Pickleball vs. Tennis Will Pickleball Hurt My Tennis Game

Pickleball vs. Tennis: Will Pickleball Hurt My Tennis Game

Pickleball is a hybrid of tennis and ping-pong. It carries many similarities between the two, but when it comes to difficulties, it’s arguably the easiest sport out of the three. Will pickleball hurt my tennis game?

It doesn’t require as much reaction time and volley game as ping-pong, but it’s also not as strenuous or exhausting as tennis. That’s most likely why many tennis players underestimate pickleball and assume playing it will somehow mess up their tennis game as they switch from one sport to another, but does it really?

Will Pickleball Mess Up My Tennis Game?

To some extent, it can because the differences between the two will likely cause you to mix up pickleball and tennis. Granted, it may just cause a short delay when playing, but you should know that one second in the game can have a huge impact. However, that applies to pretty much any sport you play.

If you play badminton, for example, it can hurt your tennis or pickleball game. If you decide to start playing racquetball, it can hurt your badminton or tennis game.

Surprisingly enough, it’s not more about the difference than the similarities between the two sports. After all, if basketball players start playing badminton, their performance won’t be negatively affected. If anything, their reaction time and footwork can improve drastically if they get serious.

That’s because the rules or technicalities of the two different sports bear no similarities, so it’s not likely they’d get their rules mixed up.

On the other hand, pickleball and tennis carry many similarities, considering one was inspired by the other. But at the same time, there are differences, especially with the technical details, which can affect your tennis game. But that being said, what are the differences that may hurt your tennis game?

How Can Pickleball Affect My Tennis Game?

It’s been established that pickleball hurts your tennis game, though not much—the question is how.  Well, there are generally five main reasons, including:

  • The difference in court dimensions
  • The inconsistency between a racquet and a paddle
  • The distinct ball sizes and weight
  • The similar yet different rules
  • The contrast in pacing

The court, equipment, pacing, and rules of the two sports are similar, but at the same time, there are slight differences. These differences can be game-changing and may decide whether you win a game. So, what are these differences?

Let’s start with the difference between pickleball and tennis courts.

What’s the Difference Between a Pickleball Court and a Tennis Court?

At first glance, you’d think the tennis court and pickleball are the same, but there are some major differences. Here’s a look at three of these differences and some of the reasons why they may affect your performance:


A pickleball court is 20 feet wide and 44 feet long, while a tennis court is 27 feet wide and 78 feet long. In the case of double matches, it would be 36 feet wide.

Perhaps the most obvious effect of the difference in court is that you may subconsciously think there would be not much running involved.

A pickleball court is considerably shorter than a tennis court. While playing pickleball, you must take a few steps to reach the ball from the other side of the court. But with tennis, you usually run and take several large steps to get to the other side. This can mess with your tennis game.


A pickleball and tennis court both have two baselines (the shorter sides) and two sidelines (the longer sides). However, pickleball has one part that sets it apart from other similar sports—the non-volley zone or the kitchen. It’s the area seven feet away from the net on both sides. You cannot volley the pickleball while your feet are in this zone.

During your time with pickleball, you might develop the habit of not getting close to the net to avoid the kitchen, which can limit your movement.

Net Height

The pickleball net is 36 inches high, while the tennis net is slightly higher, with a height of 42 inches. If you get used to the pickleball net and then play tennis, you may still think the net is 6 inches lower. So, chances are you’ll forget to adjust your hits and hit the net.

What’s the Difference Between a Paddle and a Racquet?

Apart from the court, the equipment you use in pickleball is also different from the one you use in tennis. To be precise, if in tennis you use a racquet, in pickleball, you use a paddle. And surprisingly enough, these two types of equipment have a lot of differences that can negatively affect your game. These include the following:


A pickleball paddle is 8 to 9 inches wide and 15 to 16 inches long, while a tennis racquet is 10 to 11 inches wide and 27 to 29 inches long.

Put simply, a paddle is almost half the size of a racquet. That means there’s a good chance you’ll make incorrect calculations when hitting the ball.


A paddle’s and racquet’s handles have the same shape, but the head differs. A racquet has a round head, while a paddle has a rectangular head.

Again, this can lead to mistakes as you may make incorrect calculations.


A tennis racquet has strings, while a paddle doesn’t. Though you may think it doesn’t matter much, it actually does. The strings in a racquet allow you to have better control over the ball while hitting it. That’s because you can keep the ball at the surface of your racquet, at least for a while, giving you the option to decide where you want it to go.

Meanwhile, a paddle doesn’t have strings. Once the paddle makes contact with the ball, it immediately deflects it, giving you no time to control it.

Of course, you can still somewhat control the ball using a paddle, but the level of control is lower than with a racquet. The difference in control can hurt your tennis game as you may get used to simply hitting the ball without gripping it and controlling its movement toward the opponent.


Since a paddle is much smaller than a racquet, naturally, it’ll also weigh less. This can make a massive difference as you may get used to the lightness of a paddle. When you go back to tennis, the sudden weight change can cause you to miscalculate the force you must use to hit the ball.

What’s the Difference Between a Pickleball and a Tennis Ball?

The ball perhaps has the least impact on your performance when switching between pickleball and tennis. There are only two differences between them:

(1) a pickleball has holes, and a tennis ball doesn’t, and

(2) a tennis ball is slightly smaller than a pickleball.

The holes, in particular, is what may affect your tennis game.

Since a pickleball has holes, it’ll have a lower density, meaning it’s lighter than a tennis ball, which, despite being hollow, is filled with either nitrogen or air.

The difference in size is not that significant, so it shouldn’t affect your performance so much, but it can still lead to miscalculations in some cases.

What’s the Difference Between Pickleball Rules and Tennis Rules?

Surprisingly, many of the rules of tennis and pickleball are not just similar but exactly the same, so they usually don’t affect your performance in either game. Perhaps the difference in rules that may hurt your tennis game concerns your serves. The position you must take in pickleball when serving is similar to tennis, but how you hit the ball while serving is different.

Pickleball requires an underhand serve, while it must be overhand in tennis. In addition, the point of contact when serving in pickleball must be below your hip.

In addition to how you serve, the significance of serving is also fairly different between the two sports. In pickleball, serving usually isn’t that serious, but in tennis, you can actually score with just a serve alone. Hence, you may develop a habit of not taking serving seriously, which would translate badly in your tennis games.

If that’s the case, does that mean playing pickleball will also hurt my ping-pong game? To answer that question, you must know the similarity between the two.

Is Pickleball More Like Ping-Pong or Tennis?

Pickleball is a racquet sport like badminton, ping-pong, and tennis, so it makes sense that you’d ask that question. If you count the number of differences, pickleball differs more from tennis than ping-pong.

So, to answer your question, pickleball is more like ping-pong, which essentially means playing pickleball might also affect your ping-pong game.

Can Tennis Players Play Pickleball?

Yes, tennis players can play pickleball. Though it MAY hurt your tennis game, it can also improve it in many ways. That’s because pickleball focuses on a different set of skills than tennis. Both involve similar skills; tennis focuses on stamina, power, endurance, and control, whereas pickleball focuses on quickness and reaction time.

Wrapping Up

If you play pickleball occasionally, you may develop a quick reaction time, which can help your tennis game. Similarly, if you play tennis occasionally, you can develop more stamina and control, which can help your pickleball game. Simply put, playing both sports is a double-edged sword, but as long as you’re having fun, does it really matter?

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