Rules of Pickleball vs Tennis Rules

Pickleball is becoming an increasingly popular sport across the USA and beyond, but many people are still unaware of exactly what it is and how it's played.  For starters, pickleball is similar to tennis, but only to an extent. Are pickleball rules the same as tennis? To give you an idea of what to expect, here's a rundown of the main differences between the pickleball rules vs. tennis rules: 

1. Equipment Pickleball is similar to tennis, where players hit a ball over a net using a racket. However, there are some significant differences in equipment, and these are some of them.   


For one, pickleball rackets look nothing like tennis rackets. Tennis rackets are comprised of strings weaved into place, while pickleball rackets are flat paddles that look more like oversized ping-pong paddles.  

Pickleball rackets come in different sizes, materials, durability, and thicknesses, too. On top of that, pickleball paddles may come in an assortment of weights, too, since there are no restrictions on pickleball paddle weight. 


Pickleball and tennis differ because they use different kinds of balls. While we’re all familiar with the typical tennis ball, which is solid and covered entirely in felt, a pickleball, on the other hand, is hollow and entirely made of plastic. The latter also has perforated holes that make the pickleball (also known as wiffle ball) lighter and easier to bounce.  

But not all wiffle balls are the same. Some are designed exclusively for indoor play, while others are best suited for outdoor games. Since there are currently no standards for colors in the pickleball rulebook, these balls can also come in a variety of colors, provided that the color is uniform throughout the ball. 

One thing that you need to keep in mind when playing pickleball is that the ball must have a smooth surface throughout. Remember that balls with textured surfaces are prohibited during the official tournament. So, if you’re playing a pickleball tournament for the first time, be sure to check if the wiffle ball you’re bringing with you is acceptable. 

Check out the complete list here if you’d like to view the approved list of balls for pickleball tournaments.


Because pickleball courts are smaller than tennis courts, you have fewer courts to cover than you would with tennis.

A typical pickleball court is 20’ wide and 44’ long, while a tennis court is 60’ x 120’. One thing to also note is that you don’t have to use a larger court to play pickleball doubles. The typical 20’x44’ pickleball court will work for both singles and doubles. 

The net 

In pickleball, you’re allowed to use any kind of mesh fabric material as a pickleball net. In fact, it’s much more common to see tennis nets being utilized during pickleball matches.  

 If you have a tennis net that you’d like to use for pickleball, the only thing you need to adjust is the net’s height. The acceptable net height for pickleball is 36 inches from the ground, around 6 inches lower than the standard net height for tennis. 

2. Serving 

By now, you probably know that pickleball is some kind of hybrid between tennis, badminton, and table tennis. 

But when it comes to serving, pickleball is much more akin to table tennis. Pickleball serving rules indicate that serving must be done underhand, where the ball’s point of contact and the paddle must not go above the waist level (or just right around the navel level). It is pretty similar to table tennis but in direct contrast to a tennis serve, which is usually done overhead.

3. Scoring 

Tennis rules on scoring are pretty straightforward; when a player fails to return the ball to the opponent's court, the latter wins a point. Once a player has a two-point lead, a decision is made.  

In the rules of pickleball, scoring is much more complicated. A player can only win points in pickleball when they’re on the serve and not on the receiving end of the game. The only exception to this rule is a declared technical foul on the part of the server, which could result in a point being awarded to the receiving player.  

Unlike tennis, in which the serving is done by one player in one match, the opposing pickleball player will only be able to serve if the other player (in the serve position) makes a fault or loses a rally. 

4. Other rules of pickleball that you should be aware of.  

 There’s a two-bounce rule in pickleball, where a ball must make one groundstroke on each side of the court before players can start volleying. The pickleball court also has a kitchen zone, where players cannot strike the ball without letting it bounce in said zone first. 

In pickleball, scores will only be called once the two opposing teams are in position and are ready to play. If there’s an intentional delay to the start of the game from either player’s side, the referee may call out the 10-second rule. The 10-second rule states that a fault may be declared if a serve does not happen within 10 seconds of the score being called.  

 There are many more things to consider regarding pickleball scoring rules. If you're interested in learning more about the specifics of pickleball scoring, head on to this link. 


Pickleball is similar to tennis to an extent, but some differences make the former a unique and exciting sport.   

If you're interested in learning more about the rules of pickleball, be sure to check out our other blog posts here. Or, if you're interested in picking up the game for yourself, head on over to our store to get your own set of pickleball equipment. We recommend getting started by choosing one of our USAPA pickleball nets.

At Pickleball Court Supply, you'll find everything you need to get started playing pickleball: from court equipment like pickleball rackets, paddles, and balls to pickleball supplies like score sheets and pickleball accessories.  

So why wait any longer? Visit our online store today and score on pickleball gear at great prices!