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Platform tennis and padel are two popular racket sports. Both of the games are rooted in tennis, but padel is the best-known on an international level.

Platform tennis is played less often, partly because of the complicated court system.

Many people often get padel and platform tennis mixed up. Another common name for padel is “paddle,” and some people call it “paddle tennis.”

Platform tennis and paddle tennis sound awfully similar.

But when you actually compare platform tennis vs. padel, you find a lot of important differences.

Platform Tennis vs. Padel: How do they compare?

There are a number of similarities between these two sports, including:

  • Can be played outdoors
  • Rooted in tennis
  • Paddle used instead of a netted or strung racket

Platform Tennis characteristics

These are some of the things that platform tennis doesn’t share with padel:

  • Created in New York in 1928
  • Around 10,000 players
  • Players are mostly concentrated in Chicago, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York
  • Outdoor-only, with courts that are heated underneath
  • Courts are 1/3 the size of a tennis court
  • Serve is done overhead
  • Several hundred courts throughout the world
  • Thinner regulation paddle
  • Soft and spongy ball

Padel characteristics

These are aspects of padel that aren’t shared with platform tennis:

  • Created in 1969 in Mexico
  • More than 10 million international players
  • Played everywhere in the world, with the highest concentrations in Spain and Latin America
  • Can be played indoors
  • Court is 1/2 the size of a traditional tennis court
  • Serve is done underhand
  • More than 10,000 courts throughout the world
  • Thicker regulation paddle
  • Low-bounce tennis ball

To get a better sense of the differences between the games, though, it’s important to understand them.

Constructing the court

Platform Tennis

Platform tennis has an unusual court construction due to its history.

There aren’t any other racket sports that are played on a similar field, even though some courts do have similar dimensions.

The sport was first developed in 1928 in New York.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

It was created by a pair of friends who wanted a sport that they could play throughout the winter.

Their original plan was to create a heated badminton and volleyball court.

But when they were unable to play volleyball or badminton, they made up their own game instead.

Platform tennis has remained a local game for the most part.

It’s most commonly played in areas that have long winters, with the heated court being a cold weather refuge.

The sport can also be played during the summer, but there’s not as much novelty then.

When courts are constructed in warm climates, they tend to be put on level ground rather than having a heater underneath.

Platform tennis is a relatively little-known racket sport, played by only around ten thousand people per year.

And with the advent of indoor courts, the novelty of a heated outdoor court has waned slightly.

Still, the regulations of the sport are worth examining due to their unique setup.

As mentioned, the court is only one-third as large as a tennis court, sharing the same dimensions with a traditional badminton court.

Unlike many other courts, though, this one must be surrounded by a large amount of chicken wire.

The fence has to reach a height of twelve feet on all sides.

The fencing is made for more than just decoration. Throughout the game, balls can rebound off the tight wires and remain in play.

With many other racket sports, balls are out-of-bounds once they cross certain boundaries of the court.

When the sport was first invented, the courts were built on land that couldn’t be used for traditional tennis.

For example, they might be built on rocky or hilly places.

Underneath the court would be an area that could hold a heating system.

Above the court was a flat expanse of land where people could play platform tennis matches all year.

The court is in the middle of a larger deck.

The playing court itself is nearly 45 feet long.

It’s a long rectangle that is bisected by a net. The net must be raised to regulation standards before a match can be played.

All in all, there are only a few hundred courts in highly localized areas throughout Chicago and the Northeast US.

It’s much rarer for anyone outside the US to play the game, and some people from warmer US regions haven’t even heard of it.

Padel

The padel court is larger than the platform tennis court, coming in at about half the size of a regulation tennis court.

The playing field must be 20 meters in length and 10 meters in width, with walls on all four sides.

The playing field is divided in half by a net, which leaves each player with a perfectly square 10 by 10 meter space to work in.

There are also regulations regarding the heights of the walls.

Most of the walls are 3 meters in height, but there are shorter walls along the longest sides of the court that only come to 2 meters tall.

In addition, metal mesh material is used to close up the court.

Service lines are painted on the ground.

Each of the service lines is put 3 meters in front of the shortest walls.

Regulations state that the lines must be at least 2 inches in width and colored in a way that makes them easily visible.

There’s also a stipulation that there must be at least 6 meters of free playing space vertically above the court.

This means that an indoor court cannot have a ceiling that’s lower than 6 meters, and the same is true of any outdoor court that’s covered by a tarp or other obstacle.

Gameplay

The way the game itself is played varies between the two sports.

Platform Tennis

Each platform tennis match is played with three sets and scored similarly to tennis.

If a pair of players wins two of the three sets, they win the match.

Platform tennis is meant to be played in pairs, and teamwork is a big part of the game.

The paddle used is 18 inches long.

Meanwhile, the balls tend to be extremely similar to tennis balls.

The sport is extremely similar to tennis in many ways, aside from the unusual court setup, the involvement of the walls in the game, and the use of paddles instead of rackets.

Padel

Padel is a sport that’s meant to be played in pairs. A big aspect of it is the teamwork.

But there are some singles courts, which are nearly half the size of the regular court.

Padel is an extremely fast-paced game that involves a ball ricocheting off the walls.

You have to react quickly because of how fast the ball moves.

It’s an active sport that involves a lot of running, jumping, and diving to save the ball before it hits the ground.


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