Pickleball is a sport that’s rapidly gained popularity around the globe. This fast-paced, challenging sport is something anyone can enjoy, no matter their age or athletic ability. Navigating your way around the pickleball court is just the beginning of good gameplay, though! Choosing the right paddle and considering indoor vs. outdoor pickleball balls can have a major impact on your success on the court.
What is a Pickleball?
A pickleball has some shared characteristics with tennis balls and Wiffle balls. Outdoor and indoor pickleballs are both made of plastic with numerous holes through the ball.
Playing pickleball with the wrong type of ball makes it almost impossible to get a good serve or maintain control over where the ball is going.
Indoor and outdoor playing both require a pickleball ball, but note that the same type isn’t a good fit for both settings.
Are All Pickleballs the Same?
If you’re new to the world of pickleball, choosing a ball to play with might not seem like a big deal. They’re all pickleballs, after all, right? Technically, yes, anything marketed as a pickleball can be used to play pickleball.
Realistically, however, not all pickleballs are created equal. Indoor and outdoor pickleballs have certain characteristics that make them more suitable for indoor play or outdoor play. Some players strictly prefer outdoor play, while others are more versatile. Whether you play indoors or outdoors is up to you – just make sure you have the right ball for the setting.
Indoor pickleball courts are often preferred by new players and those that live in an unpredictable climate. Playing indoors takes away variables like wind, sun, and rain. This offers a more consistent experience every time. With no moving air around you, you can focus on perfecting your serve in a controlled environment.
On the other hand, playing indoors can feel a bit cramped and limiting for more experienced players. You might find you prefer the challenge of playing outdoors with natural wind amping up the difficulty of your game.
Indoor pickleball balls are designed to be a gentler version of an outdoor ball. Indoor balls weigh less and don’t bounce as high as outdoor balls.
They’re also made using a softer plastic than outdoor balls. When an indoor pickleball is worn out, it will become too soft to play with. Getting hit by a softer indoor ball will hurt a lot less than getting hit with an outdoor ball too.
Indoor balls feature fewer holes than outdoor balls, with just 26 holes being found on the best-selling indoor pickleballs. Indoor balls have larger holes, which is why there aren’t as many.
All of these factors combined make indoor balls easier to control with your paddle. While this is great for developing your pickleball skills, it does lead to longer rallies and more drawn-out games.
Outdoor pickleball is what you see the pros playing during tournaments. Most pickleball camps offered by professional players are taught on an outdoor court too. Outdoor pickleball is preferred by many players because of the openness you have while you play.
Not only can you enjoy the scenery, but you won’t be overwhelmed by the echoing noises that you’d find on an indoor court. Outdoor pickleball is more challenging than indoor pickleball because you’re at the mercy of nature.
If it’s windy or the sun is shining a bit too bright, hitting the ball the way you want becomes a lot harder. Outdoor pickleball balls are designed with those challenges in mind to set the players up for success.
Outdoor pickleballs are made using harder plastic than indoor balls. The plastic has to hold up in the elements outside and will be hit against harder materials than you’d find indoors.
The hard plastic can crack or become rounded out when outdoor balls need to be replaced.
You’ll find that outdoor pickleballs are heavier and feature more holes. Most outdoor pickleballs have around 40 holes!
The weight of outdoor pickleballs makes it easier to control them when there’s wind or rain. These balls have a higher bounce too. The design features on outdoor balls make it possible to serve harder and faster than you can with indoor pickleballs. This creates outdoor pickleball play with shorter rallies and faster gameplay that’s preferred for a tournament setting.
Choosing the Best Ball for Your Pickleball Game
Indoor and outdoor balls both serve an important purpose. Indoor pickleball balls don’t perform well on an outdoor court and vice versa. Needless to say, the first step in choosing the best ball for your pickleball game is to determine where you’ll be playing.
Rather you’re buying an indoor or outdoor pickleball, it should be a brightly colored ball that’s easy to see. Yellow is the most common choice for outdoor playing, with orange being a close second choice. Indoor balls can be found in yellow, orange, bright green, and blue.
Pickleballs that are approved by the USA Pickleball Association are a better investment than other balls.
These are some of our favorite indoor and outdoor pickleballs!
Best Indoor Pickleballs
Start by finding a ball specifically marketed for use on indoor courts. These plastic balls will pair better with gym floors and other indoor surfaces without being too loud.
Franklin Sports has an affordable 26-hole indoor ball in a vibrant blue color available on Amazon.
If you’re looking to stock up on pickleball equipment, this six-pack of orange balls by Camsoon is a great choice.
Best Outdoor Pickleballs
Choosing your outdoor pickleball ball starts with finding a ball that has 40 holes and great reviews. The US Open Pickleball Association even endorses certain brands! Outdoor pickleballs can be found at almost any sports retailer both online and in-store.
The Franklin Sports outdoor ball is a classic choice that never disappoints. The neon range of colors to choose from will make it easy to keep your eye on the ball, and a high-quality design will extend the life of each ball. You can purchase these balls in packs as small as three and as large as 100!
The type and quality of your pickleball are important to good game-play. There are just a couple of differences between indoor and outdoor balls, but they are very important to your entire game. Playing with the correct ball can make even casual players more confident and skilled in their game.