Padel looks just like tennis — they both have players, a racket, and a ball. They are played on a court where players score by hitting the ball.
But is there more to padel and tennis? The answer might surprise you:
Padel and tennis may look the same, but they are different in everything, including the size of the court, shape, and size of rackets and balls, playing style, teams, and game seasons. Padel focuses more on reflex reactions and spatial awareness on a smaller court, while tennis is all about powerful serves due to the larger court.
Looks like a lot? We’ve compiled in the following guide all the factors that make padel different from tennis. You can also judge the features of the two games side by side in the grand comparison table at the end.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Padel vs. Tennis – How are they different?
Just because the two games involve hitting a ball with a racket doesn’t make padel and tennis the same. Both games are different in various ways, including:
- The court size & type
- Rackets and balls
- Game rules
- Playing style
- Playing season
Let’s understand all these differences between padel and tennis!
The Difference Between Courts
The tennis court is larger than a padel court, which comprises almost a third of the total size of a typical tennis court. This is one of the reasons why tennis players find padel challenging since the court size is much smaller than tennis in padel. Padel court has walls that make the game more dynamic and exciting.
The courts of padel and tennis are different in flooring material, dimensions, net, etc.
First, the flooring is built differently for padel and tennis.
- The flooring for a tennis court can be of clay, acrylic coated surfaces, carpet surfaces or natural grass, or artificial grass.
- The flooring for a padel court can be of synthetic and artificial grass surfaces with sand.
The court dimensions are also different for padel and tennis, as mentioned below:
- A tennis court is 23.77m long and 10.97m wide, while the width can be reduced to 8.23m.
- A padel court is 20m long, 10m wide, and at least 6m in height, but preferably eight (8) meters.
- A tennis court usually has a 6.40m distance between the supply line and the network, while the network goes 11.88m from the baseline.
- A padel court usually has a 6.95m distance between the supply line and the network.
The net is also placed differently in tennis and padel:
- In tennis, single/double game net posts/tennis court posts are 1.07m high (0.914 m from the sidelines). The net height in the center line is usually 0.914.
- In padel, the net is 0.92m high at the ends and 0.88m high in the middle. On each side of the square, the center line is 5 m apart.
The Difference Between Rackets
There is a drastic difference between padel and tennis rackets. The tennis racket has a long handle and is made with strings in its head.
The padel racket has a shorter handle than tennis and doesn’t include any strings. Instead, it has round holes in its face/impact surface.
Because of such distinctions in material, lengths, and shapes, factors like the gaming rules, tactics, hand control, and racket placement are also different.
The padel rackets are categorized by their shape, as follows:
- Round: The weight is catered towards the handle, which leads to better control over the handle. A round shape is perfect for beginners and casual players focusing on more accuracy and control than power.
- Diamond: The weight is towards the top of the racket, resulting in a strong impact (power) when hitting the ball. A diamond-shaped padel racket is heavy, so it’s ideal for professional players who can handle a higher impact and greater force.
- Teardrop: A combination of round and diamond shapes, ideally balancing the control and power. The weight is towards the middle. A teardrop-shaped racket is perfect for intermediate padel players since it is not heavy like a diamond and provides both accuracy and power.
Finding the right padel racket is essential to rock your next game, so always invest in quality rackets featuring precision and durability.
A tennis racket is categorized based on the “head” of the racket, as follows:
- Small sized: <550 square centimeters
- Midsize: 550-625 square centimeters
- Mid-plus: 630-680 square centimeters
- Oversized: 685-870 square centimeters
Note that a bigger head of a tennis racket will provide more control and power than a racket with a smaller head. Also, heavy rackets are more shock-resistant than compact tennis rackets.
The Difference Between Balls
Tennis and padel are similar in the colors approved for the ball, yellow and white. Besides this, the two games use balls with different dimensions, weights, internal pressure, and bounce heights.
Padel balls are a bit smaller, have a slightly lesser bouncing rate, and lesser internal pressure than tennis balls, as mentioned below:
- For tennis balls: between 6.54cm and 6.86cm.
- For padel balls: between 6.35cm and 6.77cm.
The tennis and padel balls weigh the same:
- Tennis balls: between 56.0g and 59.4g.
- Padel balls: between 56.0g and 59.4g.
- For tennis balls: 14psi (about 8.165kg per 2.54 square cm)
- For padel balls: somewhere between 10psi and 11psi (4.6kg and 5.2kg per 2.54 square cm).
- For tennis balls: the bouncing rate should be between 122cm and 151cm from a height of 254cm depending on the ball type for different altitudes.
- For padel balls: the bouncing rate should be between 135cm and 145cm from a height of 254cm.
The Difference in Shoes
Padel and tennis have various similarities when it comes to footwear. Since the players are supposed to stand on their feet all the time and make quick movements following the ball, the shoes are designed to provide maximum comfort and agility.
The ankle support matters equally in the two games, so the shoes are supportive enough to prevent foot twisting or misplacing the ankle joint. The ankle support also keeps the foot protected when working out, running, or jogging, and helps eliminate the risks of an ankle sprain.
Padel and tennis shoes are also equipped with good cushioning which minimizes impacts on foot and the shoe shock-resistant. When your feet touch the ground, the cushioning helps equally distribute all the shock/impact throughout the feet. This results in preventing injuries in lower back, hips and feet.
