Pickleball vs Badminton Explained

Pickleball vs Badminton


Are you torn between badminton and pickleball? Both racket sports offer a fun and exciting way to stay active, but they differ in many aspects. In this article, we’ll dive into the world of “badminton vs pickleball” to help you make an informed decision on which game suits your preferences and skills better.

We’ll explore the rules, equipment, and playing styles of each sport, highlighting the key differences to guide you in choosing the perfect fit for your next game night or recreational activity.

The History of Badminton & Pickleball

Overview of Pickleball

Pickleball, a unique and rapidly growing racket sport, was invented in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Initially created as a backyard game for their families, pickleball has evolved into a beloved pastime enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels.

The objective of pickleball is to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net and into the opponent’s side of the court, similar to tennis or badminton. However, pickleball has its own distinct rules and gameplay that set it apart.

Rules and Gameplay:

  • Pickleball can be played as singles (1 vs. 1) or doubles (2 vs. 2).
  • Players score points by hitting the ball onto the opponent’s court in a way that it cannot be returned.
  • The game is played on a smaller court (20 feet x 44 feet) with a lower net (34 inches at the center) than a tennis court.
  • A unique feature is the “non-volley zone” (also known as the “kitchen”), a 7-foot area on each side of the net where players are not allowed to volley the ball.
  • Players must let the ball bounce once before returning it on the serve.
  • Games are typically played to 11 points, and players must win by a 2-point margin.


  • Paddles: Pickleball paddles are made of wood or composite materials, with a larger surface area than a tennis racket.
  • Ball: A perforated plastic ball with a slightly smaller circumference than a tennis ball, designed for a slower pace.
  • Court: A smaller court than a tennis court, with a low net and distinctive non-volley zones.

Overview of Badminton

Badminton is a thrilling racket sport with a rich history dating back to ancient civilizations. Its origins can be traced to India, where a game called “poona” was played as early as the 5th century BCE. The modern version of badminton emerged in the 19th century among British officers stationed in India.

The objective of badminton is to hit a shuttlecock (a lightweight, feathered projectile) over a net and onto the opponent’s side of the court. Players use lightweight rackets to strike the shuttlecock, employing various shots and strategies to outwit their opponents.

Here are the key aspects of badminton:

Rules and Gameplay:

  • Badminton can be played as singles (1 vs. 1) or doubles (2 vs. 2).
  • Players score points by hitting the shuttlecock onto the opponent’s court in a way that it cannot be returned.
  • The game is played on a rectangular court divided by a net.
  • Players must alternate serving and receiving, with the server having specific rules for serving diagonally.
  • Rallies continue until the shuttlecock touches the ground or a fault occurs.


  • Rackets: Lightweight rackets made of carbon fiber, graphite, or other composite materials are used.
  • Shuttlecock: A cone-shaped projectile made of feathers or synthetic materials, designed for aerodynamic flight.
  • Court: A rectangular court measuring 13.4 meters (44 feet) long and 6.1 meters (20 feet) wide for singles, with a net in the middle.

With its fast-paced rallies, strategic shot placement, and agility requirements, badminton is a thrilling sport enjoyed by players of all ages and skill levels worldwide.

What is the Difference Between Badminton and Pickleball?

Now that we’ve explored the fascinating histories of badminton and pickleball, you might be wondering, “What exactly sets these two racket sports apart?” While they share some similarities, there are distinct differences that make each game unique. Get ready to dive deeper into the key distinctions between badminton and pickleball as we compare and contrast various aspects of these captivating sports.

1. Pickleball Paddles vs. Badminton Racquets

  • Rackets/Paddles: Badminton uses lightweight rackets, while pickleball utilizes paddles with a larger surface area

2. Pickleball Balls vs. Badminton Shuttlecocks

  • Shuttlecock vs. Ball: Badminton uses a feathered shuttlecock designed for aerodynamic flight, while pickleball employs a perforated plastic ball with a slower pace.

3. Pickleball Courts vs. Badminton Courts

  • Badminton: A larger court measuring 13.4 meters (44 feet) long and 6.1 meters (20 feet) wide for singles play.
  • Pickleball: A smaller court measuring 20 feet x 44 feet, with a distinctive non-volley zone (kitchen) on each side of the net.

4. Pickleball Rules vs. Badminton Rules

  • Badminton: Players must serve diagonally, and the shuttlecock must travel over the net and land within the opposing court’s boundaries.
  • Pickleball: Players must serve underhand, and the ball must bounce once on each side before volleys are allowed. The non-volley zone adds a unique strategic element.

5. Pickleball Scoring System vs. Badminton Scoring System

  • Badminton: Players score points by winning a rally, and games are typically played to 21 or 30 points.
  • Pickleball: Points are scored only on the serving team’s turn, and games are typically played to 11 points with a 2-point margin required for victory.

Which Sport is More Popular, Pickleball or Badminton?

When it comes to popularity, both badminton and pickleball have carved out their own unique paths, captivating audiences worldwide. However, one sport has experienced a meteoric rise in recent years, while the other has maintained a steady following for decades. Let’s take a closer look at the popularity of these two racket sports and explore the factors that have contributed to their growth.

