What is the Difference Between Pickleball and Paddle Tennis?

What is the Difference Between Pickleball and Paddle Tennis

Last updated on February 6th, 2023 at 01:48 pm

Pickleball and paddle tennis games have several critical differences between them. The distinctions include playing on different courts, having different game rules, and having the scoring different. While the paddles may look similar, each sport has unique equipment that helps set it apart. While these two sports might look identical, more differences make them unique.


So, is paddle tennis the same as pickleball? Is the ball in paddle tennis the same as in pickleball? How do scoring points work between the two sports? Are the rackets the same in paddle tennis and pickleball? Can you play pickleball on a paddle tennis court? Finally, how are the two sports similar?


Here is the complete guide to pickleball vs paddle tennis.


Is Paddle Tennis the Same as Pickleball?

Is Paddle Tennis the Same as Pickleball

Paddle tennis is different from pickleball. The two sports draw easy comparisons because they appear very similar at the surface level. Both sports are considered racket sports and play on courts that look like a tennis courts. However, there are significant differences between the two.


While paddle tennis and pickleball play in areas similar to tennis or badminton courts, the dimensions are slightly different for each. Standard paddle tennis courts are 50 feet long and 20 feet wide. Conversely, pickleball courts are only 44 feet long and 20 feet wide. The smaller court in pickleball makes it an easier sport for beginners to pick up.


Furthermore, pickleball courts also feature a no-volley zone and smaller court dimensions. This no-volley zone, or kitchen as it’s commonly referred to, is a small rectangle on either side of the net that players are prohibited from standing in. Players can only step into the kitchen zone during gameplay following the plastic ball bouncing within. Paddle tennis has no such zone. Instead, paddle tennis features a backcourt area that extends 3 feet from the service line and runs from sideline to sideline.


Is the Ball in Paddle Tennis the Same as in Pickleball?

Is the Ball in Paddle Tennis the Same as in Pickleball

The ball in paddle tennis is very different from the ball used in pickleball. Pickleball games use a plastic ball that looks similar to a Wiffle ball. Furthermore, pickleball has different ball styles for indoor and outdoor gameplay. The plastic balls used for outdoor play are heavier and have more holes so that the ball’s flight path isn’t affected by wind.


On the other hand, paddle tennis does not use a plastic ball. While paddle tennis players can use a standard tennis ball, it is not recommended. Instead, paddle tennis players should use a specialized paddle tennis ball. The paddle tennis ball is a softer, depressurized tennis ball. These rubber balls are less bouncy than standard tennis balls, meaning they travel at lower speeds typically.


Paddle tennis balls are a hybrid between a tennis ball and a racquetball.


Is the Scoring the Same in Pickleball and Paddle Tennis?

Is the Scoring the Same in Pickleball and Paddle Tennis

Another critical difference between the two sports is in the scoring system. Like regular tennis players, paddle tennis players can score points on both the serving and receiving sides. Each team will alternate serving following each set.


However, pickleball players can only score points when they serve. Pickleball players are only allowed to perform underhand serves. During a pickleball match, the service will alternate whenever the serving team fails to record a point.


Furthermore, like its namesake, paddle tennis sets are played to 4 points and are scored as 0 (love), 15, 30, and 45. As with standard tennis, you must win by at least two points to win a set in paddle tennis. To win a game of pickleball, you must also win by at least two points. However, the games are played to 11 rather than 4.


Are the Rackets the Same in Paddle Tennis and Pickleball?

Are the Rackets the Same in Paddle Tennis and Pickleball

The rackets/paddles used in paddle tennis and pickleball are similar but different. Both sports have regulations and restrictions on the size of the paddle players are allowed to use. All paddle tennis paddles must be a maximum of 17 inches in length. Pickleball requirements are more precise. The USA Pickleball Association states that all regulation paddles must be 17.5 inches in height.


You cannot play pickleball on a paddle tennis court without modification. Because there is no marked kitchen/no-volley zone, it becomes challenging to play pickleball correctly. Furthermore, paddle tennis courts are longer than pickleball courts.


How are the Two Sports Similar?

How are the Two Sports Similar

While there are several differences between the two sports, there are also several similarities. Both sports are racket or paddle sports, and they occur on modified tennis court. Both pickleball and paddle tennis are considered easier or more beginner friendly. Finally, both sports can have matches via 1 v 1, 1 v 2, and 2 v 2.


Conclusion: Pickleball vs. Paddle Tennis

In conclusion, paddle tennis and pickleball seem similar at first glance, but numerous key differences exist. Paddle tennis courts are typically 6 feet longer than standard pickleball courts, and paddle tennis courts have no marked no-volley zone. Instead, paddle tennis courts have a designated backcourt area near the service zone.


The two sports require different equipment and must play on different court sizes. Paddle tennis paddles must be no more than 17 inches, while pickleball paddles must be precisely 17.5 inches in length. Furthermore, paddle tennis is played with a soft rubber ball, while pickleball is played with a plastic ball that looks similar to a Wiffle ball. The pickleball ball tends to move much slower than the rubber ball, making it an easier sport for new players to learn. Part of the reason pickleball is growing so fast is that it is easier to play, especially for new players.


Lastly, the two sports have different scoring systems. Paddle tennis follows standard tennis scoring as each side can score with sets being played to 4 points. On the other hand, pickleball only allows the serving team to score points, while matches go to 11 points.


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