Is Pickleball Louder Than Tennis?

Once you have played pickleball or even been to a match, you’ll never forget the distinct sound of players hitting the ball back and forth. Yes, both tennis and pickleball have sound effects, but today I want to discuss which of these two sports is louder. Let’s take a look.

The hard surface of a pickleball paddle combined with the plastic pickleball ball makes the sport a lot louder than tennis. However, because pickleball is a little bit less strenuous, the players on the court tend to make less noise than their tennis playing counterparts. Pickleball has an echoing sound.

I want to start the rest of this pickleball article by discussing the three main reasons why pickleball is louder than tennis. I also want to answer a few related questions, such as whether or not you should wear earplugs when playing the sport. Finally, is there a softer alternative to the plastic pickleball ball? Everything you need to know is down below.

3 Reasons Why Pickleball Is Louder Than Tennis

You may have heard a few stories about people who live close to pickleball courts wanting to build higher walls around their properties. The noise can be unbearable for some, especially if a few matches are happening over a prolonged period.

To fully understand why pickleball is so loud, much louder than tennis, I am going to break down three of the most obvious reasons why. That said, I would not let the noise discourage you from trying the sport or even taking it seriously.

Pickleball Paddles Are Not Made From Nylon

Tennis rackets have an outer frame that surrounds the nylon strings. When a tennis ball hits these strings, it does make a sound. However, let’s take a look at what different materials are used to make pickleball paddles:

  • Traditional pickleball paddles are made with wood.
  • Modern paddles can be made with carbon fiber, graphite, or fiberglass.
  • Premium paddles are made from a combination of carbon fiber/fiberglass and honeycomb polymers.

All of these materials make a pickleball paddle hard. So when you compare the nylon construction of a tennis racket to something as hard as wood, you will get more noise with the latter.

Pickleball balls Are Hard

Now, some people call a pickleball ball a whiffle ball. They are very similar. However, a pickleball ball is made from plastic, and when you hit plastic off of wood, fiberglass, graphite, or carbon fiber, you get almost an echoing noise that is rather loud.

On the other hand, a tennis ball is made from rubber covered in felt. So even if you were to use a tennis ball on a pickleball paddle, which I do not recommend, it still would not be as loud as using a pickleball ball.

I advise against using a tennis ball on a pickleball paddle. Remember, a pickleball ball is light, mainly because it is perforated. A tennis ball, on the other hand, is a bit heavier and can, in some cases, damage your paddle. 

Pickleball Courts Are Smaller Than Tennis Courts

Although pickleball does not look very fast, it is. Because the court is more compact, there is a lot more back and forth happening than on a tennis court. This means that there is more constant noise which could exacerbate how loud it is.

Yes, a tennis match can be very loud, mainly because professional tennis players can hit a tennis ball extremely hard. Also, the players themselves make a lot of noise with their shoes and their grunting. However, it’s still not as loud as a pickleball ball hitting a pickleball paddle.

Pickleball VS Tennis: How Loud Are They?

In this section, I will not count the grunting of tennis players because that is a metric based on each player. Some players make soft grunts, while others can be heard halfway across the world.

  • Jokes aside, standing relatively close to a pickleball match, the noise can reach approximately 70 to 80 decibels.
  • On the other hand, tennis only reaches between 55 and 60 decibels – significantly less than pickleball.

Is there a quiet pickleball?

You can get a foam pickleball ball when you want to play pickleball casually. They don’t necessarily play the same as a traditional plastic perforated ball, but they can give you the satisfaction of playing a competitive game in a more relaxed environment.

I find the Tourna Foam Balls are the best option. Check them out below on Amazon.

in stock
4 new from $28.95
as of June 10, 2024 10:39 am

Their weight is the closest to a pickleball ball that I can find. Also, you can get them in a pack of 12, so you will always have a few on hand for when you want to go out and practice. Because they are light and made from foam, the noise they make when they hit the paddle is almost unnoticeable unless you are standing right there.

If you also play tennis, you can use the foam balls for that kind of practice as well 

Should You Wear Ear Plugs When Playing Pickleball?

Firstly, if you have to wear earplugs for medical reasons, this section does not apply to you because you should always follow your doctor’s advice. Also, if you think you may have a problem, I advise you to speak to a doctor.

If you do not have to wear earplugs for medical reasons, I advise you not to wear them when playing pickleball, even if the sound effects seem a bit so loud for you. Here are a few reasons why:

  • The sound effects help keep you in the zone.
  • You can tell a lot about a shot or swing with just a few audio queues, such as the direction and velocity.
  • You want to hear your partner’s movements.
  • Finally, it is best to hear the officials and your teammates clearly.

Unfortunately, earplugs block out too much noise, and because pickleball is a team sport, you don’t want to isolate yourself from your teammate. If you find yourself seriously struggling with the noise, you can try going with the foam balls I mentioned above; unfortunately, you won’t be able to play in most leagues like that.

Final Thoughts

Pickleball is most definitely louder than tennis. Whether or not this is a con depends entirely upon you and your preferences. For many people, the noise is part of the game. If you do not fall into that category of people, you now know that you can get a softer alternative.


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