Buying Guides
Miscellaneous

Padel vs. Pickleball: Similarities and Differences

Updated Nov 26, 2023

By
Full name
Share this post
(swipe left to view more)
No items found.
Price
Pricing
No items found.
Best for
No items found.
Score
No items found.
Pros
No items found.
Cons
No items found.
Score
No items found.
No items found.

Table of Contents

Get a racket suggestion!

Subscribe to receive the latest blog posts to your inbox every week.

Take it now

Since humans have had balls, they've been playing games. And before humans had balls, they played games with stones. Real tennis or jeu de paume, the ancestor to modern lawn tennis—and other racket sports—was mentioned in books produced as early as the 1300s.

But what about today's most rapidly growing racket sports: padel and pickleball? What are their similarities and differences? Are they related? Did one come from the other?

We had trouble digging up answers to these questions ourselves, so we decided to put together this guide to provide you with all the necessary information to properly compare padel and pickleball.

What is padel?

Padel is a racket sport played on an enclosed court surrounded by walls with a net in the middle. Although it has similarities to tennis, padel has its own identity and distinctive characteristics that make it unique. Its popularity has grown exponentially in recent years due to its inclusive nature and ease of learning.

One compelling reason why padel has become a worldwide phenomenon is that it is accessible to players of all ages and skill levels.

The game is played in pairs, known as "doubles," with balls that are similar to tennis balls, but with 30% less pressure. Compared to tennis, padel rackets are smaller and perforated, which allows for better control and maneuverability on the court. Strategy and teamwork are essential in padel, as players must use the walls to take shots and return the ball to the opponent's field.

This sport offers health benefits. Being a fast sport with long rallies, it helps to improve physical condition, cardiovascular endurance, and coordination.

What is pickleball?

Pickleball is a racket sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. Although it originated in the United States in the 1960s, it has gained a following around the world due to its fun and accessible nature.

One of the reasons pickleball has gained such popularity is that it is suitable for players of all ages and skill levels. Whether you're a beginner looking for an introduction to racket sports or an experienced player looking for a new challenge, pickleball has something for everyone.

It is played on a rectangular court divided into sections by a low net in the center. Players use solid paddles and a perforated ball similar to a whiffle ball. The objective is to hit the ball over the net and make it impossible for the opponent to return it. Pickleball can be played both individually and in pairs, making it a versatile option for different game setups.

Being a low-impact sport, it is easier on the joints compared to some other sports. In addition, it improves coordination, agility, and cardiovascular capacity. It's no surprise that more and more people are turning to pickleball as a way to stay active and fit.

Similarities between padel and pickleball

The are both racket sports that are usually played in doubles. They both are played with a net. They are both more accessible to beginners than tennis is. They are both played with paddle rackets instead of strung rackets.

Both require underarm serves, which remove the technically-challenging serves that many beginner tennis players struggle with.

Most of the skills needed to play padel and pickleball are also the same. Being quick on your feet and agile, with the ability to change direction quickly, is a must in both games. You also need power and precision in your shots, as well as spin on the ball.

Differences between padel and pickleball

Padel and pickleball are two exciting racket sports that have grown in popularity in recent years. While they share some similarities, they also have significant differences that set them apart.

Rules and scoring

Regarding the rules and scoring, padel and pickleball are two sports that present different but equally interesting approaches. Let's start with padel, a game played in pairs that shares a lot with tennis in terms of its scoring system.

Padel rules

Padel players compete to win the best of three sets. Sets must be won by 2 games. Padel players also use tennis’s "tie breaks" to close out sets tied at 6-6.

Where padel stands out is in its application of the exciting concept of the "golden point". At a 40-40 game score or “Deuce”, padel players can choose to play with “Advantage”, and win by two points, or to use the "golden point" and win by one point.

Padel's "golden point" adds an exciting touch and a great dose of tension to the matches.

At this critical moment, the team that manages to win the next decisive point takes the whole game. Imagine the intensity and the pressure that is experienced in that crucial moment in which a single point can change the course of the game.

Pickleball rules

On the other hand, pickleball follows a badminton-inspired scoring structure. In pickleball, the goal is to be the first to win the best of 3 games to 11 points. You must have at least a two-point lead over the opposing team to win the game.

Equipment

Regarding the equipment, both padel and pickleball share the use of rackets, but they present some notable differences that influence the game and the experience of the players.

Rackets

Padel rackets are distinguished by their thickness, wideness, and perforation. These specific characteristics provide important advantages on the court since they allow greater control and comfort with padel’s balls. They weigh roughly 365 grams (13 ounces).

Padel rackets are significantly heavier than pickleball rackets due to their rigid frame and foam cores

Regulation padel rackets must be 45.5 centimeters long, 26 centimeters wide, and 3.8 centimeters thick.

The drilled holes on the surface of padel rackets reduce their weight to make the larger rackets more maneuverable.

Premium padel rackets are made with a carbon fiber surface and frame with an Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam core.

By contrast, pickleball rackets are lightweight, narrow (7.5 inches or 19 cm), and long (15.5 inches or 40 cm). These rackets are more similar to those used in table tennis, with a short handle. The short handle design provides a firm and comfortable grip, allowing precise control of the racket during play. Pickleball paddles weigh roughly 8 ounces (220 grams).

Premium pickleball paddles are made with graphite surfaces and honeycomb polymer cores.

On the other hand, the wider surface of the pickleball racket provides a greater contact area with the ball, which makes it easier to execute rapid and precise shots.

