Pickleball vs. Paddleball: What are the Differences, Similarities?


If you like tennis or racquetball and are looking for a new sport to try, why not get into pickleball or paddleball with your friends and family? Both pickleball and paddleball resemble the popular sport of tennis, but are entirely different sports, invented at separate times, and function in courts of different sizes.

So, what are the differences between pickleball and paddleball? Pickleball and paddleball have many similarities, but both use different rules and sets of equipment.  Let’s look at the differences and similarities between pickleball and paddleball below and what equipment you’ll need to get started. We will even go over the rules so you can start playing as soon as you have the right gear!

Let’s Start with the Basics: What is Pickleball?

According to USA Pickleball, pickleball was invented in 1965 by three dads from Bainbridge Island, a small town that is only a ferry ride away from Seattle, Washington. These fun-loving dads created pickleball to entertain their children, who had grown bored with their summertime activities. The game started with homemade equipment intended to play in their backyards but has since evolved into a world-renowned sport loved by millions. It is primarily popular in the United States and Canada but is becoming more popular across the globe.

A pickleball court is the same size for both doubles and singles play. The court is 20 x 44 feet, and the tennis-like net is 36 inches tall on the sidelines and 34 inches tall in the center. The ball used for pickleball is made of lightweight plastic and features holes, much like a whiffle ball. A standard pickleball paddle is 16 inches long and 8 inches wide.

If you are familiar with the rules of tennis, pickleball should not be difficult for you to understand. The two sports are very similar since players volley the ball diagonally over the net back and forth until someone fails to receive and return the ball. Unlike tennis, pickleball uses a plastic ball that resembles a Wiffle ball due to its design’s holes and lightweight. To win pickleball, you must reach eleven points and be two points higher than your opponent.

Pickleball is played commonly in the United States and Canada but is quickly becoming more popular globally.

Now that We Know a Little About Pickleball: What is Paddleball?

Paddleball, or paddle tennis, was invented in New York City in the 1920s. It is a timeless sport that has entertained children and adults for over a century. It has grown in popularity over the years and is now widely played across the globe. A version of paddleball, called “padel,” is played in Argentina and Spain. Doubles play is the most common form of paddleball, no matter where it is played.

Paddle tennis is a smaller version of full-court tennis, but smaller wooden paddles are used instead of large rackets. The ball is different from the traditional tennis ball, as well. It is made of depressurized rubber and is about 2 ½ inches in diameter. Paddleball can be played in either singles or doubles, and many of the rules resemble that of tennis.

A paddleball court is 20 x 50 feet and comprises a short line, two side lines, a long line, and one set of service markers. The sport is played using wooden paddles to volley the rubber ball diagonally across a net to the opposing players. Like tennis or pickleball, the round continues until a player fails to receive and return the ball.

Paddleball can be played inside and outside. An indoor paddleball court is surrounded by four walls and is sometimes played without the paddles. Players often use their hands to return the ball, bouncing it off the wall like in racquetball, instead of volleying it across a net. This game is often called “handball,” and the rules are similar to paddleball.

Before You Can Start Playing, You’ll Need Some Gear. What Do You Need to Play Pickleball?

Pickleball and paddleball both require very little equipment to get started. Both sports require a paddle, a ball, and a net or court to play.

The paddle for pickleball is most commonly 16 inches long and 8 inches wide and a light plastic ball with holes that closely resemble a Wiffle ball. The last thing you’ll need is space to play and a net! If you know where a badminton court is, that’s the perfect place to play because the dimensions and the net height are perfect.

How Do You Play Pickleball?

Playing pickleball is different from other racket sports. The differences in the equipment are just one of the ways to tell the sports apart. The most significant change lies in the scoring system.

Once a team reaches eleven points and is also two points ahead of the opposing team, that team has won. Much like other sports that resemble pickleball, each point is started with an underhanded serve to volley the ball diagonally across the net. Only the serving team can score points. Points are scored if the opposite team commits a fault.

Faults happen for a variety of reasons, like failing to allow the ball to bounce once before returning it, volleying the ball from the kitchen (the area closest to the net), letting the ball bounce a second time before returning it, and many others.

