Pickleball vs. Paddleball: What’s the Difference?
Pickleball’s surge is bringing increased attention to tennis and racquet sports. But with so many different but similarly named sports: padel, padel tennis, paddleball, pickleball, it can be difficult to get it all down.
Today we’re looking at the similarities and differences between pickleball and paddleball. Let’s dive right in!
What is Pickleball?
Pickleball is one of America's most popular and fastest-growing sports. Commonly described as a mix of tennis, Ping-Pong, and badminton, this exciting sport is capturing the attention of players of all ages.
It was created in 1965 when a group of friends found themselves on a badminton court without enough equipment and improvised using ping pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball in place of a shuttlecock. And thus, pickleball was born!
Since then, the sport has grown steadily and has spiked in popularity in recent years!
In pickleball, a player serves underhand to begin a rally with an opposing player or team, similar to other racquet sports. Pickleball rules and scoring combine different elements of tennis and badminton, including original rules exclusive to pickleball. One exclusive rule relates to the kitchen or, officially the non-volley zone. Players cannot strike the ball out of the air (volley) without letting it bounce first on the court when they are inside the kitchen.
Pickleball paddles are flat-faced and made of wood, plastic, or composite materials with different surface materials. The most common paddle materials are graphite, carbon fiber, fiberglass, and wood.
Pickleballs are perforated, hard plastic balls that come in many different styles, colors, and versions, depending on whether you’re playing indoors or outdoors.
Pickleball nets are 34 inches high in the center and 36 inches high at each net post on the sidelines. Pickleball nets are two inches lower than tennis nets in the center.
What is Paddleball?
Paddleball is a racquet sport that predates pickleball. Although not exactly clear, some trace the origins of paddleball to handball. Before World War I, handball was extremely popular throughout cities in America. Dr. Frank Peer Beal of Brooklyn, NY, was a fan of the game, but soon found that using his hands to hit the hard ball over and over again was punishing his hands. Looking for a solution, he created a paddle stick that he could use to strike the ball and distributed it to his friends, starting what is known as paddleball today.
Four-wall paddleball, a variant of paddleball, was invented by Earl Riskey, a physical education teacher, in 1930 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Unlike most racquet sports, paddleball is played with no net. According to the National Paddleball Association’s official four-wall rules, Section 4.3 states:
The ball must bounce without being tossed above the server’s head within the service zone (rule 2.1) and struck with the paddle before hitting the floor a second time, hitting the front wall first and rebounding back of the short line, with or without touching one sidewall.
So, unlike pickleball and other racquet sports where one player serves directly to the other, in paddleball, similar to racquetball, a serve is initiated using the walls surrounding the court.
Paddleball paddles have holes and are typically slightly round in shape.
The Ektelon ball is the official paddleball that is recognized for competition. They are unpressurized and made of rubber, and “when dropped from a height of 6 feet, it should rebound approximately 3½ feet."
Similarities Between Pickleball and Paddleball
Pickleball and paddleball are both sports that require excellent hand-eye coordination, agility, and footwork to master. Both are also great for keeping in shape and maintaining a healthy lifestyle regardless of age!
Both use a paddle to strike the ball, and depending on the motion of a player’s swing, they can control the ball both directionally and by imparting spin.
Pickleball and paddleball paddles are also quite similar. They share the same general shape and are around the same size. They both are relatively flat & rounded and have shorter handles when compared to other racquet sports like tennis.
Differences Between Pickleball and Paddleball
Although the paddles in each sport share specific characteristics, they are one of the things that separate the two sports. In paddleball there are holes in the paddles, while in pickleball there are no holes in paddles.
In pickleball, serves are hit to the opposing side and player, while in paddleball servers are struck against a wall first.
Pickleballs are perforated, hard plastic balls, while paddleballs are unpressurized and made of rubber.
One of the most significant differences between the sports is pickleball is played with a net, and paddleball is not. The net difference greatly impacts how each sport is played and the strategies involved while competing.
Now you know how pickleball and paddleball are both alike and different! Hope to see you on court!
Want to Stick to Pickleball?
We’ve partnered with YouFit Gyms to provide easy and affordable access to pickleball bookings. Find a local YouFit Gym near you and start playing for as low as $5!