What Kind of Ball is Used in Pickleball? Fun Facts About this Unique Ball

a woman holding a pickleball against a paddle helps the viewer understand what kind of ball is used in pickleball

Pickleball is a sport for everyone from families to amateur adult and pro level players. The sport has a devoted following and is becoming a staple of community courts across the nation.

A key aspect of this relatively young sport is the pickleball itself. You may have heard of it, but have you seen it? Similar to other racquet sports, such as tennis and badminton, the ball used in pickleball is key in shaping the game experience, from the type of play it’s optimized for to the competitive edge it can offer. So, just what kind of ball is used in pickleball?

We’ll cover the types of pickleballs and impact of ball choice on your game. Plus, a complete list of fun facts and frequently asked questions about pickleballs.

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What Kind of Balls are Used in Pickleball: The Basics

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, it’s vital to understand the role of the ball in pickleball. Unlike tennis, which has seen little variation in ball design over the years, pickleball offers a bit more choice to its players.

Overall, pickleballs are made of plastic, polymer or resin and have between 26-40 holes on the surface. From there, we find two main categories of balls: indoor and outdoor.

Indoor Pickleball Balls

Typically designed for play on smooth indoor courts, these pickleballs are constructed to provide an optimal balance between bounce and speed. Indoor picklleballs typically have 26 larger holes minimize aerodynamic drag and offer better accuracy in indoor conditions.

Manufacturers often use softer plastics and offer a variety of colors to increase visibility against indoor backgrounds.

Outdoor Pickleball Balls

Outdoor balls are a sturdier alternative designed to withstand the rigors of rougher playing surfaces and the unpredictability of the elements.

They generally feature 40 strategically spaced holes to make them less susceptible to wind and provide a more predictable flight path. The material used in outdoor balls is usually harder plastics to prevent degradation from sun exposure and maintain their performance over time.

Onix vs. Franklin pickleballs: Which is better?

Two of the most recognized brands, Onix and Franklin, lead the charge in pickleball ball manufacturing. The brings the question of which manufacturer is best? What kind of balls are used in pickleball?

The answer is that balls from both companies are widely popular for different purposes.

Onix balls are lauded for their superior accuracy and flight stability, making them a popular choice among indoor players.

Franklin balls, on the other hand, are known for their durability and are often the go-to for outdoor courts.

While personal preferences dictate a player’s choice, these distinctions have a tangible impact on the game.

Best for Outdoor


What Kind of Ball is Used in Pickleball? Fun Facts About this Unique Ball
Best for Indoor


What Kind of Ball is Used in Pickleball? Fun Facts About this Unique Ball

What Kind of Pickleball is Right for Your Game?

Okay, so you’ve got a better idea about what kind of ball is used in pickleball. But how do you choose the right one for your play?

Selecting the ideal pickleball ball is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. An avid player should consider a few factors to match their gameplay style and environment:

Material and Construction

The type of plastic used and the method of construction can significantly affect the performance of the ball. For instance, polyethylene balls are durable and weather-resistant but may have a harder feel, while softer materials offer better control but might be more prone to damage.

Bounce Characteristics

The International Federation of Pickleball provides guidelines on the acceptable height of the bounce, usually around 30 inches. Choosing a ball with a consistent bounce that aligns with these standards is crucial, as it can greatly influence the flow of the game, especially at the professional level.

Price Range and Quality

Pickleball balls are available in a range of prices that often correlates with their quality. While it might be tempting to opt for the cheapest option, investing in higher-quality balls can improve your overall experience by ensuring a more accurate and reliable performance.

The Ball’s Role in Your Game

The pickleball you select has a direct correlation with how you play the game. Here’s a breakdown of the impact it can have:

Speed, Spin, and Control

The material used and the design of the ball shape its interaction with the paddle, affecting how much power and control a player can exert. Balls with a smooth surface offer better speed, whereas textured ones provide grip and the ability to put spin on the ball.

Player Preferences and Strategies

Some players may prefer a faster-paced game, opting for balls that bounce low and quickly. Others may prioritize control and strategic shots, leaning towards those with a higher, more floaty bounce. The ball choice can thus influence player strategies and style of play.

Environmental Considerations

Weather, such as windy conditions and ambient temperature can also play a significant role in ball selection. Wind-resistant outdoor balls or faster indoor balls might be more appropriate depending on the setting.

What Kind of Pickleball is Best for Beginners?

For beginners, selecting a pickleball that supports learning and skill development is essential. A ball with a moderate speed and bounce is usually the best choice, as it allows new players to have better control and more time to react during play.

Balls designed for indoor use often fit these criteria well, offering a softer bounce and slower velocity which can aid in refining techniques and building confidence on the court. Additionally, opting for a ball with a bright color can improve visibility, making it easier for novices to track the ball and anticipate its trajectory.

