Pickleball is rapidly gaining popularity across the United States and around the world. In fact, Apple announced that Pickleball has overtaken tennis for the first time in workout activities.
One of the fundamental aspects of enjoying a game of pickleball is choosing the right equipment, including the pickleball itself.
Let's start by answering on of the most common questions:
- What does a pickleball look like?
- What's the difference between indoor vs outdoor pickleballs?
- What are the best indoor pickleballs?
- What are the best outdoor pickleballs?
- What are the official specifications of a pickleball?
- What is the official ball of pickleball tournaments?
Pickleballs are similar to wiffle balls and were originally the ball used when the game was invented.
Ball technology has advanced, and the current pickleball has a number of differences to the classic wiffle ball.
Pickleballs have between 26 and 40 holes to control the flight and bounce during the game.
Indoor balls have larger, fewer holes since they do not need to account for outside conditions like wind or humidity. Outdoor balls typically have 40, smaller holes to account for wind and bounce on hard surfaces.
Manufacturers make pickleballs from either plastic or polymer. The material used affects the overall performance such as feel, flight, and bounce of the ball.
Most ball manufacturers prefer polymer due to its durability.
Pickleballs come in a huge range of colors, although the most popular are yellow and neon green. This is because yellow and green are the easiest colors for our eyes to track.
Pickleball rules restrict yellow or green clothing to avoid hindering the opposing team's view of the ball.
There are a number of differences between indoor and outdoor pickleballs.
Outdoor balls have 40 perforated holes and are made from tougher plastic which is designed to be played on hard services like concrete and perform better in the elements.
Indoor balls typically have 26 holes and are softer plastic, designed to be played on smooth indoor courts like gymnasium flooring.
There are plenty of options for balls designed for indoor play, however we believe there isn't much difference in design between the top brands.
Here are a couple we've selected:
Gamma Two Tone
There isn't a straight-forward answer to the best pickleball balls. A lot of it comes down to personal preference, environmental conditions, or type of surface on outdoor courts.
There are a variety of outdoor pickleball balls to choose from but there are two types that dominate the market, the Dura Fast-40 and Franklin X-40.
Onix Dura Fast 40
The International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) sets official specifications for pickleball balls used in tournament play. According to the IFP rules, an official pickleball must:
- Have a diameter between 2.87 and 2.97 inches (approximately 73 to 75.5 mm).
- Weigh between 0.78 and 0.935 ounces (approximately 22 to 26.5 grams).
- Be made of a durable material, usually plastic or polymer.
- Have between 26 and 40 evenly spaced round holes.
- Bounce between 34 and 40 inches when dropped from a height of 78 inches on a granite surface at a temperature of 75-80°F.
Every few years, brands will sign contracts with national tours to become the official sponsored ball that must be played by amateurs and pros at the event. The professional pickleball association has a multi-year contract with the Onyx Dura Fast 40. The USA Pickleball Association signed a contract with Franklin to make their X-40 the official ball.