tennis vs pickleball fitness

Tennis VS Pickleball | Comparison | Tennis Fitness

tennis vs pickleball fitness

Can playing pickleball help your tennis game?

Over the past year we have had lots of inquiries from our tennis community asking questions like:

– Will your tennis fitness programs help me with my pickleball game?

– I play tennis and pickleball what are the main areas I need to train?

– I just started playing pickleball will it negatively impact my tennis?

So this blog aims to shed some light on the similarities between tennis vs pickleball and how much positive cross-over pickleball will have on your tennis game…. Let’s go!

With the global rapid rise of pickleball, I was curious to know physically how demanding it was. I have a half-size tennis court at home that I converted into a pickleball court and started playing pickleball singles and doubles a few times a week. I was surprised over the coming months how physically and mentally challenging it was and how it compared to tennis in these areas.

Tennis fitness


My personal evaluation after 4 months of playing pickleball:

  • Gluts and hamstrings – Wow these guys get worked hard, spending so much time on the kitchen line at the net, leaning forward and down low really challenges your posterior chain. This is great by the way as long as we are stretching these areas out and strengthening them to support the load. (Check out our Yoga Program here)
  • Reaction time – Spending so much time on the net really works your reaction skills. My hand-eye coordination has definitely improved.
  • Point length – Compared to the length of a typical tennis point I would play, I found my pickleball points involved a lot more hitting of shots and were slightly longer in duration.
  • Patience – I realized the more patient I was the more points I won. I found it hard to win easy points, I had to craft points out.
  • Court movement – Playing singles my court movement was short and dynamic with lots of deep lunging to retrieve low dinks. Covering the net I found needs lots of reaction and dynamic initial movement.
  • Doubles vs Singles – I found doubles a lot easier physically obviously only covering half the court, but my focus had to be on constantly playing doubles waiting for the chance to play a shot. Due to the small space and speed of play communication must be on point playing doubles. Physically singles was very tough, playing points with not much rest between points takes its toll.
  • I love the game – It is fun and challenging. I also find it very social, being so close to each other on a small court makes it very interactive.
  • It is physically and tactically challenging – Because you are on a small court and aim to spend as much time at the net as possible, there is lots of hitting and movements are very repetitive. This makes the game really challenging for your body. Trying to work out how to win points easily takes concentration and problem-solving (I love this about the game).
  • You need to train away from playing to prevent injuries – Injury risk areas = Lower back, wrist, elbow, and ankles. If you play PB, you need to be doing the work to keep yourself fit and healthy. I found I got very tight in the hamstrings and lower back. My Glutes and hamstrings have definitely got stronger since playing. I did extra work to specifically strengthen and stretch out these areas with great effect. I am sure I would have had issues if I had not done this.

Tennis VS Pickleball

Tennis and Pickleball Comparison

Although both sports are racket sports and are played on similar surfaces, both use nets to me they feel very different, and I do not think there are any major crossovers between the 2 sports. If you were to play pickleball to help your tennis game the main areas I feel you benefit from would be; reaction/coordination, first-step acceleration, and strategic skills. Depending on how you play pickleball if you are like me and like to bend your knees to get low rather than leaning forward and hinging from the hip you will definitely get stronger and more dynamic through the legs, this would be a massive win for your tennis game.

Here are my personal observations about Tennis VS Pickleball:

tennis vs pickleball

There is a lot of global hype around pickleball, it is one the fastest-growing sports globally and has been number 1 in the US for the past 5 years. I think a lot of participation comes down to the fact it is easy to learn and play, physically the majority of people can play pickleball at a basic level on their first go which in my opinion encourages them to keep playing. Compared to tennis which is technically extremely challenging to learn from scratch. Pickleball seems to be attracting people who want to try a new sport that is exciting and easy to learn and play. Also, for people who have had to stop tennis due to injury restrictions (knees, shoulders in particular) Pickleball offers them a chance to play a racket sport with less movement involved and very minimal overhead swinging.

The size of a pickleball court is 81 square meters, and the size of a tennis court is 260 square meters. Given the size difference, it is easy to work out that there is a lot more court to cover playing tennis which leads to longer general lengths of movement between shots and also more power output required per general shot, plus the fact the serve in tennis is typically overhead compared to under arm in pickleball makes tennis technically and physically more challenging to play.


So do you need to be doing off-court training to boost your on-court tennis and pickleball game?

Definitely! Both sports require high levels of flexibility and strength, if you are not training in these areas you are at high risk of injury. For your tennis training programs go here. For your pickleball programs stay tuned we have something coming 😀

To improve court movement (tennis speed and agility) you need to work at the right intensity and follow the right exercises, check this out.

I hope my own personal experiences have helped you understand the crossover and comparison between tennis vs pickleball. We look forward to bringing you more pickleball information over the coming months!

As always if you need help in any shape or form please reach out!


tennis-trainer-nathan-martin tennis vs pickleball

Nathan Martin – Strength and Conditioning Trainer

Nathan has worked on the ATP and WTA circuits since 1999, including a spell as head tennis trainer at the renowned Sanchez Casal tennis academy in Barcelona.

He works currently with Lleyton Hewitt while developing new programs to take tennis fitness forward and empower the next young group of players coming through.



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