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Pickleball is one of America’s fastest-growing racket sports. The last six years have seen a meteoric rise in pickleball players, growing nearly 650%!
Many people who are playing are younger, not necessarily the over-60crowd.
Many younger players are able to play pickleball because there are more courts available thanks to the different parks and rec departments.
How does this compare to America’s leading racket sport, tennis?
Keep reading to find out!
Growth of Tennis vs. Pickleball
The growth of tennis vs. pickleball is an interesting comparison for most racket sports players.
Tennis has seen a rise in interest and players and is considered a $5.57 billion dollar international sport.
There is at least a 10% growth in players who play tennis more than 21 times each year.
This means there are 5.31 million players playing tennis more than 21 times each year.
It has also seen an overall growth of 4% each year when younger players have started to play.
Many children begin playing tennis very young, but others start playing in high school or college.
Pickleball, however, has seen an even greater rise in popularity.
According to the USA Pickleball Association, they have seen a 650% increase in their players!
What is Pickleball?
If you’ve never heard of this game or if you’ve only heard of your grandmother playing it, not to fear!
Pickleball is considered a mix between ping pong, racquetball, and tennis.
Players use a paddle instead of a racquet and they use a wiffle ball instead of a tennis ball.
The courts tend to be smaller than tennis as are the nets.
Most people play pickleball in doubles, though some play singles.
It has a number of fun rules, like staying out of the “kitchen.” It is a very quick game, which makes it perfect for those looking to get some aerobic exercise.
Each league game tends to last around 15 minutes.
Playing two hours of pickleball is the equivalent of walking four miles.
Differences between pickleball and tennis
Pickleball has a number of differences from tennis.
There are minor differences such as having three numbers when playing doubles, no overhead serving, and many players hit the balls to people’s bodies on purpose.
Pickleball is also much easier on the knees compared to tennis.
However, there are also some bigger differences like the following list.
Pickleballs are different.
Many tennis players are baffled by the way pickleballs behave. They are designed to bounce low and they are incredibly light.
Tennis balls are extremely big and bouncy, making them predictable.
Players expect the bounciness of a tennis ball because it has a rubber core.
The hollow core allows the ball to bounce more.
Pickleballs are different however because they do not have a core.
Instead, they have a shell at the center, causing it to bounce lower.
They are made of a hard plastic, preventing it from compressing.
The balls used on outdoor courts are also different from the pickleballs used on indoor courts.
The outdoor balls have smaller holes to prevent them from being affected by the wind.
Racquets vs. Paddles
Tennis is known for using racquets but pickleball use paddles.
Many people consider pickleball paddles as giant ping pong paddles and while they are similar, there are some differences between a pickleball paddle and a ping pong paddle.
The pickleball paddles are larger and behave differently than ping pong paddles.
Most modern pickleball paddles are composite paddles made from many different pieces.
It has a face, an edgeguard, and a core.
The core is not made of solid material. Instead, it is made in a honeycomb pattern to keep the paddle light.
The cores are often made of polymer, aliminum, or nomex.
The face is covered in graphite or even fiberglass. The edgeuard prevents the paddle from falling apart.
Pickleball courts are smaller than tennis courts.
Many tennis players think pickleball courts are tiny!
They are only 20’x44’ which is closer to a badminton court, which makes sense when you know that pickleball was originally played on a badminton court!
The net is also much smaller than a tennis court.
Pickleball is famous for the kitchen or the non-volley zone. You are not allowed to volley shots if you are within the kitchen.
Pickleball has different rules than tennis.
For example, in tennis, you can lobby the ball over the net when you’re standing close to the net.
However, in pickleball you are not allowed to do this!
It has an interesting history because one of the founders in pickleball noticed volleying in the kitchen could be a serious issue.
If a player was very tall, they could smash all the volleys easily which is why they changed the rules to prevent this from happening.
The non-volley zone on a pickleball court is a section that extends backward from the net by seven feet.
Players are not allowed to be in the kitchen and hit a volley because they are so powerful. This makes the game more playable.
Pickleball is at the kitchen line
You cannot play pickleball in the same way you play tennis.
Pickleball is played almost exclusively at the seven-foot line of the kitchen.
This is called the kitchen line that separates the non-volley zone from the volley zone.
Players will often stand right in front of the line because it provides a bigger advantage.
Most points are won right from the kitchen line.
This happens because when players are playing at the kitchen line, they are always ready for a high ball to smash for a win!
The further from the kitchen line a player is, the more likely it is that the opposite player will hit their feet!
When you’re closer to the net, it is easier to get the ball over the net, particularly since the balls don’t bounce as high as tennis balls.
Pickleball is more volatile than tennis
Pickleball is much faster than tennis.
It is a fast tempo back and forth and often includes wild swings because people are only standing 14 feet away from each other.
This allows people to hit the ball with a lot of power very quickly.
An important lesson every pickleball player quickly learns is to keep the ball low.
They don’t want to hit it high otherwise they will get into a “bangfest” where players easily smash the ball back over the net.
The serve isn’t as big of a deal in pickleball as in tennis.
The serve is not as serious in pickleball as it is in tennis.
Many tennis players are able to score a point from the serve alone.
This never happens in pickleball, even at a professional level.
Players are only allowed to serve underhand in pickleball, preventing people from scoring aces.
The importance of serving in pickleball is in the ball’s placement rather than the power behind it.
Tennis is an incredibly popular sport, but pickleball is continuing to grow in popularity. This fun sport is a great way to be more social and to exercise!