It is always fun to play pickleball, either indoors or outdoors. However, does it depend on the ball you choose? Do indoor balls look like outdoor balls? Can you substitute them with each other? How many types of pickleball balls can you get? How many holes do they have?
Here we are to answer all your one-million-dollar questions about pickleballs.
Indoor vs outdoor pickleballs: Find out the differences
In general, both indoor and outdoor pickleball balls look quite similar. Pickleball balls are made of hard plastic. They are bright-colored, as you should clearly see them on the playing surface. They have lots of round holes that are spaced evenly on the ball’s surface.
For beginner pickleball players, there is often no evident difference between indoor and outdoor pickleballs. Unless you have any experience, it can seem to you that absolutely any pickleball is suitable for indoor and outdoor play.
However, there is an obvious difference that you can easily see at once: while indoor pickleball has 26 larger holes, outdoor pickleball has 40 small holes.
So, we are going to find out more and compare indoor vs outdoor pickleballs with a list of essential points.
Are there different types of pickleballs?
Ask the new pickleball players, and you will probably hear that there is no certain difference between the balls.
However, the experienced pickleball player tells you that you can easily recognize indoor and outdoor pickleball balls!
There are 2 types of pickleball balls depending on the spot to play on:
- Indoor balls
- Outdoor balls
You can easily get a pickleball ball at any local sports store, but be sure that you are looking for the proper variant of a ball.
Sometimes you can even find a set of balls that contains both indoor and outdoor pickleballs. Isn’t this your best bet?
What’s the difference between outdoor and indoor pickleballs?
In fact, both indoor and outdoor pickleballs are perforated plastic balls. However, keep in mind that each of these types is related to the different playing surfaces. As you can guess, they are made of different materials.
There are three key different points between indoor vs outdoor pickleballs:
- Material (such points as plastic hardness, ball weight, durability, and surface texture depend on the material that a ball is made of)
- Number of holes (as a rule, indoor balls have not so many holes as outdoor ones)
- Size of holes (indoor pickleballs have larger holes, whereas outdoor ones have more petite holes)
What are indoor pickleball balls?
The typical indoor pickleball ball is made to play on indoor pickleball courts. Thus, you can easily recognize these balls by the list of characteristics:
The material is the first point that draws a distinction between indoor and outdoor pickleballs.
Since these balls are designed for indoor play, they are created of a textured softer type of plastic.
The main benefit of a soft plastic ball is that you can better control it. In addition, an indoor ball is more lightweight. This feature allows you to direct the ball moves easier.
Created for playing indoors, it is a much lighter and softer ball.
The lighter type of plastic used for these balls makes them more suitable for the indoor playing surface.
After long and heavy use, indoor balls are not so much prone to crack. Don’t forget that they are made of a softer plastic that is stronger and more durable when bouncing.
In addition, indoor pickleball balls can handle longer games because of their durability.
However, the softer indoor pickleballs have their drawbacks. Because of such characteristics as softer plastic and larger hole size, indoor pickleballs are mostly prone to drag. Hence, you can find it quite tricky to bounce the ball when you play indoors.
The lifespan of indoor pickleballs depends on the style of playing, surface, playing efforts, and the temperature in the play area. Too heavy banging, low temperatures, and long playing sessions can develop soft spots on the indoor balls.
Check your indoor ball for the soft spots, as they are the signs that you need another one.
An indoor pickleball is often a yellow or orange ball that presents a colorful contrast to the gym floor. However, the pickleball ball colors can vary. Depending on the color of your playing surface, you can opt for the contrasting color of the ball.
#2. Number of holes
A typical indoor ball usually has 26 holes that are evenly placed on the ball’s surface.
Since indoor pickleball balls are intended for less harsh play conditions, they are made a bit differently.
Generally, indoor pickleballs feature to be more textured, which enhances indoor play. You can give the indoor pickleballs a better spin, and you can play long and exciting rallies, and that, in some measure, depends on the number of holes in their surface.
