Home » Blog » Pickleball Court vs Tennis Court: Overview and Key Differences

Pickleball Court vs Tennis Court: Overview and Key Differences

Aerial view of a public park. On the left is a blue and green tennis court, with six blue and green pickleball courts to its right. On the right side is an asphalt basketball court.

Discover the key differences between a pickleball court and a tennis court, including court dimensions, net height, and more.

When it comes to pickleball, many people compare it to tennis. It’s easy to compare the two sports. They’re both played on rectangular courts divided by a net, and players look to score points by hitting a ball with a racquet or paddle.

In many ways, pickleball looks like a smaller version of tennis. However, there are key differences that make each game unique. One such difference is the court each sport is played on.

In this guide, we’ll explore the differences between pickleball and tennis courts. We’ll discuss the different court sizes, nets, and how the dimensions of a pickleball court dictate gameplay.

Key differences between pickleball courts and tennis courts

Dimensions of a pickleball court vs tennis court

The most notable difference between a pickleball court and a tennis court is their size. Here’s what you need to know about the dimensions of the two courts:

  • A standard pickleball court is 20 feet wide and 44 feet long.
  • A standard tennis court is 36 feet wide and 78 feet long for doubles gameplay. For singles, the court is narrowed to 27 feet wide and 78 feet long.

Regardless of the game format, a tennis court is significantly larger than a pickleball court. Tennis players must defend a larger playing area compared to pickleball players. However, with the smaller playing surface, pickleball enthusiasts oftentimes need to be more patient and strategic with their shot selections compared to tennis.

Diagram of the layout and dimensions of a pickleball court.
Layout and dimensions of a pickleball court.

Height and length of a pickleball net vs tennis net

Another major difference between a pickleball court and a tennis court is the net that divides the court into two halves. In some ways, a pickleball net looks like a smaller tennis net. Here’s what you need to know:

  • A standard pickleball net is 34 inches high in the center and 36 inches high at the end-posts.
  • A pickleball net is typically 22 feet long, extending approximately one foot beyond each sideline.
  • A standard tennis net is 36 inches high in the center and 42 inches high at the end-posts.
  • A standard tennis net is 42 feet long. This is the regulation length for doubles and is suitable for most singles play. In certain cases, for higher level singles matches (e.g., professional tennis), the tennis net length is shortened to 33 feet.

Again, tennis has the size “advantage” over pickleball in terms of their respective nets. Tennis players have a higher net they must clear compared to pickleball gameplay.

That said, the lower net in pickleball is more conducive to the extended rallies and angled shots that the sport is known for. The shorter net length also leads to players hitting ATP (around the post) shots much more frequently in pickleball versus tennis.

Angled view of a blue and green pickleball court at a public park with additional courts to the left.

Court surface: is it the same for pickleball and tennis?

Are pickleball and tennis played on the same type of surface? Pickleball courts are similar to tennis courts in that they are often made from concrete or asphalt and textured with silica sand to create a slip-free surface. This is what you’ll typically see with a pickleball court at your local park.

However, this composition is only true for “hard courts” in tennis. Tennis courts can also be made of materials such as clay and grass, made famous by Grand Slam tournaments like Rolland Garros and Wimbledon.

Pickleball also has alternative options for playing surface. When traditional indoor playing surfaces are not available, pickleball can also be played on gymnasium and hardwood surfaces. Many argue, however, that the response and performance of the pickleball drops when playing on these surfaces (even with indoor pickleballs). Whenever possible, seek out traditional playing surfaces.

Non-volley zone in pickleball

Possibly the biggest difference between a pickleball court and a tennis court in terms of composition and strategic impact is the non-volley zone in pickleball (i.e., the “kitchen”).

The non-volley zone is a 7-foot area that extends from both sides of the net, marked by the kitchen line. When standing in this area, pickleball players cannot hit the ball out of the air. They must instead wait for the ball to bounce.

