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Padel vs pickleball


Players competing in a pickleball competition

Two of the fastest growing sports in the world – but what are the differences between padel and pickleball? Get the full comparison of padel and pickleball and find out how you can get involved in both.

What are the differences between padel and pickleball courts?

For starters, the padel court is slightly bigger than a pickleball court. A padel court is 20m x 10m, whereas a pickleball court is 13.41m x 6.09m.

The layout is also slightly different. A padel court is laid out like a tennis court where you have two service boxes close to the net, whereas in pickleball, the service boxes are connected to the baseline.

Instead, pickleball has a no volley zone (known as the kitchen) which is the full width of the court and is roughly 1.06m either side of the net.

Then there’s the biggest difference of all – the walls. A padel court is surrounded by glass walls and a metal cage, with a door on either side of the court. While playing padel, you can use the walls to play off, which can make for exciting rallies.

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What are the different types of equipment for padel and pickleball?

A pickleball paddle and ball lying on a court

While both only require a racket and a ball, both are slightly different.

Let’s start with the racket. A padel racket is perforated with a pattern of holes and is often made of either carbon fibre or fibreglass. The racket is shorter than a tennis racket for example but has a much thicker head to absorb the impact when hitting the ball. The head can come in a few different shapes designed for different styles, e.g., round-shaped for control and diamond-shaped for power.

Pickleball however, uses a thin plastic racket with a rectangular shaped head. However, they can come in different sizes as long as the length and width are equal to or less than 24in and they aren’t longer than 17in.

In terms of the ball – padel uses a less pressurised tennis ball, while pickleball uses an entirely plastic ball with between 26 and 40 holes on it so that it doesn’t bounce as high – great for the smaller courts.

Pickleball equipment guide

What are the rule differences between padel and pickleball?

Padel is traditionally only played as doubles, while pickleball can be both singles and doubles.

Both sports start with an underarm serve diagonally into the opponent’s service box before playing the point out. In both padel and pickleball the ball can only bounce once.

Padel is unique in that you can hit the ball off the walls or let the ball hit the wall to help you make a return. When you play a shot to your opponent it must bounce on their side of the court before hitting the wall – otherwise your shot is out. 

Read more about the rules of padel

In pickleball, there must be one shot on either side of the net (including the serve) before you can play a volley. To play a volley you must be stood outside of the ‘kitchen’ area on the court.

How to get started in padel

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Scoring in padel vs pickleball

Padel player hitting a backhand

Scoring in padel is the same as tennis and is most commonly played as sets and games. To win one set, you have to win six games and be leading by two clear games.

Similarly, to clinch a game, you must win four points with a two-point advantage. Games are scored as:

  • 15 – one point
  • 30 – two points
  • 40 – three points

If the game goes to 40-40, this is called ‘deuce’. You will still need to win by two clear points – whoever wins the next point will have ‘advantage’ and will then need to claim the following point to seal the game. If you lose the advantage point, it’s back to deuce.

Pickleball is scored as a first to 11 points, but this must be by two clear points. The score is called as the server first, then the returners, followed by the serve number. For example, the score could be 5-3-2, which would mean the serving team are 5-3 up, but are now on their second server after losing a point on serve already.

What are the different shots used in padel and pickleball?

A lot of the shots a very similar – both require an underarm serve; you play groundstrokes off both sides, and you hit volleys.

In padel there are a couple of different shots that you should know as well. For example, La Chiquita, which is a slow and soft shot bouncing below your opponent’s side of the net, which can be useful if they are trying to play forward and more attacking. You also have La Bandeja, which is a slow smash where you cut across the ball to reduce the bounce.

However, in pickleball you have shots like the ‘dink’, which can only be used near the net, or in the kitchen area of the court. A dink is a very soft shot that just about reaches over the net, making difficult to return – much like a drop shot in tennis.


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Want to give padel or pickleball a try? Find a court near you and get hitting today!

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