Pickleball balls are slightly heavier than Wiffle balls. They have 26-40 evenly spaced round holes, while Wiffle balls have eight oblong holes on only one side of the ball. Since Wiffle balls and pickleball balls have different performance characteristics, it's best to use the appropriate ball for each sport.
What’s the Difference Between Pickleballs and Wiffle Balls?
When pickleball was first invented in 1965, Wiffle balls were used. Over time, pickleball balls were designed specifically for the sport.
Despite the shared history and similarities, there are a number of differences.
Pickleball balls and Wiffle balls are both made of Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE), a type of plastic. The average pickleball weighs .88 ounces, which is slightly heavier than a Wiffle ball (.7 ounces).
Both pickleball balls and Wiffle balls should last for a minimum of ten games before showing signs of wear and tear.
The durability of pickleball balls can vary based on whether indoor or outdoor pickleballs are being used.
- Indoor pickleball balls are not exposed to the elements, so they have a longer life expectancy than outdoor pickleball balls. Still, indoor pickleball balls develop soft areas after being used for an extended period of time.
- Outdoor pickleball balls are engineered to withstand irregular wind patterns, fluctuating weather conditions, and uneven playing surfaces. Pickleball balls used on an outdoor pickleball court weigh over 0.9 ounces.
Wiffle balls break more quickly than pickle balls because they are hit hard by a plastic bat in the course of play, leading to the possibility of cracking.
It’s also exposed to sun, wind, and dirt, which further speeds up the deterioration of the ball.
Pickleball balls are made from a sturdy, smooth-surfaced molded material with between 26 and 40 evenly spaced round holes. They weigh between 0.78 and 0.935 ounces (22.1 and 26.5 grams) and have a diameter between 2.87 and 2.97 inches (73 and 75 millimeters).
There are 26 holes in indoor pickleball balls and 40 smaller holes in outdoor pickleball balls.
Wiffle balls are roughly the size of a regular baseball and are usually white. They’re hollow, lightweight, made from durable hard plastic, and only 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick.
In the perforated half, there are eight 0.75 inches (19 mm) oblong holes. In the non-perforated half, there are no holes. Some Wiffle balls have holes throughout.
- Indoor Pickleballs: Indoor pickleballs are often lighter, softer, and less bouncy, with larger holes giving greater control.
- Outdoor Pickleballs: Outdoor pickleball balls bounce higher and are easier to hit powerful shots with. You may notice shorter rallies, less control, and less spin when playing with them.
- Wiffle Balls: Wiffle balls are designed for contact with a bat rather than for bouncing on hard court surfaces. They bounce unpredictably and can spin away from you.
What Happens if you Use a Wiffle Ball in Pickleball?
It’s possible to play pickleball with a Wiffle ball. Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell, the inventors of pickleball, played the first-ever pickleball game with ping-pong paddles, a Wiffle ball, and a badminton net. That said, using a Wiffle ball probably won’t lead to a great game.
While it’s still possible to use a Wiffle ball to play pickleball if you have no other option, it’ll slow down your gameplay and lead to unpredictable bounces, as well as causing major issues if it’s windy.
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