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It’s no secret that pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the USA, if not in the whole world, especially since the US Open Pickleball Championships started. Well, the thing that first caught my eye about pickleball was the pickleballs themselves.
They have such an interesting shape and design; they’re like a hybrid of tennis balls and ping pong balls with holes in them.
Also, the fact that there are outdoor pickleballs and indoor balls is quite strange. What could the difference between indoor and outdoor ones be? What do pickleballs look like, to begin with? Well, keep on reading, and you’ll find all the answers to your pickleball balls-based questions!
Pickleball Ball Shape
As I just mentioned, pickleball balls have drilled holes in them, but what you may not know is that the number and placement of holes aren’t at all random.
The pickleball balls are made to fly in a straight line for optimum performance. If the hole design isn’t done correctly, airflow could cause the ball to swing in different directions, and therefore, ruin the game. Imagine a tennis ball that keeps changing direction on its own—it doesn’t make sense.
The number of holes in pickleballs should be between 26 and 40 holes in order to be approved for tournament play by the USAPA (USA Pickleball Association). Usually, outdoor balls tend to have more holes, closer to the 40 mark, while indoor balls have a number closer to 26.
Pickleball Ball Size
The diameter of a pickleball must be around 2.784 and 2.972 inches (7.07 to 7.54 cm) to be acceptable for tournament use. Going back to the tennis ball comparison, because most people are familiar with them, a tennis ball must be from 2.57 to 2.70 inches.
So, a pickleball ball is a little larger than a tennis ball, but the difference isn’t at all drastic.
Pickleball Ball Weight
If you’ve ever taken a look at a pickleball and thought that it seems very lightweight, that’s because it is.
According to the USAPA, the weight of a pickleball should range from 0.78 to 0.935 ounces. Comparing those measurements to a tennis ball that should weigh between 1.975 and 2.095 ounces, a pickleball is half the weight of a tennis ball.
The lightness of pickleballs makes the sport easy to learn for beginners because you don’t have to worry about the force of the ball against the paddle; it’s easy to get used to.
Pickleball vs Wiffle Ball
At first glance, pickleball balls and Wiffle balls might look similar, and that’s because they’re both made from the same material, which is plastic. However, if you take a moment to inspect both balls, you’ll find some differences.
The first difference you might notice is the shapes of the holes. Wiffle balls have oblong holes, while pickleball holes are round with even spaces between them. Both balls are designed in a way that the ball flies straight and doesn’t curve.
Further, pickleball balls tend to have brighter colors (both indoor and outdoor balls), while Wiffle balls are just plain white.
The differences go beyond just the looks, as pickleballs are heavier (0.78 to 0.935 ounces) than Wiffle balls that only weigh around 0.7 ounces.
While both balls aren’t exactly the same diameter, they’re pretty close. As stated before, pickleballs should have a diameter ranging from 2.784 to 2.972 inches, while Wiffle balls’ dimensions should be between 2.86 and 2.94 inches. As you can see, the difference is pretty small and can go unnoticed.
Pickleball Ball Machine
Much like tennis and baseball, pickleballs have a wide range of machines that you can use to practice for tournaments or just to have fun without other players. Well, here are some factors that must be considered before getting a pickleball machine or during the construction process of one.
First of all, you need to decide how fast pickleballs get shot. You can find some machines that shoot as slow as 5 mph and as fast as 75 mph. Of course, machines that can shoot at a wide range of speeds are the way to go because you can just adjust it to your skill level.
Another factor is the ball capacity. Machines can store a finite number of balls, so it’s always a good move to find machines that can store as many balls as possible. However, this might not be a critical factor if you only have a few balls around and you’re not training for tournament-level matches.
Moreover, time intervals between each shot is another factor that you need to look into. Most pickleball machines have time intervals ranging from 1 to 10 seconds, so keep that in mind.
Lastly, quality and durability are two factors that go hand in hand when it comes to pickleball machines. You wouldn’t want your ball machine to just break down halfway through your training. You can tell how durable a machine is from the materials that go into its construction.
Of course, there are other factors that can make or break a pickleball machine, like battery life, warranty, and spin factor. Generally, good pickleball machines are ones that can have randomized settings because they can really represent how the opposing player will be shooting the balls.
Pickleball Ball Holder
A pickleball holder can be as simple as a mesh bag you tie around your waist or a frame that you hang on the sides of the net and store your pickleballs while you’re not playing.
Indoor Pickleball Balls
An indoor pickleball is a lot lighter and softer than an outdoor pickleball, and there’s a reason behind that. An indoor pickleball wouldn’t face as many challenging factors as an outdoor ball, meaning you don’t need to worry about UV rays, the wind, and the harsher court surface damaging the plastic.
Additionally, an indoor pickleball is easier to control and more difficult to hit hard with the paddle face, making it perfect for indoor usage. It’s also a lot safer and more forgiving, which is exactly why some players prefer using indoor balls for outdoor play.
How long an indoor pickleball lasts depends heavily on your usage rather than the ball’s durability or quality. Generally, indoor pickleballs tend to last longer because they’re not facing sun rays and because they’re made softer. Like any pickleball, an indoor ball can get soft after a while or can even crack, which is a sign that you need some new balls.
Color-wise, indoor pickleballs are usually white, lime green, neon green, or orange, which greatly helps with their visibility, even at night. You can even find some indoor balls available in yellow.
Among the most popular indoor pickleballs are the Onix Fuse Indoor Pickleball, Gamma Photon, and Jugs Indoor Balls. If you’re unsure which to go for, the Onix Fuse or the Gamma Photon balls are a good place to start, and they come in a variety of colors! The Jugs ball and Onix Pure 2 Indoor ball are also a great choice.
Outdoor Pickleball Balls
An outdoor pickleball is made from smooth plastic and has smaller holes than an indoor one. Those smaller holes prevent the outdoor balls from getting affected by the wind in an open court. Also, an outdoor pickleball tends to be on the heavier side, weighing around 0.9 ounces.
On top of that, an outdoor pickleball is more difficult to control, making it a fun challenger for all pickleball players. Outdoor pickleballs are widely used indoors because they don’t bounce as high as indoor ones, which is what some players prefer. The bounce factor of a ball could change the whole game.
A downside to outdoor pickleballs is that they’re louder, which drives some players away from using them in indoor courts; it’s a trade-off.
The most popular colors of an outdoor pickleball are yellow, orange, and white, which are usually bright to help with the ball’s visibility in the sun in an outdoor pickleball court.
Let’s talk about outdoor pickleballs, including Dura Fast 40, Onix Fuse, Onix Fuse G2, Onix Pure 2, and TOP ball. The most popular ones are all the Dura pickleballs. For example, the Dura Fast 40 is the most commonly used ball in tournaments. Also, the Onix Pure 2 is a great pick if you’re a beginner pickleball player.
Also, if the name Onix Pure 2 sounds familiar, it’s because there’s also an indoor version of the same ball. If you don’t know which one to opt for, I highly recommend the Dura Fast 40 (or any Dura outdoor pickleball, for that matter), the Onix Fuse G2, or the Penn 40 Outdoor Pickleball.
Final Words on Pickleball Balls
Visibility, bounce, color, shape, and weight, and the court itself are all factors that can affect the performance of a pickleball. A typical pickleball should weigh from 0.78 to 0.935 ounces and measure between 2.784 and 2.972 inches. Also, the number of holes should be between 26 and 40, with even spaces between holes to allow the ball to fly in a straight line.
Lastly, indoor pickleballs tend to be different from outdoor ones in terms of weight, performance on different courts, and even sound. Regardless of which pickleball balls you use we hope you get out there and enjoy the game!