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Racket games have become more and more popular with every passing year.

Many of these games are played with the same basic principle: using rackets to hit an object back and forth, generally over a net.

But the exact rules and gameplay of every unique game differs.

Pickleball and racquetball are two of the most popular options.

Pickleball is often touted as a good alternative to tennis for the elderly and those with mobility issues.

Racquetball tends to be known as a more high-intensity game.

But what are the specific differences when you compare pickleball vs. racquetball?

What skills are needed for each, and which is right for you?

Pickleball vs. Racquetball

Understanding Pickleball

Pickleball is a relatively simple game that doesn’t require any strong athletic skill.

It engages both the body and the mind, but it’s easy on your physical joints.

Because of this, it appeals to people from many different age groups.

Pickleball can be played as singles or as doubles, meaning there are two or four players to every match.

The same rules apply for both types of play. Pickleball courts are often indoors, but there are some used outdoors.

At the start of the game, you can determine who serves first by any fair method of your choice.

Pickleball’s game play is very similar to badminton and tennis, but the ball moves more slowly.

In addition, the court is smaller, so you don’t have to run as far to catch the ball.

If the ball lands in the court with no one swinging at it, there’s no penalty. You only incur a penalty if you swing and miss.

A pickleball court is around the same size as a badminton court, rather than the larger tennis court option.

Unlike a badminton net, though, a pickleball net is raised above the ground similarly to a tennis net.

Pickleballs are low-weight plastic balls filled with holes.

They move very slowly through the air when compared to tennis balls and birdies.

They’re also extremely lightweight.

Pickleball paddles include a textured panel crafted from solid materials.

Unlike tennis, pickleball serves can only be done underhanded. This is because the court is too small for an overhand serve.

The extra power of an overhand serve would give the serving team an unfair advantage.

The underhanded serves can be helpful for people with shoulder overuse injuries, as they prevent you from reaching above your head.

Serves in pickleball are required to be initiated on the outside of the baseline with at least a foot of distance.

You can’t enter the court before you serve. You can serve diagonally, and you can only try to serve once.

With a normal game, the match might last for up to 11 points.

These games may also include 2 point win strategies.

In official pickleball tournaments, the point threshold will often be lengthened to anywhere from 15 to 21 points.

Only the serving team in pickleball can score.

Understanding Racquetball

Racquetball is another popular racket sport, but it can’t be played outside. You can only play it indoors.

Unlike many other racket sports, there is no net stretched across the court. Instead, players bounce their balls against the walls.

Another unique feature of racquetball is that it doesn’t have any out-of-bounds places.

The game is usually played with 2 or 4 players, and it’s a fast-paced cardio exercise.

When serving, the initial player is responsible for making sure that the ball hits the wall after bouncing.

It’s also essential that the ball land in the “shot line.”

As long as you don’t break any of the rules, the person who scores the most points wins the game.

After a serve, the shots players take are called the “rally.”

For serving teams who win the rally, they earn one point.

If the serving team loses the rally, the opponent is then allowed to serve.

However, the opponent won’t get any points for their victory.

Key similarities

These are some of the most important similarities when talking about pickleball and racquetball:

  • Only the server or serving team can score a point
  • The games are played by hitting balls with rackets
  • Matches can be played with either singles or doubles
  • Both can be played indoors

Key differences

Pickleball:

  • The game play is slower paced, making it ideal for non-athletes, older people, and people with mobility issues.
  • Games can be played both indoors and outdoors.
  • A net is stretched across the court to divide the players.
  • There are strict boundary lines on the court that factor strongly into the rules.
  • The racket is a textured paddle made of solid material, rather than using netted material.
  • Serves can only be done underhand.
  • Serves must be done from behind the boundary line.

Racquetball:

  • There’s extremely fast-paced game play that makes for a great cardio workout.
  • Games can only be played indoors, since the ball bounces off the wall.
  • No net is used, and the wall is used instead.
  • There are no out-of-bounds markers on the court, making this a very flexible game.
  • Serves involve bouncing the ball and letting it hit the wall.
  • The ball has to fall in the “shot line” for the serve to be considered valid.

Which is right for you?

The best sport for you really depends on what you want out of your gaming experience.

Pickleball will suit you best if:

  • You want a more relaxed game play.
  • You don’t want to run a lot or dive for the ball.
  • You want the ability to play outdoors.

Racquetball will suit you best if:

  • You’re looking for an intensive cardio workout.
  • You prefer indoor sports.
  • You like the idea of a sport that doesn’t have any boundaries

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