Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States. What started in the 1960s as a backyard paddle sport has evolved into a competitive game played by over 3.5 million people nationwide.
As pickleball’s popularity has skyrocketed, indoor and outdoor courts have been built to meet the demand. But depending on whether you’re playing inside or outside, there are some key differences you need to understand.
This blog post will cover everything you need about indoor versus outdoor pickleballs, including size, construction materials, designs, performance characteristics, and more. We’ll also give recommendations to help you select the right ball for your setting.
Balls used in Pickleball
Regarding Pickleball, the most common question is what kind of balls can be used indoors or outdoors in both types of Pickleball courts.
Before we discuss the type of ball, it is also essential to know about the material, size, weight, and number of holes of the ball that is usually used in Pickleball.
Whether it’s an indoor or outdoor ball, both are made of plastic, a bit heavier than a wiffle ball, and the size should be under 3 inches in diameter.
Average Pickleball balls weigh around 0.88 oz, which is heavier than a wiffle ball, whose size is about 0.7.
Pickleball balls contain several holes in them because most of them are made of plastic-like material so that they can easily spin and drag.
The weight, color, and size of balls can also have a great impact on the game, so according to these critical points, we have the following types of pickleball balls available.
Indoor pickleballs have a few specialized design features to perform well on hard indoor courts (tile, wood, etc.).
Here are the critical qualities of indoor balls:
Indoor balls are typically standard size — the regulation pickleball is 2.87 inches wide.
Some indoor varieties may feel larger in diameter than outdoor versions. This added bulk helps control bounce velocity off hard interior playing surfaces.
The average weight of an indoor pickleball is around 0.8 ounces. Lightweight balls can make indoor smashing easier on quick, hard courts. They achieve better pop off the paddle to attack tight spaces.
Indoor balls typically feature 26 holes and a smooth surface, minimizing disruption and ensuring easy paddle contact.
Common materials used in indoor pickleballs are plastic (polyethylene) or vinyl. The smooth, non-compressible surfaces produce consistent bounces at all contact angles — an essential quality for precise indoor play.
Some premium indoor balls will also include micro-perforations. These small holes help restrict airflow within the core to stabilize flight for accurate shots off rigid walls.
With no weather elements inside, indoor balls don’t need exterior skin durability. Instead, the focus shifts to withstanding repeated hard surface impacts.
Quality indoor balls utilize hardened plastic or vinyl that retains shape after high-velocity rebounds. This ensures consistent ball behavior over time, even after taking a pounding against hard indoor floors.
In contrast to indoor balls, outdoor pickleballs must be performed on various playing surfaces (asphalt, concrete, blacktop). They need added durability to withstand wind, sun exposure, and moisture.
Here are the defining features of outdoor balls:
Outdoor pickleballs are typically regulation size (2.87 inches diameter).
However, some outdoor balls may run ever-so-slightly more minor than the official specs. This can be an advantage on external windswept courts to keep the ball in play more easily.
Expect outdoor balls to be a bit heavier, around 0.9 ounces. The extra ounces provide stability when playing outdoors in windy conditions. The heft allows players to drive more challenging returns into the breeze.
Outdoor pickleball balls are relatively heavier because 40 holes are penetrated to manage outdoor weather pressure.
Look for exterior skins made of polymer or other durable plastics to add longevity. These rugged synthetic encasings protect the inner core and allow balls to weather outdoor elements like asphalt abrasion better.
In addition, some outdoor balls feature vented or cellular polymer designs. The added surface texture helps create aerodynamic drag — once again helpful in controlling shots on breezy exterior courts.
Outdoor pickleballs must withstand not just gameplay impact but also exposure to harsh sun, rain, dirt, and hard playing surfaces. So, quality construction is a prime consideration.
Many outdoor balls today are made using durable plastic or composite polymer. Top designs employ one-piece fused plastic skins to remove seams that can crack over time.
Others may use soft cellular construction to add cushioning. This helps balls maintain their pop and extend useful life, taking the abuse of rough outdoor courts.
Beyond physical attributes, indoor and outdoor balls perform differently in action:
Indoor Ball Performance
- Fast pace of play on hard courts
- Low bounce trajectories
- Quick ball acceleration
- Must withstand high-velocity rebounds
- More precise shotmaking required
Outdoor Ball Performance
- Slower pace dictated by elements
- Higher ball bounce
- Stable flight in windy conditions
- Durable construction resists surface abrasion
- Easier to control shots due to float
How To Choose the Right Ball For Your Play
Picking the right pickleball comes down first to WHERE you’ll often play the game.
Outdoor courts? Grab an outdoor ball designed to handle those conditions.
Are you primarily playing indoors? A ball engineered for hard interior surfaces makes the most sense.
If you split time equally outdoors and in the gym, we recommend using one of each type in the appropriate setting for optimal performance.
Top Indoor Pickleball Choices
- Onix Fuse Red Indoor: Poly ball good for speed and quick play
- Franklin X-40 Indoor: All-plastic for durability and responsiveness
- Gamma Poly Pickleball: Skinny edge for added indoor ball control
Leading Outdoor Pickleball Selections
- Wilson Outdoor: Excellent durability and touch
- Pickleball Central Rockstar: Rugged build resists outdoor hazards
- Dura Fast 40: All-weather performance at a budget price
While pickleballs seem essential initially, some meaningful performance differences exist between balls designed for indoor and outdoor play.
Knowing those material variations and performance factors is key to improving consistency and upping your pickleball enjoyment. Remember to match the proper construction with the playing surface and conditions you face the most.
So check our comparisons above and get the exact pickleball type tailored to how and where YOU play. Your shots will thank you!
What is the main difference between indoor and outdoor pickleballs?
The main difference is that indoor balls are designed for rugged, smooth surfaces like wood or tile floors. They are made from plastic or vinyl and are lighter to allow better control. Outdoor balls are made to withstand weather conditions like wind and rain. They have durable exterior skins and are a bit heavier to resist wind impact.
Are there regulations for pickleball size?
Yes. The regulation size for a pickleball is 2.87 inches wide. Indoor and most outdoor balls conform to this diameter, though some outdoor balls may be slightly smaller to assist play in windy conditions.
Do pickleballs come in different colors?
Yes. Indoor pickleballs often come in bright colors like red or yellow for better visibility on hard playing surfaces. Outdoor balls are usually made in neon green, pink, or yellow hues that stand out against outdoor backgrounds.
How long should a pickleball last?
With proper construction and care, a quality indoor ball should deliver 6 months to 1 year of play, while rugged outdoor balls can last 1-2 years or longer. Rotation helps maximize durability. Retire balls once cracks, chips, or changes in flight/bounce appear.
Can you use an indoor ball outdoors?
It’s not advisable. The materials used in indoor balls are less durable against outdoor surfaces and weather. While you may get away with it occasionally, frequent outdoor use of an indoor ball will shorten its lifespan significantly.
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As a pickleball enthusiast and founder of MY Best Pickleball, I’m here to share insights, tips, and a vibrant community dedicated to elevating your pickleball experience. Join us on the court and explore the best of pickleball at mybestpickleball.com!