Top 10 FAQs on Pickleball vs Tennis

Summary: Pickleball vs Tennis

We have answers to some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about pickleball vs. tennis:

  1. Are pickleball rules the same as tennis?
  2. Is pickleball or tennis more popular?
  3. Are the nets and heights the same?
  4. What are the differences between pickleball and tennis courts?
  5. Can you play pickleball on a tennis court?
  6. Which sport is easier for beginners?
  7. Are shoes the same for the two sports?
  8. What are the differences between pickleballs and tennis balls?
  9. Is playing singles and doubles the same in the two sports?
  10. Are both sports in the Olympics?
  11. Bonus: What’s the difference between pickleball vs. padle (or paddle ball)?

1. Are pickleball rules the same as tennis?

If you play tennis, you have a head start picking up pickleball. There are many similarities (e.g. racquet/paddle sports, hard courts common, singles and doubles). But there are several key differences too:

  • Pickleball only allows underhand serves: No overhead serves like in tennis
  • The unique “two bounce rule” on the pickleball serve: After someone serves, the returning team has to let the ball bounce once before hitting it. Then the serving team also has to let the ball bounce once before hitting it back.
  • No doubles alley: Singles and doubles are played on the same exact pickleball court. Unlike tennis, there is no doubles alley
  • The kitchen in pickleball: There’s a 7-feet “no volley zone” on both sides of the pickleball net called the kitchen
  • Pickleball scores (for doubles) have 3 numbers: The pickleball server will yell something like “5-2-1!” for the:

Fun fact: Pickleball requires underhand serves, but there are wicked underhand serves in tennis. Like this 2019 Wimbledon match where Nick Kyrgios serves underarm to Rafael Nadal:

Want to see more wicked underhand tennis serves? Check out:

In the U.S., pickleball has an estimated 2.5 million players while tennis has 7x more with 18 million players. While tennis is the larger overall sport currently, pickleball has become the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. Between 2019 and 2021 pickleball grew by 40% (whoa!). During that same time tennis grew by 30% (also impressive!)

But The Pickleball Crew is not about being team pickleball vs. team tennis. We’re super excited for both sports to grow. Let’s bring more folks to the courts for some good fun.

(In fact, we’re looking for more crossovers, like the USAPA’s recent pickleball match between tennis giants Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick. Check out the match here.)

3. Are the nets and heights the same?

The net is a bit lower than in tennis. Specifically:

  • Pickleball net: Hung at 36″ at the ends and 34″ in the center
  • Tennis net: Hung at 42″ at the posts and 36″ in the center.

4. What are the differences between pickleball and tennis courts?

Pickleball courts are a bit smaller than tennis courts:

  • Pickleball: 44 x 20 feet (same for singles and doubles)
  • Tennis: 78 x 27 feet (singles) and 78 x 36 feet (doubles)

Here’s a comparison of measurements differences between a pickleball court versus a tennis court:

Given how much smaller pickleball courts are, it means it’s relatively easy to set up a pickleball court onto a tennis court. This can be retrofitting or setting up a temporary court. You could even fit four pickleball courts on the typical area for a tennis court.

Source: Fiend at Court

(Unfortunately, you can’t do the reverse and play tennis on a dedicated pickleball court. Both pickleball courts and nets are smaller.)

5. Can you play pickleball on a tennis court?

Yes! One of the big benefits of pickleball is that you can much more easily set up an impromptu court. One of the easiest ways to do this is to buy a portable net and find some empty tennis courts. You can easily set up sideways on one open side of the court and draw some lines with chalk.

Or, if the tennis court does not have a net setup, you could potentially even fit 4 pickleball courts onto the tennis court and outer surface area.

Do you want to create your own pickleball court? You can custom build a permanent court for $25k-45k or easily set up a court with a $150 portable net. See our 7 Best Portable Pickleball Nets for Tennis Courts.

6. Which sport is easier for beginners?

Pickleball vs tennis for beginners? Pickleball! (We’re probably biased, but pickleball is easy and fun to pick up!)

  • The paddles are easier to control and maneuver than tennis racquets.
  • The paddles also give you a bigger surface area than ping pong.
  • The wiffleball-like pickleball is also dramatically easier to hit and keep in play than a tennis ball.
  • The smaller court area (and typical doubles play) also makes it so that even as a beginner you’re to get to the balls and keep the game in play much longer.

7. Are shoes the same for the two sports?

No, but you can use tennis shoes for pickleball.

