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There are a number of similarities when you compare platform tennis vs. pickleball.

Both are racket sports that evolved in similar ways.

Both use similar equipment, employing solid rackets rather than strung or netted rackets.

Both were originally inspired by badminton, and they’re even played on courts of similar dimensions.

So what are the most important differences when you compare platform tennis vs. pickleball?

History

Each of the sports evolved from badminton, but they came together in very different ways.

Platform Tennis

Platform tennis was invented in 1928 by a pair of friends named Fessenden Blanchard and James Cogswell.

The sport came to be when they were looking for a game that could be played throughout the winter.

Their first goal was to build a court that would function as both a volleyball and badminton court.

But they discovered that they couldn’t turn the court into a full volleyball court because there was a large rock in the way.

And when they tried to play badminton, they were foiled by low-hanging trees.

The friends were looking for a game that would use a badminton-sized court, a ball similar to a tennis ball, and engaging enough play to entertain them in the cold.

So they made up their own, and platform tennis became a sport.

Pickleball

Being founded in 1928, platform tennis is a relatively new sport when compared to some other sports still played today.

But pickleball is even newer.

The first game of pickleball occurred in 1965 in a couple’s backyard when their children wanted something to do.

The family was living at their home on an island off the coast of Washington.

The home was outfitted with a badminton court, except that they didn’t have any of the necessary equipment to play.

Despite this, the parents encouraged their children to play a game with the court and whatever sports equipment they found.

The kids found the most basic equipment possible: a set of ping pong paddles alongside a perforated Wiffle ball.

This game was extremely successful. Ever since it was first played on that fateful day, Pickleball has become the fastest-growing racket sport in the US.

Rather than using a Wiffle ball and ping pong paddles, today’s games use specialized equipment that improves upon both.

The court

Both of the sports evolved from badminton, so they use a court with similar dimensions to a badminton court.

But there are also some marked differences in the construction of each court.

Platform Tennis

Rather than using a traditional tennis court, platform tennis uses a court with the same dimensions as a badminton court.

This is about 1/3 as large as a regulation tennis court.

The court must then be surrounded by wire mesh fencing or chicken wire that’s 12 feet tall.

The tight weaving of the fencing makes the fences into walls that balls can bounce off of.

Instead of being deemed out-of-bounds, balls that bounce off the walls are still legally in play.

Another aspect of the court is that it’s constructed with space underneath for heating systems to be installed.

That way, when you live in a bitterly cold area, the heating system allows you to play the sport throughout the year.

Most courts in mild and warm climates are build on level ground instead of being upraised.

The dimensions of the deck are 60 feet long and 30 feet wide. The court itself is 44 feet long and 22 feet wide.

Like with a traditional tennis court, the play area is divided in half by a net.

Regulations state that the net must be raised to 37 inches on the ends and 34 inches in the middle.

Pickleball

As with any other regulation sport, pickleball courts must adhere to certain dimensions and specifications.

The same sized court is used whether singles or doubles play is occurring.

A typical court is 20 feet in width and 44 feet in length, allowing 22 feet of play space for each team.

Rather than using a net at the standard badminton height, the pickleball net is lowered slightly.

It has a height of 34 inches in the center and 36 inches at either side.

When most pickleball courts are constructed, there is room left on the edges of the court for players to move.

The majority of constructed courts are built in spaces measuring at least 54 by 24 feet.

Unlike platform tennis, pickleball doesn’t require the court to have walls.

There are no rules that allow the ball to be bounced off the walls for maximum impact.

In addition, pickleball courts aren’t built with year-round heating in mind. They may be constructed both indoors and outdoors.

Equipment

Each game has its own specialized equipment. Both use paddles instead of stringed or netted rackets, which is unusual in racket sports.

Though the equipment may resemble the makeshift equipment that the creators used for the first rudimentary matches, both of the sports have gone through several improvements over the decades.

Platform Tennis

Other than the complexities of the court itself, platform tennis is a relatively simple game.

You need the net, and you need an operable court with the specific regulation chicken wire fences.

But other than that, all that’s necessary to get started are paddles and balls.

The paddles look similar to ping pong paddles, except that most of them have perforations.

The perforations allow for faster movement through the air, as well as streamlined airflow.

Other than that, each paddle is a solid surface without any netting or gaps.

Regulations for the paddles include:

  • Each must extend 18 total inches
  • Paddles may be perforated with a maximum of 87 holes
  • No hole may be larger than 3/8 inch in total diameter

The ball has a spongy texture and a diameter of 2.5 inches.

It doesn’t tend to resemble a tennis ball very closely, instead coming in a variety of different colors.

Pickleball

Like with platform tennis, once you have a court on which to play, you only need the net, balls, and paddles.

Pickleball paddles are smaller than traditional tennis rackets, and they have a roughly textured side with no perforations.

These paddles resemble ping pong paddles, but they have a larger surface area that allows for easier game play.

At the start of the sport, all official paddles were crafted out of wood.

However, most of today’s paddles are made from much lighter materials.

These durable and lightweight composites help to prevent fatigue and potential overuse injury when you play pickleball for a long period of time.

Pickleballs are unique to the game. They are similar to Wiffle balls in that they’re extremely lightweight and perforated with holes.

One important thing to note is that there are different models built for playing indoors and outdoors.

Outdoor balls are less likely to be blown away by a gust of errant wind.

There are a variety of ball colors that you can get, with green and yellow among them.

The only color regulation is that a pickleball must be solid-colored to meet regulation standards.

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