Pickleball or Tennis: Discover the Right Sport for You!

June 17, 2024
Pickleball or Tennis: Discover the Right Sport for You!
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As the weather warms up and summer starts to roll in I am sure we’ve all started to hear the chatter around racquet sports. With Pickleball leading the charge as the fastest growing sport in North America, this is the summer to pick up a racquet sport! While the popular choice right now might be pickleball.... there are other racquet sports worth looking into. Tennis and pickleball share many similarities and many differences; we are here to help you figure out which is a better fit for you.

Before you can consider which racquet sport might appeal to you most let’s take a look at some of the benefits both Tennis and Pickleball offer; whether mental, physical, or social there are numerous benefits.

  • Mentally racquet sports encourage spit second decision making & problem solving; this helps to sharpen your planning and decision-making skills, as you must constantly anticipate and execute the next shot.
  • Physically there are numerous benefits as well as these sports both take use of your full body during play, providing you a great cardiovascular workout. Tennis and pickleball feature lateral movements which have been shown to improve your balance and weight shifting, which in turn can lower risks of falls and lower body injuries. One of the standout benefits of these sports is how they are lifelong sports, racquet sports are low impact; unlike some sports that may become increasingly challenging with age, racquet sports can be tailored to suit individual needs and preferences, making it accessible and enjoyable for everyone.
  • And of course, these sports offer numerous social benefits. It is well known that Frequent social contact is essential for a long and healthy life. In both Tennis and Pickleball you play against other people — either as a single or part of a doubles team — while other exercises like running, swimming, and cycling are more isolated activities.

With a well rounded list of benefits to both these sports it is no wonder you frequently see professional athletes speaking about their love of tennis or pickleball! 

Cross training is essential to being a well rounded athlete, this is only further reinforced by all of these amazing athletes who use racquet sports to up their game! Big names in sport such as Sidney Crosby, Lindsay Vonn, and Tony Romo are all tennis fans and players. Tennis is well known to be a favorite tools of hockey players; Henrik Lundqvist is quoted saying,

“The way you move out there: quick feet, up and down, a lot of movement side to side,” he said. “The workout is perfect for me, as it works pretty much the same muscles I use on the ice."

if his words aren't enough to convince you of the benefits, Dean Seymour the Manager of NextGen/player development for Hockey Canada says,

“The simplicity of hand-eye coordination with badminton and the racquet sports — [these are] all very transferable athletic movements that are required in forward, defense and goaltending,”

The passion for racquet sports continues into pickleball with Tom Brady; he is an avid player as well as being a part owner of a professional Pickleball team. He is not alone in his investment in the sport as LeBron James announced himself and other NBA players will be investing in a professional team; on his ownership team is Drew Brees.

Drew Brees Playing Pickleball


Brees describes himself as “an avid pickleball player, fan, and student of the game.” This must be true because he has even created a pickleball festival to benefit his foundation, the Brees Dream Foundation.

These athletes are leading the way in helping speak to the benefits of racquet sports, with all of this in mind let's look at pickleball and tennis individually and see which may fit your style more. 

Is Pickleball for You?

Pickleball is a sport you may not feel super familiar with, and that's fine. It's a newer sport and is built to be picked up very quickly. Pickleball is a sport of easy access, low cost, and low impact! One of the biggest positives around pickleball really is the ease of access for anyone, any age and any ability. You may have heard that pickleball is a game targeted to seniors but believe me this couldn't be farther from the truth, pickleball is a fun but challenging game for all ages! You can play with someone 20 years your senior or someone 20 years your junior, you will still have fun and get a workout in. 
One of the reasons people fall in love with pickleball is the instant gratification it offers, this sport is one where you can expect to be able to play a game with moments of success within your first hour or so! Of course, it is still a sport where there is skill development and over time it has a quick learning curve. If you are an athlete who thrives off some more immediate results with further development to improve this is the sport for you.
The pickleball bandwagon is only growing and now is the time to hop onboard; this sport will be a great fit for you if your goals in picking up a new sport are have fun, get a workout, play in a welcoming and jovial community, and finally, instant gratification in game play and skill development. 


Is Tennis for you?

Tennis is a racquet sport most people have some familiarity with, whether you’ve watched a tennis match on TV or have driven by the local courts, it is a sport found in most people's vocabulary. However, what many people do not realize is just how great the sport is, particularly to your overall wellbeing. Dr. Joan Finn of Southern Connecticut State University conducted a study around releasing stress and tension in your life and she found,
“tennis players scored higher in vigor, optimism and self-esteem while scoring lower in depression, anger, confusion, anxiety and tension than other athletes and non-athletes.”

