A Beginners Guide to the Game of Pickeball and How It Differs From Tennis

In 1965, two dads decided to get creative and have some fun time with their bored kids over the summer. A badminton court was available, but they had no rackets or shuttlecock to play. They improvised a new game using ping-pong bats and a Wiffle ball.

They lowered the net to 36 inches to make the game competitive. Another friend joined them the next weekend, and together they came up with the rules for the sport now known as pickleball.

Fast-forward half a century later, and pickleball is growing fast with over 2.46 million players today. Actually, in 2014, pickleball was declared the fastest growing sport in America.

What exactly is Pickleball?

At first glance, pickleball resembles tennis, but it’s more like a larger version of table tennis where the players are also on the table. With some line tape, you can easily make a court on your driveway.

However, the ball used is different from both tennis and ping-pong balls. It is made of plastic and weighs between 0.08 to 1.02 ounces. The ball has perforations and is less bouncy than a tennis ball.

Playing Area

Since pickleball was invented on a badminton court, the playing area is much smaller than a tennis court. The dimensions for the court are 20 feet by 44 feet. You only need around 200 yards of line tape to mark the whole court.

The 36” ×2” Douglas nets used in pickleball are not elevated from the ground like in badminton. There is a 7-foot non-volley side that extends from the strong netting into both halves of the court. Another line runs through the middle of the 15-foot zone to separate the left and right service areas.

Depending on where and how fast you want to set up your pickleball court, you can use chalk and crayons for court markers as an alternative to line tape. However, they will not last as long.

Racquets vs. Paddles

Tennis is played using racquets traditionally made of wood, but modern editions are made of fiberglass or graphite. For the striking surface string made of synthetic or natural gut material is woven into the space.

On the other hand, pickleball is played using a paddle that’s half the size of a tennis racquet but looks like a table tennis bat.


The scoring system between tennis and pickleball vary a lot. Whereas in tennis any player or team can score at any time, only the serving player or team can score in pickleball.

The first serve is always taken on the right side of the court. If a point is scored, the server moves to the left side and serves diagonally to the other side of the court.

Winning service points in pickleball is hard and rarely ever happens even when experienced players are on the court. This is because to initiate play, the serve must be underhanded. Therefore, it is hard to generate a lot of power when serving.

The receiving team does not change positions, and they will earn their chance to score points when the serving team commits a foul during a rally.

Also, tennis is played in sets, but pickleball is played to 11 points, and a team needs to win by at least two points.

The Kitchen

In tennis, it is common to see players rally from the baselines. In pickleball, it is different. Here players take positions near the non-volley area, which is popularly known as the kitchen, as this is where all the pickleball action is.

Hitting the ball high in the air is a recipe for disaster as it allows opponents to smash the ball. By standing close to the non-volley area, players can easily intercept and smash high balls.

In Conclusion

The tempo in pickleball changes instantly. Exchanges can be calm in one instance, and the next moment rockets could be flying across the court. The fast change of pace makes the game unpredictable, exciting, and the perfect way to enjoy free time.

Do not worry if there are no pickleball courts in your area. Just buy training equipment, and some line tape from a tennis supply company and make an improvised court at home. Finally, don’t forget to add outdoor benches for the fans.

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