When it comes to tennis and basketball, both are extremely popular sports worldwide, and today you will learn all the major differences the two sports have.
The main difference between tennis and basketball is that tennis is a solo sport, whereas basketball is played in teams of five. Also, a basketball weighs ≈ 600g while a tennis ball weighs ≈ 58g. Also, basketball is ranked harder to play, it is more popular worldwide, and the earnings are higher.
That’s a quick summary of some of the main differences; however, there are a lot more below the surface. Stick with me and learn about the game, court, equipment, rule, earning, popularity, fan, and difficulty differences between the two. Let’s start with the game differences.
Some major game differences between tennis and basketball are the amount of contact, game speed, playing environment, and the amount of energy needed for the game.
When it comes to contact, basketball has a lot of it. If you have ever watched a basketball game, you will notice the constant contact between the players, and it can get really aggressive from time to time. So if you don’t like people being in your personal zone, I recommend looking towards tennis.
The game speed is also another thing. According to topendsports, tennis is the world’s second-fastest sport whereas basketball is the ninth. It makes sense because the reaction speed you need to act for a powerful tennis strike is just unbelievable. If the strike is powerful enough, mere speed doesn’t cut it, as you need a bit of intuition as well.
Basketball isn’t slow by any means because the offense, defense, and direction of the game change like lightning in basketball, and you will need to run really fast to even compete with the others on the court. All of this requires great deals of energy.
Speaking of energy, both sports burn calories like a furnace. Check out the average energy consumption table below.
|Type of play||Tennis||Basketball|
|Recreational||350-500 calories per hour||300-500 calories per hour|
|Competetive||550-750 calories per hour||600-750 calories per hour|
The numbers are quite similar, but a recreational basketball game can be less exhausting than a recreational game of tennis. However, a competitive basketball game takes a bit more out of you than a competitive tennis match. In general, that is.
Also, calories burned per person have many variables such as weight, sex, metabolism, and effort on the court.
The playing environment is a funny thing when we compare tennis and basketball. There are indoor and outdoor tennis courts, but competitive matches are nearly always played outdoors, and it’s the exact opposite in basketball. There are outdoor basketball courts if you want to do some casual hooping, but professional basketball games are always played on an indoor court.
Let’s look at tennis and basketball courts and see what they are made of and their dimensions.
|Lenght||78ft (23.77m)||91.86ft (28m)|
|Width||27ft (8.23m)||49.21ft (15m)|
|Net & Hoop Height||3ft 6in (1.07m)||10ft (3m)|
A basketball court is longer than a tennis court (13.86ft/4.2m); however, the width difference is even bigger(22,2ft/6.8m). Given that the basketball players run the full length of the court nearly at all times explains the slightly bigger calorie burn that basketball haves over tennis.
Also, the tennis court’s net is slightly shortening from the middle of it from the posts because it curves towards the middle a bit.
When it comes to the hoop height in basketball, it is nearly always set at 10ft in both NBA games and high schools. High schoolers have a harder time dunking than full-sized NBA adults.
When the subject is tennis courts, things get interesting because there are 4 different materials that a tennis court can be made of: grass, artificial grass, clay, or acrylic (hard court).
Hard courts are the most common type of tennis court material because they are really low maintenance, there are many color options to choose from, and it’s clean to play on. On the con side, it can be hard on your feet.
Another popular court material is clay. Clay courts interact very well with the ball, giving it a good bounce, it is comfortable to play on, and the overall playing feel is great. However, they need maintenance quite often, and you will likely get some dust and brown dirt on your shoes and clothes.
Finally, grass and artificial grass courts are left as options. The original tennis court was a grass court, but nowadays, you can’t find them as often because they are high maintenance, they can be overplayed, so the grass wears out too quickly, and the ball bounce is lower. They have great benefits such as being comfortable to play on, you can slide during the game, the surface is cool on a hot day, and it gives authentic tennis feel to the game.
There are both indoor and outdoor basketball courts, and both of them are made out of different materials.
