Paddle tennis, also commonly known as padel, is a version of the popular racket sport that is a lot smaller in its scale and is designed to be much easier for people to learn due to how the equipment and even some of the rules are a lot different from its counterpart.
With that being said however, since pickleball is commonly compared to tennis, it makes sense that a lot of people would also see many similarities between pickleball and paddle tennis, despite the fact that there are plenty of differences that make them both very unique.
Keep reading as we go through all the major differences between pickleball and paddle tennis so that you can decide which suits your play style more and is worth getting into.
How Is Paddle Tennis Different From Tennis?
Many of the rules that players must follow in paddle tennis are carried over from regular tennis including the rules for serving, the scoring system, and the option to play either singles or doubles, but this is largely where the similarities end.
Paddle tennis uses a much smaller court than tennis, usually being around a third of the size of an average court which makes it a lot easier to reach for balls and move around without becoming exhausted.
This is also why, unlike tennis which is played in singles most of the time, most people prefer to play doubles in paddle tennis since each player is guaranteed to be involved and can have a big influence on the game because they can cover so much more of the court.
A paddle tennis court is also surrounded by walls that players can use to their advantage if they are skilled enough.
The equipment used in paddle tennis is also completely different as rather than rackets and heavy tennis balls, paddle tennis requires players to use solid paddles and depressurized balls that are much lighter and easier to hit.
Paddle tennis is designed to be the more fast-paced and accessible variant of tennis that has been skyrocketing in popularity over the last few years, but is it really that different from pickleball?
Major Differences Between Pickleball And Paddle Tennis
While there are some glaring differences between pickleball and tennis, it’s actually a lot more similar to paddle tennis, to the point where telling them apart is a much harder task.
However, both sports are still unique in their own ways, so let’s take a look at the major differences that set pickleball and paddle tennis apart.
While a paddle tennis court is a lot smaller than the courts used in regular tennis, it is still slightly bigger than pickleball courts with the average (see also: How Big Is An Average Pickleball, And Why?)size being 32 feet wide and 65 feet long.
These measurements can often move around in paddle tennis, depending on how many people play.
In contrast, the average size of a pickleball court is 20 feet wide and 44 feet long, making the court a lot more confined to complement the faster pace of the game.
You will be able to play either a singles or doubles match on any pickleball court, but if you are playing paddle tennis, the court size will change so that each player has enough room to move around, keeping it more in line with a regular game of tennis.
The pickleball court may be smaller, encouraging a much faster and more action-packed game, but it still keeps things fair for every player thanks to the implementation of the non-volley zone, also known as the kitchen.
The non-volley zone stretches 7 feet from the net to both edges of the court, and it acts as a safeguard to prevent players from volleying the ball, which they are not allowed to do when physically standing within the zone.
This is designed to stop players from running up and smashing the ball, a technique that is commonly seen being used by many professional tennis players.
Since paddle tennis is simply a variation of tennis and carries many of the same rules, players are allowed to volley the ball and hit a smash when playing paddle tennis, despite the fact that the court is much smaller.
One part of paddle tennis which is unique to the sport and that sets it apart from tennis is the environment it is played in, specifically the walls and glass that surround the court.
After the ball has bounced on the playing field, a player will be allowed to swing the ball towards the wall or glass surrounding them to try and stretch the distance of the ball over to their opponent’s side of the court.
This is extremely hard to pull off effectively however and is usually only attempted by highly experienced players who will turn around and hit the ball against the glass on their side of the court if the ball has traveled too far for them to hit a long-distance return.
If you’re playing in a tournament or a professional setting, you will also notice fences above the glass or the walls surrounding the court.
These top fences are off-limits and should never be aimed for when hitting a ball, otherwise, this will result in a fault.
Paddle tennis balls are essentially very small and soft tennis balls that are much lighter, but still have a decent density to them.
Pickleballs on the other hand are even smaller and made out of hard plastic, making them very hollow and even more lightweight.
There are also many more variations of pickleballs that use different types of plastic that you can choose from, depending on how fast-paced and challenging you want a match to be.
The paddles used in both sports are also very similar but differ slightly in their design.
While pickleball paddles will always have a completely smooth surface to ensure each hit is as clean as possible, the paddles used in paddle tennis can be smooth, but they can also be a little bumpier and even contain some holes.
This is so that these paddles can still have somewhat of a resemblance to the rackets used in tennis and keeps it from ever becoming as hectic and fast-paced as pickleball since players are forced to take more time measuring their shots.
Pickleball is played to 11 points and the winners must win by at least 2 points more than their opponents.
Paddle tennis on the other hand uses the same scoring system as tennis which means that matches are usually a little longer than pickleball games on average.
The smaller court, lighter equipment, and non-volley zone all make pickleball a slightly easier sport to get into when compared to paddle tennis.
This isn’t to say paddle tennis is very difficult, it is definitely easier to get the hang of than tennis, but the biggest learning curve is definitely adjusting to the glass and the court size which still takes a lot of time and experience to get accustomed to.
While paddle tennis and pickleball are similar in many ways and are both considered paddle sports, it is the slight differences in their environments and specific rules that set them apart and make pickleball the much more accessible sport to learn for beginners.