Pickleball vs Tennis: What’s the difference?

Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, table tennis, and badminton. The pickleball court is an abbreviation of a tennis court and net, and the game itself combines rules from a variety of racquet sports. It can be played as singles or doubles, but more commonly played as doubles. 

In this article, the Laneway Paddle Co team have dived into the key differences of Pickleball from tennis and why it’s taking Australia by storm.

Pickleball is not tennis

Unlike tennis or other sports where you use a string racquet, pickleball uses a flat paddle. Much like there are different sizes of tennis racquets and string types, pickleball paddles come in different sizes and thicknesses depending on your style of play.

Racquets and Balls

Instead of using the felt-covered balls that you’d find in tennis, pickleball uses plastic balls with perforated holes instead. Most would refer to this kind of a ball as a “wiffle ball.” 

These balls move through the air a lot cleaner than a tennis ball because they’re a lot lighter and the holes create less drag.

Nets and Courts

The nets are slightly shorter than in tennis. A pickleball net measures 87 cm at the centre of the court and 36 inches at the post, whereas a tennis net measures 81 cm in the centre and 107 cm at the post. The nets are also narrower because the courts aren’t as wide as in tennis.

The rules are relatively similar to tennis, but there are some noteworthy differences. The main difference is the size of the court. While a typical tennis court is 23.77 metres long and 10.97 metres wide (for doubles), a regulation pickleball court is 13.41 metres long and 6.1 metres wide.

Pickleball Gameplay

For serving, pickleball must go cross court like in tennis. However, you must serve underhand, and the point of contact must be below the hip.

Scoring is also different in pickleball. There is no game-set structure. The winner is determined by the first side to reach 11 points, but you must win by 2 points. Play will continue beyond 11 points until a side wins by 2. Unlike tennis or badminton, you can only score when your side is serving.

One of the biggest differences that new players struggle with is that the ball must bounce once on each side before volleying can begin.

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