Official pickleballs can have from 26 to 40 circular holes. An outdoor pickleball is slightly larger than an indoor one and has 40 holes. Indoor pickleballs typically have 26. Some have a different number of holes, like the Wilson Tru 32, which has 32.
Are There Different Types of Pickleballs?
Absolutely! In the dynamic world of pickleball, various types of pickleballs cater to different playing conditions and player preferences. Understanding the differences can significantly enhance your playing experience.
The main types include:
- Indoor pickleballs
- Outdoor pickleballs
- Lesser hole variants
It’s important to note that the ball’s material, weight, and design can significantly affect how it plays. For example, outdoor balls tend to be less bouncy but more durable, while indoor balls offer a softer feel and a more controlled game.
1. Indoor Pickleballs
Balls for indoor pickleball courts have 26 holes. They are typically softer than outdoor ones and have larger holes. They are easier to control, quieter, and last longer than balls designed for outdoor courts.
A few things specific to indoor pickleballs:
- An indoor pickleball should not “skid” on the polished wooden playing surfaces commonly used in indoor play.
- It should be visible against these wooden surfaces or other indoor backdrops.
- It should be easier to impart spin on indoor pickleballs, and they should be versatile enough to play pickleball outdoors if necessary.
- Although indoor pickleballs do not tend to crack, they do develop soft spots after a while.
Also, check out: What’s the difference between indoor and outdoor pickleball?
2. Outdoor Pickleballs
Outdoor pickleballs typically have 40 holes. The holes on outdoor balls are smaller than indoor balls. Serious pickleball players tend to favor outdoor balls, as they can be hit with more speed and require greater skill to execute a precise shot.
A few things to know about outdoor pickleballs:
- Balls for outdoor play have added weight to maintain stability in breezy conditions.
- The best types of outdoor pickleballs are precision welded for maximum durability and to resist cracking and long-term wear and tear. Precision-drilled holes ensure a true flight.
- Balls made of hard plastic, like polyurethane resin, are more resilient than polyester resin but more expensive.
- Rotation molding produces long-lasting and flexible balls. The ball is a one-piece item, thereby reducing seam protrusion. The alternative is a ball produced by a two-piece injection molding process.
Check out our guide for the best indoor + outdoor pickleballs.
3. Lesser Hole Variants
These pickleballs, typically having fewer holes than the standard 26 or 40-hole designs, are crafted for specific playing conditions. Like standard pickleballs, these are made from a durable plastic material. The fewer holes can sometimes mean a slightly heavier ball, depending on the overall design.
They offer more stability in the air but potentially less speed than standard balls. In higher altitudes where air resistance is lower, fewer-hole pickleballs are often preferred. They are less buoyant in thinner air, offering a play experience closer to sea-level conditions.
A Note on High-Visibility Pickleballs
High visibility pickleballs are a great option for players looking for better ball tracking and safety during play. They are especially beneficial in varying light conditions and can add an extra dimension of ease and enjoyment to the game.
High visibility pickleballs are often made in neon, bright yellow, orange, or other fluorescent colors.
These balls typically conform to the standard size and weight regulations set by pickleball authorities, ensuring they are suitable for both recreational and competitive play.
What is the Difference Between Yellow and Orange Pickleballs?
The difference between yellow and orange pickleballs primarily lies in their visibility and how players perceive them during play.
Yellow pickleballs are particularly effective in lower light conditions, such as during dusk or dawn, or in indoor facilities with artificial lighting.
Orange picklballs excel in brighter, outdoor environments where the sun can enhance their visibility.
Which Pickleballs Are Used In Tournaments?
In tournaments, the choice of pickleballs is typically governed by strict guidelines to ensure fairness and standardization of play. The balls used are usually those approved by the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) or the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP). These governing bodies have specific criteria for ball construction, size, weight, bounce, hardness, and design.
For outdoor tournaments, balls are usually harder and have smaller holes. They are designed to withstand the elements and rougher court surfaces. Popular choices include the Franklin X-40 (available here), Onix Pure 2 (available here), and Dura Fast 40 (available here).
Characteristics of Tournament-Approved Pickleballs
- Material: Smooth molded material with a uniform color.
- Diameter: Between 2.87 inches and 2.97 inches.
- Variance: No more than +/- 0.02 inches.
- Weight: Minimum: 0.78; maximum: 0.935 ounces.
- Bounce: Between 30-34 inches when dropped from 78 inches.
- Hardness: 40-50 on the Durometer D scale.
- Holes: Between 26 and 40 circular holes (evenly spaced.) The holes in an indoor ball are 0.315 inches in diameter.
Why Were Pickleballs Designed With Holes?
The sport of pickleball was designed to emphasize longer rallies rather than quicker games with shorter rallies like tennis or table tennis (or ping pong). The holes in the ball slow its flight and allow more reaction time for each shot.
The original pickleball games used wiffle balls, which only had holes on one side—and these holes were oblong. As the air passed through the holes, it helped to drive the ball forward. As the sport developed, they made holes in the other side of the ball as well, causing the ball to fly much straighter.
A wiffle ball was made to mirror the flight characteristics of a baseball so that it can have a more exaggerated swerve than the pickleball. You can slice, fade, or spin a pickleball relatively easily.
The extra holes in a pickleball give the ball a truer direction and bounce, requiring much more skill to impart any effect on the ball.
The Number Of Holes In Pickleballs Vs. Wiffle Balls
Wiffle balls are white and slightly smaller than pickleball. Pickleballs have between 26-40 holes. Wiffle balls usually have 8 oblong holes on one side of the ball.
Does Pickleball Use the Same Size Balls as Tennis?
No, pickleball does not use the same size balls as tennis.
The diameter of a standard pickleball is between 2.87 inches (72.9 mm) and 2.97 inches (75.5 mm). A standard tennis ball has a diameter of about 2.57 inches (65.4 mm) to 2.70 inches (68.6 mm), which is smaller than a pickleball.
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