One rule that is unique to pickleball is the double bounce rule. Once a ball is served, the receiving team must let it bounce once before returning it, and it must bounce once on the serving team’s side as well. The second bounce rule states that you may not allow the ball to bounce twice before returning it to the other team.

Aside from the rules that make pickleball unique, the sport greatly resembles other racket sports. It involves diagonally serving a ball across a net so that the opposing team can volley it back until a fault is committed.

Is Pickleball Not Your Style? Here’s Where You Can Get Paddleball Equipment

The paddle for paddleball is no longer than 18 inches and no wider than 9 ½ inches, while the balls are depressurized and made of rubber, unlike other racket sports. Other than the paddles and the ball, players of either pickleball or paddleball do not need additional equipment.

You can find paddleball equipment at many major sporting equipment stores. You can find the paddles and balls at your local sporting goods store. If you do not have a sporting goods store in your area or are having trouble finding the equipment you need, use online resources to find paddles. Amazon is always an excellent place to start.

If you search for paddleball or paddle tennis balls, you will have no trouble shopping for the right kind. The balls used for paddleball look very similar to ping-pong balls but are much smaller. Make sure you get depressurized rubber balls that are 2 ½ inches in diameter.

How Do You Play Paddleball?

Paddleball is similar to other racket sports, like tennis. The scoring system is the same and is played in sets of best of three, just as tennis is. You can play paddleball in either singles or doubles. In paddleball, the serving team serves the ball underhanded diagonally to the opposing team. You can either throw the ball in the air before serving or bounce it once. The method chosen for serving must be adopted for the entire set, and serves must be executed at no higher than 31 inches. The server shouldn’t cross the baseline. Doing so will result in a foot fault. The service is considered a fault if the ball touches the net mid-serve or the server misses the ball with their paddle while serving.

A point is scored if the opposing team fails to return the ball within the boundaries of the court or if any team member makes a fault. Scoring is the same as tennis: the first point wins the player 15, the second point 30, the third point 40, and the fourth point wins the game. Matches are also the best of two out of three. (paddle-tennis-rules.html)

Once You Have the Equipment, Where Can You Play Pickleball or Paddleball?

You can play pickleball or paddleball wherever you can find a court. Many cities have a local recreation center that offers various courts to play on, so that is a perfect place to start. Also, check out local parks that provide outdoor pickleball or paddleball courts. The critical thing to note is the difference between the two sports lies in the size of the court, the size of the paddles, and the kind of balls.

You can create your own court in your backyard or a parking lot, as long as you find a wide open area to section off the correct dimensions for whichever kind of court you plan to use.

Zone out the proper size with measuring tape and chalk bright enough to see on the pavement, or use string to mark the court in the grass. All you need to do is look up the dimension where you should draw the lines.

Once you have your court zoned out, you can spend an evening engaging in backyard pickleball or paddleball. The sports are common in the United States and Canada, so you are likely to find somewhere in your area to play. If you want to play more professionally, check online to see if there are any organizations to join in your area that offer pickleball or paddleball leagues.

Let us Look at the Similarities and Differences Between Pickleball and Paddleball.

Many sports fall into the same category as tennis, meaning there are resemblances between said sports and tennis, and pickleball and paddleball are two of those sports. Pickleball uses a 20 x 44 feet court with a tennis-like net that is thirty-six inches tall on the sidelines and 34 inches tall in the center. Paddleball uses a court that is 20 x 50 feet and involves a net at 31 inches tall. Both sports use rackets and involve volleying a ball across the net at a diagonal so that the opposing players and points are kept when someone fails to receive and return the ball to the other side.

The significant differences lie in the equipment used and the size of the court, the rules, and the game’s scoring. Pickleball paddles are significantly smaller and less textured than paddleball paddles, and the balls are designed to travel differently when hit across the net.

Differences in the rules, such as requiring serves to be underhanded in pickleball while it is unrestricted in paddleball, are just a few examples of the differences. Additionally, the traditional scoring system of paddleball, which is the same as tennis, is different from the 11-point system used in pickleball.

Although the overall atmosphere of the games resembles one another, they are just different enough that if you want to experience something new, you should try out one or both of these sports. Both paddleball and pickleball are great sports to get into and require very little equipment to get started.

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