Home Pickleball Can You Play Pickleball If You Play Tennis?

Can You Play Pickleball If You Play Tennis?

by Stefan Jonsson
Pickleball match

So, you’re a tennis player, sometimes looking over to the pickleball courts? With the booming popularity of this sport, many tennis nerds are wondering if they can just jump into this sport without looking like a total newbie. The short answer? Yes, most likely, you can.

However, there are some different opinions on this subject, and we are also fully aware that many tennis players don’t really like the game of pickleball at all…

Anyhow, let’s check a bit closer on how your tennis skills will translate to pickleball and what to expect as you make the switch. We’ll also view some dividing opinions on how hard the switch really is.

The Common Ground

First off, if you’ve been swinging a tennis racket, you’ve got a head start. Both sports involve a racket (or paddle for pickleball) and a ball, and your aim is to outwit your opponent. The skills you’ve honed in tennis, like hand-eye coordination, strategy movement etc are of course important. Then it’s just about tweaking those skills to fit a new game.

The smaller court of pickleball size intensifies the game’s speed, making reactions and quick thinking even more crucial. Your net game in tennis? It’s about to become your best friend in pickleball. The sport values volleying and net play, something most tennis players are at least decent at.

What about the Serving?

Serving in pickleball is way different but in a way it’s easy to adjust to. You’ll serve underhand in pickleball, which might feel a bit odd at first. Your serve’s precision and placement from tennis can still make you a formidable server in pickleball though. It’s all about adapting your power and accuracy to a different style.

Spin and Speed

Tennis players love their spin, and guess what? That skill is gold in pickleball too. You might need to adjust the intensity and angle because of the pickleball paddle and plastic ball, but the concept remains the same. Your ability to control the ball and add spin can really set you apart.

The pace of pickleball is quicker, thanks to the smaller court and lighter ball. Your tennis background will surely help you anticipate shots and move efficiently.

The “Kitchen”

Mind the Kitchen

Ah, the kitchen – a term you’ll get familiar with when getting into pickleball. It refers to the non-volley zone near the net. Tennis players might need a minute to adjust to this rule since it prevents volleying from this zone. It’s a unique aspect of pickleball strategy that takes little time to get used to.

Tips: Adjust Your Swing

Your tennis swing is powerful, but in pickleball, you’ll need to dial it back a bit. The game requires more finesse and control, with a focus on placement over power. You’ll refine your swing to be more compact, which can actually help improve your control and touch.

Not Everyone Will Agree

There always a debate when it comes to tennis/pickleball questions and recently Canadian tennis pro Genie Bouchard (that now plays on the PPA Tour) gave her opinion that your tennis skills does not transfer to pickleball, and continued:

“People think there’s an automatic transition from tennis to pickleball and there’s not,” she said. “It’s a completely different sport.”

So, Can Tennis Players Play Pickleball?

The transition involves some adjustments, but your foundational skills will make you a quick learner and a decent player quite fast.

Pickleball will never “take over” tennis in our view, but it offers a fantastic community and a more casual vibe, which is a big part of its charm.

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