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What’s The Deal With Platform Tennis?

Platform, or paddle, tennis is a story of man vs. nature. In 1928 two friends, James Cogswell and Fessenden Blanchard were on the hunt for a sport they could play through the winter.

They began to build what was intended to be a multi-purpose platform for badminton and volleyball. Halfway through the contraction, however, they encountered some issues. The court couldn’t be extended to the volleyball perimeters because of a large rock. That left badminton. But, unfortunately, badminton could not be played because of low hanging trees.

So they needed a game that would use the court size of badminton, with the heftiness of a tennis ball so as not to lose all their balls to the trees. 

And so Platform Tennis was invented.

Today rules etc goes as follows:

The platform tennis court is 44 feet long, but 20 feet wide. Its markings are the same as a tennis court, but smaller dimensions. It has a net right down the middle standing at thirty-four inches. It also has a 12-foot fence surrounding the court.

It’s paddle measures at 18 inches long and is made of a mix of titanium and graphite, as opposed to a tennis racquet which is, of course, strung. It is permeated with holes that help with the drive and general control instead of just lugging around a titanium paddle.

The balls are more similar to tennis balls but not quite the same. They’re also made of rubber, making them a little heavier and requiring a push to drive.

The point system in platform tennis is another commonality between it and it’s parent sport, tennis. The rules are exactly the same to score and it is played up to 40-40 with a two-point lead.

What’s The Deal With Pickleball?

What's the deal with Pickelball

Pickleball originated in 1965 in the backyard of Joel and Joan Pritchard. The family was entertaining company in their home on Bainbridge Island, Washington, when the kids of the group started to get restless.

The family had a badminton court, but not equipment. This didn’t stop them from encouraging the kids to play on the court, and rustling up whatever equipment they did have. That equipment happened to be ping pong paddles and a Wiffle ball.

Since that first successful game, Pickleball has expanded quickly to become America’s fastest-growing sport. The original Wiffle ball and ping pong paddles have been improved upon with aerodynamic changes to both; courts can be found in most community centers and some parks.

Rules:

  • We begin with a classic serve. One side hits their pickleball - a variation on a wiffleball - with their paddle - a variation on a ping pong paddle.

An acceptable serve:

To effectively serve in Pickleball the player in the right-hand corner keeps one foot behind the backline and hits the ball with an unhand swing, aiming at the ‘service court’ - the opponent diagonal to them. They must clear the ‘no volley zone’.

In short:

  • Right corner start 
  • Foot behind the backline
  • Underhand swing
  • Aim diagonally 
  • Clear the ‘no volley zone’
  • When you’re serving, only one fault is allowed. 

  • If you are playing with doubles, both players can serve with a fault before it defaults to the other team.

  • Pickleball must bounce once before hitting it with the paddle on the first hit

  • Volleying is only allowed in the no volley zone*

  • You can only score a point if you were the serving side

  • To win you must make it to 11, and be in a 2 point lead

The no volley zone is also known as the kitchen. It’s the rectangle on either side of the net, the space where players may not volley (hit the ball without having it bounce first.).

Why Pickleball?

People are attracted to Pickleball as it combines the elements of a few net/racquet sports, but at closer quarters and a slightly slower pace. This means that it can appeal to all age groups and difficulties, bringing together families and unlikely friends.

It’s considered a moderate activity. It’s good for the joints because you keep moving without as much pressure on the knees or elbow. Of course the difficulty can be intensified depending on the players, but generally, it is in the physical exertion class of line dancing, water aerobics, kayaking, etc.

What They Have In Common:

What they have in common

Similar Origins:

Platform tennis and pickleball both came about when their founders were on the hunt for one thing and found another. Two happy accidents that overcame adversity.

Similar Equipment:

Both games use a solid racquet as opposed to a strung racket as in tennis or badminton. 

They’re both played on a 44 inch by 20-inch court, both stemming from the concept of badminton. You could say they are cousins.

Both games are very much strategy based. Of course, there is a strategy in all sports, but   games require quick reflexes and snap decisions, good instincts. Rather than being a game of bouncing around, the slower nature of both games allows the player time to think and make strategic moves, rather than reactionary ones.

How Do Pickleball and Paddle Tennis Differ?

Pickleball tends to be a longer game due to differences in point-scoring. You can also serve underhand in pickleball, whereas this move is not allowed in paddle tennis. So, strategically from the get-go there are differences.

Equipment-wise, the pickleball ball is made of a light, perforated plastic; while the paddle tennis ball is made of rubber. This means that your technique in holding your paddle will always be different when playing pickleball or paddle ball. 

A lighter ball can be harder to control but also requires less effort to drive. Whereas a heavier ball takes direction but also takes added physical exertion. All these things are controlled by the paddle technique.

The only difference between the pickleball paddle and the paddle tennis paddle is the perforations in the paddle, and sometimes they differ in materials.

Lastly, paddle ball requires a fence around the court, which really limits its ability to be integrated into a regular tennis court, and making it much more expensive to build. Pickleball simply needs its markings, and can, therefore, be integrated into any preexisting court.

Their essential differences in strategy, their differing rules, and their different court needs, make these two cousin games very different at the core.