8 Crucial Differences Between Pickleball & Tennis

 To the uninitiated, tennis and pickleball seem very similar, but key differences make each appeal to different types of people. 

Here’s how the two sports vary so you can choose which is right for you. 

Big Skills, Big Court:

Aerial view of multiple Pickleball courts that look like tennis courts with the wrong color.
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Tennis: Playing tennis requires lots of running, jumping, and hitting the ball just the right way. It’s like learning to do a bunch of cool moves that take time to get really good at.

Pickleball: Pickleball’s court is smaller, and the game is much slower. That makes playing easier because you don’t have to run around as much or hit the ball so hard.

Long Games, Tough Matches:

A pickleball player hitting the ball on the court.
Photo Credit: Ron Alvey via Shutterstock.com.

Tennis: Tennis games can last a long time, especially in big tournaments. Players need to be super fit to keep playing well for hours.

Pickleball: Because the court is smaller, games are shorter and do not need as much energy or endurance as tennis.

Thinking Games:

A man about to serve in tennis.
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Tennis: Tennis has lots of different ways to play each shot. Players need to think about where to hit the ball and how to outsmart their opponent.

Pickleball: Pickleball is more straightforward with fewer choices for shots. It still can be strategic but doesn’t require as elaborate planning.

Superstar Players and Big Events:

A serious looking man playing Pickleball.
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Tennis: Tennis has world-famous players and huge tournaments all around the world. Winning these tournaments can be financially rewarding and gives players more exposure.

Pickleball: Pickleball is getting more popular, but it doesn’t have nearly as many big events or famous players as tennis does. Will it ever? Who knows.

Games Everyone Knows:

Happy Pickleball teammates giving each other a high five.
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Tennis: Lots of people everywhere love tennis. It’s in movies, on TV, and everyone knows when the Grand Slams air on TV which are tennis’ biggest matches.

Pickleball: Pickleball is growing, especially with older people, but not everyone knows about it as they do with tennis.

Court Size and Movement:

A pickleball doubles match.
Photo Credit: bhpix via Shutterstock.com.

Tennis: The tennis court is larger, so you must cover more ground and move around quickly. It can feel like a big adventure trying to reach and hit the ball before it bounces twice.

Pickleball: Pickleball’s smaller court means you don’t have to run all that much. Some might find this more desirable; others might miss the challenge of rushing around a bigger court.

Variety in Shots:

A woman getting ready to serve on the pickleball court.
Photo Credit: Drazen Zigic via Shutterstock.com.

Tennis: In tennis, you’ve got lots of ways to hit the ball—serve, volley, backhand, forehand—all sorts of cool moves to learn and practice to use during a match.

Pickleball: Pickleball has fewer shot options. This makes it less complex because you don’t have to master as many different ways to hit the ball.

Popularity and Familiarity:

Two smiling pickleball players before the match.
Photo Credit: pics721 via Shutterstock.com.

Tennis: Almost everyone knows what tennis is. It’s been around for a very long time and has a vast history with lots of fans all around the world.

Pickleball: Pickleball is gaining more popularity though, especially with some groups, but not as many people know about it yet. Some might prefer tennis because it’s more well-known and has a bigger following.

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