Pop Tennis vs. Pickleball: Which Sport is Better for You?
Pop tennis and Pickleball are relatively new and simple racket sports popular in the US but played worldwide mainly for entertainment.
The two sports have a few similarities and are mostly enjoyed by amateurs who find playing other racket sports such as tennis and badminton a tasking endeavor.
However, the sports can be played at all levels including competitive tournaments across the world.
It is believed that anyone can just pick up a racket and play both games hence the popularity in the US.
Pickleball is believed to be a clone of tennis, table tennis, and badminton. Initially, the game was seen as an enjoyable sport for young kids as they adapt to other racket sports. However, as the game became popular across the world, adults picked it up.
Pop tennis, on the other hand, is believed to have evolved from a racquets game called paddle tennis. These two games are increasingly becoming popular in the US, and it’s good to know how they are played.
Pickleball originated from Bainbridge Island a very short distance from Seattle Washington in 1965. It is believed that it was invented by three golfers among them a former senior state official. The three golfers came home only to find the kids bored. In their attempt to keep them busy, they modified a badminton court by lowering the net, brought a wiffleball, makeshift rackets and started playing. The game would later have characteristics of badminton, table tennis, and tennis. It was later picked up by adults and quickly became popular in the US.
Pop tennis, on the other hand, was started in 1898 by Rev. Frank Beal, but at the time he called it paddle tennis. Just like Pickleball, the main idea was to allow for the younger children to enjoy tennis on a smaller court, with a lighter ball and using smaller rackets. However, adults also enjoyed the game occasionally which consequently made it popular in some cities in the US. It wasn’t until 1961 when the court used for pop tennis was increased in size, and the overhand serve was removed. However, the name pop tennis was only adopted in 2015 after the emergence of various similar racket sports such as paddleball, pickleball, and padel among others.
The concept of the two racket sports is the same meaning that the basic rules are also similar. In fact, most of the basic rules are borrowed from tennis except for a few modifications such as serving in pop tennis. Otherwise, as a player, you are supposed to ensure that the ball does not bounce twice on your court or sent out of play from your service. Apart from serving, wherein pop tennis overhand serving is prohibited, all the other tennis rules apply. In fact, some people use tennis courts to play pop tennis.
Equipment (Racket, Shoes, Ball)
When it comes to equipment, Pickleball players use specialized wooden paddles to play a perforated plastic ball. The standard pickleball paddle is bigger than a table tennis bat but smaller than a tennis racket. Traditionally, pickleball paddles were entirely made of wood, but today they can be made of other composite materials such as graphite to make them lightweight for quick action at the court. Pickleball players use a 0.86 m high net and the plastic balls come in different colors depending on whether the game is played indoors or outdoors. However, the color should be uniform according to the IFP specifications.
In pop tennis, an 18.5 inches long racket, non-marking shoes and a green dot ball at the equipment synonymous with the racket sport. The green dot ball used in the sport is specifically recommended because its internal pressure has been compressed to about 25% of the typical tennis ball. In pop tennis, it’s prohibited to have a paddle/racket with material enhancing the grip on the hitting surface. Unlike other rackets, pop tennis rackets do not have strings and should have a maximum width of 38 millimeters.
The major difference between these two racket sports is the size of the courts. Although you can comfortably play pop tennis on the regular tennis court and Pickleball on the regular badminton court, there are specific dimensions set for professional players. In this regard, there are three different types of pop tennis courts namely classic pop 50 feet court, 60 feet standalone court and a blended court. The doubles court can measure 27 x 60’ or 21 x 60’ court. The net is approximately 36’’ high meaning you can still use the regular tennis net if you are using our 60 feet tennis court.
Pickleball, on the other hand, can be played on a doubles badminton court. The standard size should be 20 x 44,’ and the same court is used to play both singles and doubles. The markings are similar to those of a tennis court except for the non-volley zones.
Since these two racket sports are typically simple to play, anyone who can handle a racket can basically play both sports. There are no restrictions when it comes to pickleball and pop tennis. In fact, both sports started out as watered-down versions of tennis for amateurs and children to enjoy tennis without getting into the technical details of the sport.
Just as you would expect in any professional game, the players are expected to behave and conduct themselves in a sportsmanship behavior during and after the game. There are no strictly specific rules dictating the attire required for both sports such as eyewear and gloves.
As mentioned earlier, pop tennis is similar to tennis in all aspects of play except that in pop tennis the player is only allowed to serve once. In case the player faults when serving, he loses a point. Another difference with tennis is that in pop tennis you must hit the ball below your waist when serving. You should also allow the ball to bounce once before returning it in singles. In doubles, only one player is allowed to hit the ball per side unlike in tennis.
In Pickleball, the rules are similar to pop tennis as you are only allowed to have an underhand serve. Just like tennis, only the serving player can score a point. A point can only be scored when the opponent is unable to return a serve, hits the ball out of play, hits the ball against the net or commits any other faults.
Scoring in pop tennis is pretty much the same as in real tennis, but a few exceptions are depending on the type of court being used for the sport. Tiebreakers can be independently decided by the referee in the game. Pickleball just like pop tennis borrows a lot from tennis which means even scoring is similar to tennis. You can earn a point when the opponent is unable to receive your serve, returns the ball but it hits the net, allows the ball to go out of play when it’s their turn to play or commits any other faults.
Since pop tennis and Pickleball are mostly played on the streets, individuals can decide on how to appoint referees like having the players double up as referees and interchanging during sets. However, in competitive tournaments, certified referees are encouraged to officiate the games. In both games, the senior referee calls all the shots, and his/her decision is final. However, they do have other officiating assistance on the line as well.
Both pop tennis and pickleball seem like fun games to participate in without worrying much about all the technical stuff. They are easy to learn and could be used more for socializing rather than exercising or competing professionally. However, they also offer a lot of health benefits due to the activities involved especially for pop tennis where the court is bigger than the average tennis court.