a spec tennis paddle and balls on a tennis court. Spec tennis vs pickleball

Spec tennis and pickleball are fun and challenging racquet sports, but what’s the difference? Learn more about the critical differences between spec tennis and pickleball, including court size, equipment, rules, and gameplay.

Spec Tennis, also known as paddle tennis, offers a fast-paced experience on a smaller court than traditional tennis. The paddles used in Spec Tennis are smaller than standard tennis rackets, and the balls are softer, resulting in a less physically demanding game. This accessibility attracts players of all ages and skill levels, making it an inclusive choice for those seeking an enjoyable, lower-impact racquet sport. Conversely, pickleball is a relatively new sensation in the sports world, characterized by its growing popularity. It takes place on a court smaller than tennis.

Spec Tennis vs Pickleball: History and Origins

Pickleball: This sport, created in 1965, was the brainchild of Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. It originated on Bainbridge Island, Washington, as a family-friendly game but has since evolved into a global sensation. The sport is known for its simplicity and versatility.

Spec Tennis: Nate Gross, the creator of spec tennis and director of Racquet Sports. Spec Tennis was Created in the summer of 2016 in Northern California as a social experience, spec tennis has gained popularity while being a great bridge to and from tennis; it is gaining traction in various parts of the world as a sport that combines elements of tennis, squash, and racquetball.

Court and Equipment


The sport is typically played on a rectangular court measuring 20 feet by 44 feet. The paddles used in pickleball are solid, typically made of wood or composite materials. The ball resembles a wiffle ball designed to minimize bounce.

Paddle: Players in pickleball use paddles, which are solid and typically made from materials like wood, composite materials, or graphite. Paddle sizes and materials can vary, but there are regulations for paddle size and surface characteristics in official play.

Ball: The ball used in pickleball is unique, resembling a wiffle ball. It is designed to minimize bounce, allowing for slower gameplay, and it is available in various colors, typically yellow or white.

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Spec Tennis:

Spec tennis is played on a pickleball court, which is 44 feet long and 20 feet wide. The court is divided into two halves by a net suspended 36 inches from the ground. The service line is located 7 feet from the net. The service areas are 10 feet long and 20 feet wide.

Spec tennis paddle: Pickleball and spec tennis paddles are similar, but there are a few significant differences. Spec tennis paddles are smaller and lighter than pickleball ones, and holes are drilled to reduce air resistance.

Spec tennis ball: Unlike ordinary tennis balls, spec tennis balls are dot orange tennis ball and have a lower compression rating. As a result, they are slower and easier to handle.

Other equipment: Spec tennis players should also wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Tennis shoes or pickleball shoes are both excellent options. Players may also want to wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.

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Rules and Gameplay

Rules and Gameplay for Pickleball

Scoring System: Pickleball uses a unique scoring system. Games are typically played to 11 points, but a win must be by a two-point margin. In official play, matches are the best of three games.

Serving: The serve in pickleball is underhand. The server must stand behind the baseline, and the serve must clear the no-volley zone (known as the “kitchen”) on the opposite side of the net. The ball must also bounce once before it can be volleyed.

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Double Bounce Rule: Pickleball has a “double bounce” rule, which means that each side must allow the ball to bounce once on their side before volleys (hitting the ball in the air) are permitted.

Non-Volley Zone: The non-volley zone, or “kitchen,” is the area close to the net where volleys are not allowed. Players must step outside of this zone to volley.

Faults: Common faults include stepping into the non-volley zone, serving out of turn, and hitting the ball out of bounds. The serving side continues to serve until they commit a fault.

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Rules and Gameplay for Spec Tennis

Scoring System: Spec Tennis uses a standard tennis scoring system, which includes love, 15, 30, 40, and deuce. Games are typically played to four points, and players must win by two points. The player who wins four rounds first wins the match.

