What Type of Ball is Used in Pickleball?

Posted on March 1, 2024
lineup of 3 pickleball types

In pickleball, one of the most distinguishing pieces of equipment you'll use is the ball itself. Unlike tennis or racquetball, pickleball features a unique ball that's specifically designed for the sport.

When you step onto the court, whether indoors or outdoors, you'll find that the ball is lightweight, perforated, and constructed of hard plastic, making it ideal for the swift yet strategic nature of the game.

Depending on where you play, there are different types of balls designed to suit the playing environment.

Outdoor pickleball balls typically have fewer and smaller holes to counter the effects of wind and are made of a harder plastic to withstand the rougher surfaces and elements.

For indoor play, the balls are lighter with larger holes, accommodating the smoother, more controlled play on gym floors.

Understanding the variations in ball specifications is crucial as it impacts how you strategize and hit during gameplay.

History and Evolution of Pickleball Balls

Man playing pickleball

When you explore the universe of pickleball, you'll find that the ball has undergone substantial changes from its inception.

Initially, players adopted the wiffle ball for informal games due to its ready availability. These lightweight, perforated plastic balls provided the foundation for today's pickleball balls.

However, inconsistencies in bounce and flight led to the desire for a more standardized and suitable option.

With feedback from players yearning for improved play, manufacturers began refining the design and material.

Today's pickleball ball is made of a harder, more durable plastic than the early wiffle version. Not only does this ensure a consistent bounce, but it also enhances the ball's longevity.

The dimensions have also been carefully considered. Here's a quick glimpse at the standard measurements:

FeatureMeasurement
Diameter2.784 - 2.972 inches
Weight.78 - .935 ounces
Bounce (from 78 inches)30 - 34 inches

When it comes to mold and construction, modern pickleball balls are specifically crafted to meet indoor or outdoor conditions.

Outdoor balls typically boast a smoother finish and are heavier to resist wind, while indoor balls have a textured surface to enhance grip and control within a controlled environment.

Throughout its history, the pickleball ball has been optimized for better court performance, integrating player feedback into its evolution.

As you grip your paddle and serve, remember that the ball in your hand results from generations of iterations aimed at perfecting your pickleball experience.

Types of Pickleball Balls

Another three pickleballs

Pickleball balls are meticulously designed for their specific playing environments. Whether you enjoy the game indoors or under the sun, the ball you use can significantly affect your gameplay.

Indoor Pickleball Balls

For your indoor play, indoor pickleballs are distinctive.

They typically feature larger holes and are lighter, facilitating a slower, more controlled game suitable for the smooth surfaces you find in gyms and indoor courts.

The Onix Fuse Indoor Pickleball is popular for its soft feel and balance between bounce and hardness. Its design, comprising 40 holes, is crafted to make play on indoor surfaces a breeze.

Outdoor Pickleball Balls

Conversely, outdoor pickleball balls are made with durability in mind.

They possess smaller, yet more holes to combat elements like wind resistance.

The Dura Fast 40 is an excellent example of an outdoor ball, renowned for its tough, durable material that stands up to the rough concrete or asphalt of outdoor courts.

Playing outdoor pickleball requires a ball that can deliver consistent performance despite the unpredictable elements, such as wind or varying temperatures, which is exactly what a ball like the Dura Fast 40 is designed to do.

Anatomy of a Pickleball Ball

To understand how a pickleball performs, you must familiarize yourself with its construction. The anatomy of a pickleball ball contributes directly to its durability and performance during play.

Material and Durability

Pickleball balls are crafted from hard plastic materials designed specifically for resilience and longevity.

Unlike rubber balls used in some other sports, pickleball balls are made from a durable material that withstands the rigors of the game.

This construction helps maintain the ball's shape and ensures consistent performance over time.

As your play intensifies, rest assured that these balls are engineered for extended use with minimal maintenance required.

Size and Weight

The official specifications dictate that pickleball balls must have a diameter falling between 2.874 inches and 2.972 inches and weigh between 0.78 and 0.935 ounces.

This precise combination of size and weight ensures the ball predictably moves through the air, striking a balance between ease of play and challenging dynamics.

Design Features

Pickleball balls are characterized by their unique design elements, including a number of holes—specifically, no fewer than 26 and no more than 40- distributed around the ball's surface.

This distinctive design helps to reduce wind resistance and allows for better control of the ball.

Additionally, many balls are designed with a seamless finish, eliminating any flight irregularities.

The texture on the ball's exterior, whether a smooth or slightly rough finish, can influence the ball's grip against the paddle and the playing surface, adding another level of strategy to the game.

Performance Factors

In the game of pickleball, your performance is influenced by the specific characteristics and behaviors of the ball you use. Understanding the factors that affect the ball's playability will help you select a ball that complements your style and the conditions you play in.

Bounce and Control

The bounce of a pickleball ball is a critical factor in how the game is played.

A consistent bounce ensures a predictable and fair game, allowing you to focus on technique rather than adjusting to erratic ball behavior.

Balls designed for indoor play tend to have a softer bounce due to their lighter weight and softer material, offering enhanced control for precise shots.

Conversely, outdoor balls are typically harder, providing a higher bounce and a need for greater force in your strokes.

Flight and Spin

Its aerodynamics determine the flight characteristics of a pickleball ball.

The smoothness, number, and size of the holes in the ball can influence how air flows around it, affecting both speed and stability.

Outdoor balls have smaller, more numerous holes, which help resist the effects of wind and maintain a truer flight path.

