Pickleball Ball Types: Understanding the Differences

When it comes to the sport of pickleball, the ball is the most important piece of equipment. Without it, the game cannot be played. However, not all pickleball balls are created equal. There are several types of pickleball balls available on the market, each with its own unique features and characteristics.

Understanding the differences between the various types of pickleball balls is important, as it can directly impact your playing style and overall experience on the court. In this blog post, we will discuss the various types of pickleball balls available, their features and characteristics, and

Pickleball Ball Types: Understanding the Differences

Pickleball balls are the most important piece of equipment needed to play the game. Understanding the differences between the various types of pickleball balls available can have a significant impact on your playing style and overall experience on the court. In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of pickleball balls available, their features, and characteristics, to help you make an informed decision on which type is right for you.

Pickleball Ball Types: Understanding the Differences

As simple as it may seem, selecting a ball for playing pickleball is not an easy task, especially if you are a beginner. There are several different types of balls available, each with its unique properties, designed to cater to different playing styles, preferences and skill sets. In this article, we’ll explore the various types of pickleball balls, their features, benefits, and other factors to consider when selecting the best ball for your playing style.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Pickleball Balls

One of the main aspects of pickleball balls is whether they are suited for indoor or outdoor play. Indoor pickleball balls tend to feature fewer holes and are often made using softer plastic. The softer plastic allows for better control, and as such, these balls tend to have a lower bounce, which can make for a slower game.

Outdoor pickleball balls, on the other hand, tend to have more holes and are made up of a harder plastic material, making them more durable for outdoor play. These balls tend to have more bounce than indoor balls, due to the harder plastic. The added bounce allows players to hit the ball harder and with more force, resulting in a faster game. However, it is worth noting that outdoor balls can be more difficult to control, and as such, may not be as suitable for beginners.

Key takeaway:

When choosing a pickleball ball, it is essential to consider where you intend to play the game. If you are playing indoors, choose an indoor ball for a slower game with more control. If you plan to play outdoors, opt for an outdoor ball for a more robust, faster-paced game.

USAPA-Approved Pickleball Balls

The United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA) has approved several different types of pickleball balls which adhere to strict requirements regarding size, weight, bounce, and hardness. These approved balls are ideal for official tournaments and are widely considered to be the best balls for competitive play.

USAPA-approved balls are only sold by certified manufacturers, and there is a lot of variation in terms of the design, structure, and materials used. But, what is certain is that they are rigorously tested for their bounce, weight, and size to ensure they meet the USAPA standards for use in official tournaments. As such, these balls offer consistency and reliability, which is essential for competitive play.

Key takeaway:

USAPA-approved pickleball balls are recognized as the best balls for competitive play, and if you are looking to play in tournaments, it is recommended to invest in a set of these balls.

Onix Pickleball Balls

Onix is one of the leading brands in the pickleball industry, and their balls are some of the most popular with players. Onix offers a range of different balls, including indoor, outdoor, and USAPA-approved balls, each made with premium materials and featuring different properties suited to different types of players and playing styles.

The Onix Pure 2 Outdoor Ball is considered by many players to be one of the best outdoor pickleball balls on the market. It features a small size, heavier weight, and large holes, which make it easier to hit hard and control at high speeds. The Pure 2 also has a unique two-piece construction, which helps generate topspin and slice on the ball.

On the other hand, the Onix Fuse Indoor Pickleball Ball is designed for indoor play and features a softer, light-weight plastic material. It is also approved by the USAPA and has a larger bounce than most indoor balls, making it ideal for those who prefer a faster-paced, more aggressive game indoors.

Key takeaway:

Onix pickleball balls are a popular choice among players, with a wide range of balls suited for different playing styles and preferences. Investing in Onix balls is recommended if you want the best quality games.

Penn Pickleball Balls

Penn is a well-established company in the world of sports equipment, which has recently ventured into making pickleball balls. Their balls are quickly becoming a popular choice among players of all skill levels, thanks to their consistency, durability, and overall high-quality performance.

The Penn 40 Outdoor Pickleball is one of the best outdoor balls available, well-regarded for its durability and longevity. It features a seamless design that reduces air resistance, and combined with its unique construction, creates more accurate shots with less wasted energy.

The Penn 26 Indoor Pickleball is another top-performing ball from Penn. It is specifically designed for indoor play, featuring a softer material and a lower bounce, making it easier to control the ball during fast-paced rallies.

Key takeaway:

Penn pickleball balls offer a good alternative that is becoming popular with players across all levels.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Pickleball Ball

While the brand of the ball and whether it is designed for indoor or outdoor play are crucial determining factors when selecting a pickleball ball, there are other elements that players must consider.


Size matters when it comes to pickleball balls. USAPA-approved balls must be between 2.875 and 2.975 inches in diameter, while recreational balls can vary in size. The ball’s size can directly affect the speed, trajectory, and bounce, so selecting a ball with the correct size is essential for optimum performance and gameplay.


The weight of a pickleball ball can significantly impact your gameplay. USAPA-approved balls must weigh between 2.8 and 3.0 ounces, but many recreational balls can vary. Balls that are heavier are perfect for power hitters, while lighter balls are ideal for players who like to add more spin and control to their shots.


The bounce of the ball is another crucial factor in selecting the right pickleball ball. USAPA-approved balls must have a bounce height ranging between 34 and 37 inches, and the ball’s bounce will affect both the speed and level of control. A lower bounce will result in a slower game, whereas a higher bounce can result in a faster-paced game with more aggression.


Pickleball balls can be made from a variety of different materials, each with its own unique properties, some of which are designed to last longer and hold up against the wear and tear of regular gameplay. Higher-quality balls made with a durable material may cost more, but they will save you money long-term, as they will not need to be replaced as quickly as lower-quality balls.

