We’ve all heard of the game of tennis but we haven’t all heard of the game of Pickleball. Yet Pickleball is one of the fastest growing racquet and ball sports in the United States, and it does have similarities to the game of tennis. But what exactly is Pickleball? Is it a game that is played with two pickles and a ball? Or is it a game where the players get themselves into a bit of a pickle?

Bad jokes aside, it is neither of these.

Pickleball was developed over 50 years ago by two adult men who were trying to entertain their children. They designed a court that was similar to a tennis court, but smaller, picked up two racquets and a ball, came up with some rules, and named the game after their dog Pickles.

The game started off as fun, but now there are tournaments, there is a Pickleball Association, and as we say, the game has become hugely popular.

Here are the main differences between Tennis and Pickleball, just in case you are confused!

A Pickleball Court is Smaller than a Tennis Court

Pickleball courts are a lot smaller than tennis courts; in fact, they are about the quarter of the size. Tennis players find the size of a pickle ball court tiny, but once they start playing, they realise how much fun it is and also how energetic the game is. The size of a pickle ball court is 20′ x 44′ and is more similar to a Badminton sized court than anything else.

Pickleball players use Paddles and not Tennis Racquets

Pickleball paddles are smaller than racquets, plus they are paddles and not racquets.

They are not stringed and they have a much shorter handle than a tennis racquet, plus they are more rectangular shaped. If you can imagine a table tennis or ping pong bat, think of one a bit bigger and wider and you have a pickle ball paddle.

The paddle makes the ball pop off immediately, making it a quick game. Not that tennis is not a quick game, but pickle ball is really quick. It’s just easy and fun because the court is small. Paddles are light and easy to carry around and easy to use.

Pickleball Balls Are Different to the Tennis Ones

That is quite a mouthful, a Pickleball Ball. Pickleball balls are totally different to tennis balls as they are more similar to Wiffle Balls. They are light, they have small holes in them to keep them airborne, and the outer shell is plastic instead of rubber. They are much smaller than tennis balls too.

The Rules are Obviously Different in Tennis and Pickleball

Pickleball and Tennis have completely different rules. Tennis is scored as love, fifteen, thirty, deuce and advantages.

Sets are best of six, with a winner needing to be two games ahead. Matches at professional level are either the best of three, for women, or the best of five, for men.

Pickleball is completely different. Pickleball games are made up of 11 points. The winning team has to win by two points, i.e. 11/9, or 20/18. In professional pickle ball tournaments, games are either 15 or 21 points, the winner must win by two points, and there are 3 games played in a match.

The serve is totally different

Pickleball serves are underhand, tennis serves are overhand. This is one of the biggest reasons that so many older tennis players, or injured tennis players, love pickleball. They are at far less risk of an injury with an underhand serve.

And underhand serve is when the player swings the racquet around his body rather than up and over it, and the ball and paddle meet at the waist.

Pickleball is mostly played as Doubles

There is a reason a pickle ball court doesn’t have a double’s alley and it’s because doubles is the more popular way of playing the game, although singles can be played. Whether it is a doubles or singles game, the game is played on the same size court.

There are no double faults in Pickleball

This in itself is a good reason to play Pickleball! Also, the serves are underhand. So many players love Pickleball for the serve – underhand is a lot easier on the body than overhand.

Players serve for as long as they win.

If you enjoy serving, Pickleball is the game for you. As long as you have a good serve. You keep serving for each point you win; the serve only goes to the other player when you lose your service.

Pickleball players can direct the balls at the opponents

In Pickleball you can aim the ball directly at your opponent, if the mood takes you. This does not mean you should try and hurt your opponent but hey, if you want to go for a full body shot, go for it. To be honest, you can do this in tennis too but it is not considered to be good manners. In tennis there’s an unwritten etiquette not to do so although some players do it deliberately at times.

The Pickleball Net is Smaller

Yes, the net is smaller and lower than that of a tennis net but this does not mean that the game is easy. It is not. It’s deceiving, it looks like it is easy, it looks like anyone would be able to hit the ball over it, but – not so quick. Pickleball is a quick game, a fun game, a game of speed and dexterity -and the small net has a good reason to be there.

The Pickleball Has Non Volley Zone

There is a part of the Pickleball court where a player is not allowed to volley. It is known as the non-volley zone but also, oddly, as the Pickleball Kitchen.

In tennis there are unlimited volleys you can do, and one can have incredible volley rallys. Pickleball courts are too small for this, but also, it is a game of more rallying, not so much a hit and smash.

The game is quite intense

Pickleball is a quick game, a fun game, a game of good speed and intensity. People get excited playing. Think of tennis where it is frowned upon to have a temper. In Pickleball, and this is the recreational game we are talking about, people have fun and do sometimes get carried away. It’s all part of the game.

Pickleball Shot are mostly Front Facing

In tennis, it is pretty common to face the ball that is approaching, turn to the left or right, depending on whether it is a backhand or forehand, and then swing the ball.

In Pickleball, most people face the ball straight on and swing really hard, hitting it forward rather than sideways. You may need to watch a game of Pickleball to understand this better, which you can do online. Remember, if you can play tennis you can play Pickleball, really easily. It’s just – different.

The best things about Pickleball are the fun, exercise and team spirit. It’s a game that can be played by all ages, at all times. It’s recreational and sociable although there are organised tournaments too. Look online, watch a game or two, get a Pickleball racquet and ball and find the nearest court to you. It’s fun!