by Pickleball Superstore June 15, 2023
Are you on the hunt for a new racket sport to try out? Well then, look no further! You probably already know a thing or two about tennis or ping pong, so today, we’re going to compare two other racket sports that have been gaining steam these past few years: paddle tennis vs. pickleball.
Sure, they may look similar on the surface, but some key differences between the two sports may make one a better fit for you than the other. So, we will compare some key features of paddle tennis vs. pickleball to help you find your next favorite racket sport. Let’s get started!
Before we explore the differences, let’s explore what makes these two racket sports so similar.
First and foremost, paddle tennis (also sometimes known as paddleball or POP tennis) and pickleball are, as you may have expected, both variants of tennis. Players face off against each other on a court divided into two by a net and use a racket to hit a ball from their side to the opposing team’s.
To score a point, the ball must touch the ground on the opponent’s side within the court’s boundaries. The main idea is similar to that of tennis. However, they have a few other things in common that differ slightly from their predecessor.
For example, while a tennis racket usually has solid frames with tight, crisscrossing strings, paddle tennis and pickleball paddles have no strings. Instead, you use a solid paddle or one with air holes.
One other key difference is the court size. Paddle tennis and pickleball courts are much smaller than tennis courts, making them more suitable for those who want to avoid tiring themselves out too quickly.
While tennis is clearly quite different from paddle tennis and pickleball, these two sports have their differences too. Let’s take a look at some of their most notable distinctions below.
If you’re familiar with the size of a doubles badminton court, then you already know a pickleball court’s dimensions. They’re about 44 x 20 feet for singles and doubles pickleball games.
On the other hand, a paddle tennis court is a little bit longer, at about 50 x 20 feet. Since it has been rebranded as POP tennis, though, this is also considered to be the size of the POP Classic court. The official new POP tennis courts are about 60L x 21W for singles and 60L x 27W feet for doubles.
While paddle tennis and pickleball courts feature four service zones and no doubles alleys, they each have something distinct regarding their layouts.
A pickleball court has a non-volley zone, which covers about seven feet from each side of the center. Here, pickleball players are not allowed to volley, meaning they can’t hit the ball right out of the air and over the net.
Instead of a non-volley zone, paddle tennis courts feature a backcourt. This three-foot area at the back of the court’s length is bracketed by a service line and baseline but doesn’t have the same restrictions as the non-volley zone.
Of course, you’ll use paddles/rackets and balls in both sports, but they are slightly different.
A pickleball paddle must have less than 24 inches of surface area and can’t exceed 17 inches in length. There isn’t any width limit, though it should complement the paddle’s length.
On the other hand, a paddle tennis paddle, or today’s POP tennis racket, is a little more specific. It should have a maximum length of 18.5 inches, a maximum frame thickness of 38mm, and a maximum face of 10 inches wide. And, unlike solid pickleball paddles, paddle tennis paddles tend to have holes.
While the paddles may not be too different, the balls certainly are! A pickleball ball looks similar to a wiffleball, as it’s plastic and full of holes but is slightly heavier.
Now, a paddle tennis ball is a bit more similar to a regular tennis ball. The official ball for paddle tennis is usually made of rubber and may be called a “Green Dot.” Its internal pressure is roughly 75% of a regular tennis ball
However, there is another option for paddle tennis. There is also the “Orange Dot” ball, which is only 50% of the pressure of a standard tennis ball. This one is usually used for children, beginners, and those who generally like slower-paced games.
As previously mentioned, the two games are played quite similarly. There is one area where they can be quite different, though - their serving style.
Regarding pickleball, players need to get their serves right the first time. It needs to be underhanded and can’t touch the non-volley zone.
With paddle tennis, though, the serving rules are a little laxer. You still only get the one serving attempt, but you can serve the ball however you like.
This is another area where paddle tennis and pickleball differ significantly. While paddle tennis typically follows the same scoring rules as regular tennis (Love - 15 - 30 - 40, etc.), the system used for pickleball is quite unique
Without going into too much detail, the typical pickleball game goes to 11, where the winner must overcome the opposing team by at least two points. The interesting thing about pickleball scoring is that only the serving player or team can earn a point - the receiving team is out of luck.
As you can see, the two sports have some significant differences. Which one is right for you may largely come down to personal preference.
If you’re looking for a smaller game of tennis with similar balls, rules, and scoring systems, then paddle tennis may be the right choice. However, paddleball is your best bet if you’re looking for a game that’s a little more challenging and different than a more traditional racket sport.
And as a bonus, if you decide to go with pickleball as your paddle sport, you’re already in the right place! We have all the paddles, balls, shoes, and even a court locator to make you a pickleball player in no time.
Besides, you already know tennis, so why don’t you try pickleball? There's a reason it's the fastest growing sport. You won’t regret it!