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Pickleball vs. Tennis - Differences & Similarities

pickleball vs. tennis

The first time you ever watch a pickleball match, you can't help but immediately think to yourself, "That looks a lot like tennis! " But once you dive in and begin to play pickleball, you soon realize that's just not the case. They both may appear similar, but the differences between pickleball and tennis are actually quite substantial. Join us as the Paddle Experts at JustPaddles compare pickleball vs. tennis and the similarities and differences between the two sports. Let's dive in. 

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Pickleball vs. Tennis: Paddles & Rackets

Ok, this one is probably the most obvious difference between the two sports. Pickleball paddles, according to the USAPA Rule Book, shall not contain holes, indentations, or any rough texturing that could allow a player to apply additional spin to the ball. Furthermore, a pickleball paddle may not exceed 24 inches from the edge guard to the butt cap, and the hitting surface itself may not exceed 17 inches in length. And there are no current restrictions against the weight or thickness of a paddle.

On the other hand, as for a tennis racket, the only regulations are its size. No racket may exceed 29 inches in length (including the handle) or 12.5 inches in width. The surface composed of crisscrossed strings shall not be more than 15.5 inches in length (smaller than a pickleball paddle!) or 11.5 inches in width. 

To recap, the three major differences between a pickleball paddle and a tennis racket are:

  1. The size
  2. The materials
  3. The construction

A pickleball paddle will generally be smaller than a tennis racket. Paddles must also be constructed with a solid hitting surface, while tennis rackets will sport an outer frame with cross-strung strings.

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Pickleball vs. Tennis: The Court

When it comes to these two sports, a pickleball court is noticeably smaller in comparison to a tennis court. We've outlined the specifics below. 

For Pickleball:

  • The dimensions of a pickleball court are 20 feet x 44 feet with a diagonal measurement of 48 feet 4 inches
  • The Kitchen is 7 feet deep on both sides

For Tennis:

  • A tennis court's dimensions are 36 feet x 78 feet for doubles play
  • A tennis court's dimensions are 27 feet x 78 feet for singles play

Pickleball Court

This equates to 880 square feet of court for pickleball and 2,808 square feet of court for doubles tennis. That's almost a 2,000 square foot difference in court size between the two sports. It's less ground to cover in pickleball, but there's also far less room for error considering the smaller dimensions.

Pickleball vs. Tennis: Balls

As we covered above, pickleball paddles are not allowed to have any holes to apply additional spin on the ball; however, tennis rackets are made entirely of holes to apply spin. The reason for this is that the pickleball itself is required to be perforated. So instead of using your paddles to apply the spin (like tennis), each player will use the ball itself to create any spin. The two sports are completely opposite when it comes to their ball of choice, yet at the end of the day, they both find very familiar common ground.

What is the Size of a Pickleball? 

The regulation-sized pickleball must have a diameter between 2.784 and 2.972 inches (73cm - 75.5cm) and weigh between 0.78 ounces and 0.935 ounces (22 grams - 26.5 grams).


Pickleball vs. Tennis: Nets

Just like the rest of the sport's equipment, a pickleball net will be smaller in size compared to a tennis net. A regulation pickleball net has a height of 36 inches at both posts and 34 inches in the center. While a tennis net has a height of 36 inches all the way across the court. The difference between the two nets is only two inches which allows for most tennis courts to easily transition into a court suited for a casual game of pickleball.

8 Major Differences Between Pickleball & Tennis

  1. The Serve. Tennis allows for a fault (redo) if the first serve is awry. Pickleball does not.
  2. Court Size. A pickleball court is far smaller than a tennis court.
  3. Net Size. The pickleball net will be 2 inches shorter (in the middle) when compared to a tennis net.
  4. Indoor/Outdoor. Pickleball can easily move inside during the winter months to allow for consistent play year-round.
  5. The Kitchen. Tennis has no restrictions on where a player may be while on their side of the court.
  6. Dinks/Drop Shots. Tennis is generally a more powerful game. You'll hit smashes to set up a drop shot. In pickleball, you'll hit dinks to set up a smash.
  7. Casual Nature. Pickleball is a community. Oftentimes accompanied by music, in-game chatter, and even a beverage or two.
  8. Physical Toll. Due to the differences between pickleball courts and tennis courts, there is far less ground to cover in pickleball. You can play all day!
Zero Zero Start, a JustPaddles podcast, sat down with Rachel Rohrabacher who made the journey from Collegiate Tennis to Pro Pickleball. Check it out below! 

We certainly love both pickleball and tennis. Each allows for great exercise and the unleashing of your inner competitive nature. If you're a tennis player looking to get into pickleball, we'd love to welcome you to our favorite sport. We're JustPaddles, and we have dedicated our business to the fastest-growing sport in America! If you ever need any assistance finding the right pickleball paddle, learning the rules of the game, or just trying to set up a game in your area, let our team of Paddle Experts help you out. They're available via email at, phone at 866-382-3465, or live chat on the website. As always, we're with you from Click to Court!

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