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12 Sports Similar to Pickleball (Alternatives)

Couple playing pickleball together on an open court.


Like tennis, this game can be played by two people or by one person. Meanwhile, the court dimensions are the same as in badminton. The rackets used are sturdy paddles. Paddles are often made of wood. However, composite materials are also acceptable.

To play pickleball, you can only strike the ball at waist level, while in tennis and badminton, players have more leeway in where they hit the ball. Then, an underhand stroke is used to serve.

Players provide their opponent’s opportunities to score by punishing errors (such as failing to return the ball, entering the no-volley zone, or hitting the ball beyond the court’s boundaries). The winner is determined by the number of points scored on each player’s serve, with the first player to score 11 points (15 or 21 points in tournaments) winning by a two-point margin.

Games Similar to Pickleball

Here are some popular games that are similar to pickleball, whether by rules, gameplay, court size, balls, or all the aforementioned. They all have unique features as well. These are all exciting games because they involve more than one person, are family-friendly and many are versatile indoors and outdoors.

1. Padel

Friends playing Padel in an indoor court.

Tennis and squash are combined in Padel (or Padel tennis). It’s a social and exciting racket sport. This is a great game for people of all ages and skill levels since it emphasizes strategy over brute force.

Service in Padel and Pickleball is played by hitting the ball below the waist. Pickleball is played similarly to badminton but without the need for a bounce before each shot, while padel requires a bounce before each shot.

It’s played in doubles on a court roughly a third the size of a regular tennis court constructed of glass and mesh. The game’s accessibility across ability levels makes it great for gatherings with friends and relatives.

Padel (or Padel tennis) mixes tennis and squash. It’s a lively racket sport that brings people together. Since success in this game depends more on strategy than on brute strength, it can be enjoyed by players of many ages and skill levels.

It’s played in doubles on a court roughly a third the size of a regular tennis court constructed of glass and mesh. The game’s accessibility means that members of all skill levels can enjoy it together, making it great for households.

2. Paddle/ Pop Tennis

A shadow of a Pop Tennis player.

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The modern tennis game of “Pop Tennis” is an adaptation of the more classic paddle tennis. Pop tennis is played with the same racquets and regulations as traditional tennis. However, individuals get an underhand serve and the courts are shorter and the racquets have no strings.

It can be played year-round, both indoors and outdoors, by people of varying ages, and on courts ranging in length from 50 to 60 feet. Similar strategies apply to both pickleball and paddle tennis, two tennis versions.

The object of the game is to hit a little ball over the net and out of the grasp of your opponent. They have to swing a racquet to hit it, plus the ball has to contact the ground within the court’s limits to count for a point.

An Episcopal preacher named Frank Peer Beal created the game in the Bronx in 1915. He lobbied the city’s parks and recreation department to install basketball courts at Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village so that local kids would have a place to play.

The game was played in 500 U.S. cities by 1941. Tennis is a racquet sport, but Platform Tennis is a separate game altogether.

3. Squash

Couple playing squash game indoor.

Squash can only be played in a confined space. The goal of this game is to strike the ball against the front wall, and players take turns doing so. Those who do not comply will suffer a one-point deduction. The court is also rectangular, like in Pickleball. A set is considered won when the first player reaches 11 points.

If you can win the match in three sets out of five, you will. World Squash Federation (WSF) tournaments are organized regularly throughout the year for those who wish to compete at the highest professional level.

It’s common for squash players to have a specific grip on their rackets, much like pickleball players do with theirs. When the ball is coming from the side, as it so often does, that grip on the racket is ideal for making a side shot.

Squash is played frequently by about 20 million individuals in 185 different countries across the world. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognizes the World Squash Federation (WSF) as the sport’s regulatory organization; but, despite numerous applications, squash has yet to be included in the Olympic Games.

Many people are still pushing for it to be included in an upcoming Olympic schedule. The PSA is responsible for coordinating the professional squash circuit.

4. Beach tennis

Two ladies playing Beach tennis double.

