Tennis vs. Touchtennis: 10 Main Differences (Court, Ball,…)

Outdoor Tennis Net Shallow Depth of View
SnvvSnvvSnvv / Shutterstock.com

Both tennis and touchtennis emanated from the UK; the latter, which is, relatively, a new variant of regular tennis, was launched at the beginning of the 21st century, whereas tennis has its roots back in the 19th century. Although there are various similarities between these two racquet sports, there are several differences as well. 

The differences between touchtennis and tennis are:

  1. Court dimensions
  2. Net height
  3. Racquet size
  4. Ball material and size 
  5. Serving rules
  6. Scoring system
  7. Difficulty
  8. Popularity
  9. History
  10. Specific game play rules

Most of us are visual learners, so here are two different clips on these two racquet sports, so you can appreciate the differences better.

Tennis:

Video Source: YouTube / Slow Motion Tennis 

TouchTennis:

Video Source: YouTube / touchtennis

Anyhow, below, we’ll discuss each difference in more detail.  

1. Court dimensions

One of the main and most obvious differences between these two sports are their court size. A touchtennis court is much smaller than a tennis a court; about 1/4 of a tennis court

A tennis court is:

  • 78 ft (23.7m) long, 27 ft (8.2m) wide for singles, and 36 ft (10.9m) wide for doubles.

… while a touchtennis court is:

  •  39.3 ft (12m) long, 16.4 ft (5m) wide for singles, and 19.6 ft (6m) wide for doubles. 

2. Net height

Since in touchtennis the court is much smaller, it makes sense for the net also to be shorter. 

A tennis net is:

  • 3’ 6” (1.07m) high at the ends, and 3’ (0.91m) at the center.

… while a touchtennis net is usually:

  • 33.5” (0.85m) high; however, depending on where you’re playing, the height can vary between 31.5” (0.80m) to 36” (0.91m). 
Umpire Mohamed Lahyani of Sweden measures the net height tennis
Chen WS / Shutterstock.com

3. Racquet size

Racquet sizes are also different in both sports. In touchtennis, the racquet size is more or less equivalent to a little kid’s racquet in tennis. 

A tennis racquet is usually:

  • 27” (68.5cm) long; however, on certain occasions, it can be as 29” (73.6cm) long. The head size can be between 85 -135 sq inch.

… while a touchtennis racquet size is usually:

  • 21” (53.3cm) long; however, it can vary between 20.8” (52.8cm) to 21.5” (54.6cm). Unlike tennis, the head size can’t be bigger than 107 sq inch. 

4. Ball material and size

The balls used in each sport makes a major difference in how each game is played.

A regular tennis ball is: 

  • 2.57 – 2.70 inch (6.54 – 6.88 cm) in diameter 
  • Air pressurized 
  • Color: yellow 
  • Material: rubber, as well as nylon or wool. 

… while a touchtennis ball is:

  • 3.15 inch (8 cm) in diameter.
  • Color: yellow 
  • Material: foam

5. Serving rules

Andy Murray of Great Britain tennis
Neale Cousland / Shutterstock.com

Although most of the serving rules are quite similar between both sports, there are a few differences.

The number of serves allowed

In tennis, the server has two chances to hit the ball in the correct box, while in touchtennis, the server has only one. 

Lets during serves

  • In tennis, if during a serve the ball hits the net and goes in the correct box, it is considered a let and the serve has to be done again. 
  • On the other hand, in touchtennis, if the ball hits the net and lands inside the box during the serve, the ball is deemed “in play”.

Serve ball toss

In tennis, the server is allowed to toss the ball several times before hitting the ball, however, in touchtennis, once a player tosses the ball, she must hit the ball.

Hitting directly to the returner

  • In tennis, if the serve hits the returner without bouncing, it’s considered as a point for the server. 
  • In touchtennis, if the serve hits the returner without bouncing and the returner is standing anywhere inside (outside) the serving box, it’s treated as a point for the server (returner). 

Serving underarm

In both, tennis and touchtennis, players are allowed to serve either underhand or overarm. However, in touchtennis, if a player is serving underarm, he must inform the returner about it. 

6. Scoring system & match format

A tennis player prepares to serve a tennis ball during a match
Maxisport / Shutterstock.com

Sets

  • In tennis, each set is usually played up to 6 games. If both players are tied 5-5, they play up to 7. And if they tie again 6-6, they play a tiebreak.
  • In touchtennis, each set is played up to 4 games (also known as short sets). If both players tie 3 – 3, they play up to 5. If they tie one more time at 4-4, they play a tiebreak.

Games 

  • In both sports, in each game, the scores go by 15, 30, 40 and game. 
  • In tennis, when both players are tied 40 – 40 is called deuce, and the game has to be won by a difference of two points. While, in touchtennis, if both players are tied 40 – 40, the player who wins the following point wins the game (this is also known as “sudden death”). 

Tiebreaks

  • In tennis, tiebreaks are usually played up 7 points, where a player has to win by a difference of two points. Players have to switch sides every 6 points.
  • In touchtennis, tiebreaks (in singles) are played up 5 points. If players tied 4-4, whoever wins the next point wins the tiebreak. Player switch side every 4 points. 

7. Difficulty

From our perspective, compared to touchtennis, tennis is much more challenging to learn and play, as well as to engage in long rallies. There are two main reasons for this. 

(1) The foam ball

Since touchtennis uses foam balls that travel much slower, it’s much easier to hit the ball and engage in rallies, especially for beginners. 

(2) Smaller court

In touchtennis the courts are much smaller, therefore, unlike tennis, players have to cover less court. This makes it easier for players to engage in rallies without the need of moving and running that much. 

8. Popularity

Arthur Ash stadium tennis
Lev Radin / Shutterstock.com

For obvious reasons, tennis is much well-know and popular than touchtennis. Tennis is globally recognized as one of the most popular racquet sports. There are millions, if not billions, of supporters and fans across the world that follow the ATP and WTA Tour. On the other hand, touchtennis is a new and less known variation of tennis that is yet to become mainstream. 

9. History

Although both sports were started in the United Kingdom, they have very different histories. Tennis is a sport that has been around for several centuries, while touchtennis was just developed about 20 years ago. 

10. Specific game play rules

Besides the differences mentioned above, these are other differences worth mentioning:

The racquet leaving your hand.

  • In touchtennis, you are allowed to hit the ball without having your racquet in your hand, which means that you can throw your racquet to hit the ball, as long as it doesn’t go over the net.
  • In tennis, a player cannot throw his/her racquet to hit the ball. 

Using your body to hit the ball.

While in tennis a player cannot hit the ball with their body, in touchtennis it’s allowed in certain circumstances. In the case a player has thrown her racquet to hit the ball, she can continue playing the point her body, for instance, she can use her hand to hit the ball.