Pickleball Ball Buying Guide: How to Choose the Right Ball

Est. Reading: 4 minutes

Like other paddle sports, pickleball uses a ball specifically designed for the sport. There are also specifications that ball manufacturers should follow. As a player, you should only buy the appropriate ball for the game. This comprehensive buying guide can help you choose the right ball, so read this from start to finish.

What Do Pickleball Balls Look Like?

Pickleball balls are plastic perforated balls that look like wiffle balls. However, the former has circular holes on all surfaces, while the latter has oblong holes only on one side. According to the history of pickleball, its inventors experimented with different balls and decided to use a wiffle ball as a pattern for pickleball balls. Since then, ball manufacturers have been following a specific design.

How Big and Heavy is a Pickleball Ball?

According to Section 2.D of the USA Pickleball Official Equipment Standards Manual, the diameter of pickleball balls should be between 2.87 and 2.97 inches (7.29 and 7.54 cm). Recalling your Geometry in High School, the circumference should be between 9.02 inches (22.91cm) and 9.33 inches (23.69cm). Balls must weigh 0.78-0.935 ounces (22.1-26.5 grams). 

How Many Holes Do Pickleball Balls Have?

Based on standards, pickleball balls should have 26-40 circular holes, depending on the type. There are no rules about the hole diameter, which will depend on the number of holes. Indoor balls have larger holes than outdoor balls but are fewer.

Types of Pickleball Balls

Pickleball is played indoors and outdoors, and courts have different surfaces and environments. This is the purpose of having two types of pickleball balls - indoor and outdoor. 

Indoor Pickleball Balls

Although there are no rules about indoor balls, these balls are soft, lightweight, and usually have 26 holes. Aside from newly built courts, many indoor pickleball courts are modified basketball and badminton courts. These courts are enclosed, and their playing surfaces are mostly hardwood floors. 

It is, therefore, logical to use lighter and softer balls. Also, the fewer holes a ball has, the larger holes it has. This design allows more air to flow through the ball, making the ball travel faster and bounce lower. No wonder this type of ball is appropriate for indoor games. Reminder: Using indoor balls outdoors is definitely a no-no!

Outdoor Pickleball Balls

On the contrary, outdoor pickleball balls usually have 40 smaller holes and are harder and heavier. These days, many tennis courts are used as pickleball courts. Since their flooring is typically concrete or asphalt, using harder balls is a must. Logically, softer balls will bounce differently on harder surfaces and will wear out quickly, 

This opposite design of indoor balls also matches the surroundings of outdoor courts. This is because, in open courts, wind can hinder the speed and direction of softer balls. Therefore, players will find it more challenging to play. Using outdoor balls indoors will also produce noise. For a more detailed comparison, read our Indoor vs Outdoor Pickleball Balls Guide.

How to Choose the Right Pickleball Ball

Knowing the difference between indoor and outdoor balls should not be the only factor when buying pickleball balls. Below are other specifications and recommendations for choosing the right ball.

  • Pickleball balls should have a “USA Pickleball Approved” seal or text treatment on their package and must specify whether they are for competition or not.
  • Balls should bear the name of the manufacturer or supplier or a logo printed or embossed on the surface.
  • Balls should be durable and have a smooth surface.
  • They may have a slight ridge at the seam. However, it should not significantly affect their flight characteristics.
  • Choose a color of the ball that is in contrast with the surroundings.

To ensure that a pickleball ball is approved by USA Pickleball, check if it is on their official list of approved balls.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is There a Rule About Pickleball Ball Colors?

No, there is no rule about the specific color for pickleball balls. Instead, Section 2.D.1 states that “balls should have a uniform color, except for identification markings.” Nevertheless, the usual color of indoor balls is bright yellow. On the other hand, outdoor balls are usually green, orange, and yellow and should be brighter to be more visible in different lighting conditions.

How Long Do Pickleball Balls Last?

Ideally, indoor pickleball balls last longer than outdoor balls because of the extreme weather outside. Other factors that affect the longevity of balls are court surfaces, impact when hit by paddle, and frequency of use. On average, pickleball balls can last for ten games but can be shorter if they are outdoor balls.

When Should You Buy New Pickleball Balls?

The lifespan of your pickleball ball gets shorter as you play more. So, when should you buy a new one? Obviously, you need to replace balls once they are misshapen or have cracks. If the damage on the ball is not visible, you may still need a replacement if it starts to bounce differently. You may also feel the changes while you hit the ball. If you are an advanced player, you may need to buy new balls earlier than beginners.

Are There Quiet Pickleball Balls?

No, there’s no such thing as a quiet pickleball ball, and there will never be. There will be a sound every time you hit the ball or it bounces off the ground. Over the years, some pickleball ball manufacturers have been selling “quieter” balls. But technically, balls are not the only ones that cause noise in the sport. So, to help reduce pickleball noise, USA Pickleball added a Quiet Category last September.

Final Thoughts

Aside from choosing a pickleball ball that conforms to the standards, pick the one that’s comfortable for you. If you are a beginner, you can start with indoor balls since they are lighter. As you continue playing, you can move to the heavier ones. But then, you can also begin with heavy balls, as long as you are healthy enough to exert extra force. In doing so, you can also play outdoors.

Correction (Feb 13, 2024): outdoor pickleball balls usually have 40 smaller holes, not bigger. We apologize for the error.

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3 months ago

Not true... indoor balls have fewer larger holes. Outdoor balls have more smaller holes.

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