Padel vs Pickleball

If you are a keen padel or pickleball player, you are probably beginning to wonder what the difference is between the two. 

While both games require a ball and a racquet, that really is where the similarities end. In this article, we’re going head to head with these popular racquet games. 

Padel Tennis and Pickleball: The Main Differences

Padel vs Pickleball; let the battle commence! 

Padel 

A mixed padel team playing on the court
A couple playing padel

Padel evolved from the popular sport we all know and love, tennis. Padel (not to be confused with paddle tennis or ‘pop tennis’) is played in an enclosed space. The game can be played in singles or doubles and the aim of the game is to win the set – just like you see in a game of tennis. 

Pickleball 

Pickleball is less difficult to get the hang of in comparison to padel, which is one of the reasons why children like to play. The game combines a variety of different racket sports including badminton, tennis and ping-pong (or table tennis for those that prefer the term). 

Now that we’ve covered the basics, it might be worth taking an in-depth look at the sport to find out more about these different racquet sports. 

Related post: Pickleball vs paddle tennis

Equipment Differences

The equipment used for each sport is also quite noticeably different. Our table below provides more information about these differences. 

RacketBall
PadelPerforated surface
Thick in width
Looks more like a tennis racket. Not to be confused with paddle tennis paddles. 
Looks just like a tennis ball except it can’t bounce as high
PickleballSimilar to table tennis paddles. 
Not perforated. 
Textured edges
Perforated plastic ball with holes around the surface.
Ball can be compared to a badminton birdie or shuttlecock.
Equipment differences between pickleball and padel

Differences in Court Dimensions

One of the most noticeable differences is the court dimensions. Let’s take a look at them in closer detail. 

Padel Court

A padel court
  • A padel court must be 10m (long) x 20m (wide).
  • The court is surrounded by glass or cement walls along with a wire mesh fence.
  • Each side of the net has service lines that are 20cm wide.
  • The court is in the shape of a rectangle divided by a net.
  • Courts that are covered must have a clearance height of 6m minimum.
  • The service blocks are a guide to show where the ball is allowed to bounce after being served.

Pickleball Court

Six empty pickleball courts
  • A pickleball court must be 13.41m (wide) x 6.1m (long) which is similar to a paddle tennis court
  • There is a net to divide the court, as seen in a padel court.
  • Again, the service blocks are a guide to show where the ball is allowed to bounce once served.
  • The maximum net height must be no taller than 0.91m.
  • There is a no volley (kitchen) zone on either side of the net which is marked at 2.13m away from the net.

You may also notice that pickleball courts have the same dimensions as badminton courts. 

A pickleball court is often compared to a large table tennis (or ping-pong) table. It also does not have glass or cement walls surrounding its perimeters. 

A padel court looks more like a tennis court but is not quite as large. It is divided into quarters just like that of a tennis court. 

Game Rules

The rules of each game are significantly different, which is important to know if you are thinking of having a go at one or the other. 

So what are the game rules of each? Keep reading to find out! 

Padel

The aim of the game is to win two out of three sets (we will discuss the scoring further down). In a game of padel, the ball must bounce before it is served. Similar to a game of tennis, the server has a first and second serve. 

The baseline of a padel court is the surrounding glass or cement walls. In this case, the padel ball is served between the ‘baseline’ and the edge of the service block. 

Pickleball

The aim of pickleball is to score 11 points. To do this, players must hit the ball into the opponent’s area, clearing the no volley zone. In pickleball, the ball must be served flat, as it would in a game of badminton. You only get to serve once unless the ball touches the net when struck. 

As the pickleball is served, the player must keep both feet behind the baseline with one on the court surface.

Related post: What is padel tennis?

Singles or Doubles?

Pickleball is easier as it can be played in singles or doubles. Alternatively, padel is mostly played as a team game and requires doubles. However, some courts allow padel players to play in singles. 

So why should padel be played in doubles only?

It is easier to play this game in doubles as the ball moves so quickly that it is nearly impossible for one person to manage independently. A pickleball moves much slower, which makes it easier for a player to manage, which is why you can play it in singles. 

Padel vs Pickleball: Scoring

In a game of padel, points are scored in a similar way to a game of tennis. As mentioned above, the aim of the game is to win two out of three sets. However, unlike a game of tennis, padel uses the golden point to crown the winner. 

On the other hand, pickleball bases its scoring system on the traditional sport of badminton. As discussed above, the aim of the game is to reach 11 points. One team must be two points ahead of the opposing team to win. Therefore, if the game is currently at a tie of 10 points each, the game shall continue until one team is two points ahead. 

Playing Techniques

A pickleball doubles match

Although a padel ball may not bounce quite as high as a tennis ball, it can move just as quickly. To be in with a chance of becoming a decent padel player, you must have great hand-eye coordination and be able to think ahead. 

The ball used in a game of pickleball moves much more slowly through the air, but this doesn’t make it easier. The slower the ball moves, the more time your opponents can come up with a playing strategy. So don’t be fooled! 

Fitness Level 

Padel is much more athletic and requires players to have some sort of physical strength and fitness. The ball moves quickly. Therefore players must be able to move around the court to strike it. 

Pickleball is much more relaxed, but don’t let this fool you! It can be said that a game of pickleball is less serious than padel and is to be enjoyed as a light sport. 

The History Behind Both Sports

Ideally, we should take a look at the history behind these popular racquet sports to find out how and why they came about in the first place. 

Padel 

Adidas padel bat and two padel balls on padel court

It is thought that the game of padel was invented by a Mexican named Enrique Corcuera. Enrique took it upon himself to build what would have been the first ever padel court in the land surrounding his house back in 1962. He extended what was originally a squash court into a platform tennis court before creating lines which then became a padel court.

Of course, the rules and equipment of the game have hugely evolved over the years. Originally, padel bats were made of wood. 

Pickleball

Pickleball was first introduced to the world not much later than padel and was invented in 1965 in Bainbridge Island. Three fathers named Bill Bell, Barney McCallum, and Joel Pritchard created the game for their children during the summertime. 

Fun Fact: The game became known as ‘pickleball’ because Joel Pritchard’s dog, Pickles, was notorious for grabbing the ball and running away with it!

Similarities

While both sports have some pretty huge differences, they also share some similarities, which we have listed below. 

  • Both balls must be struck below the waist when served
  • Both padel and pickleball use a ball and a racket for equipment 
  • Each game is loosely based on a similar sport, i.e., tennis, badminton, ping-pong
  • Each game is ideal to be played in doubles. 

The Final Say

Padel vs Pickleball Infographic
Padel vs pickleball visual summary

There are quite a few differences between padel and pickleball. Both games are played and scored differently, not to mention the difference in equipment. 

However, the main similarity is that both are based on popular racquet sports that we all know and love. Therefore, either sport shouldn’t be that difficult to get into if you are a fan of tennis, badminton, or ping-pong. Give it a go and find out!