paddleball vs pickleball

Paddle sports have seen an immense surge in popularity over the past decade, with Pickleball and Paddle ball among the leading options for many enthusiasts. You might be wondering if Pickleball the same as Paddle ball? Despite the similarity in name and the use of paddles in both games, Paddleball and Pickleball are two distinct sports with different rules, playing strategies, and historical backgrounds. This article provides an in-depth comparison between the two to enhance your understanding and appreciation for these engaging sports.

Historical Background

Paddleball, tracing its roots back to the 1930s, was developed in Michigan, USA, as an offshoot of Racquetball and Handball. The game is usually played in an enclosed four-wall or one-wall court, with a small rubber ball and a wooden or composite paddle without strings.

On the other hand, Pickleball was invented in the 1960s in Washington, USA, by three fathers seeking to create an accessible game for their children. With a combination of elements from badminton, tennis, and ping-pong, Pickleball is typically played on a badminton-sized court with a perforated plastic ball (similar to a wiffle ball) and composite or wooden paddles.

Gameplay and Rules

In Paddleball, the objective is to win points by making the ball land in the opponent’s zone without them being able to return it, much like squash. Players hit the ball against the wall, and the ball may hit the floor once before each shot. Games can be singles or doubles, and they are often played in a two-serve format.

Conversely, Pickleball is somewhat similar to tennis and badminton in terms of gameplay. The game starts with an underhand serve from behind the baseline, sending the ball to the opponent’s service court. After the serve, volleys are allowed, but players must avoid hitting the ball in the ‘non-volley zone’ or ‘kitchen’, a seven-foot zone on both sides of the net. Games are typically played to 11 points, and win-by-two is often required.

Equipment and Court Size

The key difference between the equipment used in both games is in the ball and paddle. Paddleball utilizes a small, black rubber ball and solid paddles without strings. Pickleball, however, uses a larger, lighter ball with holes, akin to a wiffle ball, and slightly larger paddles.

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The court size also significantly differs. A Paddleball court, similar to a Racquetball court, measures around 20×40 feet with a 16-foot back wall. Pickleball courts, on the other hand, closely resemble a downsized tennis court, measuring 20×44 feet with a net in the middle, similar to a tennis or badminton court.

Top view of Pickleball Court
4 wall Paddleball Court

Popularity and Accessibility

In terms of popularity, Pickleball has witnessed a faster growth rate in recent years, mainly due to its accessibility. The sport’s simpler rules, slower pace, and the fact it’s less physically demanding make it an attractive option for people of all ages and skill levels.

Paddleball, while less widespread, enjoys a dedicated following, especially in regions where it was originally popularized. Its intense, quick-paced gameplay provides a more physically demanding exercise, attracting those looking for a challenging and competitive sport.

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Pickleball Paddle
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– Both sports use paddles and involve striking a ball with the aim of scoring points.

– Both games can be played in singles or doubles format.

– Each sport encourages physical activity, strategy, coordination, and competition.

– The courts for both games are similar in width (20 feet).


Historical Background: Paddleball originated in the 1930s in Michigan, USA, whereas Pickleball was invented in the 1960s in Washington, USA.

Gameplay and Rules: Paddleball is played in a four-wall or one-wall court with no net, with points scored by hitting the ball into the opponent’s zone, similar to squash. Pickleball is played on a court with a net, much like a downsized tennis court, and points are scored by serving and volleying the ball, similar to tennis or badminton.

Ball and Paddle: Paddleball uses a small, black rubber ball and solid paddles without strings, while Pickleball uses a perforated plastic ball (similar to a wiffle ball) and slightly larger paddles.

Court Size: A Paddleball court measures around 20×40 feet with a 16-foot back wall, while a Pickleball court measures 20×44 feet with a net in the middle.

Popularity and Accessibility: Pickleball has seen a faster growth rate in recent years and is generally considered more accessible, due to its simpler rules and less physically demanding nature. Paddleball is less widespread but offers a more intense, quick-paced gameplay.

These points highlight the core similarities and differences between Paddleball and Pickleball, offering a quick and digestible comparison.


While Paddleball and Pickleball might sound similar, they offer distinct experiences influenced by their unique rules, gameplay, and equipment. Pickleball’s surge in popularity doesn’t overshadow the thrill and intensity Paddleball offers its players. Choosing between the two comes down to personal preference, physical ability, and the desire for a casual or more physically intensive game. Whichever paddle sport you pick, both provide a great way to stay active, socialize, and enjoy the spirit of friendly competition.

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