Paddle tennis, also known as platform tennis, is a racquet sport typically played in cool or cold weather. While it bears a resemblance to traditional tennis, the rules and gameplay vary. To help you gain a deeper understanding of paddle tennis, we’ve compiled a list of rules that differentiate it from the traditional sport of tennis.
Paddle Tennis Rules
- The court is smaller (44 feet long and 20 feet wide with a playing area of 60 feet by 30 feet) than a typical tennis court surrounded by a tightly strung wired fence (12 feet high) which comes into play after the ball bounces off the court. The net in the middle is about 37 inches high. There is a space of 8 feet between the baseline and the fence, and 5 feet between the sidelines and the fence.
- The ball is made of rubber with flocking. The paddles used are perforated for less air resistance.
- Scoring is the same as regular tennis. (i.e. Love-15-30-40-Game)
- Paddle tennis is always played outside mostly in the winter so the ball and the screens that surround the court are firmer and not too “bouncy.” Heaters are rarely used and are under the deck to melt snow – while playing. The surface has a sandpaper-like texture so it prevents players from slipping, especially if it is snowing.
- Paddle tennis is always played in doubles. While the court is smaller that a typical tennis court, it’s still too big for singles. More communication with your partner is needed…during the point!
- Receivers are both back, and mostly should lob, lob, and lob some more, waiting for the set up to drive.
- The server almost always should charge the net and join his or her partner. They only get 1 serve, not 2.
- The receiving team can play the ball OFF the screens but not into them. Hence, it can take a long time for each paddle point. One point often can be 30 or more times back and forth – followed by another! Therefore, it’s a great cardio workout. The game takes patience, power, speed, and sometimes quick thinking.
- Drives (which typically are not meant to be winners) are similar to tennis but more compact as the ball may come back even faster so you have to be ready.
- Volleys have less footwork and are mostly backhands.
- There are numerous overhead selections but mixing up the speed, spin, and location can help.
How to Get Started
Paddle tennis is a great option for anyone looking to get physically active. The sport can get competitive but can also be played just for fun and a way to be social! Join a league at Elite Sports Clubs or just get out and play!
For a complete list of rules, visit platformtennis.org.
Written by Scot Muehlmeier, Platform Tennis Professional at Elite Sports Club-West Brookfield.
Scot is certified by the American Platform Tennis Association. He started playing platform tennis over 20 years ago and has helped to grow the game ever since.