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Indoor vs Outdoor Pickleballs: What’s the Difference?

One of the great things about pickleball is how affordable and easy it is to get started playing. Plus, adverse weather conditions don’t mean you can’t play – pickleball is a sport that can be enjoyed indoors and outdoors!

Before you rush to the court, it’s essential to understand the differences between indoor vs. outdoor pickleballs so you can have the best experience. Below we go over everything you need to know!

Types of Pickleballs

A wide variety of brands, colors, and features can help you choose the right pickleball for you.

But, there are two main types of pickleballs. These two kinds of pickleballs are divided into indoor and outdoor pickleballs.

Each has attributes that make them specifically suited for either indoor or outdoor play.

Most major brands make both types, so you can be sure there’s a pickleball out there for whatever situation you find yourself in.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Pickleballs

Indoor Pickleballs

Indoor Pickleballs

Since there aren’t any elements like wind to deal with indoors, indoor pickleballs are designed with fewer and larger holes than outdoor pickleballs. This design makes them easier to control compared to other models. They’re also softer and lighter than outdoor pickleballs, meaning you can take more aggressive cuts when playing with them while having more consistent and predictable results. They also have more textures than outdoor models, which gives them greater spin potential.

In terms of durability, indoor pickleballs aren’t prone to cracking, but they get soft over time and need to be changed periodically.

Other considerations:

Indoor pickleballs are easily affected by windy conditions, which is why they’re intended primarily for indoor play. They’re also quieter and hurt less if you happen to get hit by one.

Typically, indoor pickleballs come with 26 holes, making them easy to identify when purchasing.

As one would expect, outdoor pickleballs are the complete opposite of indoor pickleballs.

Outdoor Pickleballs

Outdoor Pickleballs

With all the elements that come with playing outdoors, outdoor pickleballs are designed to withstand windy days and hard surfaces. They are made of a more smooth plastic that gives them a more rigid and heavier body. Outdoor pickleballs have fewer but larger holes when compared to indoor pickleballs. It’s easier to hit outdoor pickleballs harder because they have less drag than indoor pickleballs. On the flip side, this also makes them harder to control.

Regarding durability, outdoor pickleballs are more prone to cracking and can become deformed more easily, especially in cold conditions. It’s important to periodically evaluate the state of your outdoor pickleballs and replace them when needed.

Other considerations:

Outdoor pickleballs are louder than indoor pickleballs because of their heavier weight. This construction also makes getting hit by an outdoor pickleball more painful.

Typically, outdoor pickleballs will come with 40 holes, making it easy to identify them when making a selection.

Official Pickleball Requirements

Regardless of what pickleball you choose, it’s critical to pick one that is officially recognized and legal to use.

The USA Pickleball Rulebook & Official Rules gives the official requirements and specifications of approved pickleballs:

  1. Design: The ball shall have a minimum of 26 to a maximum of 40 circular holes, with spacing of the holes and overall design of the ball conforming to flight characteristics. The ball must have a manufacturer's or supplier’s name or logo printed or embossed on the surface.

  2. Approval: The Tournament Director will choose the tournament ball. The ball selected for play in any USA pickleball-sanctioned tournament must be named on the official list of approved balls posted on the USA Pickleball website

  3. Construction: The ball shall be made of a durable material molded with a smooth surface and free of texturing. The ball will be one uniform color, expect for identification markings. The ball may have a slight ridge at the seam, as long as it does not significantly impact the ball’s flight characteristics.

You’re now ready to make the most of your next indoor or outdoor pickleball session. Happy Dinking!

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