Badminton: A Global Phenomenon

Badminton has long been a beloved sport with a vast global reach. It boasts an impressive fanbase, with an estimated 220 million players across the world. This sport has deep cultural roots in Asian countries like China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and India, where it has been played for centuries.

Badminton’s inclusion in the Olympic Games since 1992 has further solidified its status as a major international sport. Top-tier tournaments, such as the Badminton World Championships and the prestigious Thomas and Uber Cups, attract millions of viewers and showcase the skill and athleticism of the world’s best players.

Pickleball: The Fastest-Growing Sport in America

While badminton has a rich history and global popularity, pickleball has emerged as a true phenomenon, particularly in North America. According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, pickleball has experienced a staggering 39.3% increase in participation from 2019 to 2021, making it the fastest-growing sport in the United States.

As of 2022, it’s estimated that over 4.8 million people play pickleball in the US alone, and this number continues to grow rapidly year over year. The sport’s appeal lies in its accessibility, social nature, and suitability for players of all ages and skill levels.

Pickleball’s surging popularity has led to the construction of dedicated courts in communities across the country, as well as the formation of leagues, tournaments, and even professional competitions like the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) Tour.

Factors Contributing to Popularity

Several factors have contributed to the growing popularity of these two sports:

  1. Accessibility: Pickleball’s smaller court size and slower pace make it more accessible for beginners and older adults, while badminton’s fast-paced rallies and agility requirements appeal to a broader range of age groups.
  2. Social Aspect: Pickleball’s popularity has been fueled by its social nature, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie among players. Badminton, while often played competitively, can also be enjoyed as a social activity.
  3. Media Coverage: Increased media coverage and exposure have played a significant role in the growth of both sports, with badminton benefiting from its Olympic presence and pickleball gaining attention through social media and dedicated TV channels.

While badminton maintains its position as a globally recognized and well-established sport, pickleball’s meteoric rise in popularity, particularly in North America, cannot be ignored. As these two racket sports continue to captivate players and spectators alike, their unique appeal and growing fan bases are a testament to the enduring allure of these exciting and engaging activities.

Transitioning to Pickleball from Badminton

If you’re a seasoned badminton player considering trying your hand at pickleball, you might be wondering how your skills will translate to this unique racket sport. While badminton and pickleball share some similarities, there are distinct differences that can make the transition a bit challenging. However, with the right mindset and preparation, you can leverage your existing badminton skills to excel in pickleball. Let’s explore some tips to help you navigate this transition smoothly.

Adjust to the Pace and Court Size

One of the most significant differences between badminton and pickleball is the pace of the game and the court size. Badminton is known for its lightning-fast rallies and larger court dimensions, requiring exceptional agility and footwork. In contrast, pickleball has a slower pace and a smaller court, which can initially feel confining for badminton players accustomed to covering a larger area.

To adapt, you’ll need to focus on developing court awareness and positioning. Instead of relying solely on your speed and agility, pickleball requires strategic placement and anticipation of shots. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the court layout, including the unique non-volley zone (kitchen area), and adjust your movements accordingly.

Modify Your Swing and Shot Selection

While badminton and pickleball both involve hitting a projectile over a net, the equipment and shot types differ significantly. In badminton, you use lightweight rackets and a feathered shuttlecock, allowing for a wider range of shots, including powerful smashes and overhead clears.

In pickleball, you’ll be using a solid paddle and a perforated plastic ball, which requires a different swing mechanics. Rather than relying on power and overhead shots, pickleball emphasizes precision, placement, and control. Focus on developing your dink shots (soft, low shots that land near the non-volley line) and mastering the third-shot drop (a strategic shot after the serve and return).

Embrace the Social Aspect

One of the unique aspects of pickleball is its social nature. Unlike the intense focus and concentration required in competitive badminton, pickleball often fosters a more relaxed and friendly atmosphere on the court. Embrace this opportunity to engage with fellow players, exchange tips, and enjoy the camaraderie that comes with this welcoming community.

Remember, the transition from badminton to pickleball is a learning process. Be patient with yourself, and don’t get discouraged if you struggle initially. Lean on your badminton experience, but also be open to adapting your skills and mindset to the nuances of pickleball. With time and practice, you’ll find yourself enjoying the unique challenges and social atmosphere that pickleball has to offer.


In Conclusion, while badminton and pickleball share similarities as racket sports, they have distinct differences in court size, equipment, rules, and gameplay that cater to different preferences. Badminton enjoys global popularity but pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America due to its accessibility and social nature. For badminton players transitioning to pickleball, adjusting to the slower pace, smaller court, different swing mechanics, and embracing the social aspects are key. Ultimately, understanding the nuances between these two sports can help players choose the one that best aligns with their skills and desired experience.


Q: Can I play pickleball on a badminton court?

A: No, the court dimensions and net height are different for pickleball vs badminton.

Q: Why do people like pickleball more than tennis?

A: It's easier on the body and joints. The court is smaller and games are quicker.

Q: Is pickleball just ping-pong?

A: No, pickleball is played on a badminton-sized court with a perforated plastic ball and solid paddles.

Q: Is pickleball an Olympic sport?

A: No, pickleball is not currently an Olympic sport.

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