Due to pickleball’s fast growth, there are now more dedicated pickleball shoes to choose from than in years past. But, if you’re just picking up the sport or if you’re going to be mostly playing outdoors, then a good pair of tennis shoes can cover everything you need.

If you’re doing indoor pickleball, a pair of volleyball, squash, or other indoor gym shoes would be a good bet. Generally, for indoor pickleball, you’re looking for a pair of court shoes that won’t skid on the hardwood floor or leave marks.

Here are the factors to take into consideration when deciding on a shoe:

  • Toe box: A wide enough toe box is really important for racquet/paddle sports, especially with the amount of sprinting and darting involved in chasing down balls. If you have wide feet, look for a shoe with an extra-wide toe box!
  • Midsole: You’ll want a shoe with a durable midsole. It’ll help your shoe withstand the hard surfaces of the court, especially important for outdoor play.
  • Weight: At the end of the day, this can be more of a personal preference. Generally the heavier the shoe the more durable the shoe and the more stability it provides. However, lighter shoes tend to help players move more quickly and efficiently.
  • Cushion: Both pickleball and tennis shoes should have more cushion in the center of the shoe. This support gives you better control and stability on hard courts, especially outdoor courts.

Regardless of the shoe you’re picking, make sure it’s comfortable and works well for what you need. Shoe comfort can be highly personalized (based on your feet, shoe size, stance, and more), so picking a shoe that makes you feel good on the court is more important than the label on the shoe itself.

8. What are the differences between pickleballs and tennis balls?

Rather than bouncy felt-covered balls, pickleballs are made of hard plastic with perforated holes and resemble a wiffleball. When it comes to literally pickleball vs. tennis (balls):

  • Pickleballs: Move more cleanly because they’re lighter in weight and have less drag because of the holes. They also break (or crack) much more easily than tennis balls, especially in cold weather which affects plastic pickleballs much more than rubber-and-felt tennis balls.
  • Tennis balls: Bounce a lot better and higher due to their rubber core. (It can be a little tough for tennis players to get used to the lower bounce of pickleballs).

Is it different to play in the winter? Unlike tennis balls, pickleballs are made out of plastic. Cold temperatures affect pickleballs much more than tennis balls. Pickleballs are more brittle and crack more easily in the winter. Do you want to play pickleball in the cold months? Get heavier, more durable pickleballs. Check out our guide on How to Play Pickleball in Cold Winter Weather, which includes our top three pickleball picks for winter.

9. Is playing singles and doubles the same in the two sports?

Both sports are great for 1-vs-1 or 2-vs-2 play. However, playing doubles in pickleball is much more common and popular than doubles in tennis. Whereas the tennis world revolves a lot more around singles play.

In pickleball, one key difference is that the court does not have a doubles alley like in tennis. Singles and doubles in pickleball play on the same court.

10. Are both sports in the Olympics?

Tennis has been part of the Olympic games since the inaugural 1896 Summer Olympics. (Though it was dropped in 1924 due to a dispute between the IOC and International Lawn Tennis Federation, officially returning to the Olympics in 1988.)

On the other hand, Pickleball is not an Olympic sport… yet. However, based on it’s increasing popularity, there’s speculation that we could see pickleball make it’s debut in the 2028 Summer Olympics in LA. Fingers crossed!

11. Bonus: What’s the difference between pickleball vs. padle (or even paddleball)?

Alright, a quick rundown:

  • Pickleball: The fastest growing sport in America that we love and dive into across our posts here. It’s played with paddles, and plastic “wiffle-like” balls, and can be played indoors or outdoors on courts that are ~1/3 the size of the tennis court.
  • Padle: Originated in Acapulco, Mexico in the ’60s, padle is popular in Spanish-speaking countries. It’s played in a four-walled enclosed court ~1/3 the size of a tennis court. The balls are felt-covered like tennis balls, though slightly smaller.
  • Paddleball aka Paddle tennis: This is more like a racquetball alternative, with the same balls but solid wooden paddles. The wooden paddles help slow down the game and the speed of the ball. Also like racquetball, players take turns hitting the ball against a wall.

It was fun to put together this guide of top 10 frequently asked questions when it comes to pickleball vs. tennis. Let us know in the comments which sport (pickleball or tennis) do you like more? Or comment on any differences we’re missing!

1 thought on “Top 10 FAQs on Pickleball vs Tennis”

  1. Itís hard to find experienced people about this topic, but you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks


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