Differences and common points between padel and pickleball

What are the differences and aspects of the two sports currently trending in the world? How is pickleball similar to padel, is it easier to learn to play padel or pickleball?

To understand these two games, which at first glance seem very different but in reality share many aspects, we first need to understand their origins.

Pickleball evolved from badminton while padel evolved from tennis. This means very different court dimensions, scoring, and rules of play.

Both of them are considered the fastest growing sport: padel all over the world, and pickleball in the USA. 

What are the stats saying?

Over the last 5 years, from 2018 to 2023, the term "padel" has gone from being searched for 25 times a day to over 100 times a day. Something equally surprising with pickleball, which had fewer searches and now competes for the same number.

Padel searches in blue, pickleball searches in red. Period: 2018 to 2023. Souce: Google Trends

As a particularly curious fact provided by the Playtomic report with Monitor Deloitte, in 2022 more than 200 million euros have been invested in the construction of new padel courts around the world.

However, although pickleball is growing rapidly in the United States, the search statistics show that they are not competing sports but coexisting and even sharing affinity among their players.  The evolution of the searches in the last 5 years shows a clear tendency to embrace this Hispanic sport.  

"Padel" searches in United States over past 5 years (2018-2023). Source: Google Trends

Why are these sports succeeding that much? What do they have in common:

  • Both sports have their own levels of technical difficulty. Both sports are relatively easy to learn but deceptively difficult to master.
  • Both courts are relatively small, which makes it easy to cover the area.
  • Both games use a racket that has a short handle while being comfortable and light. This makes ball control easier for novice players.
  • Both are fun and give you the benefit of being physically active.

Social, fun, and easy to learn

If you enjoy playing doubles, both games will be ideal for you. However, you should know that the rules of padel mandate playing doubles on a standard padel court. There are a few purpose-built singles courts for padel but the vast majority are doubles courts. In contrast, pickleball is not similarly restricted, you are able to play either singles or doubles on the same court.

One key difference between the two sports that need to be taken into account is that in pickleball you will have prohibited areas of the court. That means, there are areas on your side of the court that you are not permitted to step on except in some rule exceptions. This is essential since not knowing this could lose you many points.

On the other hand, playing padel requires a lot of concentration on the used strength and knowing how to control the bounce of the ball on the walls so that the game is dynamic.

Dimensions of padel courts and difference in size with a pickleball court

One of the first things that caught my attention, is how different the courts are.

Characteristics of the padel court

  • · Your court must be 10 meters wide by 20 meters long
  • · It is a rectangle divided in half by a net
  • · Both sides of the net have service lines
  • · The net and service area is divided by a line in half resulting in two equal blocks
  • · The painted service lines are 20 centimeters wide
  • · Covered courts must have a minimum roof clearance height of at least 6 meters
  • · The sides of the court are enclosed by a combination of a glass/cement wall and wire mesh fence
  • The service blocks in padel indicate where the ball must bounce after a service

Features of a pickleball court

  • · The court measurements are 13.41 meters wide by 6.1 long
  • · It has a net that divides half of the court, similar to that of Padel
  • · In the area close to the net on both sides of the court, there is a no-volley zone (called the kitchen), and is marked 2.13 meters from the net
  • · Its court has dimensions the same as of badminton
  • · Net height of 0.91 meters
  • · There is a center line that divides the right and left the service area
  • The service blocks in pickleball indicate where the ball must bounce after a service

A pickleball court is 16.5% smaller than a padel court.

Find more information about what should be considered to install a padel court on a club, residence or any project in here.

The equipment: Padel racket vs pickleball racket

Do you prefer ping pong? Then pickleball is the closest to the feeling of it, as standing on a large ping pong table. If you are more into tennis, padel feels like you are on a short tennis court.

The face of the padel racket is thicker and perforated while the pickleball padel has a solid face.

The ball used in padel is very similar to tennis, with the difference being that padel balls have less pressure so they bounce lower. While in Pickleball, you use a perforated plastic ball that moves a lot slower through the air.

Both sports tend to have long rallies. In pickleball, it is due to the slow wiffleball, while in padel it is the surrounding walls that keep the ball in play.

In both games, the court is divided by a net. In pickleball, there are lines on each side of the court that resemble badminton, while in padel the lines are like those used for the service blocks on a tennis court.

What are the differences in rules between padel and pickleball?

The easiest place to start when comparing the rules is the start of any point, in other words, the service.

In both games, you play the service by hitting the ball below your waist level. In padel, you must bounce the ball before hitting it while in pickleball you must hit the ball without any bounce in much the same way as the service in badminton.

In pickleball, only one service attempt is allowed, unless the ball clips the net on the way over, in which case you will have the opportunity to repeat your service. Conversely, in padel, you have a first and second service mimicking how the service works in tennis.

During the service in pickleball, both feet must be behind the baseline and at least one foot must be in contact with the court surface. Compare this to padel where the baseline is a solid glass or cement wall. Therefore the padel service is played from between the baseline and the line marking the edge of the service block.

Where there are similarities in the service is that in both games the service is played diagonally, aiming at the clearly marked service block in the opponents’ court. Also, players begin their turn at service by playing from the right-hand side of the court.

The Score: Padel vs Pickleball

A game of padel is scored the same way as a three-set game of tennis, inclusive of tie breaks. The only time where padel scoring deviates from tennis is when deuce is called during a game. Where tennis needs 2 clear points won to clinch the game, padel uses the golden point. 

On the other hand, pickleball uses a scoring system loosely based on badminton (its sport of origin) the objective of the game is to be the first player or team to have at least 11 points, of which they must have at least two points as an advantage over those of their opposing team.

Where in badminton it is the first player/team to score 21 points win the game. The difference being that in badminton you can score a point as well as gain the service on a point where your opponent was serving whereas pickleball you can only win points on your own service. If your opponent is serving and you win a point the score does not change, the service and ability to start scoring points comes to you.

In pickleball, if the score is tied at 10 points each, the game is continued until one of the two players/teams has an advantage of 2 points.

The plus of padel: the walls

Playing within the 4 walls of a padel court is a unique attraction of the sport. Even if you miss a shot, the ball can come back off the wall and give you a second chance at hitting the ball.

The more you play the easier it will become to adjust to the technique using the walls in the shots you play.

This is something not possible on a pickleball court.

If you want to learn more about the padel court characteristics, read this article.

Full Panoramic padel court installed at the BNL Italy Major 2023

The decisive factor: playing doubles or singles?

For many, this is the decisive factor in choosing one over the other. Pickleball has become popular because you can play either singles or doubles.

In padel, the general rule is that you play doubles with the exception of a handful of purpose-built singles courts. Making the default version of the game double within four walls makes Padel a very social game.

Padel court for doubles installed in the hotel Robinson, located in Algarve, Quinta da Ria.

Worldwide padel court manufacturer, from Spain to the whole world.

At MejorSet we have been manufacturing padel courts for 20 years, having actively participated in the development of the game with the design of the Full Panoramic court, the court that is currently used in all the tournaments that provides complete visibility of the game thanks to not having corners. 

We are currently the official court of the International Padel Federation, which means our courts are installed in all the major tournaments of Premier Padel.

If you are thinking of investing in a padel club, want to buy a residential padel court, or your company is part of a group of hotels and resorts with an interest in padel courts, please contact us.


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Differences and common points between padel and pickleball

What are the differences and aspects of the two sports currently trending in the world? How is pickleball similar to padel, is it easier to learn to play padel or pickleball?To understand these two games, which at first glance seem very different but in reality share many aspects, we first need to understand their origins.‍

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