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what are games like pickleball

What Are Games Like Pickleball


Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, but it was originally inspired by games like tennis and ping pong. So, what other games are like pickleball?

It turns out, there are a lot of games just like pickleball. These games are more formally called “court sports” or “racquet sports”, and they’re exactly as they sound—sports played on soft courts that use some kind of racquet.

In this article, we’ll talk about all the different games like pickleball, and compare their differences and similarities.


What Makes a Game Like a Pickleball?

All the court and racquet sports share the same fundamentals, so we’ll use those to gauge how other games are like pickleball.

games like pickleball

The criteria we’ll be using are:

  • Scoring
  • Equipment
  • Gameplay
  • Court Size
  • Difficulty
  • Cost of Entering the Sport
  • Popularity and Accessibility 

Alternatively, we’ll also briefly mention when each game was created, so we can further gauge which sport came first. 


Games and Sports Like Pickleball

You’re probably already familiar with some of these games since they directly inspired pickleball. But you’ve probably never even heard of the less popular ones! 

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NOTE: There are a LOT of differences between games, so to make things simple and easy to read, I won’t include ALL the differences and similarities between both sports. I’ll only focus on the important distinctions.


Tennis vs Pickleball

Let’s start off with the sport that pickleball most closely resembles. Tennis is very often compared with pickleball, especially by tennis enthusiasts who don’t appreciate pickleball as a sport.

playing tennis

Similarities and Differences

Similarities Differences
Scoring Both sports use an advantage scoring system, which means that if the score is tied before the game-winning point, a team must win by two consecutive points to win the game. In tennis, games are scored using a system of four points, represented as 15, 30, 40, and then the game point. For pickleball, games are scored up to 11.

Generally, tennis games last 20 to 40 minutes. Pickleball games are shorter at 15 to 25 minutes. 

Pickleball uses rally scoring, unlike tennis.

Equipment Both sports use a racquet and balls to play.

Tennis and pickleball share a similar net height.

Pickleball paddles are smaller and lighter, while tennis racquets are heavier and bigger, and use nylon as the main surface for hitting the ball.

Tennis balls are made of rubber and covered in felt. Pickleballs are made of plastic with holes around them for bouncing.

Court Size Both sports have a similar court design and use a kind of court surface coating. Tennis courts are bigger, measuring 78 ft long x 27 ft wide. 

Pickleball courts are only 44 ft long and 20 ft wide. This is less than half the size of a tennis court.

Gameplay Both are racquet sports that involve hitting a ball over a net to the opponent’s side of the court. Pickleball is slower-paced compared to tennis. 

Pickleball has a unique two-bounce rule that eliminates the advantage of serving.


You can immediately see what parts of pickleball were heavily influenced by tennis. But, you can also see the areas that make pickleball unique. Both sports are fun to play, but pickleball is a better sport for casual players who want a simple and athletic hobby with a challenging skill ceiling.

Difficulty, Popularity, and Cost Comparison

Pickleball Tennis
Difficulty Easier, casual playing with a rising competitive scene. More difficult with a more established competitive scene.
Popularity 3.5 million players. 87 million players.
Cost to Play Around $100 for a good paddle and several pickleball. Between $100 to $250 for a proper racquet and several balls.

Pickleball was invented in 1965. It was originally popularized as a simple sport for the elderly or physically inept players. Over the years, it’s become an increasingly popular competitive sport with some players even getting sponsors, making a name for themselves, and winning tournaments.

On the other hand, tennis has a long history. The modern game with rules, scoring, and equipment was invented around the mid-19th century in England. But, the first lawn tennis championship by Wimbledon was in 1877. 

Paddle Tennis vs Pickleball

Paddle tennis, also known as platform tennis, is a variant of tennis that is played on a smaller court and with a solid paddle as opposed to a strung racket. The game is typically played in doubles, and the rules are similar to tennis with a few key differences.

paddle tennis and fixing gear

One of the most notable differences is that the court is enclosed by high walls and often heated to allow for year-round play in colder climates. The smaller court size and solid paddle result in a game that is faster-paced, with less emphasis on power and more on strategy, finesse, and placement. 

Paddle tennis has a dedicated following in the United States, particularly in the Northeast, where it originated.

Similarities and Differences

Similarities Differences
Scoring Both sports use the advantage scoring system, where teams must win by two points in a row if both teams are tied at game points. In paddle tennis, the service alternates between players every two points. In pickleball, the server alternates only if the receiving team wins a rally

Just like tennis, paddle tennis is scored with points represented as 15, 30, 40, and then the game point. For pickleball, games are scored up to 11.

