Pickleball is a lot like tennis, and is also similar to ping pong (table tennis) too, however, you can’t use a tennis ball or a ping pong ball to play this game.
Pickleball has its own ball that is used to play it.
A majority of net based games will have balls that look very alike in one way or another, they are generally just a typical ball, even when they vary in weight, size, and color.
However, a pickleball is most like a typical wiffle ball (see also ‘Best Pickleball Ball‘).
They are made of plastic, and they have holes which are drilled into them. A pickleball is made out of a slightly heavier plastic than a wiffle ball (see also ‘What Kind Of Ball Is Used In PickleBall?‘).
And not even all pickleballs are made the same way. Indoor and outdoor pickleballs will have differences too.
There are several types of pickleball, so, let us take a look at each of these, and how they differ from one another.
A standard pickleball will be the most used, especially among beginners (see also ‘How To Play Pickleball For Beginners‘). It is a wiffle ball, made out of plastic, and it has holes drilled into it.
The balls which are used in pickleball are actually heavier than a typical wiffle ball, and they are also often colored in very vibrant and bright colors which make them a great deal easier to see than other balls.
They are much like ping pong balls in this regard. You can often get these in bright greens, yellows, or white.
There is also no typical rule about the color of the ball in the official rules of the game, however, the ball’s color should remain consistent over the course of the game.
This ball type was approved by the USA Pickleball, which governs the official playing of pickleball in the United States.
This one is to be made of plastic and should weigh somewhere between 9.78 ounces, and 0.935 ounces. It should also be from 2.9 to 3 inches in diameter.
These numbers are very specific, and a majority of us don’t carry a tape measure or set of scales when we walk into a sports store.
So, the best way to understand this is to know that they are a bit heavier than a tennis ball and a tiny bit bigger than them too.
Indoor/ Outdoor Pickleballs
You can get a standard pickleball, but there are also specific balls for indoor or outdoor play too.
Indoor pickleballs will be softer and lighter than an outside pickleball. They are also significantly less bouncy too.
This is often because when you play outside, you need to have more control over the ball, so that you are able to make a more powerful shot (see also ‘What Is A Smash Shot?‘).
As they are not as heavy, and they are softer, they are also much less painful to get hit by if you play an intense match
The holes that you can find in indoor pickleball are also bigger than those found in outdoor pickleball, and they have fewer holes.
There will be 26 holes (or thereabouts) in indoor pickleballs.
All of these factors make an indoor pickleball easier to play with indoors.
However, since they are lighter in weight, there is usually less power generated behind a pass, and more extended volleys.
The ball is made to get the most out of indoor play.
On the other hand, outdoor pickleballs are made for playing outdoors.
Most of the time, a pickleball game is not played on a pickleball court, there just are not as many of them as tennis courts.
So, you usually find yourself on one of these instead.
No matter where you find yourself playing, you’ll probably find yourself on a harder court, so outdoor pickleballs are made for this.
If you played outdoor pickleball with a soft ball, it could wear out and break if it hit the ground hard, thus, outdoor pickleballs are often made of a heavy plastic which makes it more durable, and ensures they last longer.
These are heavier than indoor pickleballs, but only a bit, and only weighing 0.9 punches.
It does allow the ball to have a powerful hit, making the game more intense overall.
In these pickleballs the holes are smaller, and will have around 40 holes.
What About Foam Pickleballs?
While we use plastic pickleballs for a game, a ball like this can be problematic if you play a game around a neighborhood.
Since these balls are made of plastic, they do make quite a noise when you hit them with the wooden paddle (see also ‘How To Make A Paddle’).
It causes many issues for people who are nearly, even spurring legal action over the noise.
So, people decided it was time to make a foam version which makes a lot less noise.
Of course, these cannot be used in an official game, but they are good for casual play in a neighborhood.
Foam pickleballs weigh less than plastic, and they do look the same with the same holes and bright color, but they weigh significantly less.
There will therefore be a difference in how you can play with this type of ball.
So, you should be mindful of how you play with these balls, and note that if you are used to playing with a foam ball, and you enter a tournament, things will be different with a plastic ball.
You might not have thought you would have so much to think about when it comes down to choosing a ball, or playing a simple sport such as pickleball.
However, this unique sport has thought about everything, and there are 4 main types of pickleball to consider.
Know which you will need, or save yourself the trouble and just ensure you purchase a few of each. That way you are always covered!