Is a pickleball just a pickleball? It may initially seem silly to review a pickleball, at least for those who don't have tons of experience using different balls.
But when a ball is designed with optimal weight and durability in mind, there is a noticeable difference in its performance.
Issues with pickleballs
Even if you're not too picky about the pickleball equipment you play with, surely you've experienced (or know someone who has) some of the common issues found in pickleballs.
Durability is the most common one. Pickleballs are made of plastic, and over time, they can crack or break, especially during intense gameplay or in extreme temperatures.
This can result in shorter ball life and the need for frequent replacements.
Consistency is another issue. There can be inconsistencies in weight, size, and bounce which can affect gameplay and make it challenging for players to adapt to different balls.
And performance on different surfaces must also be addressed. Depending on which surface you play, some balls may bounce higher or lower, skid more, or have reduced spin.
With that context out of the way, I can more eloquently say what I enjoyed most about PCKL's Elite 40 pickleball.
The Elite 40 ball's advantages
Let's go over what the brand says about their newest ball:
- Designed for competitive and tournament play (in this case, they're just targeting consistent players)
- USA Pickleball approved
- Firmer feel off the paddle
- Official ball partner of both the Amateur Pickleball Association (APA) and the Southern Pickleball Association (SPA)
So far: check, check, check, and check – particularly on that last point about how the ball feels off of the paddle.
Out of curiosity, I did test the Elite 40 pickleball – again, an outdoor ball – against an indoor ball. You'd expect there to be a big difference in feel, given that indoor balls almost always have more "give" compared to heavier, harder outdoor balls. This difference was certainly noted.
But the impressive part was that my Elite 40 balls all individually felt the exact same both in the hand and off the paddle. There was no inconsistency in the balls I received.
"The result is that Elite 40 uses an industry exclusive blend of materials that provides incredible durability, even in cold temperatures." – Mitchell Chapman, Director at PCKL
Of course, the biggest difference between the PCKL Elite 40 and other balls I played with will likely go unnoticed for a while. The overall durability of the ball means I'll be playing with it for a long, long time.
It's one of those factors you might not realize is a factor until one day, you think, "wow, I've been playing with this one, individual ball for a while."
Paddle Review: PCKL Pro Series
That's precisely what I thought when I pulled one from my three-pack and used that same individual ball exclusively in over two months of consistent play.
Suffice it to say: it still plays like it did when I took it out of the package – and I've gone up against some slammers in the past month, as well as some classic New England temperature spikes and lows.
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