Badminton vs. Pickleball: Exploring Two Popular Racket Sports

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Last Updated on 18/09/2023 by Kriss

Ever been caught in a volley of questions about Badminton vs. Pickleball? You’re not alone. These sports, while similar, have unique differences that make them distinct.

We’ll dive into these two fascinating worlds, exploring every similarity and difference. And guess what? There are surprising benefits you can reap from both!

By the end of it all, you won’t just be able to tell which shuttle belongs where – but also decide which game best suits your style! So let’s jump right in…

Comparing Badminton and Pickleball

If you’re a racket sports enthusiast, you’ve probably heard of badminton and pickleball. These two games might seem similar at first glance, but they offer distinct playing experiences.

Badminton is a game with roots in ancient civilizations over 2000 years ago but it was developed into the sport we know today by the British. It’s played with lightweight rackets and a shuttlecock on a rectangular court divided by a net.

Pickleball, however, has its origins in America during the mid-1960s. Named after one of its creator’s dogs ‘Pickles’, this game blends elements from tennis, table tennis, and yes—badminton. It’s typically played on smaller courts using solid paddles to hit perforated balls over nets.

The Nature of Play

In badminton matches, players make use of quick strokes, lightning-fast footwork, coupled with tactical shot placements that demand agility and stamina.

In contrast, pickleball gameplay emphasizes strategy over power or speed. Compared to badminton, pickleball is a slower sport. And while the fastest badminton smash is a staggering 565 km/h (351 mph) you should not think that pickleball is a slow-paced sport. Rallies can be pretty intense and fast as well.

Serving Styles: Underhand vs Overhand

  • Badminton: This game uses an underarm serving style where both feet must remain stationary until the service motion is completed, making serves a crucial part of strategies.
  • Pickleball: An underhand serve is also used, but players can only score points when they’re serving.
low serve
Short serve in badminton
Also read: Badminton Service Rules: 5 Essential Rules for Fair Play

Scoring System

The scoring systems of both games are also different. Badminton matches typically follow a best-of-three-games format where the first player or doubles team to reach 21 points wins each game. Unlike badminton, pickleball uses a slightly different approach; it’s usually played up to 11.

Both badminton and pickleball have to be won by a two-point margin. (23-21 or 14:12 for example) and both share a best-of-three-games format.

Wrapping it up, sure there’s a common thread between these sports – they’re all about swinging that racket. But the gameplay and rules are very different.

Key Takeaway: 

Both badminton and pickleball are racket sports, but they’re different in their own ways. Badminton, a game steeped in history, tests your agility and stamina with lightweight rackets and a shuttlecock. On the other hand, pickleball—a creation from America’s mid-1960s—blends aspects of tennis, table tennis, and badminton for strategic play that’s slower-paced yet fosters social interaction.

Equipment Needed for Badminton vs. Pickleball

If you’re about to start your journey into either badminton or pickleball, it’s crucial to get the right gear. But what exactly do you need? Let’s dive in.

Badminton Essentials

You don’t need much to be ready for an enjoyable badminton match. First off, every player needs a badminton racket. They’re specifically designed with thin shafts and light frames to allow quick wrist action.

Next comes the shuttlecock – unique to this sport. Unlike other ball sports, we use these feathered projectiles that have an incredible aerodynamic design. If possible, go for those made from real goose feathers as they offer better flight accuracy. We also have a basic starter equipment guide for badminton.

Pickleball Must-haves

Moving onto pickleball – think oversized ping pong on steroids. A must-have for pickleball is a solid paddle, larger than what’s used in table tennis but crafted from wood or graphite/polymer composites. It resembles a larger version of table tennis paddles but is constructed out of solid wood or composite materials like graphite and polymer.

The next essential item is the pickleball itself – smaller than wiffle balls but larger than ping pong balls. These hollow plastic spheres come with numerous round holes designed to control their flight during play.

Pickleball racket and ball.

Comparison of Court Sizes

Both badminton and pickleball have similar looking courts, but their dimension and also the net height differs:

A pickleball court is rectangular in shape and has a length of 44 feet (approximately 13.41 meters) and a width of 20 feet (approximately 6.10 meters). Unique to pickleball is a section near the net known as the non-volley zone, often referred to as the “kitchen”. This area extends 7 feet (around 2.13 meters) from the net on both sides. When it comes to the height of the net, it hangs at about 34 inches (around 0.86 meters) in the center and rises slightly to 36 inches (about 0.91 meters) at the sidelines.

On the other hand, a badminton court also has a rectangular shape. For doubles matches, the court spans a length of 44 feet (13.41 meters) and a width of 20 feet (6.10 meters). In singles matches, the width is slightly reduced to 17 feet (approximately 5.18 meters), but the length remains the same. The badminton net stretches across the width of the court, with a height of 5 feet 1 inch (around 1.55 meters) at the edges and dips slightly to 5 feet (1.52 meters) in the center.

So the outer bounds of the courts are actually the exact same size. But the height of the net and the dimensions for singles in badminton is slightly different. We also have a detailed guide for the dimensions of a badminton court.