In contrast, indoor balls often have larger holes, allowing for more spin and finesse in your shots.

The right ball can help maximize your performance by complementing your ability to impart spin and maintain control over ball flight.

Selecting the Right Pickleball

Two guys playing pickleball in an indoor court

Choosing the correct pickleball is crucial for optimizing your gameplay and ensuring compliance with official standards. Factors such as playing environment and personal playing style influence the selection of the right ball.

Based on Playing Environment

Indoor Play: If you're playing indoors, typically in a gym or a recreation center, select a ball with larger holes.

These balls are designed to offer a slower flight and softer, compensating for the less abrasive indoor court surface.

Remember, indoor balls can be less durable when used outdoors, so matching the ball to your playing environment is important.

Outdoor Play: When playing outdoors, you'll need a ball that can withstand the elements.

These balls are heavier and have smaller, more closely spaced holes, which help them maintain a stable path in the wind.

The rugged construction offers durability on the harder playing surfaces found outside, such as concrete or asphalt.

The TOP Pickleball is a common heavy choice for an outdoor game, well-suited for the natural outdoor challenges you and your opponent will face.

According to Playing Style

Skill Level and Playing Style: Choosing the right ball also depends on your personal playing style and skill level.

If you're a power player who favours a fast-paced, aggressive game, a harder outdoor ball may complement your style, providing a less bouncy, more predictable ball flight for powerful shots.

Conversely, if finesse and control are your strategies, an indoor ball, with its lighter and softer characteristics, might better serve your need for a softer touch and precision.

Pickleball Ball Color Variations

When selecting a pickleball ball, you'll notice that there is a range of colors available. Each hue serves a specific purpose and may impact your game depending on various conditions.

Preferred Tournament Colors:

  • The tournament standard is typically a bright yellow, offering high visibility for players, officials, and spectators.

Popular Colors for Casual Play:

  • Aside from yellow, orange and white are also favored for their ease of visibility.
EnvironmentSuggested Ball Color
IndoorWhite or Yellow
OutdoorYellow, Orange

In addition to the color, outdoor pickleballs differ in construction to provide more bounce and are made from a harder plastic, enabling a faster-paced game.

Your choice might also be influenced by personal preference and the contrast against your playing surface to ensure the ball stands out.

Official Regulations and Standards

When selecting a ball for pickleball, you must adhere to the standards set by regulatory bodies such as the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA). These guidelines ensure that the game is played fairly and consistently across all tournaments.

Here are the key specifications for an official pickleball:

  • Size: Your ball should have a diameter ranging from 2.874 to 2.972 inches.
  • Weight: A regulation ball must weigh between 0.78 and 0.935 ounces.
  • Bounce: When dropped from 78 inches, the ball must bounce between 30 and 34 inches.

Additionally, the ball must exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Color: The ball should be a single, consistent color optimized for visibility. The most common colors are yellow for outdoor play and white for indoor play.
  • Holes: It should have between 26 and 40 holes.

During official tournaments, balls are carefully selected and must appear on the approved list posted on the USA Pickleball and Global Pickleball Federation websites. These regulations ensure a standardized playing experience and maintain the integrity of the sport at the competitive level.

Care and Maintenance

Taking proper care of your pickleball ball is essential to ensure its longevity and maintain its playability. Durable as they may be, following a few maintenance tips can make all the difference.

Clean Your Balls Regularly

  • Wipe the ball with a soft, damp cloth to remove dirt.
  • For a deeper clean, wash with warm water and a mild detergent.
  • Rinse thoroughly to avoid leaving any residue.
  • Allow the ball to air dry completely before storing.

Proper Storage

  • Store your balls in a cool, dry place.
  • Avoid exposure to direct sunlight or high temperatures to prevent warping.
  • Keep balls away from sharp objects that could cause punctures.

Routine Inspection and Replacement

  • Before play, inspect your balls for any cracks or significant wear.
  • Replace your pickleball ball if you notice any performance issues or visible damage.
  • Even with careful maintenance, balls will eventually need to be replaced due to regular wear and tear.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size is a pickleball ball?

Your pickleball should have a diameter between 2.87 and 2.97 inches. It's designed to be slightly larger than a tennis ball but smaller than a wiffle ball.

How much does a pickleball ball weigh?

A regulation pickleball ball weighs between 0.78 ounces and 0.935 ounces. This weight helps maintain a balance between control and flight performance.

What colors do pickleball balls come in?

Pickleball balls are available in various colors, including yellow, white, and orange. The color choice often depends on the visibility against your playing surface.

What should I know about the bounce of a pickleball ball?

When dropped from a height of 78 inches, a pickleball ball should bounce between 30 and 34 inches. This bounce characteristic is a critical aspect of how the game plays.

Are there different types of pickleball balls?

Yes, there are two main types:

  • Outdoor pickleball balls
    • Harder plastic
    • More holes
    • Durable for outdoor conditions
  • Indoor pickleball balls
    • Softer and less bounce
    • Fewer holes
    • Suited for gym floors or indoor courts

How can I choose the right type of pickleball ball?

Select your ball based on the playing environment. Outdoor balls are generally more durable for rougher surfaces. Meanwhile, indoor balls are designed for smoother, indoor surfaces.

Consider the differences between pickleball ball types when making your choice.

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The Author
Melvin Robles
I'm Melvin. The author and editor of PickleballGuide. I've played pickleball since 2014 and tennis since I was ten. I hope you enjoy your time on here.
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