Frequently Asked Questions about What Kind of Ball is Used in Pickleball?

Why do Pickleballs Have Holes?

Pickleballs have holes in them primarily to control their flight stability and speed during play. The holes allow air to pass through the ball, reducing air resistance and enabling a more predictable trajectory.

This feature is essential in a sport like pickleball, where precision and control are crucial. Additionally, the holes help in reducing the ball’s bounce off hard surfaces, making the game more consistent and enjoyable, regardless of the playing environment.

This unique design distinguishes pickleballs from other types of sports balls, tailoring them specifically for the dynamics and requirements of the game.

How Much Does a Pickleball Weigh?

Pickleballs are designed to be lightweight, facilitating ease of play and control. Typically, a pickleball weighs between 0.78 and 0.935 ounces (approximately 22 to 26.5 grams).

The slight variations in weight depend on whether the ball is designed for indoor or outdoor play, with outdoor balls being slightly heavier to withstand windier conditions.

This specific weight range ensures that the balls can move quickly through the air while still allowing players to exert control over their shots, making the game accessible and enjoyable for players of all skill levels.

What is the difference between yellow and orange (and other color) pickleballs?

The primary difference between yellow and orange pickleballs lies in their visibility. Yellow balls are often easier to see in low-light conditions or against certain backgrounds, making them a preferred choice for indoor play and during the evening.

Orange balls, in contrast, are highly visible in brighter conditions, especially outdoors under direct sunlight.

The choice between these colors can therefore be strategic, depending on the playing environment and the players’ vision preferences. It’s important to note that both colors perform identically in terms of gameplay; the difference is purely visual.

How do you tell the difference between indoor and outdoor pickleballs?

The main difference between indoor and outdoor pickleballs can be identified by their design and material composition.

Indoor pickleballs are typically made of a softer plastic and have larger holes, which allows them to fly slower and more true in the controlled conditions of an indoor environment. This design caters to the smoother surfaces found indoors, such as wooden or synthetic courts.

On the other hand, outdoor pickleballs are made of a harder plastic and feature smaller, more tightly spaced holes. This construction makes them more durable and suited to withstand the rougher surfaces and varied weather conditions encountered outdoors. Their design also helps in minimizing the effects of wind on the ball’s trajectory, providing a balance of speed and control suitable for outdoor play.

How does weather affect which pickleball I should use?

Weather plays a significant role in ball selection. For outdoor play, especially in windy conditions, choosing a heavier and more wind-resistant ball is beneficial.

Conversely, for indoor play or environments without wind, lighter balls that are less affected by air resistance are preferable.

Does the surface of the pickleball affect play?

Yes, the surface of the pickleball plays a crucial role in gameplay. Balls with a smoother surface tend to move faster and are less conducive to spin, ideal for power players. Textured balls, on the other hand, offer grip that allows for better control and the ability to spin the ball, suiting strategic players.

What kind of pickleball is best for a fast-paced game?

When thinking about what kind of ball is used in pickleball, the pace of the game should be a consideration. If you prefer a fast-paced game, selecting a ball with a low bounce and smooth surface is advisable. Such balls travel quickly after bouncing, suiting an aggressive playstyle that focuses on power and speed.

Can the color of the pickleball make a difference in play?

While the color of the pickleball doesn’t directly affect its physical performance, choosing a brightly colored ball can significantly improve its visibility. This can help players track the ball better, leading to improved reaction times and overall performance.

What kind of ball is used in pickleball tournaments?

In most pickleball tournaments, the ball choice leans towards those approved by the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA). These balls meet specific size, bounce, and hardness standards, ensuring fair and standardized play.

Typically, outdoor tournaments use a durable, hard plastic ball with small to medium-sized holes designed for outdoor conditions. This ensures that the ball performs consistently in various weather conditions, offering a balance between speed and control that is suitable for competitive play.

How fast do pickleballs move through the air?

What Kind of Ball is Used in Pickleball? Fun Facts About this Unique Ball
Sporty man pickleball tennis player trains on the indoor court using a racket to hit the ball at high speed

Pickleballs, when struck during play, can reach speeds that vary significantly based on the force of the hit, the skill of the player, and the type of stroke used. On average, a pickleball can travel at speeds ranging from 20 to 40 miles per hour (mph).

However, during aggressive and powerful strokes, such as smashes, speeds can momentarily spike up to approximately 60 mph.

It’s noteworthy that the ball’s unique design—smaller and with holes—causes it to experience more air resistance than traditional solid balls, like tennis balls, which in turn affects its speed through the air. This characteristic is a fundamental aspect of the game, ensuring a blend of strategy and physicality.

