Outdoor pickleballs usually last around 9-10 games before starting to crack. However, some balls need to be replaced before this. Indoor pickleballs typically last longer than outdoor balls because they're exposed to less extreme conditions. Other variables include the court surface, weather, and the power with which the balls are hit.
How long do pickleballs normally last?
Pickleballs tend to last up to 10 games, or even more in the case of indoor pickleballs. How long your pickleballs last depends on a number of variables, especially since every player plays the game differently.
- If you’re a beginner who is just starting out on a nicely maintained outdoor court, you’ll likely be able to go weeks without having to swap out your pickleball. You probably won’t be hitting the ball nearly as hard as a professional player.
- If you’re an advanced player, you’ll be hitting the ball harder, and you’ll also be more sensitive to the performance of the ball. That means you’ll need to replace the ball more often to maintain ideal levels of performance.
How do you know when it’s time to buy new pickleballs?
Sometimes it’s obvious when pickleballs need to be replaced. If a crack appears in the ball, or the ball is misshapen or bouncing off-kilter, it’s time to get a new one.
But sometimes, the deficiencies in a ball are more subtle. Being aware of what a functional pickleball looks like is vital to your understanding of whether or not it might be time to buy some new balls. The USA Pickleball (USAPA) official rules book states the following rules regarding tournament-legal pickleball balls:
- The ball must be of a smooth molded material, typically a hardened plastic.
- Ball diameter must be 2.87-2.97 inches.
- Ball weight must be between 0.78-0.935 ounces.
- Ball hardness must be 40-50 on the Durometer D scale.
- Out-of-round variance can’t be more or less than 0.02 inches.
- The ball must have between 26-40 evenly-spaced, circular holes.
- Colors of the ball can vary but must be uniform.
As long as the ball you’re using meets these standards, then it is still perfectly good to use. If you notice the ball is starting to fall out of spec, either based on its measurements or its performance, it’s best to replace it.
What affects a pickleball’s lifespan?
From court surface to how often you play, there are many factors that will affect how long your pickleball will last. Let’s break down how each of these elements can greatly impact the lifespan of a pickleball.
If you frequently play pickleball outside, I’m sure you’ve noticed how weather can vastly change how a pickleball will perform.
In exceedingly cold weather, a pickleball will naturally become harder at the molecular level, making them more prone to warping and cracking from strong hits. The same is true for hot weather, as the ball will expand, leaving it more malleable to being warped during a strike.
This is why it’s unlikely for an outdoor ball to last you throughout an entire year. The ball’s material will naturally expand and contract during changes in the weather. If you’re hoping to improve the lifespan of your outdoor balls, I’d recommend playing only during suitable weather conditions.
Rain, wind, and even snow will also affect the longevity of a ball’s lifespan, as they can all lead to surface wear and warping of the ball’s overall shape.
How Often A Ball Is Used
If you’re a pro-level pickleball player, you’re likely hitting the pickleball court at least once a day. Pros go through several balls a month and can even wear through a ball in a single day, depending on the intensity of their training.
Similarly, if you’re a casual player who only plays socially about once per week, you’ll likely get a lot more use out of a ball. Since you’ll only be putting a few hours in each week, your ball will be hit far less and thus take less damage.
How Hard A Ball Is Hit
The harder you hit the ball, the more pressure is applied to the ball’s material, and the more likely the ball will be to get damaged. If you’re just learning the game of pickleball, you won’t be hitting as many drives or smash hits which are commonly known to cause cracks or warp the ball.
As a beginner, you’ll want to focus mostly on learning how to keep a rally going in the short game with dinks, which is fundamental to winning a game of pickleball. A lot of the harder hits are more likely to be successfully executed by more experienced players. Similarly, competitive players will also tend to have longer rallies during play, which also puts more strain on the ball.
Therefore, there’s a direct correlation between high-level players being more prone to wearing out pickleballs due to their more aggressive playstyle. The more you grow as a pickleball player will lead you to make harder strikes at the ball with your pickleball paddle, which unfortunately means getting used to buying more pickleballs!
Lifespan of Indoor Pickleballs vs. Outdoor Pickleballs
Indoor and outdoor pickleball balls are fairly similar, with a couple of distinct differences that make them easy to distinguish with a simple glance. Indoor pickleball balls usually have 26 holes and are usually made out of a thinner material. Outdoor balls have around 40 holes drilled into them and are composed of thicker, rigid plastic, making them more durable for the conditions of outdoor play.
While indoor balls might appear to be more easily damaged due to their thinner material, they don’t have to face the weather conditions that outdoor balls have to endure. Many indoor balls also have the advantage of playing on softer indoor playing surfaces, such as wood and rubber gym floors, which absorb a significant amount of the force of impact.
Outdoor balls not only have to face nasty weather conditions like the rain and the cold but they are also often played on much harder surfaces. Asphalt and concrete pickleball courts outside are occasionally treated with surface finishes, such as the official USA Pickleball sponsored PickleMaster System, which can help preserve the longevity of outdoor balls.
Do some pickleballs last longer than others?
With so many pickleballs on the market, it’s no surprise that some will perform better than others. Per USAPA’s Equipment Standards Manual, a good rule of thumb when buying pickleballs is to always look for the “USA Pickleball Approved” or “USA Pickleball Competition” seal that is stamped directly on legal tournament balls. These seals mean that the ball has been tested and approved by USAPA, suggesting that the ball has met their standards for quality and longevity when used in tournaments.
Franklin X-40 Outdoor pickleballs are the official pickleball of the US Open Pickleball Championships and are widely considered some of the best pickleballs on the market. Franklin also offers their X-26 Indoor pickleballs, which are equally fantastic balls for indoor play.
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