Padel vs Pickleball: The 4 Main Differences + Which Is Harder?

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Paddle sports that resemble tennis have grown in popularity over the past several years. Indeed, padel and pickleball are among the fastest-growing sports in general.

But, you may ask yourself, what are the main differences between padel vs pickleball? And, is pickleball or padel harder

In this article, we will look at the main differences between padel vs pickleball, and compare rules, skills required, and gameplay.

We will look at: 

  • What Is Padel and What Is Pickleball?
  • What Are the Differences Between Padel vs Pickleball?
  • How to Get Started With Pickleball

Let’s get started!

People playing padel.

What Is Padel and What Is Pickleball?

Before we try to do a deep dive into comparing padel vs pickleball, let’s briefly cover what each sport entails. 

Padel, also called padel sport, is the fastest-growing racket sport in the world. It evolved from tennis, but it is actually distinct from yet another racquet sport called padel tennis.

However, padel sport also includes elements of both squash and badminton as well. Padel is usually played with solid panels and a depressurized tennis ball on an enclosed court that is surrounded by either glass or mesh walls.

Padel was invented in Mexico in 1965 by Don Enrique Corcuera, who reportedly built the first padel sport court as a scaled-down version of a regular tennis court because he lacked space for a regular tennis court. Thus, padel was born.

It then spread to Central and South America, and now padel has exploded in Europe.

Pickleball is the fastest-growing racket sport in the USA. Rather than evolving from tennis, pickleball evolved from badminton.

Pickleball was invented on Bainbridge Island, Washington, in 1965 by Joel Pritchard and his friends. Although it started with just handmade equipment and simple rules of play, pickleball has now become a very popular sport in the US and Canada.

There is even an official governing agency for pickleball in the United States called the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA), which regulates and promotes the sport of pickleball.

People playing pickleball.

What Are the Differences Between Padel Vs Pickleball?

While both padel sport and pickleball are racquet sports, the fact that they evolved from distinct racket sports has resulted in differences in the court dimensions, rules of play, scoring, and equipment used in pickleball vs padel sport.

Padel vs Pickleball: Courts

One of the most overt visual differences between padel tennis vs pickleball is in the appearance of the courts.

The courts not only look different, but they affect the way in which you can play padel vs pickleball.

The padel court is sort of like a squash court in that there are walls surrounding it. The ball can be hit after it has bounced or hit these transparent glass walls. 

In contrast, pickleball is played on an open court like badminton or tennis, with no walls surrounding the court. This means that you cannot hit the ball after it rebounds off of a wall.

People playing pickleball.

Therefore, you only use the ground when playing pickleball, while padel makes use of the walls and corners of the room as well.

Both pickleball and padel sport are played on smaller courts than traditional tennis.

The pickleball court dimensions are 20 x 44 feet, which is the same as a doubles badminton court, but both singles and doubles pickleball are played on this same court size.

The pickleball net is 34 inches high in the middle and 36 inches tall on either end, and there is a no-volley zone of 7 feet in front of the net.

The padel sport court is larger than the pickleball court; when comparing the size of the pickleball vs padel courts, padel is played on a court that is about 16% larger.

The padel court measures 10 meters wide by 20 meters long (32 feet and 8 inches by 65 feet and 7 inches), and the service lines are three meters in front of the back wall.

Therefore, the pickleball court is 16.5% smaller than a padel court.

A person playing padel.

Thus, there is more ground to cover and defend with padel, and the gameplay pace is faster between shots. 

Because you can use all of the walls in a padel court, the rallies tend to be longer in padel because the ability to have the ball ricochet off the back wall when playing keeps the ball “in play“ more than with pickleball where the ball will simply bounce out of the court ending the back-and-forth rally.

However, there can be more running in pickleball vs padel for beginners because there are no walls to contain the ball, so if you miss it, you have to go chase it.

For advanced players, padel usually involves more running than pickleball because of the larger court area, and there is a little bit more time in between the pickleball ball being hit back to you. 

Another difference between the pickleball court vs padel court is that there are areas of the pickleball court that are “out of bounds“ or that you are not permitted to step on, barring certain specific exceptions. 

People playing pickleball.

Stepping into these prohibited areas will result in deductions of points with pickleball scoring.

Both padel and pickleball can be played as singles or doubles.

Pickleball singles and doubles are always played on the same court. When you play doubles in padel, you have to use a doubles padel court. 

There are some singles-only padel courts, but most padel matches are played on doubles padel courts, even if it is a singles match, because the singles adel courts are rarer to find.

Padel vs Pickleball: Equipment

Like all racquet sports, padel and pickleball both use a type of racket and a type of ball, but there are differences in the pickleball vs padel equipment.

Padel uses a racket that has a thicker and perforated face vs the pickleball padel, which has a solid face. (It is somewhat ironic that padel uses a racket and pickleball uses a padel.)

The padel ball is quite similar to a tennis ball, but the padel ball is not filled with as much air, so there is less pressure in the ball. This means that a padel ball does not bounce as much as a tennis ball.

In contrast, pickleball uses a ball that looks more like a wiffleball. 

US Pickleball requires sanctioned pickleballs to weigh between 0.78 and 0.935 ounces and bounce 0 to 34 inches when dropped from a height of 78 inches.

Pickleball rackets and balls.

Pickleball vs Padel: Gameplay

A pickleball volley serve is underhand. Pickleball also has a drop serve, but it is still usually underhand because pickleball balls don’t bounce too high.

The padel serve is also at waist level, but the ball must bounce first.

In pickleball, the first player to 11 with at least a two-point margin of victory wins the game, and only the player or team serving can earn a point, whereas padel is scored like tennis.

Calories Burned In Pickleball vs Padel

Unfortunately, the Compendium of Physical Activities doesn’t specifically list the METs for padel sport or pickleball. However, most racket sports listed have a METs value of 6 or so.

According to Racquet Sports Center, a 160-pound person can burn 250 calories in 30 minutes of casual pickleball play, while a 200-pound person can burn 350 calories in this scenario.

During more intense pickleball play, a 160-pound person can burn 350 calories in 30 minutes, while a 200-pound person can burn 475 calories

Padel likely burns more calories than pickleball due to the higher intensity, larger court size, and longer rallies due to the ball staying in play off the walls. 

In fact, according to World Padel Insider, when playing padel, 75% or more of court time in practice is occupied by active play compared to 25% of court time for beginner tennis players. 

Pickleball is similar to tennis in terms of the court not having walls, and pickleball is even less intense than tennis, so it’s reasonable to think this comparison carries over to playing padel tennis vs pickleball.

Two people with their arms around each other celebrating their pickleball win.

How to Get Started With Pickleball

If you are looking to get started with pickleball, we highly recommend the high-performance, affordable pickleball gear by PCKL (pronounced pickle). 

PCKL makes USA Pickleball-approved pickleball equipment, such as Pickleball paddles and balls designed for beginners to pro-level pickleball enthusiasts.

Our choice for beginners and intermediate Pickleball players is the PCKL Starter Bundle.

This set includes two premium pickleball paddles and four crack-proof PCKL Optic pickleball balls. 

The pickleball paddles have a wide body for added forgiveness and reduced mishits and a fiberglass face and honeycomb core. This allows for spin and control on all shots.

There is also a comfort grip handle to provide cushioning and shock absorption and to prevent slipping as your hands get sweaty from your pickleball workout.

To help support your padel sport or pickleball performance, check out our upper-body workout guide here.

A person hitting a padel ball.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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