Do Adults and Kids Use the Same Sized Pickleball?

Yes, both adults and kids use the same sized pickleball for play. The sport of pickleball is unique in that it standardizes the ball size across all age groups and skill levels. This uniformity promotes fairness and accessibility, making it easier for families and players of different ages to enjoy the game together.

The consistent ball size also simplifies equipment requirements for community centers, schools, and sports clubs, fostering a more inclusive environment for everyone to learn and participate in pickleball.

How does a pickleball differ from a wiffle ball?

While pickleballs and wiffle balls might seem similar at first glance due to their perforated designs, they are distinct in their construction and intended purpose.

A key difference lies in their size and weight. Pickleballs are generally larger and heavier than wiffle balls, allowing them to move faster and with more stability, especially in outdoor conditions.

Additionally, the holes in a pickleball are strategically sized and placed to balance aerodynamics and speed, which contrasts with the wiffle ball’s more random hole pattern, designed primarily to create unpredictable movement and reduce flight distance.

This makes pickleballs more suitable for precise, competitive play in pickleball games, whereas wiffle balls are designed for lightweight, casual, recreational activities.

How does a pickleball differ from a tennis ball?

Pickleball and tennis balls are designed for their respective sports, leading to notable differences in their construction, size, and performance characteristics.

A tennis ball is larger, covered in a felt material, and filled with air, providing a higher bounce and faster pace suited to the expansive courts and high-intensity play of tennis.

In contrast, a pickleball is made of a solid, hard plastic with holes and is smaller in size. This construction offers a lower bounce and a slower flight, making it ideal for the pickleball court’s smaller dimensions and the sport’s strategic, less power-focused game. These differences in physical properties are essential for adapting to the unique demands and play styles of each sport.

Can you use outdoor pickleballs on an indoor court?

Outdoor pickleballs can be used on an indoor court, but players may notice differences in gameplay due to the ball’s design.

Outdoor balls are made to withstand windy conditions and have a harder construction, which might make them less ideal for an indoor setting where the play is generally faster and requires more precise control.

The slightly heavier weight of outdoor pickleballs can affect their bounce and flight characteristics on the smoother, more consistent surfaces found indoors.

While there’s nothing preventing their use in indoor environments, players often opt for indoor pickleballs, which are designed to offer optimal performance in such conditions, enhancing the playability and overall experience.

Can you use indoor pickleballs on an outdoor court?

Indoor pickleballs can indeed be used on outdoor courts, yet players should anticipate a change in the ball’s performance due to environmental factors.

Designed for indoor play, these balls are lighter and have a smoother surface, which can be significantly affected by outdoor elements such as wind. The lighter weight may result in a decrease in flight stability and can lead to a less predictable bounce on the harder outdoor court surfaces.

While it is possible to use indoor pickleballs outdoors, for an optimal and consistent playing experience, selecting balls specifically designed for outdoor use is recommended.

How long do pickleballs last before needing replacement?

The lifespan of a pickleball can vary widely depending on factors such as frequency of play, playing surface, and quality of the ball.

Generally, pickleballs used in outdoor settings tend to wear out faster because of the harsher playing conditions, which can include concrete courts and exposure to various weather elements.

On average, a ball used in regular play might last between 1 to 3 months before showing signs of wear such as cracks or significant fading of the color, which would necessitate its replacement.

However, for casual players or in indoor environments, a pickleball can last much longer, sometimes up to 6 months or more, maintaining its bounce and structural integrity.

Besides Knowing What Kind of Balls are Used in Pickleball, What Gear Do I Need?

In addition to pickleballs, several other pieces of gear are essential for playing pickleball effectively.

The most crucial item is a pickleball paddle, which comes in various materials such as wood, composite, or graphite, and each offers different levels of power and control.

Proper footwear is also important to ensure stability and agility on the court, with many players opting for indoor court shoes with non-marking soles to prevent damage. There’s a variety of choices for both men and women’s pickleball shoes.

Comfortable and breathable clothing that allows for a wide range of motion is essential for optimal performance during play.

Additionally, a portable pickleball net and posts are necessary to set up the court if you aren’t playing on a stationary one, along with boundary lines to mark the playing area accurately.

Finally, accessories such as sweatbands, sunglasses, and pickleball-specific bags for carrying equipment can enhance the overall playing experience and comfort on the court.

Wrap Up

Understanding what kind of ball is used in pickleball and the type you should choose can make or break your pickleball experience.

By learning the differences between various pickleball balls and considering the factors that influence their performance, you’re equipped to make an informed choice that will enhance your game.

Whether you’re a beginner looking to buy your first set of pickleballs or an experienced player fine-tuning your gear, remember the impact of the ‘little green’ on your pickleball matches. Happy playing!

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