This restriction makes rallies longer and more competitive, as players cannot position themselves on top of the net to hit multiple aggressive volleys. Tennis does not have this restriction; getting close to the net and finishing points with decisive volleys is commonplace in tennis strategy.

How pickleball court dimensions affect gameplay compared to tennis

As mentioned before, a standard pickleball court is nearly half the size of a tennis court. Because of this, in most cases, pickleball players cannot rely on a tennis-like strategy to put the ball out of reach with one or two powerful shots.

The smaller court size in pickleball forces players to be more patient and strategic with their shots. They must be prepared to hit and defend multiple shots in a row, especially in doubles.

In pickleball doubles matches, players often engage in extended dink rallies at the kitchen, waiting for a high ball to attack. The smaller court size and lower bouncing ball (compared to a tennis ball) forces players to be very selective with their fast-paced shots (e.g., a “speed-up”).

Can you play pickleball on a tennis court?

If the question is “can you play pickleball on a tennis court surface,” then the answer is 100% yes. Traditional pickleball courts and hard courts of tennis are very similar in terms of their feel and composition. Playing pickleball on a tennis hard court will feel similar to the pickleball court at your local park.

Where some extra work is required is with the lines and net of a pickleball court. You’ll need to mark your own lines with tape or chalk on a tennis court to create the boundaries of a pickleball court. Thankfully, you don’t have to start from scratch. You can utilize existing tennis court lines (such as the center service line and either sideline) to create parts of a pickleball court like the service boxes and the kitchen.

When playing pickleball on a tennis court, you may also need to supply your own pickleball net. Remember, a pickleball net is lower and shorter than a tennis net, so you cannot simply use the tennis net for regulation gameplay.

Many pickleball equipment suppliers offer temporary nets that you can set up in minutes. Most options are of decent quality and affordable; perfect for an afternoon of pickleball with your friends. Remember to set up your pickleball net at the halfway point of the court, dividing the court into two halves. Double check the height of your assembled net to achieve the official net height: 34 inches high in the center and 36 inches high at the end-posts.

A temporary pickleball court on a blue and green tennis court. The lines are made of red tape, with a temporary pickleball net positioned in the center.

Different courts for different sports

While tennis and pickleball may look like similar sports, there are several differences that make both games unique. One key difference is each game’s respective court. A pickleball court is roughly half the size of a tennis court, forcing players to be patient and strategic with their shots. Even though pickleball players have less court area to cover, points are action-packed and full of skill. Knowing the dimensions and size of the pickleball court is a key part of leveling up your skills in America’s fastest-growing sport!

Key takeaways

  • Pickleball and tennis are similar but have distinct differences, especially in court dimensions, net size, and gameplay strategies.
  • A standard pickleball court measures 20 feet wide and 44 feet long, nearly half the size of a tennis court which is 36 feet wide and 78 feet long for doubles, and 27 feet wide for singles.
  • Tennis courts are larger, requiring players to defend a bigger area, whereas pickleball demands patience and strategic shot selection due to its smaller playing surface.
  • The pickleball net is 34 inches high at the center and 36 inches at the ends, stretching 22 feet long. Tennis nets are 36 inches high in the center, 42 inches at the ends, and 42 feet long, indicating tennis has higher and longer nets.
  • Pickleball’s lower net height encourages extended rallies and angled shots, making ATP (around the post) shots common.
  • Court surfaces for both sports are typically hard courts made of concrete or asphalt. However, tennis also uses clay and grass, while pickleball can be played on gymnasium and hardwood floors.
  • Pickleball features a non-volley zone, or “kitchen,” extending 7 feet from the net on both sides, where players cannot volley the ball, leading to longer, more strategic rallies.
  • The smaller size of a pickleball court forces players to engage in extended dink rallies and be selective with fast-paced shots, differing from tennis strategies.
  • It is possible to play pickleball on a tennis court by marking boundaries and using a temporary pickleball net set to official heights, offering versatility in play locations.
  • Despite being playable on the same surfaces, the strategic and physical differences between pickleball and tennis create unique challenges and gameplay experiences in each sport.
Scroll to Top