be sure to wear proper footwear.

Which Sport Has More Players…Pickleball or Tennis?

While pickleball is often billed as the fastest-growing sport in the world, it still has a ways to go to catch up to tennis. Within the U.S., there are approximately 4.8M pickleball players vs. 22M tennis players. And if we look at social media followers, tennis has a significant lead with about 16.4M vs. 1.5M for pickleball.

Ultimately, both sports have their merits. Pickleball Rookie encourages potential players to try both games. And hey, you can ultimately choose both; that’s the beauty of sports.

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