Padel vs Tennis: Uncovering Key Differences That Set Them Apart

If you’re a fan of racquet sports, you’ve probably heard of padel. This sport, which originated in Mexico in the 1960s, is rapidly gaining popularity around the world. Padel shares some similarities with tennis, but it’s also a unique sport with its own rules and challenges.

Despite the overlap between padel and tennis, there are some crucial differences between these two sports. For one thing, the courts are different sizes. A padel court is smaller than a tennis court, and it also has walls that players can use to bounce the ball. Padel also uses different equipment, including stringless bats and smaller, less bouncy balls.

If you’re considering trying padel, it’s important to understand these differences. While the two sports may seem similar at first glance, they require different skills and strategies. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between padel and tennis, so you can decide which sport is right for you.

The Court: A Tale of Two Sizes

When it comes to Padel and Tennis, the size of the court is one of the most significant differences. Let’s take a closer look at the dimensions and features of each court.

Padel Court

A Padel court is fully enclosed by walls and mesh fencing, creating a unique playing experience. The court is significantly smaller than a Tennis court, measuring 20m x 10m. One of the most notable features of a Padel court is that the walls are in play, allowing for creative rebounds and angles. This feature makes Padel a more strategic game, as players can use the walls to their advantage.

Tennis Court

Unlike a Padel court, a Tennis court has out-of-bounds areas that define the playing field. The court is larger than a Padel court, measuring 23.77m x 8.23m for singles. The larger playing surface of a Tennis court allows for longer rallies and more physical demands on the players.

When it comes to the court surface, both Padel and Tennis courts can be made of different materials. However, one of the most significant differences between the two is the glass walls that surround a Padel court. These walls allow for a unique playing experience, as the ball can rebound off them once it hits the floor.

Equipment Essentials

When it comes to padel and tennis, the equipment required to play is quite similar. However, there are some key differences to keep in mind.

Padel Racket

The padel racket is shorter, thicker, and solid (no strings) compared to a tennis racket. This design gives players more control and less power. Padel rackets often come with a wrist strap for safety during dynamic play.

Tennis Racket

Tennis rackets have a larger head with a strung surface and are designed for power and generating topspin. Compared to padel rackets, tennis rackets are less control-oriented and more powerful.

The Ball

Visually, padel and tennis balls are quite similar. However, padel balls have slightly lower pressure, resulting in a slightly slower and bouncier ball in padel. This difference is due to the smaller court size and wall in padel, which requires a ball that can be controlled more easily.

Scoring Systems: Similarities and Subtleties

Basic Similarities

In both padel and tennis, points are scored using a 15-30-40 system, with the concept of ‘games’ and ‘sets’ also being present in both sports. Additionally, both sports have ‘deuce’ and ‘advantage’ rules, which come into play when the score is tied at 40-40.

Key Differences

One of the most significant differences between padel and tennis is in their scoring systems. Padel uses a no-ad scoring system, meaning that the next point won at deuce will win the game. In contrast, tennis often uses ad-scoring, which requires a player to win two consecutive points after deuce to win the game.

Another difference between the two sports is the size of the court. Padel courts are smaller than tennis courts, measuring 20m x 10m compared to 23.77m x 10.97m for tennis. Padel courts are also surrounded by glass walls that the ball can rebound off, while tennis courts have no such walls.

In terms of equipment, padel and tennis both use a ball and racket. However, the balls used in padel are slightly different from those used in tennis, with padel balls being slightly smaller and less pressurized.

Rules and Game Dynamics


In padel, underhand serves are the only type of serve allowed, and the ball must bounce before striking. This rule limits the power of the serve and encourages more strategic placement. On the other hand, in tennis, overhand serves are allowed, offering more power and strategic variation. The serve is a crucial part of both games and can be a source of precompetitive anxiety for some players.

Volleys and Overheads

In padel, walls allow for rebounds after the first bounce, encouraging more volleying. This leads to fast-paced rallies and exciting play. In tennis, volleys are important, but overheads are often used as offensive weapons. The somatic and cognitive anxiety of players can increase during volleys as they have less time to react and must rely on quick reflexes.

Doubles Play

The smaller size of a padel court compared to a tennis court leads to more compact doubles play with increased volleying. This makes padel a more social sport and encourages teamwork. In tennis, doubles play is also important, but the larger court size allows for more strategic positioning and individual play.

Mastering the Skills

Padel Skills

To excel at padel, you need to master control and precision due to the smaller rackets and court. You’ll need to be comfortable with quick volleys and reaction time, as well as utilizing walls for creative shots and strategic passing plays. With the wall being a key component of the game, you’ll need to practice your shots to utilize it properly. By using the wall, you can create angles and surprise your opponents with unexpected shots.

Top-ranked padel players like Juan Lebrón Chincoa have mastered these skills and are known for their creativity and precision. Personal data shows that Juan is a star in the world of padel, having won multiple high profile tournaments and being a consistent top performer on the World Padel Tour.

Tennis Skills

Tennis requires a different set of skills to excel. Power and topspin generation for both groundstrokes and serves are essential. You’ll also need to work on your tactical court positioning and anticipation for longer rallies. Tennis players like Tom Murray have honed these skills and are known for their ability to generate power and precision on their shots.

Female tennis players like Serena Williams have taken the sport to new heights with their incredible athleticism and skill. Tennis is also an Olympic sport, which has helped elevate the sport’s profile even further.

While padel and tennis share some similarities, mastering the skills required for each sport takes time and practice. Whether you prefer the creativity and quick reactions of padel or the power and precision of tennis, both sports offer unique challenges and opportunities for growth.


While padel and tennis offer distinct experiences, perhaps the most intriguing question is this: Can mastering one sport enhance your skills in the other? The wall-play of padel might improve a tennis player’s reflexes, while the power of tennis could translate to more decisive smashes in padel. Exploring both sports could make you a more well-rounded racket athlete


Q1: Can I use my tennis racket for padel?

A: No, padel and tennis rackets have significant differences. Padel rackets are smaller, solid (without strings), and designed for control and maneuverability. Attempting to play padel with a tennis racket would be very difficult and limit your performance.

Q2: Is padel easier to learn than tennis?

A: Padel is often considered easier for beginners due to the smaller court, underhand serves, and the ability to use the walls. However, both sports have their own learning curves and mastering advanced techniques in either one takes practice and dedication.

Q3: As a tennis player, what’s the biggest adjustment when playing padel?

A: The biggest adjustments will likely be adapting to the smaller court (requiring quicker reactions), learning to use the walls strategically, and developing comfort with the underhand serve.

Q4: Is padel or tennis better for fitness?

A: Both sports offer great cardiovascular workouts. Padel’s smaller court can lead to quicker rallies and constant movement, potentially burning more calories in a shorter time period. Tennis, with its longer rallies and larger court, may emphasize endurance. Ultimately, your fitness benefits depend on the intensity of your play.

Q5: I’m looking for a social racket sport, is padel or tennis a better fit?

A: Padel is often lauded for its social aspect. Doubles is the standard format, and the smaller court naturally encourages interaction and teamwork. While tennis can also be social, its focus on singles play and larger court size can sometimes feel less immediately social for beginners.

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