Selecting the best balls for pickleball

Selecting the best balls for pickleball
Published: 2022-08-26
5/5 Average rating
Please sign in in order to rate the blog.

Pickleball, like many sports, relies on a ball to make the game work.

As the sport has spiked in popularity fueled in its beginning by recreation players and flying high now as pickle pros compete in front of crowds and on television the actual pickleball itself has adjusted, too.

There are many iterations of the simple round plastic sphere with holes in it that founder Joel Pritchard swatted back and forth with a buddy in his backyard in 1965.

There are plenty of pickleball choices nowadays thanks to the sporting goods businesses who know a good thing when they see it.

Which pickleball should you play?

That depends on how you play. 

Do you look forward to your Monday morning senior rec center game?  Or, do you play every-other-day-trash-talking-smack matches with your picklebuds?  Maybe you are a pickleball pro aiming to peak at next weekend’s big tourney.

You’re all likely to use different pickleball.

Let’s take a look at the basics.  USA Pickleball, where the sport buck stops, says pickleballs should conform this way: 

The ball must weigh between 0.78 and 0.935 ounces. The ball must bounce 30-34 inches when dropped from a height of 78 inches. The ball must have a hardness of 40-50 on a Durometer D scale. The ball must have 26 to 40 evenly spaced, circular holes

If you’re a picklete with pro aspirations in your future you might want to visit USA Pickleball’s Equipment and Standards Manual  Another competitive edge you might want to do, is connect with tournament admins and find out what ball will be used in the event, and then grab yourself a bag of those for your strategic practices.

For most of the millions of folks who enjoy pickleball, those stringent ball criteria will not apply, but there still are varying factors that will affect the choice of pickleball.

Indoor balls are different than outdoor balls. 

Outdoor Pickleballs

Playing surfaces especially and weather are elements that influence the design and manufacturing of the ball.  Outdoor balls are firmer than indoor pickleballs, where smooth surfaces are easier on the wear and tear of the ball.  Outdoor balls will lose their bounce and spin after a time, depending on the intensity of play and elements.

Here are a few favorites:

 

Penn Outdoor Pickleball


Onix Pure Outdoor Pickleball   

 

Franklin Sports Outdoor Pickleball                             

 

Indoor Pickleballs

These balls are softer than the outdoor ball. Because the indoor environments are controlled and consistent these balls do not contend with wind and have few, though larger holes.  A standard indoor pickleball has 26 holes.  Indoor balls have textured surfaces that encourage spin on shots and don't fly as fast and hard on strong shots.

A pair of indoor favorites:

         

Franklin Sports Indoor Pickleball                   

 

Onix Indoor Pickleball

Indoor/Outdoor Combination Pickleballs

Most manufacturers have responded to a general need for a ball that can be played on both indoor and outdoor pickleball courts for casual play.

Here are a couple of combo pickleball favorites:

           

Fila indoor/outdoor pickleball    

CORE indoor/outdoor pickleball

Choice Considerations

Durability is high on the list of wanted features.  Several sources say an outdoor pickleball will last about ten games before it starts to show cracks.  Again that is influenced by the energy in the games played.  A ball might have a longer life expectancy in hit and giggle games among friends.  A shorter pickleball life would be expected among slam-bam players.

Color

There is a wide variety of colors and shades in pickleballs where.  A bright solid cover is a best bet, especially in poor lighting conditions.

Diameter

Again if you want your game to be played “according to Hoyle” this is what USAPickleball says about the acceptable circumference of the pickleball: The ball shall be 2.87 inches (7.29 cm) to 2.97 inches (7.54 cm) in diameter.

Cost

Merchandisers generally offer a wide range of pricing, and that principle also applies in the pickleball marketplace.  Shoppers will find entry-level pricing and top-of-the-mart pricing.

For the wide middle population of pickleballers, a $15 bag of a dozen balls would be usual.  There are lower-priced beginner bags and a price doesn't matter ball for super competitive players and pickleball