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Pickleball is a unique mix of badminton, tennis and ping pong. Everyone can play pickleball, almost anywhere.

Saying this, you can’t just use any type of ball. Instead, you’ll need to play with a proper pickleball. But are these interesting looking balls made of? 

There are a few different types of pickleballs but most of them are made of light plastic which makes the balls ideal for indoor and outdoor play.

In this article, we explore what material a pickleball is made of, and some new trends in pickleball design.

What Is A Pickleball Made Of?

A pickleball is made of lighter plastic with some holes in. Pickleballs are often compared to whiffle balls but they are much more durable. 

That’s because a pickleball needs to withstand a lot more pressure during the game than a standard whiffle ball.

There are currently no specific rules that say what type of pickleball you need to use outdoors or indoors. There are also no regulations about what color the ball should be.

This means that it’s up to your personal preference what type of pickleball you choose.

It’s worth keeping in mind that many pickleball communities have their own preference when it comes to ball color and even down to a special pickleball brand.

So, when you start playing pickleball in your community, it’s a good idea to check first what type of ball you should bring along.

Outdoor Pickleballs

An outdoor pickleball is made of light, durable plastic weighing just 25.5 grams. This makes it only marginally heavier than a pickleball suitable for indoor use.

Heavier Weight

While this doesn’t sound like a big thing, the small weight difference can turn a pickleball game around.

The slightly heavier ball allows pickleball players to hit the ball with more power, making the game faster and more intense.

This means that an outdoor pickleball is also noisier when played at speed.

More Holes

With 40 holes, outdoor pickleballs have a lot more holes than indoor pickleballs which only have 26 holes.

This being said, the exact number of holes usually varies by brand. However, outdoor pickleballs typically have more, smaller holes than the indoor variation.

Wind Resistant

In addition, the greater weight of outdoor pickleballs means that the wind can’t carry them away so easily.

Not Suitable For Softer Surfaces

Outdoor pickleballs are designed for outside courts only. You can use tennis courts, a parking lot or other rough surfaces and these pickleballs can handle the wear and tear. 

As these pickleballs are made from hard plastic, they can also withstand the elements a lot better.

However, this means that they are too heavy to be played indoors and on soft surfaces where they could cause damage.

Indoor Pickleballs

Suitable For Indoor Courts Only
One of the biggest differences between indoor and outdoor pickleballs is the surface that you play on.

With indoor pickleballs you play just on a softer indoor court which makes playing much smoother.

The soft pickleball court surface means that your indoor ball also needs to be slightly lighter, so not to cause any damage to the floor.

You can also use an indoor pickleball on outside courts but it’s generally not recommended.

The lighter weight means that the wind can carry it away much easier which can make it difficult to play.

Additionally, the softer indoor pickleball isn’t made for hard outdoors surfaces, such as asphalt or concrete.

Playing outdoors with an indoors ball could damage the ball and you will have to replace it sooner than expected.

Fewer Holes

Indoor pickleballs have around 26 holes which is a lot less than the standard outdoor ball. However, these holes are also slightly larger.

Many pickleball players prefer playing with a Big Hole Dura Ball or a Jugs ball, so these indoor pickleballs have been called indoor balls.

Gives Players More Control

With its lighter weight and soft surface, an indoor pickleball is also slightly less bouncy than the outdoor version.

This gives players more control over their game when they serve. This makes for a gentle game which is great for beginners.

Not Suitable For Powerful Play

Indoor pickleballs are ideal for a smooth and slow pickleball game but you cannot put a lot of power into your hit.

Many pickleball fans don’t like playing with indoor balls for exactly this reason but it’s still a good option for pickleball beginners.

Foam Pickleballs As Quiet Alternative

Now that you know that pickleballs are made of plastic, you might imagine the noise they make when played.

In fact, noise is one of the ongoing problems for many pickleball courts, especially those in residential areas and park districts.

Many cities and districts consider carefully if they want to build a pickleball court because of the loud pop that comes from the plastic ball when they are hit with the wooden paddle.

The design of a pickleball with its holes also contribute to the increased noise levels making the hit sound much louder.

However, there are a few manufacturers that have come up with a design for a new foam pickleball, such as this quiet pickleball from Gamma.

These balls are just made of foam which creates a slightly different game.

Many communities are used to playing with the traditional plastic pickleballs, so there is still some resistance when it comes to adopting foam pickleballs.

Plus, these foam balls aren’t permitted in official tournaments which means they are more suitable for a quiet pickleball practice game.

Final Thoughts

A standard pickleball is made from plastic. Depending on where you play, you will find indoor and outdoor pickleballs which vary slightly in weight and size.