#3. Size of holes
Yes, this is one more different point in both types of pickleballs.
A typical indoor ball has larger holes, so they evenly cover the ball’s surface. However, in comparison to outdoor pickleballs, their indoor variations are smaller and lighter. As there is no wind on the indoor courts, it is much easier to play and control such a ball.
So, if you wonder about playing outdoors with indoor balls, you can see that is not a good idea. Having a small and light ball, you will find it too tricky to deal with it on the outdoor court.
For great indoor play, get the correct balls! The most popular options are the Jugs and the Onix fuse indoor balls.
What are outdoor pickleball balls?
As you can easily guess, an outdoor pickleball is created for another playing style and area. Everything is projected to suit outdoor play, so you can easily feel the difference when playing.
A common material for outdoor balls is smooth plastic. The body of a ball is heavier and harder than that of an indoor ball.
Since the outdoor playing style is much more brutal, outdoor balls require a harder and more durable material. As a rule, they can handle playing on the asphalt or concrete playground.
As outdoor pickleballs are made for playing on outdoor courts, they are heavier than indoor ones. The extra weight helps you to deal with the wind and get more control of an outdoor ball while playing.
Don’t forget that the ambient temperature can also affect the outdoor balls.
In lower outdoor temperatures, some outdoor pickleball balls are prone to break during the playing session.
For example, if you have longer rallies in the cold weather, there is a high risk to break a ball (or even several balls) by the end of the game. What is more, some players can destroy these balls just by too heavy and eager banging.
Opt for the much more durable balls, so they can handle lower temperatures and longer playing sessions.
#2. Number of holes
One more point that helps you to define an outdoor ball is the extra-holed surface. Basically, the outdoor pickleballs have 40 holes.
The outdoor pickle balls are larger than indoor ones, so there can be more holes due to their size. As they are heavier and harder, these holes allow the outdoor balls to move easier.
#2. Size of holes
The outdoor pickleball holes are smaller than the indoor pickle balls.
Some types of outdoor pickleball balls can have 2 different sizes of holes placed on the same ball.
Generally, the design of the outdoor pickleballs makes them more speedy, eliminates drag, and is best suitable for playing in the open air.
For many players, the most popular options are the Onix Pure Neon Green and the Dura Fast 40 outdoor balls.
At first sight, both pickleball and wiffle balls are similar, as they are both made of plastic and have several holes on the surface. Moreover, they are almost the same size. So, can you substitute them with each other?
However, they are absolutely different balls that you can use for different games:
• Pickleballs have lots of round holes (26 or 40) that are located evenly on the whole ball surface. In addition, they are slightly heavier.
• Wiffle balls have 8 oblong holes that are located on the same side of the ball. Besides, these balls are made of a bit lighter plastic.
For playing outdoors, you need a flat and even surface that you will use as a pickleball court.
If you have a concrete, asphalt, or a hard synthetic area in your backyard, you are lucky, as you can play pickleball at this place. A good idea is to mow the grass and flatten the ground down.
As you already know, outdoor and indoor balls have a different number of holes. Indoor pickleball has fewer but larger holes (26 holes), whereas outdoor pickleball has 40 smaller holes. So, it always has many more holes.
The USA Pickleball Association has a list of requirements that pickleball balls should conform to.
A list of the pickleball ball requirements is regularly updated, so you should find out the updated requirements.
According to that, the USA Pickleball Association makes a list of the officially approved balls.
For approval, the outdoor pickleballs have to take the bounce test. This test takes place in certain conditions:
• The ambient temperature is about 75-80 °F
• The testing surface is hard and durable (a granite one is usually chosen)
• The testing place is 12 x 12 x 4-inches
Here is also a list of other requirements:
• Having no less than 26 and no more than 40 round holes
• The correct flight design
• Durable and smooth material
• A logo or name of the supplier applied on the ball’s surface
Now, you can easily compare the indoor vs outdoor pickleballs and get an idea of why they are designed differently. Opt for the right ball, and have awesome rallies!
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