With its shared usage of nets and racquets, beach tennis can be compared to the popular sport of pickleball. It’s obvious from the name that this is a game best enjoyed on the sand.

Beach tennis and beach tennis in the United States are two distinct but related forms of the game. Both involve the use of a racquet and a tennis ball. However, while paddle tennis is played with a paddle, tennis is played with a racquet and adheres to beach volleyball rules.

The first recorded instance of beach tennis was played in the early 1970s by tennis players on holiday in Lido Degli Estensi utilizing their rackets and the volleyball nets already there on the beach. Torredembarra, Spain was the site of the first game ever played according to the present rules, which were established back in 1976. In 1978, Torredembarra hosted the inaugural championship.

After that (with a few exceptions), it has been held annually on the same beach. There are an increasing number of inland and indoor courts in Italy, and the sport has made its way to the beaches along the coast as well, with an estimated 1,600 beach-tennis nets currently in use. Somewhere around 250,000 Italians play beach tennis regularly.

5. Racquetball

Two friends playing Racquetball outdoor.

The sport of Racquetball is worth investigating if none of the foregoing piques your interest. One key feature that sets this apart from pickleball and similar racket sports is the lack of a net. However, the court is still rectangular and separated into serve receiving and service zones, much like in pickleball.

You can play the game in either a controlled indoor setting or the great outdoors. A racquetball racket is required for play—view it as a cross between a tennis racquet and a paddle or a stringed paddle. The rubber hollow-core variety is employed for this purpose.

Joseph G. Sobek, a native of the area, is widely credited as the creator of the sport of racquetball. With an eye on boosting his physical activity levels, he created the game at the Greenwich YMCA. The YMCA has a plaque commemorating this occasion from the 1950s.

6. Badminton

Athlete playing Badminton indoor.

It is believed that the game of badminton originated in ancient Egypt and Greece as a game played by youngsters. When the British army was stationed in India in the 18th century, they found it.

Badminton, like pickleball, is played using rackets, though they are of a different design. Except, in this case, the object being struck is a shuttlecock rather than a ball. This game is very similar to pickleball, and it can be played either between two individuals (as a “single”) or between two teams of two (four total) (doubles).

Every badminton match consists of three sets, and the victor is determined by taking two sets or more. In the standard style, the first team to reach 15 points wins the game. However, there is now an established template for gathering support. The winner is the squad that reaches 21 points first.

Over two thousand years ago, the Chinese region of Siam was home to the first badminton courts. In 1870, it was introduced to England, where it was played in a fashion similar to tennis. Played for the first time in Canada in 1929, badminton quickly gained popularity across the United States.

At speeds of up to 100 miles per hour, badminton is played by birds at the Olympics, where it has been played since 1992.

7. Soft Tennis

Soft tennis ball and paddle on a white background.

If the pickleballs’ abrasiveness and/or volume are your primary concerns, you may find what you’re searching for in soft tennis. Softballs are used in place of the standard lawn tennis ball.

Played on a court that is larger than a standard pickleball court but otherwise the same shape, this sport also features both singles and doubles competition. The rules for scoring and determining a winner are the same as those used in lawn tennis.

Unlike traditional tennis, soft tennis is played with rubber balls rather than felt ones. When the Asian Games were initially held, Soft Tennis was not among the events.

8. Table Tennis

Family happily playing table tennis outdoor.

Table tennis is another exciting racket sport to try. The American version of the name is “Ping Pong.” The popularity of this game, which originated in England, has led to its spread across the globe. Chinese table tennis players have been unbeatable in international competition for the better part of two decades.

A square or round table won’t do for the sport of table tennis. A net placed in the middle of the table finishes off the setup. A lightweight and compact plastic ball and little rackets comparable to pickleball paddles are used.

You can play this game both as a single and a doubles competition, much like pickleball. There are 7 sets in each match, and the winning team needs to amass a 21-16 advantage in points.