Rubber reinforcements are also added to make the shoe more flexible and naturally comfortable to wear and move. Moreover, rubber increases the shoe’s durability, so the pair typically lasts longer and are water-resistant.
However, despite all the similarities, there are also some differences between a tennis and padel shoe. The most prominent difference is the sole.
Tennis players often jump during the game, so the sole in tennis shoes is anti-slippery. On the other hand, padel shoes are focused on staying firm on the ground since walking, running, or jumping while serving is not allowed. Thus, padel shoes are designed with soles providing a tighter grip on the ground.
Mobility is another factor differentiating the padel and tennis shoes. While tennis relies on greater forward motion and lunging, padel focuses more on lower, spinning motions, which means superior sole softening and greater springing are a must-to-have in padel footwear.
The Difference in Playing Style
Not just in terms of their equipment (racket, ball, court, shoes), padel and tennis are also different in their playing style. Normally Tennis is played in singles while padel is played in doubles.
As mentioned earlier, a padel court is much smaller than a tennis court. However, it benefits padel players, and they can focus more on their shots due to a smaller space. Padel court has walls when Tennis court is without. Padel is a 3D game with much more fun because you have always a second chance to hit the ball. You can hit the ball before it bounces to the turf, or you can let the ball bounce once to the turf and even once after the ball has bounced from the glass wall.
Because of the difference in space, padel players can make more strokes per rally (4-6), while tennis players get to make 0-4 strokes per rally.
Both Padel and Tennis are strategy games and require also tactics to beat the opponent. Tennis games are more prolonged than padel, focusing more on a strategy to win the game. On the other hand, padel is all about quick reflexes and requires effective communication between the player partners and mutual decision-making skills.
It can be challenging for tennis players to transition to padel because of the smaller court size and team playing. Also, padel players need to pay more attention to placing their shots at the right spot than tennis players who are habitual of powerful serves.
Because of the smaller area, predicting the next ball stroke is challenging, so padel players need to practice their spatial awareness too. In Padel, it is important to maintain patience to build a moment when winning the score from the opponent.
The gaming rules are different for padel and tennis, as mentioned below:
- Servers are not allowed to hit the ball straight. The ball is supposed to bounce once before the server hits it.
- When striking the serve, the server must maintain at least one foot on the floor.
- While serving, the server’s feet must not come in contact with or cross the service line.
- However, crossing the center service line to make contact with the ball is permitted.
- The opponent’s service box must receive the serve.
- The opponent must hit the ball if it bounces in the service box and hits the side or back wall because that represents a proper serve.
- The need for a replay occurs if the ball contacts the net rebounds inside the service area, and hits the side or back wall.
- A fault occurs if the ball enters the service box and strikes the wire netting.
- A fault occurs if the ball first strikes the net, then travels through the service box and strikes the wire netting.
- Players are not allowed to run or walk while serving, though they can jump to hit the ball.
- Players are not allowed to touch the net or posts.
- Players are not allowed to cross onto the other (opponent) side.
- Players are not allowed to carry the ball.
- Players are not allowed to catch the ball with the racket.
- One player cannot hit the ball twice (during one serve).
- A ball bouncing twice before returning leads to a loss of points.
- The ball leaving the bounds (for play) leads to a loss of points.
- Hand leaving the racket is counted as a penalty.
- The ball hitting/touching the players is counted as a penalty.
- Players are not allowed to hit until the ball has passed the net.
The Difference Between Playing Season
Padel is a sport for all seasons. It is played indoors and outdoors around the year. Naturally, it is rare to play Padel outdoors during the winter conditions, while you might see Padel people playing outdoors also in colder weather as they like fresh air. Padel people are not that demanding as long as they get access to play their favorite racket game.
On the other hand, tennis is believed to be a summer sport, though it is also played in winter. Today, it is an all-year sport that can be played in seasons, indoors and outdoors.
Padel enthusiasts are increasingly traveling, because of better weather and access to highly professional coaches in warm Padel destinations. It is a growth business to organize Padel travels to a growing audience. It becomes from natural reasons, especially for people from Nordic countries like Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark where weather conditions are less attractive for superior Padel coaches. Nordic people are chasing more of the sunny days by traveling to Spain or Arabic countries to learn and enjoy Padel.
Padel vs. Tennis – The Comparison Table
Let’s compare various aspects of padel and tennis side by side to understand better how the two games are different!
|Flooring||Artificial grass or sports turf with a sand refill.||Clay, lawn, or artificial grass.|
|Court||Smaller court size|
10m x 20m with walls
|Larger court size|
23.77m x 10.97m and surrounding safety areas
|Racket||Short handle and head with holes||Long handle with strings|
|Racket Shapes/Sizes||Round: for beginners; more accuracy|
Diamond: for experts, more power
Teardrop: for intermediates; balanced accuracy and power
|Head Size: |
Small-sized (<550 square centimeters)
Midsize (550-625 square centimeters)
Mid-plus (630-680 square cm)
Oversized (685-870 square cm)
|Balls||Approved colors: Yellow, White|
Slightly lesser bouncing rate
Lesser internal pressure
|Approved colors: Yellow, White|
Slightly higher bouncing rate
Higher internal pressure
|Team Members||Two players in one team||One player in one team|
|Playing Style||Quick reflexes due to smaller court size||Powerful serves due to larger court size|
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