Rules of Badminton vs. Pickleball

Badminton and pickleball, though both racquet sports, have distinct sets of rules that make each game unique. Let’s explore these differences in detail.

Serving Rules: From Diagonals to Boxes

In badminton, the server must hit from below waist level and into the opponent’s diagonal service box. Internationally the rule is not below waist level – but under 1,15m to make it fair for everyone.

In contrast, pickleball serving rules allow players to serve underhand behind their baseline. So the players are not standing within the lines of the court. In terms of serving boxes both games are similar. While you will mostly see short backhand serves in badminton – pickleball players serve long and with their forehand.

Basic badminton service rules
Basic serve boxes and rules for badminton. Pickleball shares the same boxes and rules for which side to serve from.

Faults: The Line is Fine

In both badminton and pickleball hitting the lines is considered “in”. There is one exception for pickleball though: If the server hits the line on the “kitchen” during a serve it is considered as a fault. We will dive more into the kitchen zone later on. In badminton, however, you are still allowed to hit the service line behind the net and it is still ‘in’.

Contact Points: Where You Can Hit Matters.

A significant rule difference lies within contact points with shuttlecocks and balls. For example, while playing badminton, players can strike at any height provided they do not cross over onto their opponent’s side of the net to play a shot. But if you switch gears to pickleball be prepared because shots need to bounce once before being returned after a serve – no volleying allowed until then. You can volley any shot, but the first one has to bounce once. And even after that, the ball is always allowed to bounce once in your court before you hit it. In this regard, pickleball shares a lot with tennis.

In badminton, the shuttlecock is not allowed to hit the ground. If the shuttle touches the ground on your side of the court before you hit it – you lose the point.

Obviously you lose a point in both sports if you hit the shuttle or ball outside the court.

Serving RulesBelow waist level, diagonally across court.Underhand serve, from baseline diagonally into the service court.
FaultsShuttle touches the ground, touches your body, double contactBall touches kitchen line during serve, touches your body, ball bounces twice, volley on the serve

The “Kitchen” Rule: Only in Pickleball.

In pickleball, there’s an unusual rule known as the non-volley zone or “kitchen”. You are not allowed to hin any volleys in this zone. If even only your foot touches the zone and you hit the volley you will lose the point.

The Kitchen. Source: on YouTube

Disciplines in Badminton and Pickleball

Both sports offer the same disciplines:

  • Doubles: Two players team up against another pair. It is either two men or two women in one team.
  • Mixed Doubles: The same rules apply as in doubles, but the team consists of one man and one woman. While the rules are the same, the strategies on-court often differ from classic doubles since the dynamic is different
  • Singles: One player competes against another. In pickleball, the court stays the same. In badminton, however, the inner sidelines are used and the service rules differ a little bit from doubles.

Scoring in Badminton vs. Pickleball

When it comes to scoring, badminton and pickleball have distinct rules. Let’s explore the nuances of both sports.

Badminton Scoring System

In badminton, a point is scored when you serve and win the rally. The game carries on until one player achieves a two-point lead or hits 30 points before the other, as they need to have at least a margin of two points in order to win. If the score reaches 20-20, play continues until one player gets a two-point lead or hits 30 points first.

A match typically consists of two games where players switch ends after each game. A third deciding game is played when both badminton players have won one set. Players also change sides halfway through the third game if it happens (when the first player to reach 11 points).

Pickleball Scoring Rules

Pickleball operates on quite different terms from its counterpart sport. It follows what we call the ‘serve-side-out’ system – only the serving team can score points. Check out this guide for a detailed explanation of pickleball scoring.

The server keeps serving until they lose a point – then their teammate serves next; once both members lose their service turn, that concludes their side’s chance to gain points during that rotation. The winning number for pickleball is eleven; however, like with badminton’s ruleset above—games must be won by at least two clear margins.

  • Note: While serving, you must say the score out loud. The sequence is: your team’s score, opposing team’s score, and then either 1 or 2 to signify if it’s the first or second server. So for example 3:1 2 means you lead with 3 points vs. 1 for the opposing team and it’s the second server for your team. The last number can be ditched if you play singles.
Key Takeaway: 

Badminton and pickleball have their own distinct scoring systems. In badminton, you rack up points by winning rallies, aiming for a total of 21 points with a lead of at least two to claim victory. Pickleball uses the ‘serve-side-out’ method where only the team that’s serving can score; they need to win by a clear margin of at least two.

Fun fact: Badminton used to have a similar system where you could only score when you had the serve. Games could be very long if both players were on the same level. Currently, a 11-point system is also being discussed again by the BWF.

Strategies for Playing Badminton vs. Pickleball

Pickleball and badminton share some similarities, but the strategies to excel in each game are unique. Let’s break it down.

Badminton Strategies

To shine in badminton, control, and technique are key. Keep your opponent on their toes by changing up the pace and direction of your shots frequently. This tactic will keep them guessing and might give you an edge.

Badminton is a physical sport that not only demands good shape but also perfect technique. There are different play styles. Some focus on their pure attack while some focus on stamina. Each player is different and this is what makes it such a fun game.

