Pickleball Court vs Tennis Court: A Comprehensive Comparison

Pickleball and tennis are two popular racquet sports that have captured the attention of many players, both young and old. While their gameplay and objective are based on similar foundations, crucial differences exist between the two sports, making each unique in its own right.

This article will delve into a comparison between a pickleball court and a tennis court, focusing on the net, court size, non-volley zone, double sidelines, and the possibility of using a tennis net for pickleball.

I. The Net of the Court

The first and perhaps the most obvious difference between pickleball and tennis courts is the net. The tennis net is typically 42 inches tall at the edges and 36 inches at the center, resulting in a slight dip towards the middle.

In contrast, the pickleball net stands at a consistent 36-inch height along the entire width, except at the center, where it sags slightly to a 34-inch height.

The height difference affects gameplay significantly, as the ball can pass more easily over a lower pickleball net, contributing to the sport’s faster tempo. Conversely, in tennis, the net’s height encourages players to use skills such as topspin and slices to send the ball higher and with more force.

II. Court Size

Court size is another significant factor that differentiates the two sports. Tennis courts are significantly larger than pickleball courts. A standard tennis court measures 78 feet in length and 27 feet wide for singles, expanding to 36 feet for doubles. On the other hand, a pickleball court is smaller, stretching 44 feet in length and 20 feet in width.

The larger size of a tennis court contributes to its rigorous physical demands, as players need to cover more ground in pursuit of the ball. The smaller court size of pickleball makes it more accessible for players of different skill levels and age groups while also fostering a faster-paced game.

The difference in court size also affects strategy and shot selections, as tennis players capitalize on long shots and powerful serves, while pickleball players emphasize precision and control.

III. Non-Volley Zone

The non-volley zone, also known as the “kitchen,” is unique to pickleball and does not exist in tennis. This 7-foot-long region extends on both sides of the net and is intended to prevent players from executing “smash” shots too close to the net, ensuring a fair and enjoyable game.

Competitors are not allowed to step inside the non-volley zone while hitting the ball unless the ball bounces inside this area first.

In contrast, tennis does not incorporate a non-volley zone, allowing players to approach the net and hit volleys or overhead smashes from any distance, which adds different strategic elements to the game. The presence of the non-volley zone in pickleball fosters a more balanced game that relies heavily on strategy and shot placement.

IV. Double Side Lines

Double sidelines are another difference between pickleball and tennis courts. In tennis, the court has two sets of side lines – one for singles play and another, wider set for doubles play. This requires players to adapt to the change when switching between singles and doubles matches, altering their gameplay, and aiming for different sidelines.

In pickleball, there is only one set of sidelines, regardless of whether it’s singles or doubles play. The presence of a single set of sidelines simplifies the game, as all players need to do is focus on aiming for one sideline. This eliminates the confusion or challenge of adapting to different sidelines, which can be tricky in tennis courts.

V. Using a Tennis Net for Pickleball

Though pickleball and tennis nets differ in size, some people have attempted to use a tennis net for playing pickleball. However, this is not recommended because it does not provide the optimal height needed for enjoyable play.

The higher net ends up making gameplay slower and less dynamic than usual and increases the likelihood of bad bounces due to its steeper angle toward the center. Therefore, it’s best to use an official pickleball net when playing the sport if available.


What is the best surface for a pickleball court?

The ideal surface for a pickleball court is an outdoor hard court, such as asphalt or concrete. Artificial turf can also be used, but it tends to wear out quickly and can make the game more physically demanding due to increased friction. Indoor courts should also be built with hardwood or tile surfaces for optimal playability.

Can you use a tennis racket for pickleball?

Yes, you can use a tennis racket for pickleball. However, pickleball rackets are designed specifically for the sport and offer certain advantages that tennis rackets cannot provide.

Pickleball rackets are generally lighter and shorter than tennis rackets, with larger sweet spots to help players hit better shots. As such, it is usually recommended to invest in a specific pickleball racket for the best playing experience.

Is there a non-volley zone in tennis?

No, there is no non-volley zone in tennis. The presence of this 7-foot-long region on both sides of the net is unique to pickleball and helps create a more balanced game that relies heavily on strategy and shot placement.

In contrast, tennis does not have a non-volley zone, allowing players more freedom in approaching the net and executing volleys or overheads from any distance.

What makes pickleball better than tennis?

Pickleball is generally considered to be a better sport than tennis due to its easier learning curve, shorter playing times, and lower physical demands. In addition, pickleball incorporates unique rules such as the non-volley zone which helps create a more balanced game that relies heavily on strategy and shot placement.

The presence of double sidelines in tennis can make gameplay more confusing or challenging when switching between singles and doubles matches. Lastly, pickleball rackets are specifically designed for the sport, providing advantages over traditional tennis rackets that cannot be found elsewhere.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, pickleball and tennis are similar in many ways but differ in various elements such as net height, court size, the presence of a non-volley zone and sidelines. The differences affect gameplay significantly and should be taken into account when deciding which sport to play.

Furthermore, it is important to use the right equipment for each respective game. This will ensure optimal performance and an enjoyable experience overall.

About the author

John's love for pickleball began when his wife bought him a set for Christmas one year. He quickly became obsessed with the game, and now plays several times a week.

John loves nothing more than spending an afternoon on the court with friends, whacking balls back and forth.

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