Key Differences Between a Pickleball Court & Tennis Court

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Key Differences Between a Pickleball Court & Tennis Court

Pickleball and tennis list among the most popular racket sports, enjoyed by millions of people of all ages and skill levels. While these sports share some similarities, like the use of a racket and a ball, there are also some key differences. One striking difference is the size and layout of a pickleball court.

Read on to learn more about the differences between tennis and pickleball courts and everything you need to know about each.

Court Size and Layout

A typical pickleball court is 20 feet wide by 44 feet long. Its net height is 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches at the center. The court has two halves, each with a service area, a non-volley zone, and a baseline. Players are not allowed to hit the ball in the air in the non-volley zone - a seven-foot area on either side of the net.

In contrast, a tennis court is much larger, measuring 78 ft long and 36 ft wide for singles matches and 78 ft long and 54 ft wide for doubles matches. The net height is 3 ft at the center and 3.5 ft at the posts. The court has two halves, with a service area at each end and a baseline at the back. Tennis has no non-volley zone, but there are service boxes that players must hit during the serve.

The difference in size is due to the nature of the games. Pickleball is a game of precision and finesse, while tennis requires more running and larger swings.

Court Surface

Tennis courts typically comprise hardcourt (concrete or asphalt), clay, or grass. Hardcourt, the most common tennis surface, offers a consistent and fast playing surface. Clay courts are slower and more forgiving, while grass courts are the fastest and are used for the prestigious Wimbledon tournament.

On the other hand, pickleball courts mainly comprise asphalt or concrete. The surface is usually painted with a textured coating to offer better traction and reduce the slipping risk. Some pickleball courts can comprise other materials like a carpet or synthetic turf.

Equipment Needed to Play

In both sports, players use a racket to hit the ball over the net and into the opponent’s court. However, pickleball rackets are smaller and lighter than tennis rackets. Pickleball wiffle balls are also smaller and lighter than tennis balls, with a diameter of 2.875 inches and a weight of 0.88 ounces. Tennis balls, on the other hand, have a diameter of 2.7 inches and a weight of 2 ounces.

Rules and Gameplay

While both sports involve hitting a ball over a net, their rules and gameplays differ. The serve must be hit underhand in pickleball and land in the opponent’s service box. The server and their partner stay behind the baseline until the ball is hit.

After service, players can hit the ball either in the air or after it has bounced on their side of the court. Remember that players cannot hit the ball in the non-volley area.

In tennis, the service can be hit overhand or underhand and must land in the opponent's service box. The server must stand behind the baseline and may only step in the court once the ball is hit.

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