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Pickleball vs Tennis: What’s the Difference?

Pickleball is a unique sport. The sport turned 54 in 2019, marking its anniversary of invention from 1965 by three dads on Bainbridge island just outside of Seattle, Washington.

But despite its longevity, many are still confused as to what pickleball is and how to differentiate it from tennis. Here are our most distinct differences concerning pickleball vs tennis, along with our top recommendations on getting started with the sport.

Pickleball vs Tennis: The Court 

The first thing you may notice is that a pickleball court is noticeably smaller than a tennis court. A pickleball court is about 1/4 of the size of a tennis court.

In tennis, a doubles game usually results in a larger court size to play on. However, this is not the case with pickleball. The court size stays consistent in pickleball.

This is particularly interesting given that pickleball has a “kitchen” area on the court. The area consists of the 7-foot-no-volley zone extending from the net. The ball cannot be hit in this zone unless it bounces on its respective side first.

All in all, pickleball can be seen as a tennis and ping pong hybrid. With the speed of ping pong and the magnitude of tennis, pickleball continues to grow into a national sport today.

Pickleball Equipment

From the question of pickleball vs. tennis arises the question of different sports equipment. We’re used to tennis balls. The fluorescent, green/yellow balls are iconic after all, on and off the court.

But for pickleball, there is no set color for the ball that is hit back and forth over a net. The most popular color for a pickleball is yellow, but even the USA Pickleball Association approves a plethora of different colors of ball.

Additionally, pickleball does not use a stringed racket. Pickleball features athletes using paddles made of various composite materials. Tennis rackets, in comparison, used to be made out of wood, but are now primarily made out of plastic.

Pickleball paddles look more similar to table tennis and ping pong rackets. Ready to try pickleball as your new sport of choice? Here are our top choices of pickleball paddles for 2020.

Scoring Differences

One massive difference between pickleball and tennis lies in how each game is scored. In tennis, while each side takes terms serving, both teams can score points at any point in the game.

However, in pickleball, you can only score on your own serve. That means that if the opponent serves, but you eventually land the ball on their side during a rally, you don’t receive any points for the play.

This can change a whole game and throw off religious tennis players used to playing close to the net.

Additionally, serves in pickleball are performed underhand, not overhead. This is also a change that tennis players may find difficult to swallow at first.

Choosing the Right Sport for You

Overall, there’s no right answer to the question of pickleball vs tennis. While tennis may be more widely known and recognized in the world, pickleball is a growing sport with rising recognition.

The smaller courts and differences in rules, equipment, and even game speed make pickleball an equally enticing sport to try come 2020.

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