6 Differences Between Paddle Tennis and Tennis

You may think there aren't that many differences between paddle tennis and tennis? In reality they're two very different sports, even though they both involve hitting a ball over a net. Let's have a look at the differences!
6 Differences Between Paddle Tennis and Tennis

Last update: 24 October, 2020

Some people believe that there are only a few small differences between these sports, given that their objectives are to hit a ball with a racket. However, there are more differences between paddle tennis and tennis than you may realize. In this article, we’ll tell you all about them.

Both are racket sports and are played in the open air, on a marked court. The objective is to hit the ball with a racket over to your opponent’s side of the court. You can score points in both sports when your opponent doesn’t hit the ball or doesn’t manage to pass it back within the established rules, but this is about as far as the similarities go.

What are the main differences between paddle tennis and tennis?

Despite having many similarities, there are more differences between paddle tennis and tennis than you may have guessed: the history, rules, and courts are a few characteristics that the two sports don’t share.

1. The history

The origin of tennis is older than that of paddle tennis. The former was created in Europe during the 12th Century, although it was towards the end of the 19th Century when the first competitions began in England. Paddle tennis, however, is a Latin American creation – Mexican to be exact – and dates from the end of the 1970s.

2. The racket: differences between paddle tennis and tennis

One of the biggest differences between paddle tennis and tennis is the racket. First of all, in paddle tennis, the racket is called a paddle, and the differences are obvious from just looking at them.

woman playing paddle tennis about to serve the ball; paddle tennis and tennis

The racket in tennis is larger. It has a much bigger impact zone than the paddle racket and is made using nylon strings, whereas the racket in paddle tennis uses carbon fibers, and has holes to allow air to pass through.

3. The ball

In tennis, the ball measures approximately 2.64 inches in diameter and is usually yellow, green, or blue. In paddle tennis, however, the ball can measure between 2.49 and 2.67 inches and is yellow or green.

You can say that this is one of the smallest differences between tennis and paddle tennis. Although it’s possible to use the same ball for both sports, there’s a slight difference in the bounce pressure. The ball used in tennis has a natural bounce of 53.15-58.87 inches, whilst the bounce of the ball used in paddle tennis is 53.15-57.09 inches.

4. Differences between paddle tennis and tennis: the court

This is one of the main differences between the sports. The paddle tennis court is smaller and enclosed with walls, which play a key role in the game: the players receive the ball on its rebound from the wall. According to the regulations, paddle tennis courts measure 33 feet in width by 66 feet in length.

Whereas in regards to tennis, the court is also rectangular but measures 78 feet in length by 27 feet in width in singles, and by 36 feet in doubles. The lines on the courts are white and there are no walls enclosing it.

We should also keep in mind that paddle tennis courts can be made with synthetic resin or artificial grass, and in tennis, the courts are clay, synthetic or hard courts, or made of grass.

Another difference that we can see regarding the courts is the height of the net. In tennis, it measures 36 inches in the centre, and 42 inches either end; in paddle tennis, the height of the net in the centre is 35 inches and 36 inches at either end.

5. Serving

One of the most visible differences between paddle tennis and tennis, is the serving technique. Both require the players to serve the ball diagonally and opposite – as in, to their opponents’ side of the court – but there other aspects of the serve that also differ.

tennis player preparing to serve; paddle tennis and tennis

In tennis, the players first launch the ball up above their heads and then hit it as it falls. In paddle tennis, however, the technique is more ‘relaxed’. The players bounce the ball with the paddle and then hit it down the court.

6. The players

In tennis, we can watch singles matches – only one player each side – or doubles – two players each side that form two teams – although the former is more popular. In paddle tennis all games are played in pairs, meaning two players each side.

Finally, another difference between paddle tennis and tennis is the judges and referees. In tennis, we have a referee, judges, and a hawk’s eye – a piece of technology that has sensors and cameras – to ensure the game is fair. Whereas, with paddle tennis, there’s only one judging referee, but players usually discuss whether a point is valid.

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