Balls

Padel and pickleball balls have little in common. Padel balls are the same as clay court tennis balls with 30% less pressure, which results in a slightly less bouncy ball. The tighter weave of padel balls and clay court tennis balls results in the balls picking up less sand from the courts.

Padel balls are specifically designed for padel to offer a controlled response on the court. Playing with tennis balls is not recommended because it will result in too much bounce.

[insert balls comparison image]

On the other hand, pickleball is played with a hollow plastic ball, called a wiffle ball. Regulation pickleballs weigh only 0.78oz (22.11g) to 0.935oz (26.51g). The lightness of this ball makes it catch air and float. It requires precision at the front of the court and power at the back.

Courts

Both padel and pickleball courts are significantly smaller than tennis courts - padel courts are roughly 1/3 of the size of a tennis court, while pickleball courts are roughly 1/4 of the size of a tennis court.

Padel and pickleball allow club owners to increase revenue due to their court density

A padel court is 10 meters wide by 20 meters long, with service lines and a 90 cm high net in the middle. Padel courts can be covered or outdoors, with sides delimited by glass or cement walls and metal mesh fences.

The mesh fencing appears closest to the net - serves that hit this fencing are out. These fences introduce randomness in the balls' direction when opponents manage to hit shots with enough angle to hit the fence.

Padel courts are filled with artificial turf.

A pickleball court is smaller at 20 feet (6.10 m) wide by 44 feet (13.41 m) long. It also features a 3-foot (0.9 m) high net that divides the middle of the court and a "no volley" zone near the net, called the "kitchen."

Pickleball courts have a sandblasted cement surface like hard court tennis courts.

Many pickleball courts are played on tennis courts with “dual taping.” This is of course not possible for padel courts due to its walls and turfing.

Regions: Where is each sport most popular?

While padel and pickleball have gained fans around the world, each has its hotspots.

Where padel is played

Padel was invented in 1969 by Enrique Corcuera, a Mexican businessman, who was looking to play a form of tennis in his courtyard. Enrique invited his Spanish and Argentinian friends to play when they were visiting him, and those friends spread the sport to Buenos Aires, Argentina and Marbella, Spain.

Padel has experienced a massive boom in recent decades, especially in Europe and Latin America. In Spain, widely considered the cradle of padel, this sport enjoys enormous popularity, with numerous facilities and tournaments across its territory.

Other European countries, such as Portugal, Italy, and Sweden, have also adopted padel rapidly in recent years. A boom occurred during the pandemic, and it has not stopped yet.

Argentina has a strong tradition in padel, with a broad player base and high-level competitions. Argentina experienced a boom in padel in the 1980s and 1990s, and as a result, the top rankings of the World Padel Tour are dominated by Argentinian players.

The International Padel Federation (FIP) estimates the global padel-playing community at around 25 million.

Various celebrities, tennis players, football (soccer) players, and stars across Europe and Latin America such as Daddy Yankee, Juan Martin del Potro, Andy Murray, Jürgen Klopp, and David Beckham have evangelized or invested in the sport in recent years.

Where pickleball is played

Pickleball was invented at a similar time as padel in 1965 in Bainbridge, Washington, United States of America. Joel Pritchard, a businessman and former legislator in the US House of Representatives, created the game to occupy his family on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Pickleball has experienced rapid growth in the United States, becoming one of the most popular recreational sports in the country. The West Coast, particularly the states of Washington, Arizona, and California, has been the epicenter of pickleball's expansion, with a large number of clubs and communities dedicated to the sport.

It has also spread to other areas of the country, such as Florida, Arizona, and Texas. Additionally, Canada has seen a rise in the popularity of pickleball, especially in the province of British Columbia. Pickleball grew quickly in retirement communities, and has had to overcome the challenge of being labeled an "old person's sport."

USA Pickleball estimates that there are 4.8 million pickleball players.Various celebrities from Drew Brees and Gary Vee to LeBron James have made investments in the sport.

So far, pickleball has not caught on as a major spectator sport like tennis or padel.

Overall growth

While padel and pickleball have found their niche in certain regions, it is important to note that both sports have gained popularity around the world. New facilities are being established and player communities are forming in countries like Australia, India, Japan, and South Africa.

In addition, international events, such as the World Padel Tour and the U.S. Open Pickleball Championships, are attracting players from different countries, contributing to the global dissemination and recognition of these sports.

Final words

In short, padel and pickleball are two racket sports that share some similarities but also present notable differences. Padel is played on a larger court, with a faster ball with similar rules to tennis, making it a popular choice for those looking for a more dynamic and strategic game.

On the other hand, pickleball is played on a smaller court, with a slower ball, and rules that combine elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, making it ideal for players of all ages and abilities.

The choice between padel pickleball will depend on the personal preferences of each player. Both sports offer fun, challenge, and the opportunity to stay active.

Hello and welcome!

I'm Timo, and I'm here to help you find the right padel racket. If you want help, let me know! If you find this page helpful, please use our affiliate links, e.g Padel Nuestro, Racketspecialisten, 10% OFF at PadelFreunde,

This page may contain affiliate links. Learn more

Why trust us?

Padel FYI is the Metacritic for padel rackets. To help you find the best padel racket, I have cataloged 360 reviews of 106 of the most popular padel rackets to create the most comprehensive padel racket database.

We're also linking to deals from the most popular shops across the globe to help you find the best place to get your gear!