20+ Differences Between Tennis And Pickleball (Explained)

Tennis is among the most watched sports today. Even in an almost silent environment, the audience can feel the intensity in every shot. On the other hand, a new sport called pickleball has begun to gain popularity as a fun family sport.

If you simply judge the layout of the court and the way people play the game, then pickleball can be mistaken for a miniature version of tennis. Pickleball does take some inspiration from the former, but both sports are quite distinct from each other.

Key Differences Between Tennis And Pickleball

Comparison Between Tennis And Pickleball

DevelopmentModern tennis took form in nineteenth-century England.Pickleball was developed in 1965 in the United States.
RacketsTennis uses stringed rackets.Pickleball uses paddles that have a smooth surface.
The BallsTennis balls are made of rubber with a felt surface.Pickleballs are made of plastic and have holes all around them.
The Size of the CourtsTennis courts can be 78 ft long(23.8 m) and 36 ft(11 m) wide.Pickleball courts are 44 ft(13.4 m) long and 20 ft(6 m) wide.
The Prohibited AreaThere is no prohibited area in tennis.There is a prohibited area in pickleball where the players cannot volley.
The NetsTennis nets are placed at 3 feet 6 inches(107 centimeters) from the ground.Pickleball nets are placed at 3 feet(91.5 centimeters) from the ground.
Double-Bounce RuleThe players do not require to double-bounce the ball in tennis.There is a double-bounce rule in pickleball.
Serving StyleServing in tennis is done overhand.Serving in pickleball is done at the hip level.
ScoreboardIt shows the number of games won by each player and the number of sets.It shows the scores by the serving player and the receiving player.
ScoringThe player can win points whether he is serving or not.To score points, the player or the team has to serve.
Double FaultsDouble faults give the other player points.There are no double faults.
As an Olympic SportTennis has been a part of the Olympics since 1988.Pickleball is not an Olympic sport.

Major Differences Between Tennis and Pickleball

What Is Tennis?

Tennis is an outdoor racket sport played on designated tennis courts. It is played both as a single and a doubles game.

The players use a stringed racket and a ball which is mainly made of rubber. The player has to serve or hit the balls in a way that the other player fails to return, and they gain points.

Tennis had its earliest origins in twelfth-century France when the game was played with the palm of the hand.

In the sixteenth century, rackets were introduced. Modern tennis, however, took its form in 1873, which led to further standardizing the rules and becoming the sport we know today.

What Is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a paddle sport that is playable indoors as well as outdoors. It can be played as a singles sport, but it is mostly played in doubles. Pickleball players use paddles that have smooth surfaces and hollow plastic balls with holes. 

Just like the other racket games, the player gains a point when the other player fails to return. Pickleball was created in 1965 in Washington, US, when a family could not find a shuttlecock for playing badminton.

They then created a game from a Wiffle ball and table tennis paddles and then played on a badminton court.

Tennis Vs Pickleball Introduction

Contrast Between Tennis And Pickleball

The Rackets

  • Tennis- Tennis rackets have a stringed head, followed by a neck with a short handle at the end. Compared to pickleball paddles, tennis rackets are longer. The head frame is about 29 inches(74 centimeters) long.
  • Pickleball- Pickleball is played with paddles that look similar to the ones used in table tennis. However, they are larger, and the head is rectangular in shape. The overall length of the pickleball paddle is 24 inches(61 centimeters) maximum.

The Ball Used In The Game

  • Tennis- Tennis balls are hollow from the inside. It is made of vulcanized rubber with a felt exterior. The tennis balls are yellow in color. Being made of rubber, tennis balls bounce a lot as these compress on impact against surfaces.
  • Pickleball- Pickleball use balls made from plastic. These look like hollow shells with holes on the surface. Pickleballs do not bounce as much as tennis balls, but the holes allow the ball to move through the air easily. These are also lighter than tennis balls.

