Don’t mind the title; just having a bit of a fun because here at TWL we believe no sport is superior or inferior. Here we look at the sports which remind you of tennis. Or to put it in another way, which other sports resemble tennis to some extent?
The sport of tennis is played by approximately 60 million people around the world and is without doubt the most popular individual sport in the world.
While nothing actually replaces the game of tennis, not everyone can play tennis. It’s an expensive sport to learn, one needs access to a tennis court, it is a fairly lengthy game and does require time and commitment, and for players plagued with injury, it’s not always possible to play.
There are alternatives to tennis. Some of these ball sports have gained in popularity because of speed, others because of access, some because of budget, but most, because they’re fun!
Here we bring you some of the other ball and racquet sports that are similar to tennis, and that you may find appealing.
Pickleball is one of the most popular racquet and ball sports that is similar to tennis. The game is played with solid paddles as opposed to racquets, and the court is a lot smaller than a tennis court; roughly the same size as a Badminton court.
Pickleball is played by people of all ages. It first developed as a sport for fun – and was apparently named after a dog by the name of Pickles, although this is up for debate – and it gradually became a more formalised sport.
It’s become popular with young and old players, but in particular with players who have had injuries and who can’t play tennis anymore. The Pickleball serve is underhand – so it won’t hurt your back – and scoring is completely different to tennis.
Any time a player loses a point, the opponent gets the serve. The game is the best of 11 points, although in Pickleball tournaments games are up to 15 or 21, and the winner must lead by 3 points. Matches are the best of 3 games.
Badminton is one of the older racquet sports and is a game in its own right, not really a substitute for tennis at all.
The game originated in India, when the British army designed the game for fun and to keep themselves and their families entertained. Badminton is similar to tennis in that it is played on a rectangular court, smaller than a tennis court though, and there are single and doubles games, but the racquets are specially designed Badminton racquets and the ball is a shuttlecock.
A shuttlecock, made of cork and feathers, flies through the air at a regulated speed and is light enough to be airborne but not too light that it flies away.
Badminton games are 15 point games and the winner must win by 2 points. A match comprises three games, and the winner must win by two points, although tournament games are the best of 21. Unlike tennis, there is no tie breaker, rather a rally point at 21 points, a bit like sudden death.
Squash is also a game that has been around for a very long time, and is a racquet and ball sport that is played by tennis players too.
A purist tennis player would probably not play squash at the same time as tennis – the wrist actions of both are completely different – but if you can play tennis, you can play squash. Squash racquets are smaller than tennis racquets, and the ball is small; the game is speedy!
Squash is played in an indoor court, with four walls and a ceiling. The net is painted on the front wall, and the players make use of the walls during play. The court is much smaller than a tennis court, but is also rectangular.
Squash is a fast game and you can get a fantastic work-out in just twenty minutes. There are world squash tournaments and the game does has a huge following. The game can be played as singles or doubles – doubles is pretty extreme to watch – and matches are the best out of five sets. Each game is played up to 11 points.
4. Beach Tennis
If you think of a mix of volleyball and tennis, you have beach tennis.
The game is played on a beach, it’s played as singles and doubles, it started in South America and is a really popular game, for fun and competition.
It’s all about bringing sport to the great outdoors in an accessible way, and many beaches in South America and in some parts of Europe have beach tennis courts as permanent set ups.
There are in fact two kinds of beach tennis – Beach Tennis and Beach Tennis USA. Yes, beach tennis has spread to the USA although there are slightly different rules and also, slightly different equipment.
Beach Tennis is played with a paddle racquet and is also known as Beach Paddle. Beach Tennis USA is played with a beach tennis racket and ball and follows slightly different rules. Beach Tennis USA is scored like tennis – love, fifteen, thirty and forty – but there is no deuce and no advantage.
The games are fun, fast, played outdoors under the sun, and can be recreational but highly competitive too. Look out for beach tennis tournaments; they’re popular.
5. Platform Tennis
A platform tennis court is smaller than a tennis court. It’s on a platform so that it can be heated from underneath, a clever design especially in those countries where it’s too cold to play tennis outdoors in winter.
Of course there are indoor tennis courts, but platform tennis became hugely popular – it’s probably a little easier than tennis itself, as the court is so much smaller. The equipment is also different, with players using paddles, and the ball being made out of sponge.
Platform tennis has been played since 1928 and it is a legitimate tennis game, recognised by various sporting federations.
It’s a game that is popular with young and old players, can be played as singles and doubles, and the beauty of the court is that it’s surrounded by net or specific wire – you don’t have to go too far to fetch the ball!
6. Paddle Tennis
It can be tricky knowing the difference between paddle tennis, platform tennis and also pop tennis which we will touch on below.
Paddle tennis is also known as Padel tennis, it’s played on a court that is smaller than a tennis court, and paddles are used as bats. The ball is smaller than a tennis ball too, and made out of rubber. A paddle tennis court is about half the size of a tennis court, and the net is lower too.
People play paddle tennis for fun and for fitness. It’s a great game to get yourself doing aerobic exercise and stretching the body, but it’s not as extreme as tennis so you’re unlikely to hurt yourself.
Paddle tennis is played around the world, but is most popular in the USA. It’s played with paddles as opposed to strung tennis racquets and the ball is depressurised. One of the big differences between tennis and Paddle Tennis is that there is no doubles line in Paddle.
7. Pop Tennis
This is where it does get confusing. If you hear the name POP Tennis, you are forgiven for thinking it is very similar to Paddle Tennis. It is. It’s exactly the same game but has been rebranded as Pop Tennis, appealing to younger players.
It’s called Pop Tennis because you can literally hear the ball pop every time you hit it. The ball is a low compression tennis ball, or similar, and the racquets are shorter than actual tennis racquets.
They need to be, as the tennis courts are smaller too.
8. Table Tennis
Table tennis, also known as Ping Pong, has been around for years and is absolutely fantastic.
Chinese players dominate the game and have for a long time – their speed and agility is quite extraordinary. The game is fun and fast. It can be played for leisure – families can keep a table tennis table in their garage – but it is also highly competitive.
The game is played as singles or doubles, over a table with a net in the middle.
Table tennis racquets are small bats, and the ball is small, round, light and plastic. It’s a game of speed. Each game consists of 21 points, but the winner must win by 2 points. There are three games in a match.
The server serves two in a row, before switching serve. Table tennis is completely different to the game of tennis itself, but if you can play tennis, you can play table tennis. It’s a great game for all ages, hugely sociable and tons of fun.
9. Soft Tennis
Soft tennis hasn’t quite made it on to the professional sports circuit yet, but it’s similar to tennis in that the courts are large and the rules are almost exactly the same, but softer tennis balls are used.
It’s a game that was designed by players who were a little older, or couldn’t deal with the pace needed to hit a hard tennis ball, perhaps because of injury or decreased muscle strength. It’s a little like using the balls that are used in lawn tennis – they bounce, but not too hard and not too high.
Soft tennis is a game of fun, it can be competitive, and the rules can also be made up as you go along. (That is, until it becomes a professional game)
10. Touch Tennis
This is another game that is not a professional game but is a fun game that can be played on a whim, as long as you have a ball and a little space. People can play with bats or paddles or their hands, if they prefer.
Courts are makeshift – two chairs with a net or tape in the middle will suffice – as long as the ball can bounce (but it could also be a no-bounce game) and as long as there is space to hit the ball back and forth. Make up the rules as you go along, this is all about fun!