Pickleball VS Paddle Tennis: Same Or Not?

You possibly know either of these sports but cannot tell the difference between them. In this article, we will give you a pickleball vs paddle tennis comparison.

Pickleball vs paddle tennis

Pickleball vs paddle tennis (*)

Of the four adults, three people played sports when they were children, according to A new NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll. Playing sports has been a great way to help you improve your health and tighten your connection with your friends and family.

This international activity constantly progresses and develops thousands of different types of games all over the world. One of the most popular sport games now is pickleball, with 3 million players in the United States.

Pickleball is a fun and simple game for all ages. With a ball, a net, and paddles, you can easily play it with your friends. However, it is often mistaken for another less popular sport because of its simplicity: Paddle Tennis.

Therefore, in this article, we will breakdown all your questions about the definition of these two sports and give you a detailed pickleball vs paddle tennis comparison.


What is pickleball?

Is pickleball similar to paddle tennis

Is pickleball similar to paddle tennis (**)

Pickleball is a popular American sport with millions of players around the world. Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum invented this sport for their children in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Seattle, Washington.

A fun fact

Pickleball has no relation to a pickle as in the name. When the inventor found a name for this game, they were inspired by a simple activity – their dog chasing a ball. As their dog’s name is Pickle, that’s why this popular game is called pickleball.

This fastest growing sport is a combination of various sports: tennis, ping-pong, and badminton.

Why is pickleball such a diverse game?

The game is usually played in a badminton size court, 13.4 meters long and 6.1 meters wide, with a lower net. The players are equipped with a wooden paddle larger than a ping-pong paddle to hit a more durable perforated polymer ball.

Regardless of the game’s rules, pickleball is a super easy game where you can watch for 5 minutes and already know how to play. Therefore, it is preferred as a sport for families.

Pickleball: How to play?

The simple game function is the act of players hitting the plastic ball back and forth over the net.

Pickleball can be played with two players (also called one on one or single) or four players (also called two or double).

If the opponents miss the ball, then you will score 1 point in the match.

Looking at these simple features, one may argue that pickleball is the same as paddle tennis. Let’s continue to discover its definition right below.

What is paddle tennis?

Paddle tennis

Paddle tennis (***)

Paddle tennis or pop tennis is a modified version of tennis with only around 200,000 regular players now. Frank P. Beal,  an Episcopal minister in Manhattan, invented this sport in the early 1920s on New York playgrounds.

Frank wanted to introduce to his neighbors’ children a fun recreational activity, so he created a small-sized tennis form sport for them to play in the city’s park.

This game was blooming in 1941 with players from 500 American cities but decreasing over time due to its confusing game function.

Paddle Tennis requires a court, which is only a third of a standard tennis court.

The net is only 31 inches high (0,7 meters), and there are no walls behind the players.

The player’s equipment is a paddle to hit a tennis ball with reduced pressure.

Paddle tennis: How to play?

The simple way to play paddle tennis is by hitting the ball with your paddle until your opponent misses the ball. Two players or four players can play this game.

Pickleball vs paddle tennis: Similarities

Now that you learn the definition of pickleball and paddle tennis, you might wonder: “Is pickleball similar to paddle tennis?”

According to the description, these two sports are derived from tennis and their basic functions are pretty similar.

That means there are always 2 or 4 players on the opposite side of the net.

To play, the players must swing the paddle, so the ball hits and bounces off the other opponent. If the ball touches the ground in the court size and the player misses it, then it counts as a point.

Besides, these two games are easily confused with each other because of these factors:

The paddle’s design

This feature is possibly the most confusing one as they are made with the same material: wood, fiberglass, or plastic.

They have a similar shape, solid with no strings, unlike the tennis racquets.

The playground

A beginner player may not distinguish the difference between these sport’s court size with a simple glance.

They are all smaller than a tennis court with a lower net.

Understandably, many people find a lot of similarities between pickleball and paddle tennis.

However, if you have played both of them, you will notice that they also leave room for differences.

Pickleball vs paddle tennis: Differences

Compare pickleball and paddle tennis

Compare pickleball and paddle tennis (****)

After learning their similarities, we will continue to compare pickleball and paddle tennis.

The Court Dimension and Size

Even though they are both smaller than a tennis court, their specific details are completely different.

The court in pickleball is 13.4 meters long and 6.1 meters wide, while the court in paddle tennis is a little larger, with 15.2 meters long and 6 meters wide.

Besides, the net height is restricted no higher or shorter than 0.4 meters.

The paddle textures

Although the paddle of pickleball and paddle tennis can be made from the same material and have a similar shape, their textures are quite different.

For pickleball, the texture is quite smooth as walls for the balls to bounce back.

They also have a honeycomb-shape core to enhance its solidity and not to add heavyweight.

On the contrary, paddle tennis uses a rougher texture with holes.

This texture gives a nice bend when the ball hits the paddle.

The ball surfaces

This feature is easier to spot the difference between the two-sport games.

With a glance, you can already tell that the pickleball game has a plastic ball with holes and lightweight.

The ball’s material is quite stiff and not able to bounce flexibly.

However, the paddle tennis balls have a bigger size and are made from rubber, which gives more reflection.

The playing styles

One of the biggest differences between pickle balls and paddle tennis is the playing styles: serving and scoring rules.

In pickleball, players only have one chance of serving. And they are only allowed to serve underhanded.

The pickleball’s playground is forbidden for the ball to touch a section called the kitchen.

Players are also not allowed to stay in that 2-meters section during play, which decreases their playgrounds and challenges their flexibilities.

Although pickleball can have some influence from tennis, its scoring system is largely different.

In the game, the team which serves will earn the point by outstanding the opponent. If they fail to do that, their opponent won’t get the point, but they will start serving.

This process will continue until the winner scores at least 11 points and two scores more than the other team.

Meanwhile, paddle tennis is a lot familiar with standard tennis rules.

For serving style, paddle tennis allows one to serve each player similarly to pickleball.

However, the player can choose whichever way of serving they want. Whether it is underhanded or overhanded, they won’t be penalized, unlike pickleball’s rules.

As paddle tennis is a small-sized tennis form, its scoring system is utterly similar to standard tennis.

There is a 6-point scoring chance in every match. The player will go from “love” to 15, 30, 40, and victory. So if you have played tennis before, it won’t be such a problem for you.


Pickleball and paddle tennis are fun and fast-paced sport games that are both related to tennis.

However, they both find their appealing style to the sports players over the decades.

Although they might have some differences in our pickleball vs paddle tennis comparison, these games will always keep you on your feet, being sharp with your reflexes, and entertained with your friends and family after a long working week.

Images credit:

(*) Manchester Vermont

(**) NBC News

(***) Democrat & Chronicle

(****) Park Drive Health Club



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