Are Pickleball Rackets and Pickleball Paddles the Same?

A blue/black pickleball racket on the left and a red/gray pickleball paddle on the right placed on a purple backdrop

The sport known as pickleball has gained popularity in recent times since it combines the features of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. As it is with any sport, playing pickleball correctly depends on having the right kind of gear where a paddle and racket become necessary.

Nonetheless, there seems to be some confusion among novices when they hear these two terms used interchangeably or if there exists a distinction between them at all. Let’s clear all of this by differentiating between pickleball paddles and pickleball rackets while assisting you to pick out appropriate tools for your game.

Pickleball Racket vs. Pickleball Paddle

When you start to play pickleball, you will frequently hear individuals inquire about what sets apart a pickleball paddle from a pickleball racket. Is it acceptable to use either one? Which one should I buy? Let’s compare these pieces of gear and find out the things that make them similar and different.

Feature Pickleball Racket Pickleball Paddle
Shape Typically oval or rounded shape, similar to a tennis racket Generally rectangular or slightly elongated shape
Size Larger head size compared to a paddle Smaller head size compared to a racket
Material Made of lightweight materials such as graphite or aluminum Usually made of composite materials like fiberglass or carbon fiber
Weight Generally heavier than paddles Typically lighter compared to rackets
Grip Often has a similar grip to tennis rackets May have a specialized grip for better control
Usage Commonly used in more competitive or advanced play Suitable for all skill levels, from recreational to competitive
Maneuverability Less maneuverable due to larger head size More maneuverable due to smaller head size
Swing and Power Offers more power in shots due to weight and head size Offers control and precision due to lighter weight
Strings/Texture Uses strings similar to tennis rackets Smooth surface, sometimes with a textured face
Player Preference Preferred by some players who transition from tennis Popular among beginners and casual players

In the course of a pickleball game, players use paddles and rackets to strike the ball. These implements are made of materials such as wood, graphite or composites which are lightweight so that they can be easily handled on the court. Despite some similarities they each have their own unique features.

Also Read: What is Pickleball? A Glimpse of One of the Most Popular Sport

Shape & Size

A pickleball racket and pickleball paddle are different mostly in their shape and size. A Pickleball racket resembles much with the regular tennis racket; it has got a long handle with either a round or oval head shape. This enables players to hit the ball more powerfully and accurately because of the larger surface area and increased length that comes with it.

However, it is crucial to be absolutely unbiased while discussing these two objects. In terms of shape though, the rackets look elongated like an oversized table tennis bat having square ends instead of round ones. Additionally, it becomes easier to control the ball on precise shots with its smaller surface area and handle.


Grip of pickleball racket on the left and paddle on the right placed on a pink background

In addition, another feature distinctive for each is their grips. Conventional grips are a characteristic of the longer handles found on rackets used for playing pickleball which are very similar to those used on tennis rackets.

On the contrary, for better control over balls wrapped materials like rubber are commonly used around smaller handles known as paddles meant specifically designed for this sport called pickleball. This grip is intended for single-handed use, which provides players with more wrist action and spin when hitting the ball.

Also Read: Pickleball Vs Tennis: What’s the difference?

Weight & Balance

Selkirk Evo Pickleball paddles in black, purple, green colors with white handle and grip

There is also a difference in weight and balance between pickleball rackets and paddles. Usually, a pickleball racket weighs 9-14 ounces making it heavier than the paddle and has its weight distributed more towards both ends equally (head and handle).

This means that they give more power to the shots but can strain the wrist or arm more. On the other hand, the paddle is lighter at 7-10 ounces with a slightly top-heavy balance thereby allowing quicker response times while causing less fatigue on an individual’s arm muscles however this may lead to weaker hits as well.

Rules & Scoring System

4 people playing tennis and pairing depicting the server, receiver, and 1st and 2nd bounce

The way points are scored and the rules are applied in pickleball are different from those in traditional racquet sports such as badminton. Pickleball uses the same scoring system as badminton does, which is known as the rally point system. In this system, only the serving team is capable of getting points till they lose the serve. The set is usually over when either side gets to eleven points.

Which One is More Common in the Pickleball Community?

Some players call this sport pickleball paddles because it is what they are used to especially those who were previously tennis players. They’ve played various racquet sports, so it’s embedded in their language and prefer some of the best pickleball rackets.

However, inside the pickleball community itself, the term “paddle” is more frequently used. It’s said to set pickleball apart from other sports like squash or tennis. However, what makes best pickleball paddles more favorable as opposed to rackets by most players is the peculiar nature of the game.

Pickleball was created as a combination of badminton, tennis, and ping pong which has its own regulations and rules. In comparison to traditional tennis, this game is played on a smaller court using a different kind of ball. These things demand for the use of an exclusively designed paddle rather than the regular racket.

Also Read: Differences Between Pickleball Vs Paddleball

So, Which One Should You Go for?

Two blue/black Paddletek Phoenix 66 and Bantam EX-L pickleball paddles place on a green surface

While a few of those in ease playing pickleball paddles are said to be somehow similar to traditional rackets, this is not the case primarily because both items are used differently however they share minimal features. This is why they call them paddles; for their size, shape, materials and rules which are specific only to them not even being rackets at all. If the game is new for you don’t get worried about its language. Take your paddle then go out in the field enjoying this fun-filled sport!