Tennis vs. Pickleball: What’s Your Net Game?

A 55+ adult woman plays pickleball outside.
Both tennis and pickleball can get you moving, but you may have more fun with one over the other.

It’s very important to stay active, and sports are a great way to do so. Tennis has long been a favorite pastime for many adults, and pickleball is growing in popularity. What is the difference between these two sports, and how do you pick the right one for you? Here’s the breakdown to help you choose which is right for you.

Why Is It Important To Remain Active as a 55+ Adult?

A mixed doubles team competes in a pickleball tournament.

There are several reasons for 55+ adults to keep moving. Staying healthy is a top priority, and getting enough exercise daily can help you do so.

According to the CDC, it’s important for older adults to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. This is only 30 minutes every day, five days a week. The other recommendation is 75 minutes of vigorous activity, such as running, jogging, or hiking.

Reasons exercise is so important include:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Weight management
  • Better sleep

It can also reduce your risk for:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Certain cancers

Pickleball and tennis are both great ways to exercise and enjoy time with your friends and family. 


A group of 55+ active adults playing tennis on a sunny day.

Tennis is often referred to as “the sport of a lifetime” by the United States Tennis Association (USTA). This is because it’s ideal for everyone, no matter how young or old you may be.

Tennis Origins

The Lighthouse Point Yacht Club reports the game of tennis has some interesting origins which may surprise you. Monks first played it in 12th century France. They referred to it as “jeu de Paume,” which translates to “palm game.” It’s unclear where the name “tennis” came from. However, it’s suspected that the French monks would shout “tenez,” as they hit the ball back and forth. This translated to “take heed.”

Tennis went through several changes before becoming the game so many love and adore today. In the beginning, it was very similar to volleyball. The monks would hit a large ball back and forth using only their hands. The ball was made of wood, so it probably hurt. This may be why the monks began using gloves. Later, sticks were added to the gloves, becoming the original tennis rackets. 

Benefits for 55+ Adults

The modern form of tennis has some major benefits for anyone 55 and over, such as being low-impact. For anyone who suffers from joint pain, this is a great option. There’s some minor running involved as you race from one side of the court to the other to hit the ball, but it’s not on the same level as trying to run a marathon. You’ll get your heart beating a little faster, but nothing drastic.

Tennis can also help improve your balance and coordination. Given that you can play as singles or doubles, it’s also the perfect method to socialize with others in your 55+ community who are also interested in tennis. You can start up a tournament if you’re competitive, or just schedule a time to get with friends if you don’t care about keeping score from week to week.


Pickleball paddle and pickle ball on court.

Pickleball was first created in 1965, according to USA Pickleball. It all started with a group of kids on summer vacation with their dads. When the kids got bored, the dads got creative. And thus, pickleball was born. It has slowly been growing in popularity ever since, and now many 55+ communities have their own pickleball courts. It’s even become a pastime for people in Europe and Asia.

Pickleball is a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It’s incredibly easy to learn, so there’s no pressure for anyone who has never played before. By the time you end the game, you’ll be very familiar with the rules. 

It has a lot in common with tennis, as both have a tennis net, although the pickleball version is slightly modified. Both can also be played with singles or doubles. Tennis and pickleball are easy on the joints but still get you moving. Unlike tennis, pickleball is played with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes. 

Some pickleball courts have specific measurements similar to that of a badminton court. If there’s no pickleball court in your community, this doesn’t mean you’re doomed to never play. You can simply make a few adjustments to the tennis court, and you’re good to go.

Many of the benefits of pickleball are also similar to tennis. It will give you a better sense of balance, as well as hand-eye coordination. Players will also get to enjoy spending time making new friends or perhaps scoring a point on a rival.

It’s an excellent form of aerobic exercise that can help combat mild depression, and give you a greater sense of self-esteem. Because it’s not stressful on joints and muscles, pickleball is quickly growing in popularity among 55+ communities.

Tennis vs. Pickleball: Which Is Right for You?

A 55+ tennis player shaking hands on the tennis court.

There’s no real answer to this. It really boils down to which you prefer. If you aren’t sure, then try both! 

Tennis is more traditional, as it’s been around for centuries. Pickleball, on the other hand, is rather new and can give you a change of pace if you’ve been playing tennis for years, and want something just a little different. You can also choose to play tennis one day and pickleball the next if that’s what you want.

Many 55+ communities have courts for both tennis and pickleball. There are also several teams you can join if you’re interested in getting into a little competition. Once you’re done hitting the courts, you can relax in the pool or spa if your community has one.

If you’re on the lookout for a new 55+ community to move to, let 55places help. Our expert real estate agencies are well-versed in their local areas and can help you find a community that is just right for you. Visit our homepage and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on our latest featured communities.

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