I know a lot of players who are very good tennis players who also play pickleball. A couple of the questions always asked are, “What is the difference in net height between pickleball and tennis nets, and the difference in court lines and configuration?” There is always a bit of confusion about the kitchen.
There are differences in the net height between these two, and while it doesn’t seem like there is much difference when you’ve tuned in your tennis shots for a particular height over the net, having a net height that is lower results in ‘pop’ up or a ball that can easily be a kill shot in pickleball. So yes, the net height does make a difference. So let’s go through this.
What are the differences in net heights between pickleball and tennis nets?
In tennis, the net’s height is 42 inches at the posts and 36 inches at the center. In pickleball, the net’s height is 36 inches at the sides of the pickleball court and 34 inches at the center of the net.
So the net is 2 inches lower in the center. This is a critical factor for your pickleball game as a lot of action happens in the center of the court. Players are drilled in skills to return and volley the ball down the center. This difference in net height allows you to make more good shots, especially if you are driving the ball low.
In dinking, cross-court dinking is the name of the game. Cross-court dinking takes advantage of the lower net height in the center of the net allowing lower and more angled shots to be hit. We all know what happens if you pop a shot up at the net; you are going to get killed.
As I mentioned, if you are a tennis player coming over to pickleball, you have to learn to keep the ball lower over the net than you do in tennis due to the net height differences.
Is there a difference in width between a tennis net and a pickleball net?
A tennis net is 42 feet wide for double tennis and 33 feet wide for singles tennis. A pickleball net is 21 feet 9 inches for doubles and singles play.
What is the difference in courts between tennis and pickleball?
There are three main differences between pickleball courts and tennis courts.
The Pickleball court is 42 feet long and 20 feet wide. A tennis court is 78 feet long and 27 feet wide.
You can fit four pickleball courts on one regulation tennis court. When I first started playing, our community didn’t have pickleball courts. They converted one of the tennis courts into four pickleball courts.
2. Net Height:
A pickleball net height is 34 inches at the center and 36 inches at the posts. A tennis net is 36 inches at the center and 42 inches at the posts.
3. Line Configuration:
The main difference in lines is the Kitchen area in pickleball. This is the 7-foot area on either side of the net. It is called the non-volley zone. In the non-volley zone, you cannot hit the ball out of the air, a major difference from tennis, where you can volley up to the net.
Tennis has a different line configuration that includes the service areas. You play up to the net when volleying a ball. This is a major difference for tennis players learning to play pickleball.
What are the similarities between tennis nets and pickleball nets?
- They are both made of nylon mesh. This strong and durable material allows the wind to pass through easily.
- They both have a metal cable running through the top. This cable helps to keep the net taut and prevents it from sagging.
- They both have two-inch white tape covering the metal cable. This tape helps to keep the ball from bouncing off the cable and keeps the net looking neat.
- They both have a dip in the middle. This dip is intentional and contributes to the competitiveness of the game.
- They are both supported by two posts. These posts are typically metal or plastic and anchored in the ground.
What are the differences between tennis nets and pickleball nets?
- Pickleball nets are shorter than tennis nets. The height of a pickleball net is 34 inches in the center and 36 inches at the posts, while a tennis net is 3 feet tall (36 inches) from the ground.
- Pickleball nets are strung tighter than tennis nets. This is because the ball used in pickleball is lighter than the ball used in tennis, so it needs to travel faster to reach the other side of the net.
- Pickleball nets are typically made of a lighter material than tennis nets. This is because pickleball courts are typically smaller than tennis courts, and the ball is lighter and larger. So the mesh can be lighter with a larger weave.
Summary of differences between tennis nets and pickleball nets
|Height at posts
|Height in the middle
|Nylon or polyester
|Nylon or polyester
|42 feet wide
|21 feet 9 inches wide
Does the net height make a lot of difference between the two sports?
The difference in net height between pickleball and tennis significantly impacts the gameplay and dynamics of each sport. In pickleball, the net height is set at a height of 34 inches (86.4 cm) at the center, which is considerably lower compared to tennis, where the net is set at 36 inches (91.4 cm) at the center. This difference has major implications for the game and each player’s strategy.
With the lower net height in pickleball, there is more emphasis on quick reflexes and agility. Anyone at the kitchen line knows this. With a lower net, you have a shorter distance to clear during your shots, making it easier to execute low and fast shots close to the net.
This works in your favor if you can react swiftly and can precisely place the ball rather than relying solely on power. The reduced height also increases the importance of the third shot drop, a strategic shot used to regain control of the point by softly dropping the ball over the net and forcing the opponent back. Additionally, the lower net makes it harder for players to generate powerful serves. It favors accuracy and placement over sheer pace.
On the other hand, the higher net in tennis alters the nature of the game. The increased net height requires your to hit the ball with more clearance and power, enabling them to execute deeper and more effective shots for offensive and defensive play.
The additional height presents a greater challenge for players at the net, as they need to be more adept at handling high shots and volleys. We sometimes call these players ‘bangers’.
