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    A pickleball for indoor use is generally softer, has some texture, and is lighter in weight than a pickleball for outdoor use. Although indoor pickleball balls perform better on inside courts, they are not as durable outside. Outdoor pickleball balls are heavier, smooth, and can better withstand the wind.

    Indoor vs outdoor pickleballs: what’s the difference?

    Characteristic Indoor Pickleballs Outdoor Pickleballs
    Materials Softer plastic Harder plastic
    # Holes 26 holes 40 holes
    Diameter 2.9 inches 2.88 inches
    Pros Easier to control, longer rallies, quieter Wind resistant, fast-paced game, durable, good bounce properties
    Cons Slower-paced game, not wind-resistant, wears out quickly Hurts when hit, not as good for topspin, noisy
    Brands Onix, Core, Day 1 Sports, Franklin Sports, EasyTime Dura Fast 40, Penn 40, Franklin Sports, Top, Tourna Strike, Onix
    Skill level Better for beginners Preferred by intermediate/advanced players

    Indoor courts and outdoor courts have different weather conditions and different court conditions. This means different types of balls prefer better in each scenario.

    Indoor balls are designed to be lighter, more airy, and made of softer plastic. The holes in these balls are larger. There are only 26 holes (compared to 40 smaller holes in an outdoor ball).

    When playing indoors, fewer holes in the balls make them easier to control, and they require less power to propel. Beginner pickleball players often prefer playing indoors at first.

    Outdoor pickleballs are harder and heavier in order to minimize wind disruption. Due to their weight, they bounce lower and move faster than indoor pickleball balls.

    As a player, indoor pickleball is great for beginners, and for any time there’s inclement weather. Players often move to outdoor pickleball as they become more experienced, or if they prefer the faster style of play typical of outdoor pickleball.

    Indoor Pickleballs

    Woman playing pickleball indoors and holding an indoor pickleball
    • As a general rule, indoor pickleballs have larger holes than outdoor ones. As they are made from softer plastic, they are easier to control. It is important to note, however, that this softer material and larger holes result in more drag, which makes slamming the ball more difficult on indoor courts.
    • It is common for indoor pickleball to have a greater variety of textures, which contributes to its spin. 
    • Indoor pickleball balls are usually smaller and lighter than outdoor pickleball balls.
    • Once you have played with the ball for a while, watch out for soft spots, as the softer material can cause them to wear out more quickly. 
    • There are 26 beveled holes in each indoor pickleball, which is the number approved by the USAPA. Indoor pickleballs are available in a variety of colors and is within the required size range, with a 2.9-inch diameter.
    • Indoor pickleballs are similar in price to outdoor pickleballs. For example, a Dura Fast 40 outdoor pickleball costs $21.73 for a pack of 12 and an indoor pack of 12 by Joncaye is $25.

    Outdoor Pickleballs

    Outdoor pickleball ball laying on a green court next to a paddle
    • Outdoor pickleballs are made of smooth plastic and are heavier than indoor pickleballsEach ball has 40 holes
    • The heavier weight allows the ball to withstand the wind better than an indoor ball.
    • Avoid being struck by an outdoor pickleball. It’ll hurt more than an indoor pickleball!
    • As a result of their heavier weight, outdoor pickleballs are harder to hit and have less drag than indoor pickleballs. They are able to come off the paddle more quickly and travel at a faster rate. Pickleball balls used for outdoor play tend to be more difficult to control, which makes for a more challenging game.
    • Outdoor pickleballs can show more wear and tear than indoor pickleballs. Don’t be alarmed if yours cracks. Playing style, temperature, and playing surface all have a bearing on how long they last.

    The USAPA does not specify ball color

    • The pickleball ball can be any color you want, but it must have uniform color, meaning the whole ball must be the same color.
    • Orange is a common color, as are white and yellow. This is due to the fact that these colors can be easily seen, especially in a darkened gym area.

    USAPA pickleball requirements

    Only regulation pickleballs are allowed in pickleball competitions. Below, you can see exactly what the USAPA pickleball requirements are.

    Ball Specifications

    • Construction. Material for the ball should be durable, smooth, and free of texturing. Except for identification markings, the ball will be one color. You can have a slight ridge at the seam, as long as it doesn’t affect the ball’s flight.
    • Approval. It’s up to the Tournament Director to pick the ball. Any ball selected to play in a USA Pickleball or IFP sanctioned tournament must be on the official list of approved balls posted on the USA Pickleball and IFP websites.
    • Size. The ball should be 2.87 inches (7.29 cm) to 2.97 inches (7.54 cm). It can’t be more than +/-0.020 inch (0.51 mm) out of round.
    • Weight. It should weigh between 0.78 and 0.935 ounces (22.1 and 26.5 grams).
    • Bounce. Dropping the ball from a height of 78 inches (198.1 cm) onto a granite plate with a smooth surface that’s at least 12 inches (30.5 cm) by 12 inches (30.5 cm) by 4 inches (10.2 cm) will result in a bounce of 30 to 34 inches (76.2 to 86.4 cm). An ambient temperature of 70 degrees F plus or minus 5 degrees F is required for the test.
    • Compression. According to (IAW) ASTM F1888-09, the ball should yield an average compression test result of <43 LBF. Every ball will be tested twice, once perpendicular to the ball seam (if applicable) and once parallel to the ball seam (if applicable). The ball will be tested once in a random location and again approximately 90-degrees from the first location if there are no seams.
    • Hardness. At 70 degrees F plus or minus 5 degrees F, the ball should have a Durometer D hardness of 40 to 50.
    • Design. There should be a minimum of 26 and a maximum of 40 circular holes in the ball. The ball must have a manufacturer’s or supplier’s name or logo printed or embossed on the surface. The “USA Pickleball Competition” seal or text treatment must be present on balls intended for competition. “USA Pickleball Approved” is sufficient for balls intended for non-competition use.

    What happens if you use indoor pickleballs outdoors?

    Indoor pickleballs can be used outside on a calm, still day without any wind. However, as indoor pickleballs are made of a soft material, they can wear down easily on rough outdoor court surfaces, and as soon as the wind picks up, gameplay will be affected. 

    Using outdoor balls on an indoor pickleball court is tricky. Outdoor balls can hurt when they hit you, and they move fast and bounce hard off gym floor.

    The best option is to select the right ball for the location in which you will be playing.

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    Victor is a Florida native—home to the pickleball revolution. He grew up boating, playing soccer, tennis, diving and spending most of the time outdoors. When he's not working, he's usually on the water or trying to devote some time to helping keep our oceans clean.