Padel and Pickleball may seem like distant cousins, but deep down they have quite a bit in common.
In this article we'll take a look at pickleball vs padel and deep dive into the key similarities and differences. From the size and surface of the courts to the paddles, balls, and scoring used, we’ll cover it all.
So grab your racket, or paddle, and let’s dive in!
Padel vs Pickleball: What is Padel?
Padel is a racket sport that originated in Mexico in the 1960s and has since become popular in many countries around the world, particularly in Europe and South America.
Padel is a variation of tennis but is played on a smaller court enclosed by walls or glass panels. Like pickleball, the game is played with a paddle and a small, rubber ball similar to a tennis ball.
But in padel players can use the walls like in racquetball, and can even execute shots from outside the playing area!
Padel vs Pickleball: Similarities
The main similarities between Padel and Pickleball are the court and equipment used, the basic strokes and mechanics, and the importance of strategy and skill in achieving success.
Padel and Pickleball are both played with a paddle /racket on a flat surface court with a net in the middle.
In both sports, players use forehand and backhand strokes to hit a ball back and forth over the net.
Players try to score points by hitting the ball over the net and into the opponent's court, where a point is scored if the ball is out of reach of the opponent or the opponent misses their shot (called an error).
Padel is usually played as a doubles game (4 people) and pickleball can both be played as singles (2 person) or doubles (4 person) games.
Both padel and pickleball require players to have good hand-eye coordination, quick reflexes, and to move around the court in order to be successful!
Pickleball Court vs Padel Court
The 2 main differences between Pickleball and Padel courts are the surface and size dimensions.
Pickleball courts are typically made of a hard, smooth surface such as concrete or asphalt.
Padel courts are made of a softer, sand-filled surface and have walls that players can use when hitting shots:
The sand on the Padel court provides a softer, more forgiving surface for the ball to bounce on, which allows for longer rallies and more exciting points.
Pickleball Court Dimensions
Pickleball courts are 20 feet wide and 44 feet long (when constructing a court it is recommended to have a space 30 feet wide and 60 feet long!).
The kitchen line (aka non-volley zone) is 7 feet away from the net on each side, and the net is 34 inches high in the center and 36 inches high at its ends.
Padel Court Dimensions
Padel courts are rectangular and smaller than tennis courts. They measure 65 feet 7 inches long by 32 feet 8 inches wide.
The padel net is placed in the center of the court and is around the same height (34.6 inches in the middle versus 34 for a pickleball net) as a pickleball net.
One unique aspect of a padel court is that it is enclosed by walls or glass panels on all four sides, which allows players to hit the ball off the walls as part of the game.
A 2nd interesting fact about padel courts is that they are sometimes referred to as the “pitch” or “the playing field” (due to the sports popularity in Europe).
Pickleball vs Padel: A Paddle and a Racket
Any similarities between pickleball and padel stop with the equipment used. First, pickleballers use a “paddle” while “padel-ers” use a racket.
Pickleball paddles are slightly smaller than Padel rackets and usually have the following characteristics:
- Rectangular shape with rounded corners
- Solid (no holes in it)
- Overall length of 15.5”-17” with a width of 7”-8.25” and depth of 1.25”.
- The grip is usually 4”-5” (which is included in the 15.5”-17” inch length of the paddle).
- Paddles usually weigh 6.5 to 9.5 ounces and are made of wood or composite materials.
Padel rackets, on the other hand, are smaller and with several different characteristics than their pickleball counterpart:
- Teardrop shape with holes punched throughout the center of the paddle
- Overall length of 17.91”, width of 10.25”, and a depth/thickness of 1.5”.
- The padel racket has a grip length of 7.8 inches (which is included in the overall length of the racket)
- Padel rackets weigh around 8 ounces and are usually made of fiberglass or carbon fiber.
What’s really unique about the padel racket is the small cylindrical holes punched through the center of the racket. Rackets usually have 50-60 of these holes, each measuring around .4” in diameter.
Pickleball vs Padel: The Balls
Pickleballs and padel ball are similar in their size and weight:
- Pickleballs are 2.87 to 2.97 inches in diameter and weigh .78-.94 oz
- Padel balls are 2.5 to 2.65 inches in diameter, weigh around 2 ounces
However, their texture and core are very different. Pickleballs closely resemble a wiffle ball:
Padel balls resemble a tennis ball (and it can be difficult to tell them apart). Although pickleballs can be hit at high speeds (usually by professional pickleball players!), the smaller size and heavier weight of the padel ball allows players to hit it at very high speeds but with precision and control.
Pickleball vs Padel: The Rules
Here’s a quick breakdown on the key rules in pickleball vs padel:
Must be underhand and players only have 1 attempts
Must be underhand and players get 2 chances like in tennis
Singles (2 persons) or doubles (4 persons)
Groundstrokes, volleys, and overheads
Groundstrokes, volleys, and overheads
Games played to 11 win by 2
Identical to Tennis
No-volley Zone, aka the kitchen, where players cannot enter and hit a volley (i.e., they must let the ball bounce)
Players can play the ball off the walls surrounding the court
Pickleball vs Padel: Which is more exciting?
So, which sport is more exciting to play or watch? You be the judge 🙂
Padel vs Pickleball: FAQs
What country is padel most popular in?
Padel is most popular in Spain anl is also popular in other countries in Europe and Latin America, including Portugal, Italy, and Argentina.
Why do they put sand on the court in padel?
Sand is put on the court in padel to provide traction and to slow the ball down slightly, which can make the game more strategic and challenging.
Is padel an Olympic Sport?
Not yet as it hasn’t met the IOC’s requirements to be considered for inclusion in the Olympics. Pickleball has also not met the requirements for inclusion in the Olympics.
Is there a pro Padel tour?
Yes, there is a professional padel tour called the World Padel Tour (WPT). The WPT was founded in 2011, and it is the highest level of professional padel competition in the world.
The tour consists of a series of tournaments held throughout the year in various countries, and it features the best padel players in the world competing for prize money and ranking points.
Can you play off the cage in padel?
In padel, players are allowed to play the ball off the cage, which is the wall that surrounds the court. The cage is an integral part of the game, and it can be used by players to create angles and to execute a wide variety of shots.
Players are allowed to hit the ball with any part of their body, including their feet, hands, and even their head.
Can you use your wrist in padel?
Players are also allowed to use their wrist to hit the ball in padel. This can add extra spin and control to their shots, and it can also help them to disguise their shots and surprise their opponents.
The use of the wrist is particularly important in padel because the court is smaller and the ball is slower than in tennis, which means that players need to be more precise and creative with their shots.
What’s easier to play for beginners - pickleball vs padel?
Due to the smaller size of the court and lighter, slower moving ball, pickleball is generally considered an easier sport to play than padel.