While this is amazing for your overall wellbeing, there are also numerous benefits to your physical health; better aerobic fitness, improved bone health and strength, and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. 
One of the biggest barriers to picking up tennis can be the stigma around the community, tennis is often portrayed as a stuffy sport with antiquated etiquette and rules. However, this cannot be farther from the truth; while tennis does have rules of etiquette they are not without reason, the tennis community promotes teamwork and sportsmanship. Tennis teaches fair competition and sportsmanship, how to win and lose graciously. As someone who grew up in the tennis community, I can tell you it is a welcoming and friendly group.
One of the biggest differences in Pickleball and Tennis can perhaps be seen in the instant versus delayed gratification of play. As previously mentioned pickleball offering an instant gratification. Tennis on the other hand has more of a delayed gratification, appealing to players who thrive off of a slower and more focused skill development. While your first game of tennis may not have a lot of continuous rallies and game play; nothing will feel better than working to improve and then finally nailing a perfect shot with great technique. 
With all of the above points laid out it is fair to say tennis will appeal to you if you are looking for a healthy way to relive stress and tension, an intense cardio workout, a community focused on sportsmanship and socializing, and finally a more delayed gratification in game play and skill development. 

Whether pickleball or tennis is the sport for you, you’ll still need to gear up for your first match. We've put our heads together here and have put together some expert tips on how to pick your gear.


Gear Up for Pickleball

Let’s start with pickleball! You will need to ensure you have a paddle, balls, proper footwear, as well as some hydration. It is hard to argue that a paddle is not the most important piece of equipment, because it is. With this in mind there are four factors you need to consider with your paddle: 

  • The Shape 
  • The Grip 
  • The Weight 
  • The Materials 

The Shape: 

Pickleball paddles come in various shapes; however, let's look at the most popular shapes you will see; Standard, Widebody, and Elongated. The easiest way to think about shape is to remember: Standard for control and Elongated for power; and of course, a wide body being the compromise in the middle.  

Paddle Shape 


Wide Body 


  • Paddles 16 inches x 8 inches 
  • More Control 
  • Larger sweet spot, great for beginners 
  • 15.5 inches x 8.5 inches 
  • Balances power and control 
  • Largest sweet spot 
  • 16.5 inches x 7.5 inches 
  • Most power and reach 
  • Smallest sweet spot 


The Grip: 

The grip of a pickleball paddle refers to the length of the handle; these include Short, Standard, and Extended.  

Grip Length 




  • 5 inches or less 
  • More maneuverability 
  • ideal for players who use a one handed grip on their strokes 
  • 5.1 inches to 5.4 inches 
  • Most common grip and best suited for majority of players 
  • a balance of power and maneuverability 
  • 5.5 inches or more 
  • More power 
  • Ideal for players more comfortable using two handed grips on their strokes 


The Weight: 

The weight of a paddle is understandably important for an optimal fit, if a paddle is too light you will be missing out on your power capacity and if a paddle is too heavy it may be slow to move into position and you increase your risk of pickleball (tennis) elbow. Most paddles on the market are light, mid-weight, or heavy. Each offer an advantage as you can see below: 

Weight (oz.) 


Light (7.4 oz. - 7.7 oz.) 

Fantastic maneuverability/hand speed. Very easy to swing. 

Mid-Weight (7.8 oz. - 8.2 oz.) 

Common weight range for performance paddles. Balance of mobility and power. 

Heavy (<8.2 oz.) 

High-end performance paddles often fall in this range. Recommended for experienced players and very strong people. 


The Materials: 

When talking about the materials in a pickleball paddle there are two aspects to consider: the Core Material and the Surface Material. The core material of a paddle will most likely be polymer. Since the majority of the paddles have the same core you may be wondering why is there such a price range...? There are three factors that impact price: 

  1. Quality of Polymer: a higher quality polymer doesn’t breakdown as easily and gives a consistent feel across the face. 
  1. Core Density: The core of a paddle features honeycomb shaped cells of polymer. A higher density core uses smaller honeycomb cells. This gives the paddle a harder, firmer feeling and more power compared to bigger celled cores. 
  1. Core Thickness: a thinner core offers more pop or rebound. The thinner the core the more power and a smaller sweet spot. A thicker core offers more control with an even sweet spot and more forgiveness. 

The other piece to consider in materials is the Surface Materials; the paddle's face material impacts how much energy is absorbed or rebounded by the ball. This material significantly influences the paddle's performance, given that the face constitutes the paddle's largest area.  


Surface Materials 




  • Most common material on the market 
  • Offers more durability 
  • Ideal for all levels of players 


  • Lightweight and soft material that helps with touch and control 
  • Offers more power and control 
  • Is the top choice among competitive players 


  • Most popular face material  
  • Offers a textured surface for more spin and flexibility 

Carbon Fiber 

  • Known for their ability to generate power  
  • The most-durable paddles on the market 
  • Often features a textured surface for increased spin 


  • Combines several materials together to create a surface that offers the best characteristics that each has to offer 
  • Not as common but considered a good choice for all round athletes 



I know this may seem overwhelming.... you just wanted to pick up a paddle and now there's all of these factors. Don't worry, we have broken down a few of our paddles below here to fit with different players: 

Pickleball Paddles at United 



Best Suited For 

Gamma 405 

  • Shape = Elongated 
  • Grip = Standard 
  • Weight = Light 
  • Materials = Polymer Core, Graphite Surface 

