How is Pickleball Different Than Tennis?


Pickleball has been growing in popularity over the last several years. Not only is it a fun recreational and social sport, but it can also be quite competitive as well. Pickleball borrows rules from a variety of racquet sports, but also has its own unique flavor. To help put it in perspective, here’s how it compares to tennis.

What is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, table tennis, and badminton. The 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.

What Equipment is Used in Pickleball?

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.

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.

The nets are slightly shorter than in tennis. A pickleball net measures 34 inches at the center of the court and 36 inches at the post, whereas a tennis net measures 36 inches in the center and 42 inches at the post. The nets are also narrower because the courts aren’t as wide as in tennis.

How are the Rules of Pickleball Different Than 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 78 feet long and 36 feet wide (for doubles), a regulation pickleball court is 44 feet long and 20 feet wide.

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.

Go to the USA Pickleball website for the complete set of official rules.

How can I Play in Pickleball Leagues Near Me?

Pickleball is an extremely fun and social sport. It’s easy to learn for players of all ages and ability levels. It can be played year-round on indoor courts as well.

Want to get more involved in pickleball in Milwaukee? One of the quickest ways to learn a sport is to play it competitively. Elite Sports Clubs will be bringing entry-level private lessons, group classes, and pickleball leagues to the Milwaukee area.

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