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Pickleball vs. Padel: What's the difference

Padel vs. Pickleball: What’s the Difference?

Though they have their differences, pickleball and padel do have one thing in common: they’re both easy (and fun) to get into.

If your friends have been inviting you to a game of padel, or if your family members have posted videos of them playing pickleball — two sports you may have just recently heard of but are seemingly taking over everyone’s Sunday plans — you are not alone. Padel and Pickleball are two of the fastest-growing recreational sports in the world, and their popularity has reached Metro Manila.

At first glance, padel and pickleball may look very similar, and that’s because they are. But, some details distinguish each racket sport.

So if you’ve been interested in trying one or the other (or both), here are a few things you should know about both sports before getting on the court.

Padel vs. Pickleball

If you’re new to both sports, let’s start with the basics.

Pickleball vs. Padel: Padel rackets are thicker and perforated
Padel rackets are perforated and thicker. (Photo credit: Manila Padel Club on Instagram)

Padel is regarded as the fastest-growing racket sport in the world. Its style of play combines elements you may already be familiar with from other racket sports including squash and badminton. Padel rackets have thicker and perforated faces, and the balls are very similar to that of tennis, but with less pressure, resulting in a lower bounce.

Pickleball vs. Padel: Pickleball rackets have solid faces
Pickleball rackets have a solid face. (Photo credit: Recess Pickleball on Instagram)

On the other hand, pickleball is considered the fastest-growing racket sport in the United States, where there is now even a professional league called Major League Pickleball. Similar to padel, this sport also includes elements from badminton, though the equipment differs. Pickleball rackets have a more solid face, and the balls used are perforated plastic balls that move slower.

Court differences

One of the most obvious differences between padel and pickleball is the difference between the courts.

Manila Padel Club
Padel courts take after squash courts and require walls that surround them. (Photo credit: Manila Padel Club on Instagram)

Padel courts are similar to squash courts, as they need to be surrounded by four (usually transparent) walls. This is because when you play Padel, you can hit the ball even after it bounces off of the walls — very similar to squash.

A padel court is slightly bigger than a pickleball court, and because the walls are a part of the game, players usually run a lot more while playing padel, and rallies tend to last longer.

USA Pickleball
Unlike padel, pickleball courts do not have walls. (Photo credit: USA Pickleball on Instagram)

On the other hand, pickleball courts have no surrounding walls. Similar to tennis and badminton, players only bounce the ball off the ground when playing pickleball, and without the use of walls, a ball is more likely to go out of bounds.

Given that the lines of the court determine the bounds of play, rallies last shorter. On top of this, there are also certain areas of the court that players cannot step on, as this would cause a deduction in points.

Playing the game

The gameplay of padel and pickleball also have their differences.

Pickleball’s scoring is inspired by badminton, where the first player or duo to score 11 points (with at least two points over their opponents) wins. On the other hand, padel is scored just like a three-set match of tennis.

USA Pickleball
Pickleball can be played in doubles or singles. (Photo credit: USA Pickleball on Instagram)

Another key difference between the two sports, that may help you decide which to get into, is playing doubles or singles. For pickleball, you can easily decide whether or not you wish to play alone or with a partner. However, in the case of padel, a standard padel court is built to suit a doubles game, and to play a singles match, one would need to find a singles court.

Level of difficulty

Both pickleball and padel courts are smaller than those of tennis, both kinds of balls are lightweight and move slower, and both rackets have a short handle for easier control — these are just some of the reasons that these two sports are beginner friendly and are both easy to pick up.

However, because of the nature of both games (playing in doubles, longer rallies, etc.), both pickleball and padel can be challenging to master. Once you get a hang of the game’s basics, learning how to maximize tactics to become a better player will be the next step, which may take longer to get the hang of.

But, despite their differences, both games are extremely fun to play, especially with a friend. And, as they are both relatively young recreational sports, finding a partner to start out with won’t be too difficult either.

Which sport are you trying first?

Banner image from Freepik.

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