Official pickleball balls 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.
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.
Some of the best indoor pickleball ball brands are the Onix Fuse Indoor Pickleball, the Gamma Photon Indoor Pickleball, and the Dura Fast Indoor Pickleball. The only one that is USAPA-approved for tournament play is the Gamma Photon.
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 pickleball balls, and they should be versatile enough to play pickleball outdoors if necessary.
- Although indoor pickleball balls do not tend to crack, they do develop soft spots after a while.
Outdoor pickleball balls 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 pickleball balls 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.
The Wilson Tru 32 is an outdoor pickleball with 32 equally-spaced holes instead of the standard 40 for outdoor pickleballs. It gives you the holy trinity of pickleball characteristics: a consistent bounce (thanks to the even distribution of the holes), minimal “wobble” while in the air, and durability.
Wilson believes that fewer holes mean a truer flight and bounce. They tested this theory in one of their laboratories, pitting the Wilson Tru 32 against the top pickleballs on the market.
Using a ball launching machine, they marked the spot that each ball landed on. Their results found the Tru 32 had a tighter spread of landing points than its competitors.
The Tru 32 is an injection-molded two-piece unit that compares very favorably to one-piece balls in terms of rebound and “deformation.” It also develops a rough finish the more it is used, which Wilson refers to as a “fuzz.” This coarser surface allows players to impart more spin on the ball.
Which Pickleballs Are Used In Tournaments?
Forty-hole Dura pickleballs tend to be the choice of tournament organizers like the US Open Pickleball Championships and the USAPA National Pickleball Tournament. They are International Federation of Pickleball-approved for official tournament play.
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 Wiffleballs, 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 forwards. As the sport developed, they made holes in the other side of the ball as well, causing the ball to fly much straighter.
A Wiffleball 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 ball relatively easily. The extra holes in a pickleball ball 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 pickleballs.
They only have holes on one side, and these are oblong, not circular. This design means the server can impart a huge amount of swerve on their shot.
The consistently-spaced holes on a pickleball ball mean they move through the air more uniformly. Pickleball balls have between 26-40 holes.
Pickleball Ball Rulebook Specifications
- 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.
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