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What is Padel and How Does It Compare to Pickleball?

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

Is padel the new pickleball? Read our blog to learn how padel compares to pickleball, the most popular sport in the United States.

woman playing padel in Colorado

Did you know there’s a new racket sport that’s exploding in popularity around the globe?Pickleball continues to dominate in the U.S., but padel is taking the rest of the world by storm.


Could padel be the next big racket sport craze in the U.S.? We think so. It’s already gaining in popularity in states like California, Nevada, Texas and Florida. Padel recently reached Colorado when Parker Racquet Club opened the first padel courts in the state.


Before you hit the courts, read up on the sport to find out how to play padel and how padel compares to a sport you may know well: pickleball. Then, stop by one of our store locations or our online shop to get your essential padel equipment.


Read our guest blog below from Tim Quijano, Founder of Padel.FYI, to learn all about the sport.


Is Padel the New Pickleball?

Two rapidly growing descendants of tennis - padel and pickleball - have gained significant popularity in recent decades. Though both are racket sports, the two sports have many differences.


Padel offers a more dynamic and strategic game, played on a larger court with faster balls. The padel rules resemble tennis rules. Pickleball, played on a smaller court with slower balls, combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis.


The choice between padel and pickleball ultimately depends on personal preferences. Both sports provide enjoyable challenges and opportunities to stay active.


What is Padel?

Padel is a unique racket sport played on an enclosed court with walls and a net in the middle. While it shares similarities with tennis and pickleball, padel has distinct characteristics that set it apart.


One of the main reasons for its global popularity is its accessibility to players of all ages and skill levels. Younger, more active players are also drawn to the sport for its fun, fast-paced style of play.


Padel is typically played in pairs, known as "doubles," using balls similar to tennis balls but with 30% less pressure. Padel rackets are smaller and perforated, allowing for better control and maneuverability on the court.


Strategy and teamwork are crucial in padel, as players utilize the walls to take shots and return the ball to the opponent's side.


Padel offers numerous health benefits, including improving physical condition, cardiovascular endurance, and coordination due to its fast-paced nature and long rallies.


What is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a racket sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. Originating in the United States in the 1960s, it has gained a following worldwide due to its fun and accessible nature.


One of the reasons for pickleball's popularity is its suitability for players of all ages and skill levels. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced player seeking a new challenge, pickleball caters to everyone's needs.


The game is played on a rectangular court divided by a low net. Solid paddles and a perforated ball, similar to a wiffle ball, are used. The objective is to hit the ball over the net in a way that makes it difficult for the opponent to return. Pickleball can be played individually or in pairs, offering versatility in game setups.


Being a low-impact sport, pickleball is gentler on the joints compared to some other sports. It also enhances coordination, agility and cardiovascular capacity, making it an excellent choice for staying active and fit.


Is Padel the Same as Pickleball?

Padel and pickleball have many similarities, but they are very different when it comes to rules, scoring, equipment, courts and more.


Similarities Between Padel and Pickleball

Padel and Pickleball share several similarities:

  • Racket sports: Both are racket sports that are usually played in doubles.

  • Net: Both sports are played with a net dividing the court.

  • Accessibility: Both sports are more accessible to beginners compared to tennis.

  • Paddle rackets: Instead of traditionally strung tennis rackets, both sports utilize solid paddle rackets with no strings.

  • Underarm serves: Both sports require underarm serves, eliminating the need for technically challenging serves, which can be difficult for beginners.

  • Skill requirements: Most of the skills needed to play padel and pickleball overlap. Quick footwork, agility, power, precision and spin all come into play in both games.

Differences Between Padel and Pickleball

Although padel and pickleball share similarities, they also have significant differences.


Rules and Scoring


Padel:

  • Padel is more like tennis in that one player serves a whole game then one player from the other team serves a whole game.

  • Similar to tennis, padel players compete to win the best of three sets, with sets won by a 2-game margin.

  • Padel incorporates "tie breaks" from tennis to conclude sets tied at 6-6. Notably, padel introduces the exciting concept of the "golden point" at 40-40 ("Deuce"), allowing players to win by one point or choose the conventional win by two points with "Advantage" scoring.

Pickleball:

  • Both players from one team serve consecutively before it's the other team's turn to serve.

  • Pickleball follows a scoring structure inspired by badminton.

  • The goal is to win the best of three games, with each game played to 11 points.

  • A two-point lead over the opposing team is required to win a game. Only the servers can gain points.


Equipment


Rackets:

  • Padel rackets are thicker, wider and perforated, providing better control and comfort. They weigh around 365 grams (13 ounces) and are significantly heavier than pickleball paddles due to their rigid frame and foam cores.

  • Pickleball paddles are lightweight, narrow (7.5 inches or 19 cm), and long (15.5 inches or 40 cm). They resemble long table tennis paddles with short handles, allowing for a firm grip and precise control. Pickleball paddles weigh approximately 8 ounces (220 grams).

Balls:

  • Padel balls are similar to tennis balls but with 30% less pressure. They offer a controlled response and interact less with the court surface.

  • Pickleball is played with a hollow plastic ball resembling a wiffle ball. The lightweight nature of the pickleball allows it to catch air and float, requiring precision at the front of the court and power at the back.

Courts:

  • Padel courts are larger than pickleball courts: approximately one-third the size of a tennis court. They measure 10 meters wide by 20 meters long and feature walls and a 90 cm high net. Padel is played on a variety of surfaces.

  • Pickleball courts are smaller: around one-fourth the size of a tennis court. They are 20 feet (6.10 m) wide by 44 feet (13.41 m) long, with a 3-foot (0.9 m) high net and a "no volley" zone near the net known as the "kitchen." Pickleball is played on hard courts, often tennis courts, that are indoors or outdoors.


Where is Padel Popular?

Padel was invented in 1969 by Enrique Corcuera, a Mexican businessman, who introduced it to his Spanish and Argentinian friends. It first spread to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Marbella, Spain.


In recent years, padel has experienced significant growth in Europe and Latin America. The International Padel Federation (FIP) estimates a global padel-playing community of approximately 25 million players.


Padel is beginning to explode in the U.S. as well, particularly in states like California, Florida, Nevada and Texas. It is also begnning to catch on in Colorado.


Where is Pickleball Popular?

Pickleball was invented in 1965 in Bainbridge, Washington, United States, by Joel Pritchard, a businessman and former legislator.

Pickleball has experienced rapid growth in the United States, particularly on the West Coast in states like Washington, Arizona, California and Nevada. It has also spread to other regions such as Colorado, Florida, Arizona, Texas and the Canadian province of British Columbia.

While pickleball has not yet become a major spectator sport like tennis or padel, it has gained a strong following. USA Pickleball estimates that there are 4.8 million pickleball players in the United States.


Overall Padel Growth

Both padel and pickleball have seen increased popularity worldwide. Countries such as Australia, India, Japan, and South Africa are witnessing the establishment of new facilities and the formation of player communities.


International events like the World Padel Tour and the U.S. Open Pickleball Championships attract players from different countries, contributing to the global dissemination and recognition of these sports.


Ready to hit the Padel or Pickleball Courts?

Whether you’re ready to start playing padel, pickleball or both, we’ve got you covered! Come by one of our store locations in Colorado or Nevada or check out our online shop to get your padel and pickleball gear.


About the Author

Tim Quijano is Founder of Padel.FYI, the biggest database of padel racket reviews. Check out Padel.FYI on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram.

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