Pickle vs. Pop


Many tennis clubs are considering either taking out tennis courts to add pickleball courts, or just adding new ones to their facility.  But is there a better alternative?

Pop Tennis

Naples area pro Spike Gonzales is an advocate of the “small court” alternative of Pop Tennis.  Promoted by the USTA, this game is played on regular soft or hard tennis courts using a line drawn across the court in “no man’s land”, halfway between the baseline and the service line, creating a 60’ court.

Quieter Than Pickle

The game uses the lower-compression Green Dot tennis ball and paddles made with hard foam and composite materials, engineered to be more forgiving than traditional tennis racquets.  So rather than the loud “clunk, clunk” that comes with pickle, this sounds more “tennis like.”

While servers serve underhanded in Pop, as they do in pickle, the scoring is basic tennis No Ad Scoring, with regular games and sets.

Easy Transition

“One of the reasons pop tennis is becoming so popular,” says Spike, “is that it is so much like tennis itself. It uses the same strokes, with topspin and slice and the same strategy. It’s also very similar to the popular winter game of platform tennis; so people are converting over from that as well.”

So from my point of view, compared to Pickle Ball, Pop Tennis is …

Cheaper – no need to build new courts.

Quieter – using soft tennis balls.

Healthier – being played mostly on soft, HarTru courts.

If your club is considering an alternative to “regular tennis,” they should consider Pop Tennis.  For more information, you can contact Spike at (239) 248-0894

Your thoughts?

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12 thoughts on “Pickle vs. Pop

  1. I have played both pickleball and pop tennis and enjoy them both. Pickleball requires a little more finesse and reaction time needs to be quicker.
    If space is an issue in a community then pop tennis is certainly a good option since it uses existing tennis courts.

  2. I’m sorry George. They are going to have to drag me kicking and screaming to the Pickle ball or “Pop” courts. For some reason, (not sure why) from the beginning, I’ve come to think of Pickle ball as the graveyard of tennis players. I was always groomed on the idea that the game of tennis was the “King” of racket sports.

    Jim, given a choice, i am all for “regular” tennis; but if my hip wasn’t repaired, Pop would have been in my future! thanks, george

  3. George, you are always cutting edge. Available real estate can become a factor when a facility has all clay courts and nowhere to build pickle ball courts. Pop tennis is the ideal alternative as it maximizes your existing clay courts and, as you mentioned, is quieter and much easier on your body. Pelican Bay is going to gauge the interest level in pop tennis, this fall, by offering clinics and an exhibition.

    Pam, Grrrreat! No “clunk, clunk” coming to PB! thanks, george

  4. I have no desire to do either. I’d rather play table tennis or shoot pool. I’m actually playing more left handed tennis now since my right elbow is end stage and my shoulder is catching up quickly.

    Chris, i found Pop Tennis like a big table tennis game. thanks, george

  5. George our pro at Vanderbilt created vandyball which is played with kids racquets and kids balls on half of the tennis courts.it has really taken off with the women and now no one is asking for pickleball and taking a court away

    Jeff, sounds like Pop Tennis with kid’s raquets! george

  6. I would prefer pop tennis for all the reasons you mentioned and especially the ability to play on soft courts. BUT – I think Pickleball is the next big thing and that’s what people want to play. There is a big, well organized Pickleball movement right now. I think the large majority of PB players would not want pop tennis.

    Terry, maybe after hard court injuries start taking their toll… thanks, george

  7. I have been pushing POP Tennis for quite awhile. Everywhere I do POP Tennis Events it’s love at first hit. I highly recommend you give it a try.

  8. After 18 straight years of Tennis Fantasies, my knees told me I could no longer play high level tennis. When the 2016 California El Nino rains caused cancelling of almost all my tennis games I found a local indoor game setting called pickleball. From there I graduated to the outdoor Silicon Valley Pickleball Club.

    At the 10-court country club I also belong to, I led the effort to get permanent blended pickleball lines painted on one court. The single hard tennis court holds 4 pickleball courts using temporary nets. We routinely have 20 players in the afternoons and time it to end at Happy Hour. In the first 10 weeks of pickleball I met more members than I did in the prior 10 years of tennis. The social side of PB is much closer to what is is like it is at Tennis Fantasies than normal club tennis. Two of our members that are Fantasies guys are now additionally playing PB.

    Using a step counter I found that during 1/2 hour of tennis there was a step rate of 43 per minute and PB was 78; almost double. The steps are shorter because one rarely has to do a full run and stop, which is the knee killer. I can give away 25 years and still be competitive.

    Bob, glad you have a new game; but sorry to miss you at Newk’s! george

  9. Well, I wasn’t going to write, but if Chuck likes it, that’s good enough for me.
    (We’re fighting a battle now at our town tennis facility over adding pickleball courts, and this was very helpful.)

    John, if you would like Spike to come up and consult, Longboat may be within his range. george

  10. I have started playing Pickleball with Bob after a knee injury slowed me down some. But before I talk about that I do want to say I am a huge Platform Tennis fan, but didn’t like paddle tennis (the old POP tennis) last time I tried it. Maybe things are different now.

    My take on Pickleball is that its basically just Wiffle Tennis, and the similarity between it and tennis is the same as between baseball/softball and wifflebaseball. Better to play the ‘real’ sport if you can– more satisfying — but the wiffle version is fun and does require skill, just a lot less running. Plus its undeniably fun to smash a ball as hard as you can at someone standing 4 feet in front of you!

    I think Pickleball will continue to grow since it is much more accessible to folks who may not have (or still have) the ability required for tennis. And as Bob said, its very social, everybody is thrilled to play and meet new players — similar to Platform Tennis camaraderie.

    I’ve started trying to figure out how good the top Pickleball players really are. I’ve found some former 5.0 tennis players who play, and the ball moves very fast. And now they have a US Open of Pickleball and national championships at Indian Wells! Cool!

    Jonathan. Naples is the home of the annual Pickleball US Open, with many hundreds of players on 85 courts! George

  11. George,
    Thanks a lot for the PR!
    As I am definitely an advocate of tennis as the “king,” I am pleased that PopTennis has so far in my experience been totally compatible with tennis. I’ve taken players from one court to the other with no negative consequences. In fact, in PopTennis you have to watch the ball even more intensively than in tennis, and this helps tennis players!

    I also like the fact that the strokes are almost identical, allowing you to hit topspin and slice. Further, too many of my peers are getting bad shoulders; so the underhand serve is a benefit in PopTennis.

    I also agree, “if Chuck likes it, it’s good enough for me!!”

    I’ll go “kicking and scratching” from tennis as needs arise, but I’m glad I don’t have to go too far from my treasured Har-Tru courts!


    P.S. In talking to an experienced PopTennis tennis pro friend today in Orlando, he points out that PopTennis reduces the discrepancies between ability levels, so players of different tennis playing levels are able to have fun together on the PopTennis court.

    Note: i believe Spike is in Orlando to receive the Collier County Tennis Pro of the Year award! george

  12. For those of us who are ignoramuses (like me), can somebody post some You Tube video links or links to web pages showing or explaining all of the key differences between and among Pickleball, Pop Tennis, etc.?

    I have seen Pickleball being played and I have read a bit about it, but I must be living in a cocoon because, until this post, I confess I had never even heard of Pop Tennis, let alone tried it. I gather it is popular in places like Florida and California, but no one I know in greater Philadelphia appears to be playing it — at least not right now. Thanks.

    Marty – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nn5wOg5WO60 – george

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