Intermediate Players 

Wilson EchoTeam 

  • Shape = Standard 
  • Grip = Extended 
  • Weight = Heavy 
  • Materials = Polymer Core, Fiberglass surface 

All around players, mix of power and control 

Manta Canuck Pro 

  • Shape = Widebody / Elongated 
  • Grip = Standard 
  • Weight = Light 
  • Materials = Polymer Core, Fiberglass surface 

beginner players, lightweight and power 

    Once you’ve gotten set up with your pickleball paddle there are just a few things we recommend picking up before heading to your first match: 

    Gear up for Tennis

    Now that we’ve broken down how to buy a pickleball paddle let’s switch gears to Tennis. Much like Pickleball your racquet is the most important piece of equipment so let's look at the factors to consider when buying a racquet: 

    • Head Size 
    • Weight 
    • String Pattern  
    • Grip Size 
    • Balance 

    Head Size:

    Head Size of your racquet affects your power and control, with this in mind an easy way to look at it is:  

    Larger Headsize = More Power; Smaller Headsize = More Control

    With this in mind, a larger head size racquet is usually recommended to start in tennis, giving you the largest sweet spot and more surface area. A mid-sized or small racquet head is usually recommended for intermediate or advanced players. You can see a quick breakdown of sizes below: 

      • Mid Size = 85-96 sq inches 
      • Mid Plus = 96-106 sq inches 
      • Oversize = 107-115 sq inches 
      • Super Oversize = <116 sq inches 


    Racquet weight influences the swing on your strokes, both in speed and control. With this in mind you can see below the benefits of more weight or less in your racquet: 




    • Typically refers to any racquet under 10.5 oz. grams 
    • Provides greater control and maneuverability  
    • Players w slower, more compact strokes and smaller players 
    • Ideal for beginners or intermediate players 
    • Typically refers to any racquet over 10.6 oz. 
    • Provides greater power and less shock and vibration 
    • Aggressive players with powerful strokes, bigger players, more advanced skills 
    • Ideal for advanced players 


    String Pattern: 

    Your string bed is a factor with a lot of impact through your strokes; you’ll quickly notice an open string bed gives you more power while a denser arrangement offers more control over the ball. As a recommendation racquet should be strung from 53 to 55 lbs to start and adjust to your preferences as you play more. The final factor in your string bed is the material of the strings themselves, most players should be playing with a multifilament string, advanced players can transition to a polyester string. When you purchase your first racquet it will either come pre strung or will need to be strung, no worries at all since we sell pre strung racquets here AND we offer restringing in store!

    Grip Size: 

    Your grip size is simply dependent on your hand size and preferences, in the below chart you can see the size breakdowns. 

    Grip Size 


    4 inches 


    4 1/8 inches 


    4 ¼ inches 


    4 3/8 inches 


    4 ½ inches 


    5 inches 


    If you are unsure of your grip size the general rule of thumb is that size 2 is commonly a fit for women and size 3 is more common for men. If you are ever unsure it is better to size down in your grip, of course we would love to help you find your perfect fit in store with our experts! 

    And finally, Balance: 

    Your racquet balance varies depending on where the majority of the weight is in the racquet;  

    • A head light racquet means it has more weight towards the back or handle of the racquet often written as a balance length of < 330mm. This is usually a feature of heavier racquets and offers players greater speed and maneuverability in their swing. This is recommended for overall or volley players  
    • A head heavy racquet has more weight shifted towards the head of the racquet, often written as a balance length of > 350mm. You will see this feature in lighter racquets and it offers players more stability in your racquet head. This is recommended for baseline players 

        Just as it was with pickleball, this can seem overwhelming.... we have broken down our racquets here for you: 

        Tennis Racquets at United 



        Best Suited For: 

        Wilson H6 

        • Head Size: Mid Plus 
        • Weight: Light 
        • String Pattern: Open Stringbed 
        • Grip Size: available in multiple 
        • And Balance: Head Heavy 

        A beginner player looking for a balance of power and control 

        Yonex Osaka 

        • Head Size: Mid Plus 
        • Weight: Light 
        • String Pattern: Open Stringbed 
        • Grip Size: 3 
        • And Balance: Head Heavy 

        A beginner player looking for a balance of power and control. Larger grip size for larger hands. 


        Wilson Burn Spin 103 

        • Head Size: Mid Plus 
        • Weight: Light 
        • String Pattern: Open Stringbed (more dense pattern then above models) 
        • And Balance: Head Heavy 

        An intermediate player looking for power while maintaining some control 


        Just as before, once you’ve got your tennis racquet you are just about ready to play, a few things to pick up with your racquet are: 


        As we come to end of our racquet sport guide for 2024 we hope you’ve been able to see which sport might be the best fit for you and can now confidently gear up for your sport! Remember; pickleball is an awesome sport if you are looking for instant gratification while tennis may be a better fit if you thrive off delayed gratification for your work. We hope to see you on the courts this summer! 

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