We all love a good racket sport, but sometimes it’s not so easy to differentiate between them. This seems to be especially true for pickleball and paddle tennis. Both sports are played outdoors on a court and involve hitting a type of ball with a specialized style of paddle. Still, even with their similarities, many differences define these two games.
What Are Pickleball and Paddle Ball?
Pickleball and paddle ball, also called paddle tennis, are both racket sports that are high-energy and a lot of fun. Pickleball has soared in popularity recently, which has more people curious about it, along with sparking an interest in other types of racket sports.
Pickleball was invented in the 1960s and is a bit of a mash-up of several racket games, including Wiffle ball, badminton, and tennis – although there are probably a few others thrown into the mix. It’s played on a designated court, and a special type of ball, known as a pickleball, is hit back and forth across a low net, and players either score or commit faults based on the official rules.
Paddle tennis, also called pop tennis, is another type of game that’s played by hitting a small ball between opposing teams with a similar style paddle. Paddle tennis often gets confused with Padel tennis and platform tennis. Although they are very similar, there are also minor differences. For example, Padel can be played on an enclosed court with four surrounding walls (or wall-like structures).
No matter their differences, pop tennis, and pickleball are both great fun. Before you head to the court, here’s a quick tutorial on how they’re the same and how they’re different.
Similarities Between Pickleball and Paddle Tennis
On the surface, pickleball and paddle tennis almost seem like they’re the same game. They have enough in common that people who enjoy other types of similar sports tend to enjoy both pickleball and paddle tennis also.
Both are racket sports that are in the tennis family. Players hit or lob a small ball during play to earn points. They’re played on similar-style courts with only slight differences. Both sports involve using a central net that serves as an obstacle, creating more challenging play. Both sports can be played as either doubles or singles with no changes in the court’s dimensions – and they’re both a lot of fun!
Differences Between Pickleball Vs Paddleball
Many of the differences between paddleball and pickleball are minor, but those minor differences change the game completely. Here, we take a look at both the minor and key differences between the two games.
The story is that pickleball was originally invented as an alternative to badminton and that those first games were first played on a badminton court. Today, the official pickleball court remained the same size as a doubles badminton court at 20 x 44 feet. While they’re the same size, a badminton and pickleball court feature lines, and zones that are different from each other.
With paddleball or paddle tennis, the court is slightly larger. The width of paddle tennis courts is 20-ft; like with pickleball, the court length measures 50-ft instead of 44. The lines between the two courts are also arranged somewhat differently. In addition to differences in dimensions of the zones, a paddle tennis court is missing a kitchen, or non-volley zone, which is a trademark feature of the pickleball court.
The No Volley Zone
A major difference between paddle tennis Vs. pickleball is the presence of the non-volley zone in pickleball. The no-volley zone extends 7-feet on both sides of the net and is in place to add some fun nuance to pickleball and also provide a bit of a challenge and the opportunity to develop a strategy within the game.
In pickleball, after the ball has been double bounced off of the serve, players can either hit the ball using a ground shot off of a bounce, or they can volley the ball while it’s in the air. The only exception to this is that players are not allowed to volley within the non-volley zone, which is also referred to as the kitchen.
The kitchen rules in pickleball are pretty strict. No part of the player’s foot is allowed to touch the boundary of the kitchen line when volleying the ball – not even a tip of a toe on the very edge. This rule also applies to the time immediately before and immediately following the volley, meaning a player can’t volley and then unintentionally trip into the kitchen area.
Paddle Tennis and Pickleball Paddle Design
At first glance, paddle tennis and pickleball racquets are very similar. They’re the same size, feel relatively the same in your hand, and from a distance, you wouldn’t notice enough of a difference to tell them apart. Unlike with tennis and most other racquet sports, neither pickleball nor paddle tennis racquets feature the tight criss-cross of strings.
But, while they appear the same, there are some minor differences. The main one is the surface of the paddle. Pickleball features completely smooth paddles. With paddle tennis, the paddle texture features small holes rather than a completely solid surface.
Type of Ball
When comparing pickleball Vs. paddle tennis, the type of ball used, is one of the biggest differences. The first games of pickleball were Wiffle balls. If you aren’t familiar with Wiffle balls, they’re hard plastic balls featuring oblong holes along the surface.
Today, pickleball isn’t played with a Wiffle ball, but the design is similar. Pickleball is played with a plastic ball. This ball is smaller compared to the Wiffle ball, but the surface is still covered in holes.
With paddle tennis, the ball is similar to a standard tennis ball, although slightly different in design. Paddle tennis uses a rubber ball for a good bounce, but it contains less pressure than a tennis ball.
Scoring is another important difference between paddle tennis and pickleball. Paddle tennis is played like other similar sports, where either team, whether they’re playing an offensive or defensive role, is able to score points based on the rules of the game. Pickleball is different.
The key difference with pickleball is that only the serving player or serving team is able to score. The serving team can continue to score until the chance to score is then handed to the opposing team.
Paddle tennis is scored similarly to regular tennis, where players start with love, and then the score follows along at 15, 30, and 40.
Pickleball Points are earned one at a time, and as mentioned, only the serving team can earn them. Points are accumulated by the serving side until a fault is made and the opportunity to serve is given to the other team. Typically, pickleball is played to a score of 11, but tournament games may be played to a higher point value. In order for it to be considered a win in pickleball, a team must reach the point threshold and be ahead of the opposing team by at least two points.
Both pickleball and paddle ball have similar service rules. Each sport requires that the ball be served underhanded from the designated service zones, but there are a few minor differences worth noting,
In paddle tennis, there’s a defined height threshold as to where players hit the ball. Serving players are not allowed to hit the ball at any height above 31-inches. Players are also allowed to either drop the ball from the air or bounce off the court, as long as they serve underhand and don’t make contact with the ball above the 31-inch mark.
In pickleball, players are not allowed to bounce the ball off the court before serving. Instead, it must be dropped and made contact with an underhand serving style. The ball is also served cross diagonally, and the position from which the ball is served switches from left to right with each point earned. In both paddle tennis and pickleball, each player only gets one serving opportunity.
How does pickleball differ from tennis?
Pickleball and tennis are very different types of games. Tennis is played with an open, woven racket, while pickleball is played with a smaller, smooth racket. The balls are also different. Most are familiar with a tennis ball, but pickleball uses a smaller plastic ball with holes, similar to a Wiffle ball. There are also differences in the court, scoring, and rules.
Is tennis harder than pickleball?
Overall, we can say that tennis is harder than pickleball, but it’s also true that pickleball requires a lot of energy, dexterity, and strategy, or at least all of these should be on par with the person or team that you’re playing against.
Can you play tennis on a pickleball court?
A pickleball and tennis court are not the same, so if you want to play tennis according to the official rules, then no. That said, maybe you’re just really eager to play tennis and are willing to forgo some of the technicalities. In that case, you could use a pickleball court for a makeshift, unofficial game.
Pickleball Vs Paddle Tennis – Not Quite the Same
Pickleball and paddle tennis are both great games, but they’re not quite the same – and it’s these small details that make the biggest difference. Pickleball is trending huge right now, and that’s because it’s so much fun. The rules are straightforward, and the gameplay is high energy but can be played at a lower level of exertion for all levels of players. Grab your paddles and go have some fun!