Lee Chong Wei Smash
A strong smash can win you many points in badminton.

Pickleball Strategies

In pickleball, patience wins games. The sport encourages a slower pace compared to its racquet counterparts with more emphasis on accurate shot placement rather than power smashes as seen here.

Avoiding unforced errors is another important part of pickleball strategy; remember that letting your opponents make mistakes often leads to points gained.

The Importance of Footwork in Both Sports

In both sports, footwork can’t be underestimated – being light on one’s feet allows swift movements around the court aiding offensive strikes or defensive returns.

Finding Your Sweet Spot Between Power And Precision In Each Sport

Sometimes brute force isn’t always best when it comes to racket sports – finesse plays a significant role too. A powerful smash can be a game-changer in badminton, but a well-placed drop shot may just do the trick in pickleball.

So remember, each sport requires its own set of strategies. Whether you’re serving up an ace on the badminton court or volleying for victory at the pickleball net, mastering these tips will give your game some serious boost.

Key Takeaway: 

Badminton’s penalty card system isn’t so different from other sports like football and rugby. Yellow cards serve as warnings, two of them leading to a red card which is similar in football too. However, badminton takes it a step further with the black card – an immediate game over. This unique structure keeps player behavior in check while maintaining match momentum.

Benefits of Playing Badminton vs. Pickleball

Playing either badminton or pickleball brings about physical and mental benefits that can help you lead a healthier lifestyle. Let’s take a gander at each of the two sports independently.

The Perks of Playing Badminton

Badminton, known for its fast-paced nature, provides an excellent cardiovascular workout. The constant running, jumping, and smashing during the game boosts heart rate, which improves blood circulation in your body.

This racket sport also strengthens muscles as it requires arm swings and leg movements. More so than many realize. Plus, because the shuttlecock moves swiftly from one end to another end of the court; this helps improve reflexes too.

Pickleball Health Benefits

Pickleball is often compared to table tennis but played on a larger scale with bigger paddles – something like oversized ping pong. It might seem slower-paced compared to badminton but don’t be fooled by appearances.

A match demands both upper and lower body strength while engaging core muscles due to quick lateral movements involved in hitting the ball back and forth across netted courts. This promotes better balance control while keeping players active physically (source).

Both sports offer great health benefits but beware that they are also high-impact sports (especially badminton). So go easy on your joints to prevent injuries.

Key Takeaway: 

Playing badminton or pickleball can boost your health and mind. Badminton, with its fast pace, amps up cardiovascular fitness and reflexes while strengthening muscles. Pickleball demands body strength, promoting balance control. Both sports stimulate brain activity by requiring strategic planning – plus they’re fun stress relievers. But remember: safety first.

Popularity of Badminton vs. Pickleball

When it comes to the popularity stakes, badminton and pickleball have their unique charm. While badminton is widely recognized as a global sport, pickleball’s growing fandom can’t be ignored.

In many parts of Asia and Europe, badminton holds sway. When it comes to participation – badminton is actually the second most popular sport in the world! (Source)

Pickleball has been winning hearts too. It started out as an American backyard pastime but today you’ll find people playing across continents. According to statistics over 35 million people play pickleball regularly – that’s no small feat for such a young game (Source).

The Battle for Attention: Online Popularity

The digital world tells its own tale about these sports’ popularity. If we’re talking Google searches, ‘badminton’ tends to get more hits globally while ‘pickleball’ reigns supreme in North America.

Social media engagement? Here again, both games see some action but with slightly different fan demographics – younger crowds seem drawn towards badminton posts while older folks lean into sharing about their latest pickle match.

Affordability Factor

Now let’s discuss affordability because it does influence which game gains more traction among newcomers. Generally speaking, both sports are relatively low-cost to start. But pickleball tends to edge out badminton slightly when it comes to the cost of equipment.

Remember, popularity doesn’t equate to superiority – both sports offer unique benefits and enjoyment. So why not give them both a try?


So, we’ve come a long way in understanding the dynamics of Badminton vs. Pickleball.

We’ve seen how they differ – from court size to equipment. We’ve dissected their unique scoring systems.

We’ve touched on strategies and techniques that could give you an edge. And most importantly, we realized both games offer amazing benefits for our body and mind.

Pickleball or Badminton? It’s your call! Each sport has its charm and challenge. So grab a racket (or paddle) and let’s hit some shuttles…or balls!

No matter what you choose, just remember: it’s not about winning but enjoying the game!

FAQs in Relation to Badminton vs Pickleball

Can I play badminton on a pickleball court?

Sure, you can. But keep in mind that the court size and net height differ, which may affect your game.

Which sport is most similar to pickleball?

Tennis, table tennis, and badminton all share many similarities with pickleball in terms of rules and gameplay style.

What 3 sports is pickleball like?

Pickleball blends elements from tennis, table tennis, and badminton into its unique style of play.

Is pickleball the easiest sport?

Ease varies by person but generally speaking, yes. Pickleball’s simpler rules make it more accessible for beginners compared to other racket sports.

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