As a trading name, “Ping-Pong” was coined in England at the turn of the twentieth century. After the original Ping-Pong Association, founded in 1902, was reactivated in 1921 and 1922, the sport was officially renamed table tennis.

9. Pitton

Pitton is a racquet-based activity that is played with a hard pickleball paddle and a shuttlecock. The game evolved from combining elements of badminton and pickleball. You can play either solo or with a partner, like in pickleball. In the United States, the piston was first documented in use at Heatherwood Middle School.

Typically played on a court that is 44 feet long and 20 feet wide, the piston is an inside game. A net in the center of the court creates two halves. The perimeter and center of the net are both 5 feet in height, while the edges are 5 feet 1 inch high.

A line 6 ft 6 in from the goal divides each half horizontally, and a second line divides the back half vertically into two equal sections. The doubles court has an extra two feet added to each side. It’s common practice to mark the court for both doubles and singles play.

10. Speed-ball

Speedball is an action-packed game that borrows rules and strategies from a wide variety of sports. Putting the ball into the other team’s net for a point. The game is played on a football field or basketball court between two teams of five or more players, each with a goaltender (depending on the variant).

Although the racquets are different, Speedball requires all the same skills as pickleball and is played at a much faster tempo. If you are the type of person who enjoys a fast-paced, physically demanding, and entertaining game, then this is the course for you.

It was invented in 1921 by University of Michigan Professor Elmer D. Mitchell. Elmer, a professor of physical education, wanted to create a game that wasn’t bound by the specific regulations of any existing sport.

To include more students, particularly the less athletic ones, he invented the sport. Players and coaches from New Jersey’s Millburn High School were instrumental in the sport’s first rise to prominence and subsequent revival.

When it reached critical mass in the Millburn area, it was made available as a legitimate elective option for students taking physical education courses. It is becoming a common staple in American secondary school PE programs. This activity has yet to gain widespread popularity among high school and club groups.

11. Basque Pelota

A Basque Pelota player on a white background.

This sport, with its origins in Spain, is widely regarded as the world’s quickest-moving ball game. So, if you’re looking for something to satisfy your craving for speed in a racquet sport, go no further. At present, Basque Pelota is managed by the American gaming corporation Jai Alai. It’s similar to pickleball in that it’s a racquet sport played with a ball and multiple courts.

Playing Pelota in the Basque Country requires only one hand. A wooden bat, racket, or frontis/fronton are all viable options for the implementation of choice (basket placed along a wall). Played most frequently in a doubles configuration, with the court typically divided by a net or a line placed on the ground. The rules of play are governed by the Basque Pelota International Federation.

Because of the ancient game of jeu de Paume’s demise around the year 1700, this sport got its start. Communities in the remote Alpine and Pyrenean regions have kept the custom alive even as the sport has evolved into the contemporary jeu de paume (with the racquet, termed real tennis in England) and, eventually, lawn tennis.

Local variations of paume in the Basque Country gave rise to the unique style of the pilot; instead of playing head-to-head with a net in the center, the Basques started flinging the ball against a wall.

12. Paleta Frontón

In 1945, Lima became the birthplace of Peru’s national sport, paleta frontón. This game evolved from two different sports: the Spanish settlers’ “pelota vasca” and the indigenous “pelota mano,” which the English misnamed “handball.” This activity resembles squash but is performed in an open area. This game is played on a court with paddles and a ball, just like pickleball.

To play paleta frontón, you’ll need a black rubber ball and glass fiber, carbon fiber, or wooden paddle. The Peruvian oak used to craft the paddle is often harvested in areas with easy access to water.

The fronton court features a field and, in front of the field, a concrete wall. The length of the concrete barrier is 16 feet, and its height is 20 feet. The dimensions of the court are 39 by 25 feet. In the same way, that tennis courts have lines to demarcate the playing area and the receiving areas, these courts have such lines.

The service zone is the area of the court closest to the baseline. At the start of each point, players take their places in one of two vertically separated areas of the other part. The serve must hit the wall and fall into the opposite court’s zone.