Indoor basketball courts are made out of hardwood or PU surface coating. All NBA games are played on a hardwood court that is often made out of hard maple. Hard maple is the chosen wood because it is harder than most hardwoods, and the color is lighter, making the perfect basketball court.
Outdoor basketball courts are made out of acrylic in most cases. They are made out of 3 layers that are designed for basketball and multipurpose fields. The great thing about acrylic surfaces is that they are non-slip, flexible, and the overall feel is great for basketball. Outdoor courts can also be made out of artificial turf.
There are some noticeable equipment differences between the sports, especially in the ball and shoes. However, basketball doesn’t really have more equipment, so the differences stop short.
Clearly, the biggest difference is the balls. Basketball is a big brown one, and tennis is a small green/yellow one. Let’s review the tennis ball first.
Tennis balls are made from a hollow rubber shell that can be pressurized or pressureless. The difference is that pressurized balls are always used in pro games, have a better bounce, and are more expensive. Pressureless balls rely their bounce on the rubber instead of the pressurized gas inside. These balls last far longer but lack the quality bounce required for competitive games. They are also cheaper.
Tennis balls are covered with felt that is mainly made out of wool & nylon mixture. However, there are completely synthetic felts as well.
The ITF (International Tennis Federation) allows tennis balls that weigh between 1.975oz (55.9g) and 2.095oz (59.4g). Also, tennis balls must be 2.57in (6.5cm) – 2.70in (6.85cm) in diameter.
Basketballs, on the other hand, are 10 times heavier weighing 22oz (623g). The dimensions of a basketball are 29.5in (75cm). Basketballs have an inflatable inner rubber bladder that has leather, rubber, or a synthetic surface. The traditional surface material is leather, and NBA uses balls from the most famous basketball manufacturer Spalding that uses the leather surface on their basketballs.
The difference between tennis and basketball shoes is that tennis shoes are more often lighter in weight and have a more durable outsole for the rough courts. However, basketball shoes are longer in height with more lateral support and cushioning, thus, the heavier weight.
Basketball requires full support for 360-degree movement because the sport has so much sudden direction changes and dangerous situations for the ankles. There are low, medium, and high-top basketball shoes, but the vast majority use high tops for features and cosmetic reasons.
Most tennis courts are hard or clay courts, so the outer sole in a tennis shoe needs to be really durable because those are some really rough materials. Tennis shoes are also equipped with lateral support, but the movement is more side to side than front to back like in basketball, so the shoes are often low tops to prevent rubbing against your ankles.
There are too many rules to list in a comparison article, so I gathered some of the main rules below. Tennis has some weird rules and scoring systems, especially if you don’t know about it. You need to know about sets, games, matches, loves, etc. On the other hand, basketball is more traditional and straightforward to understand as a beginner.
|Match Time||Best of 3, 5, or 7 sets|
average 3 game time 90minutes
|48 minutes of game time|
|Scoring||Love(0)-15-30-40-game||1-3 points per shot|
|Hitting the ball / Maximum step count with the ball:||Can’t hit twice||Two steps|
|Switching sides||Every odd game||After half time|
|Who serves/begins the match first||Coin toss||The one who catches |
the referee toss
Before getting into the numbers, I must say that athletes from both tennis and basketball are making world-class earnings even in the sports world in general. The numbers are absolutely astounding, and you will see one athlete above the rest that is ranked the world’s highest-paid athlete of 2020.
The earnings from tennis are from the 2019-2020 period, and the basketball earnings are from the 2020-2021 period.
|Tennis Athlete & Earnings $||Basketball Athlete & Earnings|
|1 Roger Federer $106.3 million||1. Stephen Curry $45.7 million|
|2 Novak Djokovic $44.6 million||2. James Harder $44.3 million|
|3 Rafael Nadal $40 million||3. John Wall $44,3 million|
|4 Naomi Osaka $37.4 million||4. Russell Westbrook $44.2 million|
|5 Serena Williams $ 36 million||5. Kevin Durant $42 million|
As you can see, these athletes aren’t poor, and Roger Federer makes by far the most money. This is because Roger Federer has acquired the reputation as the face of whole tennis, which makes his advertisement earnings far above what the rest has.