The Nets

  • Tennis- Tennis nets are placed at 3 feet 6 inches(107 centimeters) from the ground. At the center, the net is 3 feet(91.5 centimeters) high.
  • Pickleball- Pickleball nets are shorter in dimensions because the courts are smaller. The nets are placed at 3 feet(91.5 centimeters) from the ground, and the height of the net is 2 feet 10 inches(86 centimeters) at the center.
The Equipment Tennis Vs Pickleball

The Size Of The Courts

  • Tennis- Tennis courts are large in size, with a length of 78 feet(23.8 meters). The width, however, varies depending on whether you are playing alone or with a partner. For a singles match, the width is 27 feet(8.2 meters), and for a doubles match, the width will be 36 feet(11 meters).
  • Pickleball- Pickleball courts are much smaller. The courts are 44 feet(13.4 meters) X 20 feet(6 meters) in dimensions which is quite the size of a badminton court. Because pickleball is mostly played as a doubles game, the width stays the same whether you are playing singles or doubles.

The Prohibited Space

  • Tennis- There is no prohibited space on a tennis court. Most tennis players take a volley shot(hit before the ball bounces) whenever they can by getting close to the net. These shots also help them in gaining points faster.
  • Pickleball- There is a space 7 feet(2.1 meters) away from the net on both sides, where the pickleball players cannot take a volley shot. This space is also known as the ‘kitchen.’ If the player touches the kitchen line or is in the space while volleying, he earns a fault.

Double Bounce Rule

  • Tennis- There is no double bounce rule in tennis, and the server has to bounce the ball once in the other player’s court before that player receives it. The server can volley the receiving shot.
  • Pickleball- Pickleball has a double bounce rule which states that not only the server has to bounce the ball before it reaches the other player, the receiving player has to do the same. Because of this rule, the server cannot volley the receiving shot.
The Courts Tennis Vs Pickleball
  • Tennis- In tennis, the players always serve overhand.
  • Pickleball- Pickleball players have to serve underhand. The point where the ball makes contact with the paddle has to be at the hip level.


  • Tennis- A tennis scoreboard shows the number of games won, the number of sets, and the scores of the players in that particular game.
  • Pickleball- A pickleball scoreboard shows the serving player’s score and the receiving player’s score. If it is a doubles match, it also shows the serving player’s number.

Scoring and Double Faults

  • Tennis- In tennis, any player can score in the game, irrespective of who is serving. A set is won when the player wins six games, and the difference from the other player’s wins has to be at least 2.

    Moreover, committing a double fault gives a point to the other player. The player wins by winning two of three sets or winning three of five sets.
  • Pickleball- For scoring in pickleball, you have to be the one serving the ball. There is a single game, and the player has to score 11 points to win.

    The difference from the other player’s score must be at least 2 for the player to win the match. There are no double faults in pickleball.

Inclusion In The Olympics

  • Tennis- Tennis has been an Olympic sport since the 1988 Summer games.
  • Pickleball- Pickleball is not an Olympic sport currently.
Scoring Tennis Vs Pickleball

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Which is easier to play – tennis or pickleball?

Pickleball was developed with the purpose of keeping the game fun and easy to learn. So playing pickleball would be less physically exhausting compared to tennis.

Moreover, the small court also makes it easier for children to play without running around for the ball too much.

Q2. Can a pickleball court be used for playing tennis?

Absolutely. Although the court would be small, the layout is almost the same if we ignore the kitchen zone.

In case you want to play a casual game of tennis or your children are starting out with tennis, a pickleball court would help them learn the rules.

Q3. Why do tennis players find pickleball a bit challenging?

A number of factors play a role here. Firstly, the court is small, and there is a non-volley zone. Then the double bounce rule also prevents the player from volleying a receiving shot.

The serving style is underhand in pickleball which is another difference. These are just some among many.

Q4. Would pickleball be a good introduction to other racket sports like tennis or badminton?

Pickleball can be a great introduction for anyone wanting to go deeper into racket sports like table tennis or tennis. This is because the rules and the equipment have some resemblance to both sports.

However, this may not be true for games like badminton and squash, where the equipment is more different.

Q5. Can we play tennis on the grass?

Tennis, being an outdoor sport, can be played on grass surfaces. One of the Grand Slam events, Wimbledon, uses courts with grass surfaces. Apart from grass, you can play tennis on hard grounds and clay surfaces as well.

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