How is Pickleball Different from Tennis?

Night Train Pickleball coach holding a training session with seniors.

Pickleball and tennis are both popular racquet sports that share some similarities but also have distinct differences. In this article, we will explore how pickleball differs from tennis in terms of court size, equipment, rules, and gameplay. Understanding these differences will help you appreciate the unique aspects of each sport and determine which one suits your preferences and playing style.

Court Size and Dimensions

One of the key differences between pickleball and tennis is the size and dimensions of the court. A pickleball court is much smaller, measuring 20 feet wide and 44 feet long for doubles play, and 20 feet wide and 22 feet long for singles play. In contrast, a tennis court is significantly larger, measuring 27 feet wide and 78 feet long for doubles play, and 27 feet wide and 78 feet long for singles play. The smaller pickleball court allows for quicker movements and shorter distances to cover, making it ideal for players who prefer a faster-paced game.


Pickleball and tennis also differ in terms of the equipment used. In pickleball, players use a solid paddle made of materials such as wood, composite, or graphite. The paddle is smaller in size compared to a tennis racket and has a solid surface without strings. The pickleball itself is similar to a wiffle ball, featuring holes and made of plastic. In tennis, players use a strung racket and hit a felt-covered tennis ball. The differences in equipment affect the overall feel and dynamics of the game, with pickleball offering a unique combination of power and control due to the paddle design.

Scoring System

Pickleball and tennis have different scoring systems. In pickleball, only the serving team can score points, and games are typically played to 11 or 15 points. However, the winning team must have a two-point advantage to secure victory. In tennis, both players or teams can score points, and games are usually played to 6 or 7 points. Tennis also has a more complex scoring system, with points ranging from love (0) to 40, and the need to win by two points. The scoring systems in each sport contribute to the pace, strategy, and intensity of the game.

Gameplay and Strategy

The gameplay and strategy in pickleball and tennis differ due to the unique court size, equipment, and scoring systems. Pickleball is known for its fast-paced rallies, quick reactions, and emphasis on shot placement and strategy. Due to the smaller court and slower ball speed, players need to rely on precision and placement rather than pure power. Tennis, on the other hand, allows for more powerful shots and longer rallies due to the larger court and faster ball speed. Tennis strategy often involves using different shot techniques, such as topspin and slice, to gain an advantage and control the point.


While pickleball and tennis share some similarities as racquet sports, they have distinct differences in terms of court size, equipment, scoring systems, and gameplay. The smaller court, solid paddles, unique scoring, and fast-paced rallies set pickleball apart from tennis. Understanding these differences will help you choose the sport that aligns with your preferences and allows you to fully enjoy the unique characteristics of each game.

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