However, if you were to choose one sport as your goal to make it to the pro, your chances are much better in basketball because there is the need for so many more players. There are 30 NBA teams that all must have at least 12 players, but in reality, most teams have +15 players. Whereas in a tennis ”team” there is just you.
Differences in popularity
Tennis and basketball are extremely popular sports worldwide, and there are millions of players that play them either recreationally or in competitions. FIBA estimates that there are more than 450 million basketball players globally, whereas ITF estimates 87 million tennis players worldwide.
These are some big, big numbers, and even though basketball is a considerably more played sport globally, tennis has a huge player base as well. When it comes to the fanbase, the estimated fanbase of basketball is 2.4 billion total fans, while tennis has 1 billion total fans.
If you consider that tennis is a solo sport whereas there are 5 players in a basketball team and were to divide the 450 worldwide basketball players by the 5x player amount per team, you will get a 90million which is nearly the same as the number of tennis global players. Just a fun fact to think about.
These sports don’t have the same popularity in all the countries so let’s take the top 5 countries where both sports are the most popular.
|Top 5 Tennis Countries||Top 5 Basketball Countries|
|1. Australia||1. United States|
|2. France||2. Philippines|
|3. New Zealand||3. Australia|
|4. Switzerland||4. Canada|
|5. United Kingdom||5. Iraq|
Differences as a fan
There are huge differences between tennis and basketball when it comes to being in the crowd as a fan. Both games are exciting to watch, but one thing stands out and separates them like day and night.
When you are watching a tennis match, the whole crowd is quiet, whereas, in basketball games, the crowd is more like a pack of animals cheering and yelling. There is much more electricity in the air when you watch tennis, but when you are at a basketball game, the energy and adrenaline are up the roof.
Is tennis harder than basketball
According to ESPN.com, basketball is the world’s 4th hardest sport, whereas tennis is the 7th. Thus, tennis isn’t harder than basketball. However, since there are more than 8000 sports globally, both sports are ranked as extremely hard, and the final difficulty relies on the level the athlete plays.
That being said, if you play basketball in a park against some general b-ballers, it wouldn’t be as hard as to play tennis at a competitive level and vice versa. ESPN considers 10 variables when they rank sports and when we look at the overall total of these variables, basketball is harder than tennis.
These are the variables ESPN uses:
- Hand-eye coordination
- Analytic aptitude
Tennis is ranked harder than basketball in power and hand-eye coordination, and it makes sense as you think about it. However, basketball is harder in the rest of the 8 skills.
Videos about tennis and basketball
For visual understanding about each sport, please look at these videos about world-class athletes practicing their sport and see what it really takes to be at the top. It’s safe to say both sports need an incredible amount of skill, and the vibes in the crowd are quite electric as well!
My Favorite Tennis Equipment
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it brought you great value that you can implement into your own life! Below you’ll find my top tennis equipment recommendations would like.
- Racket: My preferred tennis racket is the Wilson Ultra 100 V3. This racket is made from graphite and carbon fiber, making it durable, firm, and easy to swing. The racket weighs 300g, making it lightweight yet not too lightweight to generate power. The racket’s main benefit is power. I like to add multifilament strings to the racket, such as Wilson NXT Soft 16 (recommended tension 52lb/23.5kg), because they are comfortable and soft on the arm with a great feel to the game.
- Tennis balls: Best tennis balls are always pressurized, and I like them having extra-duty felt, which is fit for hard court play. I like Penn Championship Tennis Balls, and so does the ITF because these balls are approved for competitive play. So yes, these are the real deal.
- Tennis shoes: I can’t stress enough the importance of comfortable and supporting shoes. ASICS Gel-Resolution 8 tennis shoes are unique because the balance between durability and support mixed with comfort is something out of the ordinary.
- Fan Equipment: If you’re a fan more than a player, you don’t want to miss Fan Equipment by Fanatics. You can find items from various sports that bear your favorite team’s logo, such as jerseys, gift ideas, or other surprising things.