Wind Resistance:

If you frequently play outdoors, you may also want to consider the ball’s wind resistance. Balls with more holes may be more susceptible to being affected by the wind, making them more challenging to control. So, if you play regularly in windy conditions, it is worth considering balls with fewer holes.


Finally, it is worth considering the price of the ball when selecting the right one for your playing style. While more expensive balls may offer better performance and durability, they may not always be necessary, particularly for those just starting with the sport.

Choosing the right pickleball ball can be overwhelming, particularly with the number of different balls available on the market. But, by understanding the different factors that need to be considered, including size, weight, bounce, durability, and price, you can make a more informed decision, which ultimately will impact your gameplay and overall satisfaction with the sport. Remember to consider where you plan to play the game, the style of play you’re looking to achieve, and any other unique preferences before making your choice.

With a little bit of research and experimentation, you’ll be sure to find the perfect pickleball ball for you and enjoy the game now with a more agile mind!

Pickleball Ball Maintenance Tips

Once you’ve purchased your pickleball balls, it is essential to take good care of them to ensure they last for an extended period, and maintain their performance standards.

Here are some key tips to help prolong the lifespan of your pickleball balls:

Store Them Properly:

Storing your pickleball balls correctly can help prevent cracks and other signs of wear and tear. It is best to keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.

Clean Them Regularly:

Cleaning your balls regularly can help maintain their performance and avoid any build-up of dirt and debris. Use warm water and mild detergent to clean the balls, and always ensure they are fully dry before storage.

Rotate Them:

Regularly rotating your pickleball balls can help reduce the chance of a cave-in, which can occur due to the impact of the ball on the ground. By rotating your balls regularly, you help spread out any wear and tear and increase their overall lifespan.

Pickleball Ball Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How long does a pickleball ball last?

A: The lifespan of a pickleball ball can vary depending on various factors, including the quality of the ball, the frequency of use, and the playing conditions. However, on average, a pickleball ball can last anywhere from a few months to a year. It is recommended to replace pickleball balls once they lose their bounce, have cracks or begin to show other signs of wear and tear.

Q: Can I use any ball for playing pickleball?

A: No, it is recommended to use only approved pickleball balls that meet the requirements set by the United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA) to ensure fair gameplay and to adhere to the standards set for official tournaments.

Q: Can I use indoor pickleball balls for outdoor play and vice versa?

A: Not necessarily. Indoor balls are made using a softer material, which can be damaged on rougher outdoor surfaces, whereas outdoor balls are harder, meaning they can be more challenging to control indoors. It is recommended to use the specific ball that’s designed for the surface you are playing on.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right pickleball ball can have a significant impact on your gameplay, and overall, your enjoyment of the sport. By considering the size, weight, bounce, durability, and price, as well as the surface you plan to play on, you can select the ball that best suits your playing style and skill level.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, investing in high-quality pickleball balls will help you to get the most out of your game and ensure you are always playing at your best.

FAQs About Pickleball Ball Types

To help you with any remaining questions, here are some commonly asked pickleball ball-related questions and answers:

Q: How do I know if a ball is USAPA-approved?

A: USAPA-approved pickleball balls will display the USAPA approval seal on the packaging or the ball itself.

Q: Are heavier balls better for power hitters?

A: Yes, heavier balls allow for a stronger hit during gameplay. As such, power hitters often prefer to use heavier balls in their play.

Q: Are outdoor balls more durable than indoor balls?

A: Yes, outdoor balls are designed to withstand the outdoor elements, making them more durable than their indoor counterparts.

Q: Can pickleball balls be repaired?

A: No, pickleball balls cannot be repaired, and once they lose their bounce or show any other signs of damage, it is recommended to replace them.

Q: Do all pickleball balls have the same amount of bounce?

A: No, different pickleball balls will have different bounce properties depending on their design, the number of holes, and the material used.

Q: Do I need different balls for different playing surfaces?

A: Yes, it is recommended to use different balls as per the playing surface. Indoor balls differ from outdoor balls in their construction, and using the wrong ball for the surface can impact gameplay and wear out the ball more quickly.

Q: Is there a specific temperature range I need to consider when storing my pickleball balls?

A: Yes, it is recommended to store your pickleball balls in a location that is between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, as extreme temperatures can impact their performance and durability.

Q: What is the average lifespan of a pickleball ball?

A: The lifespan of a pickleball ball can vary based on several factors, including the quality of the ball, the frequency of use, and the playing conditions. However, on average, a pickleball ball can last between a few months to a year.

Q: Can I use different brands of pickleball balls in the same game?

A: Yes, different brands of pickleball balls can be used in the same game. However, it is essential to ensure they are of similar construction, size, weight, and bounce so that gameplay remains fair.

Q: Are high-quality pickleball balls significantly more expensive than cheaper options?

A: Yes, high-quality pickleball balls tend to be more expensive than lower quality or generic brand options. However, investing in high-quality balls often leads to long-term savings, as they tend to last much longer than cheap ones.

Q: Can I use a different ball for serving than for the rest of the game?

A: No, you must use the same type of ball throughout the entire game. Changing balls during a match can affect the overall gameplay and competition’s fairness.

Q: How can I ensure I am selecting the best ball for my playing style?

A: It is recommended to try out different balls and experiment with variations such as size, weight, and bounce to determine what works best with your playing style and preferences.

Q: Can the type of ball used impact the speed of the game?

A: Yes, the type of ball used, particularly its bounce and weight, can significantly impact the speed of the game. Heavier balls, for example, can result