So yes, the difference in net height between pickleball and tennis does impact the game. While pickleball favors agility, quick reflexes, and precise placement due to its lower net, tennis requires players to possess power, clearance, and adaptability due to its higher net. These distinct net heights contribute to the unique strategies and skill sets necessary for success in each sport. You throw in the ‘kitchen,’ and it is exciting”
Can you use a tennis net for pickleball?
Yes, you can if the net is adjustable or you are playing for fun. A tennis net is 42 inches at the posts and 36 inches in the center, while a pickleball net is 36 inches at the post and 34 inches at the center. It doesn’t seem like a big difference, but it makes a real difference in gameplay.
Some permanent tennis net systems are adjustable in height. While not common, they do exist. And given the number of tennis courts throughout the country, this really does increase your availability to courts to play. The Tennis Industry Association estimates that there are nearly 280,000 tennis courts nationwide.
I don’t recommend you play with a net that not to regulation size. I have learned that you don’t want to develop bad habits when playing.
Can you play pickleball on a tennis court?
Yes. You will need the line markers and a portable pickleball net. Or you can draw your own using chalk or temporary tape like painter’s tape. I am including a video that will walk you through this and how it is done.
Pickleball Line Marking kits are affordable and reusable. This is what I recommend you use.
How do you convert a tennis court to a pickleball court?
You can convert a tennis court to a pickleball court in a couple of ways. These include:
1. Use chalk or non-permanent tape
You can use chalk to draw the correct lines on the tennis court, or you can use non-permanent tape. Either will work. Following is a simple step-by-step guide:
- Bring the necessary materials: You will need chalk or painter’s tape, a measuring tape, and a broom or brush to clean the tennis court’s surface.
- Clean the court surface: Sweep or brush the tennis court to remove any debris, dirt, or loose particles that may interfere with the adherence of the chalk or tape.
- Measure the dimensions: Use a measuring tape to determine the correct dimensions for a pickleball court. A standard pickleball court measures 20 feet wide and 44 feet long for doubles play or 20 feet wide and 22 feet long for singles play. Make sure to take accurate measurements.
- Mark the corners: Starting from one end of the court, use chalk or tape to mark the four corners of the pickleball court. For example, if marking a doubles court, place a mark 10 feet from the net on each side and 22 feet from the baseline at the back of the court. Use the measuring tape to ensure accuracy.
- Connect the corner marks: Once you have marked all four corners, use the chalk or tape to create lines connecting the corner marks. For example, draw a line from one corner mark to the adjacent corner mark, and continue until you have a complete outline of the pickleball court.
- Add centerline and kitchen line: If you want to mark the centerline and kitchen line of the pickleball court, you can measure and mark those as well. The centerline runs perpendicular to the net, dividing the court into two equal halves. The kitchen line is located 7 feet from the net on both sides.
- Double-check the dimensions: Once you have finished marking the lines, use the measuring tape to verify that the dimensions of the pickleball court are accurate. Make any necessary adjustments if needed.
2. Temporary and Portable Line Kits
There are two types of line kits. Full lines and markers. They are an easy-to-use solution and save a lot of time.
Full Line Kit
Line marker kit
Portable Pickleball Net
There is a difference in net height between tennis and pickleball nets. Portable pickleball nets are a great choice whether you are converting a tennis court to play or you are playing on some other surface, such as a driveway, parking lot, street, or other.
Unless you have a tensioning device to lower the tennis net height to the pickleball regulation, I recommend using a portable pickleball net. This ensures you have the proper net height.
In this post, we take you through some of the best portable net systems.
How much does it cost to convert a tennis court into pickleball
Using chalk and drawing your own pickleball lines on a tennis court is cheap at $10-$30
Using pickleball line marking kits costs between $25-$80 and is fast and reusable.
Permanently turning a tennis court into pickleball courts can run north of $10,000 for one court.
Video – Tennis Court to Pickleball Court Line Marking
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you play pickleball with a tennis net?
Yes, but you will need a bungee or a tensioner of some type to pull the net down in the center to 34″ from 36″.
What is tennis net height?
A tennis net is 36″ high across the entire net.
What is a pickleball net height?
A pickleball net is 34″ in the center of the net and 36″ at the outside of the net.
How do you lower a tennis net for pickleball?
If you have a string, bungee, rope, or tensioner, you can wrap it around the net in the middle and draw it down so that it is 2″ lower than the ends. It should be 36″ on the outside at the posts and 34″in the center.
What are the best pickleball paddles for power and spin?
There are several great pickleball paddles for power and spin, including the Selkirk Vanguard Power Air Invikta (check on Amazon) and the Onix Evoke Premier (check on Amazon). Learn more in our post on The Best Power and Spin Paddles (2023)
What are the best portable ball machines?
There are several great portable pickleball ball machines. The top brands are Tutor, Lobster, and ERNE. Learn more in our post on the Top 8 Best Pickleball Ball Machines.
Featured Image Credit: PPA Pickleball Association