Reflecting on all the sports, it is evident that the equipment used is essential to the players, and pickleball is no exception. The pickleball ball has many different and distinct features in its makeup, which drive each player’s ball preference.
Unless they have entered a USAPA-sanctioned tournament, pickleballers can use any ball they wish. You do not need to have it approved. Whenever you appear at a non-sanctioned court, be prepared to use the community’s ball.
What to Look For in a Pickleball Ball
To buy pickleball balls, you must first check the material it’s made of. A ball should be firm and resistant to denting. If you can quickly press an indention into the ball, the ball will likely be prone to dead spots and not bounce properly.
The following step involves ensuring that the holes in the ball are evenly distributed and cleanly drilled. A ball out of balance increases its chances of waving or “waffling” in the air.
Last but not least, you should check the ball’s seam. Typically, a ball comprises two halves, so a seam is molded/glued together at the end. A ball with a weak or not evenly placed seam will be more likely to split in half during play or give an unnatural bounce on court surfaces.
How to Select the Perfect Pickleball Ball
If you’re getting into pickleball, you might feel the temptation to grab the cheapest pack of balls you can find. This can lead to a few unfortunate situations, whether buying from an unreliable brand or buying the wrong type of ball from the right brand.
Classification of Pickleballs
Pickleballs can be divided into indoor and outdoor, depending on where they’re used. So what is the difference?
Indoor: Best Indoor Pickleballs are generally used indoors on a wood/composite gym floor — like at a local recreation center.
Best Indoor Pickleball balls are lighter, softer, and have larger (but generally fewer) holes than outdoor balls. Because of these characteristics, Indoor Pickleballs come off the paddle a little “softer,” are easier to control, and typically result in longer rallies.
As for color, there are only a few colors that please everyone. The best color will depend on the color of the floor, the color of the background, and the lighting characteristics of your venue.
Outdoor: Best Outdoor pickleball balls are heavier, more complex, and smoother and have 40 holes drilled into them. The weight and construction of Top rated outdoor pickleballs make them less affected by wind.
That faster tempo comes from the ball’s construction, which has numerous smaller holes than its indoor counterpart. With around 40 holes and a firmer surface, outdoor balls can cut across the wind for more direct shots. This can increase the rate of play, upping the ante and increasing the fun for more seasoned players.
USAPA Approved Pickleball
There are over 50 USA Pickleball/IFP-approved tournament pickleballs from which the Tournament Director chooses when managing a USA Pickleball-sanctioned event.
For rec play and non-sanctioned tournaments, however, any ball can be used – regardless if the ball is or is not on the official list of approved balls.
The pickleball selected for play in any USA Pickleball- or IFP-sanctioned tournament must be named on the official list of approved balls. The approved balls on the list have met the official ball specifications dictated by the USA Pickleball/IFP. Official ball specifications dictate acceptable parameters for the construction material, size, weight, bounce, and hardness of the ball.
Choose the Right Ball for Your Needs
To practice and play at a high level, players need different balls. Consider this before buying a pickleball, and choose your pickleball ball wisely based on your needs and requirements.
Beginner: You can purchase our indoor and outdoor ball sets if you are a beginner. Experience various playing styles in different environments until you find your favorite playing scenario.
An experienced pickleball player: The 12 outdoor ball set is perfect if you have been playing pickleball for a long time, have a lot of experience, or want to play with your family and friends.
Pickleball competitor: If you or your children need to practice pickleball daily, you must stock up on enough balls to change them often. Buying a 100 outdoor ball set is ideal! This set has a highly cost-effective performance that you can replace.
What Are the Official Pickleball Specifications?
- The ball shall be durable and have a non-textured, smooth surface.
- There may be a ridge or seam on the ball, but this cannot affect its flight characteristics.
- The ball should have a diameter of 2.87″ to 2.97″.
- The ball should have a weight range between 0.78 and 0.935 ounces.
- A ball dropped from 78″ onto a granite surface should bounce between 30″ and 34″ to the top.
- The ball’s hardness must be between 40 and 50 on a Durometer D scale at 75 to 80°F.
- There should be 26 to 40 circular holes on the ball.
- The ball must have the manufacturer’s name or logo printed or embossed on the surface.
- Each tournament director chooses the ball to be used in their tournament, which USAPA or IFT must approve.
- Today, there are approximately 65 USAPA/IFP-approved tournament pickleballs.
There are two types of pickle balls outdoors with surfaces to use them on. And indoors, besides the different colors the balls come in, the main difference is the hole size between the balls.
The Dura Fast 40 pickleball has been the most used for competitive play for over 20 years.
Outdoor balls have thicker plastic, smaller holes, and are a bit heavier. These contribute to the ball coming off the paddle faster and harder than indoor balls. The outdoor balls have smaller holes to make them less affected by wind, and the thicker plastic helps with durability.
So many factors play into a ball’s lifespan, but on average, a pickleball lasts for 3-5 games at max performance before it’s recommended to be switched out.
If you or your children need to practice ball pickleball daily, you must stock up on enough balls to change them often. Buying a 100 outdoor ball set is ideal! This set has a highly cost-effective performance that you can replace.
Founder of BallSportsGear, Sports Enthusiast and Speaker.