Equipment Both sports use a ball that is similar in size and weight, and a paddle to hit the ball.

Paddle tennis nets are lower at 31 in, compared to pickleball at 33 in.

Pickleball paddles are larger and more squarish than paddle tennis paddles.
Court Size Both courts are lined similarly to tennis courts, like the marked centerline. The standard size of a paddle tennis court is 50 ft long and 20 ft wide, while the standard size of a pickleball court is 44 ft long and 20 ft wide.
Gameplay Both sports use paddles to hit a ball over a net to the opposing side of the court. Paddle tennis is typically played at a faster pace with longer rallies, while pickleball is slower-paced with shorter rallies.

Paddle tennis has a “let” rule for certain situations, such as when a ball hits the frame of the paddle. Pickleball does not have a similar rule.

Although paddle tennis is almost completely similar to pickleball, their origins are actually completely different. Paddle tennis started off in New York city as an alternative to lawn tennis, for players who didn’t have the space for a full tennis court. Pickleball, on the other hand, started off as a fun family game for a boring summer afternoon.

Difficulty, Popularity, and Cost Comparison

Pickleball Paddle Tennis
Difficulty Easier, less physical needs of having a smaller court, and the rules are simpler. A larger court and faster pace require more movement and skill.
Popularity 3.5 million players. No data, which suggests it is less popular than pickleball.
Cost to Play Around the same cost to play, although paddle tennis courts are generally more expensive to rent.

Paddle tennis isn’t the most popular pickleball alternative out there, but it has its place. Though, a good number of pickleball enthusiasts are known to come from paddle tennis. 

Badminton vs Pickleball

Badminton is a really fun racquet sport that can be played by two or four players. The aim of the game is to hit a small, feathered shuttlecock (also known as a “birdie”) over a net and land it in your opponent’s court. It’s a super dynamic and fast-paced game that requires a lot of speed, agility, power, and precision.

games like pickleball badminton

Badminton can be played either indoors or outdoors and there are slightly different rules for singles and doubles games. The net is set up to be quite high, so it can be pretty challenging to get the birdie over it and into the right spot.

This sport is really popular all around the world, but especially in Asia and Europe. In fact, it’s an Olympic sport with different categories for men’s and women’s singles and doubles, as well as mixed doubles.

Similarities and Differences

Similarities Differences
Scoring Both sports have a best of three scoring system where a team must win two out of three games to win the match. Both sports use the same scoring system, this is increments of 1 to 11 and 21. Pickleball uses a rally scoring system, where only the serving team can score a point. In badminton, either side can score a point as long as they win the rally.

During game point tie, a team in badminton must first reach 30 points or have a two-point lead. Pickleball has no upper limit, as long as the team wins by two consecutive points.

Equipment Badminton uses string racquets to hit a shuttlecock, which is conical in shape with feathers at the back. The nets are slightly elevated.

Pickleball players use paddles to hit a hollow ball dotted with holes over a grounded net.

Court Size Both courts have a similar lining structure.

Badminton and pickleball both use a 44 ft by 20 ft court.

Badminton courts require a clear height of at least 20 ft to make up for lobs. Pickleball courts generally need only eight to ten ft.
Gameplay The taller net of badminton requires players to “smash” more often. This is when they jump and hit the shuttlecock downwards. Since the shuttlecock can’t bounce, once it touches the ground, the rally is over. 

With pickleball, the ball is allowed to bounce once before a return.

As you can see, badminton is the least similar sport to pickleball when you look at it with the criteria we set in mind.

Difficulty, Popularity, and Cost Comparison

Pickleball Badminton
Difficulty Easier and slower-paced. Better for elderly or less-fit individuals who can’t jump easily. Harder and requires more agility. The shuttlecock moves much faster than pickleball and because it cannot bounce, the reaction to return the shuttlecock needs to be faster.
Popularity 3.5 million players. Approximately 220 million players.
Cost to Play Badminton is more expensive to start playing. Although it’s a more popular sport, the equipment can be pricey. Not to mention, the shuttlecocks go by quickly because they are quite brittle and sometimes don’t last more than a game.

There are tons of games like pickleball, but pickleball is popular for a reason. It’s easy to learn and play, casual in nature and has lots of skills you can master.