Pickleball Nets vs Tennis Nets: What’s the Difference?

If you’re new to pickleball, you might be wondering how the sport differs from tennis. One key difference is the size and height of the nets used in each game. While pickleball and tennis nets may look visually similar, there are important differences that impact gameplay. Understanding these differences is crucial for players, coaches, and facility managers.

At the center of the court, a pickleball net measures 34 inches high, while a tennis net measures 36 inches high. The lower height of the pickleball net is designed to accommodate the smaller size of the court and the slower speed of the ball. Additionally, pickleball nets are only 21 feet 9 inches wide, while tennis nets are 42 feet wide. This means that the net is closer to the players in pickleball, which can make it easier to hit shots over the net.

It’s important to note that there are also differences in the net specifications for singles and doubles matches in both sports. For example, tennis nets have an additional set of supporting posts that are larger than pickleball nets when playing singles. Pickleball nets are also 20 feet shorter than tennis nets for doubles matches and 13 feet shorter for singles matches. Understanding these differences is crucial for setting up the court correctly and ensuring a fair game.

Height Matters

When it comes to pickleball and tennis nets, one of the most noticeable differences is the height of the net. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at the net height for both sports and why it matters.

Pickleball Net

The standard height of a pickleball net is 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches at the center. The net is lower than a tennis net to facilitate softer ball impact and promote volleying near the net. The sag in the center of the net is typical of all sports using a net and is adjustable by a center strap. This lower net height also allows for players to hit overhead shots and still have the ball land in the court.

Tennis Net

The standard height of a tennis net is 42 inches at the sidelines and 36 inches at the center. The net is higher than a pickleball net to accommodate the higher ball trajectory in tennis due to powerful groundstrokes and serves. The extra height also allows for the ball to clear the net on high-arching shots.

In singles matches, the net height for both sports remains the same. However, in doubles matches, there is a difference in net height. In pickleball, the net height remains the same, but the width of the court is reduced by 20 feet for doubles matches. In tennis, the net height remains the same, but the width of the court is increased by 9 feet for doubles matches.

It’s important to note that the net heights can vary slightly depending on the court surface and the type of net being used. However, the standard heights mentioned above are the most commonly used in both sports.

Dimensions and Design


The length of the net is one of the most significant differences between pickleball nets and tennis nets. A standard pickleball net is typically 22 feet wide, which accommodates the smaller court size, while a tennis net is typically 42 feet wide. The side posts of a pickleball net extend 12 inches outside the court sidelines, while the side posts of a tennis net extend 3 feet outside the court sidelines.

Mesh Size

The mesh size of both nets is generally similar, but some variations exist. A smaller mesh can prevent the ball from passing through, which is especially important in pickleball, where the ball is smaller than a tennis ball. The mesh size of a pickleball net is typically 2 inches by 2 inches, while the mesh size of a tennis net is typically 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches.


The tension of the net is another difference between pickleball nets and tennis nets. Tennis nets often have higher tension for a firmer surface to rebound powerful shots. The tension of a pickleball net is typically lower than that of a tennis net, which allows the ball to rebound off the net more easily. Both nets have a white tape that runs along the top of the net, and the side posts of a pickleball net are made of 3-inch angle iron, while the side posts of a tennis net are made of round aluminum.

Beyond the Basics: Practical Considerations

When choosing between a pickleball net and a tennis net, there are several practical considerations to keep in mind beyond the basic differences in height and width. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision.


If you plan to use your net for recreational play or in different locations, portability is an important consideration. Many pickleball nets are designed for easy setup and takedown, with lightweight frames and carry bags for transport. Tennis nets, on the other hand, are typically heavier and more cumbersome to move. If you need a net that can be easily transported, a pickleball net may be the better choice.


Both pickleball and tennis nets need to withstand the elements and daily use. Look for nets made from sturdy materials that can withstand weather, UV exposure, and ball impact. Some nets come with weather-resistant coatings or UV protection to extend their lifespan. Consider investing in a net with a sturdy frame and high-quality netting to ensure it lasts.

Regulation Compliance

If you plan to set up a court for official matches, it’s essential to ensure your net meets the specific standards of governing bodies. The USA Pickleball and International Tennis Federation have specific regulations for net height, width, and other factors. Make sure your net meets these requirements to avoid any issues during official matches.

When it comes to choosing between a pickleball net and a tennis net, there are many factors to consider. By thinking beyond the basic differences in height and width, you can find a net that meets your needs for portability, durability, and regulation compliance.

Net Play Strategy Implications

When it comes to net play strategy, there are some key differences between pickleball and tennis nets that players should be aware of. Let’s take a closer look at how the following differences can impact your gameplay:


Pickleball’s lower net height encourages a different style of play than tennis. With the net measuring 34 inches high, players are encouraged to get up close and personal with the net, engaging in volleying, dinking, and strategic finesse shots in the “kitchen” (non-volley zone). This style of play requires quick reflexes, precise aim, and a good pair of pickleball shoes to help you move around the court with ease.


Tennis, on the other hand, favors powerful groundstrokes from the baseline, overhead smashes, and serves as offensive weapons. With a higher net measuring 36 inches, players have more clearance to hit the ball hard and fast. This style of play requires strong footwork, a powerful serve, and the ability to anticipate your opponent’s next move.

When playing doubles matches, both sports utilize nets strung between two posts, and although their height varies, they are central to both games. The wider width of the tennis net allows for increased court coverage, accommodating the larger size of a tennis court and the longer baseline-to-baseline rallies that are common in pro tennis matches.

If you’re playing pickleball using a tennis net, it’s important to note that the tennis net will likely be several inches higher than a standard pickleball net. Due to the thicker cable in the tennis net, “let” balls that hit the tape and go over in pickleball may not make it over a tennis net. This can lead to pickleball noise problems and may require some adaptation in your gameplay.

In a singles match, the differences between the two nets are even more pronounced. With a narrower court and a lower net, pickleball players have to rely on their agility and finesse to succeed. Tennis players, on the other hand, have more room to maneuver and can use the higher net to their advantage.


It’s easy to overlook the humble net, but it plays a crucial role in defining a sport’s character. Whether you’re a seasoned tennis player or a pickleball enthusiast, understanding these net differences provides a deeper appreciation for the nuances of both games


Q1: Can I use a tennis net for pickleball?

A: While it might work in a pinch for casual play, it’s not ideal. The tennis net’s height would significantly change pickleball gameplay, making it harder to execute soft shots and volleys that are essential to the sport.

Q2: What’s the main reason pickleball nets are lower than tennis nets?

A: It all comes down to the ball. Pickleball uses a perforated plastic ball that travels slower and bounces lower than a tennis ball. The lower net height in pickleball is designed to accommodate this ball behavior and encourage rallies with volleys and strategic net play.

Q3: Besides the height, are there other differences between pickleball and tennis nets?

A: Yes! Pickleball nets are generally shorter in length to accommodate the smaller court size. They might also have smaller mesh size in some cases, specifically designed to prevent the pickleball from passing through.

Q4: I’m setting up a pickleball court – where can I find the official net regulations?

A: The official source for pickleball rules and equipment specifications is the USA Pickleball website (https://usapickleball.org/). They provide detailed guidelines on net dimensions, materials, and more.

Q5: If I’m good at tennis, will I automatically be good at pickleball?

A: While there are overlapping skills (hand-eye coordination, etc.), the net differences influence strategy. A skilled tennis player will need to adapt to the lower pickleball net, emphasizing finesse shots, dinks, and quick reflexes at the net.

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