I think about my experiences with both tennis and pickleball and think about how I can encourage more people to get involved in these sports. I grew up in a tennis family with my mom and dad playing tennis and my dad being a certified coach. Yes, my dad was my coach and we had our ups and downs. Recently, I find myself talking a lot more about pickleball. I think to myself, why is that?

As a certified teaching professional for both tennis and pickleball, I have noticed many similarities and differences. Tennis and pickleball are both lifelong sports. Both can be played from a very young age all the way through adulthood. Both require hand eye coordination, mental stability and physical strength. Each require strategy similar to playing a game of chess where you are constantly looking to set yourself up for the next move. Tennis and pickleball can be played with four people on a court (doubles) or two people on the court (singles). Generally, the fewer people on the court, the more exercise you will get covering a larger area. Additionally, a lot of the strokes are similar. Both sports include a serve, return, forehand, backhand, volley and overhead. Lastly, both sports can be played recreationally or competitively.

Recently, growing the sport of pickleball around Penn State, I have noticed a few differences. The most drastic difference is the time it takes to have enough skill to compete. Within an hour of picking up a pickleball paddle, you will be able to play a game. While in tennis, it can take a few months to a year of training to enjoy your time on court. I always thought tennis was a very social sport but getting involved with pickleball has shown me a whole new level of socialization while playing a sport. In pickleball, most of the time you are only 14 feet from your opponents which allows for conversation while mid-point. Additionally, games are much shorter in pickleball with single games lasting anywhere from 5-20 minutes compared to tennis where a single set could range from 20 minutes to one hour. This allows for three games of pickleball to 1 set of tennis. What I’ve noticed about this ratio is it allows for people to play more games which leads to new friendships. Lastly, tennis has a lot larger professional following with the ATP and WTA tours, but pickleball is on its way with the APP and PPA. These associations will have pickleball’s top professionals competing at tournaments all around the world.

While I love tennis, I have found an extreme appreciation for the sport of pickleball. I have no doubt you will too! I hope to see some new people on the courts soon.

Ricky Dove

Ricky Dove

Teaching Professional at Penn State University

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