Serving: In Spec Tennis, players serve overhand, similar to tennis. The server must stand behind the baseline, and the serve must land within the opponent’s service box diagonally.

Volley Rules: Unlike pickleball, there are no specific rules regarding volleys in Spec Tennis. Players can volley the ball (hit it in the air) at any time.

Court Size: Spec Tennis courts are smaller, resembling a squash or racquetball court. The smaller court size results in faster gameplay and more intense rallies.

Ball: Spec Tennis uses a standard tennis ball with a different bounce and speed than the specialized pickleball. It influences the game’s style and strategies.

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The gameplay in spec tennis and pickleball is similar in many ways.  However, there are a few critical differences in the gameplay. In spec tennis, players can hit the ball twice before it crosses the net. Players have more time to react to the ball and hit an effective shot. Players in pickleball can only hit the ball once before it passes the net.

Another key difference is that pickleball players cannot volley in the non-volley zone. This makes it more difficult for players to hit winners from the net. In spec tennis, players can volley anywhere on the court.


Spec tennis, though a newer arrival compared to pickleball, is swiftly gaining a fan following. The United States boasts over 5,000 dedicated spec tennis players, and the enthusiasm extends to countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

In the realm of popularity, pickleball is the undisputed champ. It’s not just growing; it’s exploding in popularity. Pickleball is a craze, with 4.8 million players in the United States and a worldwide boom in popularity.


Both spec tennis and pickleball are like the best friends of sports, welcoming people of all ages and skill levels. Their smaller court size is a blessing for knees and joints, and their rules are easy to grasp.

Spec tennis shines regarding accessibility, as it adapts to any hard surface it can find. Whether you want to play at home, in a park, or in a gym, spec tennis accommodates your preferences.

Pickleball, though equally accessible, relies on dedicated courts. Fortunately, these courts are increasingly available in public parks and recreation centers, ensuring you can quickly join the pickleball craze.

Fitness and Health Benefits

Both spec tennis and pickleball offer several fitness and health benefits, including:

Enhanced Heart Health: Engaging in spec tennis and pickleball is an aerobic workout that promotes better cardiovascular well-being. These sports aid in lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease and elevating your overall fitness level.

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Elevated Strength and Stamina: Both spec tennis and pickleball demand muscle engagement as you strike the ball, navigate the court, and change direction. This dual physical challenge works to boost your strength and endurance.

Improved flexibility and coordination: Spec tennis and pickleball require stretching your muscles and reaching for the ball. Your flexibility and coordination may benefit from this.

Reduced stress levels: Exercise is a great way to reduce stress levels; spec tennis and pickleball are no exception. Playing these sports can help you to relax and de-stress.

Increased social interaction: Spec tennis and pickleball are social sports that can be enjoyed with friends and family. Engaging in these sports can promote social interaction and relationship development.

Increased self-esteem: Spec tennis and pickleball are both challenging sports that can help you to feel confident and accomplished. Mastering the skills of these sports can help to boost your self-esteem.

Spec tennis and pickleball are fantastic avenues for physical activity, health enhancement, and enjoyment in the grand scheme. If you’re in the mood for trying out a new sport, consider giving spec tennis or pickleball a shot.

Community and Social Engagement

Spec tennis and pickleball offer a range of opportunities to foster connections and build relationships:

Playing with Friends and Family: Both spec tennis and pickleball are ideal sports for bonding with friends and family. Sharing the court can strengthen existing relationships and create cherished memories.

Attending Tournaments: Playing in tournaments allows you to showcase your skills, compete against other players, and connect with like-minded individuals who share your passion for sports. 


Spec Tennis vs Pickleball: Which is better depends on your priorities and personal preferences. Pickleball’s simplicity, accessibility, and social aspects make it perfect for beginners and social players. On the other hand, Spec Tennis offers a more dynamic and physically demanding experience for those seeking a more significant challenge. Whatever sport you choose, both provide fantastic fitness, fun, and social engagement opportunities.