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You may have passed a room at the gym and heard a small ball hit the wall. “Racquetball, or at least that’s what you thought. It is possible, that it’s paddleball being played.

At a glance, they may look similar, but these sports are actually quite different.

Let’s do a quick paddleball vs. racquetball comparison to help you decide which of these two fun-filled sports is right for you.

Paddleball vs. racquetball: How do they compare.

While they both involve racquets, paddleball and racquetball are actually quite different sports.


With games consisting of 2-4 players, the first person or team to reach 21 points, wins.

Much like tennis, a small ball is served.

The objective is then to hit the ball on the opponents side, having it land past the serve line.

The ball must only bounce once before being hit back towards the wall.

If the ball hits the ground twice, the player loses that round. This is a high endurance sport that is both mentally and physically challenging.


This fast paced sport can also be played with either 2, 3 or 4 players.

The winning person or team must score a total of 15 points to be victorious.

The small rubber ball is hit back and forth against the wall. The goal is to only let the ball touch the ground once after hitting the wall.

Great stamina is required. This is a rigorous sport that requires several twists and turns.


  • Paddleball — Although tennis is where it all began, paddleball does not use a racquet. Instead, a paddle is used. Typically 18 inches long, this small paddle is perforated with small air holes throughout. A small, hollow ball, with a hole in it, is used.
  • Racquetball — As the name suggests, this sport is played with a racquet. Lightweight and accurate, racquets come in different lengths, widths and head size. Racquets are to be no longer than 22 inches. Some have string patterns to assist with accuracy. The ball used is small, hollow and made of rubber.

When comparing paddleball and racquetball, you can see that the hand held equipment is a major difference between the two.

Typically the racquet used for racquetball is larger than the paddle used for paddleball.

The balls used are also quite different.

The rubber ball bounces and therefore absorbs the power of a hard swing.

Although small, the rubber racquetball can still leave a mark if you’re hit with one.

The hollow ball, used in paddleball games, is lighter in weight.


  • Paddleball — If you’re thinking of playing paddleball, you need to be in good shape. Constant movements and weight shifts occur during a typical game. A good stretch is recommended prior to beginning a round. Physical stamina is not all that is needed. Paddleball is also just as mentally challenging.
  • Racquetball — If you are looking for a great cardio workout, this is the one for you. This fast paced sport keeps players moving at almost all times. You are guaranteed to sweat. It’s possible your muscles will feel it the next day.

Either sport will test your endurance.

Yes, racquetball is sometimes considered the more intense of the two, however, paddleball makes use of the entire play area.

By maximizing the court, players get a great workout. It is very important to stretch and warm up before you play.

Drinking plenty of water and taking rest breaks is highly suggested.

Do not over do it. Both games require repetitive movements, which can lead to over-use injuries in your wrists, shoulders, elbows, knees and ankles.

Some players wear therapeutic braces on these areas to prevent injury.

Additional similarities

  • Although both sports derived from tennis, neither utilize a net for game play.
  • A court is required to play both sports. The courts are very similar in size.
  • Both sports incorporate a wall for proper play. The ball must hit or bounce off of the wall.
  • To begin either game a player must first serve the ball. This player must remain within the service area while serving the ball.
  • Players typically wear sports gloves to protect their hands. Your hands can end up with blisters from using either the paddle or racquet. Gloves offer a barrier between your hand and the handle.

These high impact sports share many similar qualities. Though very different, if you can play one, you can play the other.

The rules are very similar and easy to follow.

It is recommended to review these rules before you enter your first round of play.

Both games have a tremendous mental effort that is required.

There are many areas of the court to watch and it is imperative that if playing on a team, you and your partner are in sync with one another.

If the fast pace movements of racquetball intimidate you, give paddleball a try.

With their origination in the 1900’s, popularity quickly grew.

Over the years, paddleball and racquetball have maintained their place on the court.

That is until workout gyms began replacing the courts required, with areas designated for Zumba, aerobics and body building.

This has caused a slight decline in popularity.

Currently, there are over 5 million racquetball players world wide. Both sports have affiliated associations that encompass league play.

Teams can compete in regular competition and tournaments.

Players are given awards for various categories.

Teams gather from all over the world to participate.

Countries like Germany and France partake in racquetball, while Mexico and Argentina are seeing a surge in paddleball games.

Ultimately, neither sport is better than the other.

The uniqueness of these two sports is definitely something to admire . If you have not picked up a racquet or paddle in a long time, or ever, you should definitely try it today!

Perhaps it’s been a while since you’ve played, either way, your body will thank you. Both sports give you one heck of a workout.

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