Outdoor pickleball balls vs. indoor balls: 5 differences

Outdoor pickleball balls vs. Indoor balls? If you are a newbie to pickleball, the question of specifics can be a bit confusing. Are all the pickleball balls the same? Can you differentiate between indoor and outdoor balls? Which one should you opt for?

Here we are to equip you with all the crucial hacks and help you to get the right ball for the perfect game!

outdoor pickleball balls vs. indoor
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Indoor vs. outdoor pickleballs: Are they similar?

For the beginner, indoor and outdoor pickleballs may seem absolutely the same. For people who are not into the pickleball game, it can be mistaken for a holed wiffle ball. Nevertheless, these are totally different balls!

Is there a difference between indoor and outdoor pickle balls?

At first blush, indoor, and outdoor pickleballs may be very similar. You can describe them both as bright-colored plastic balls with numerous holes.

Some pickleball manufacturers release sets where indoor and outdoor pickleballs come together, and people may think that all these balls are suitable for playing anywhere they wish.

However, these kinds of pickleball are not the same! Each of them has several specific features.

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Indoor vs. outdoor pickleballs: Learn to differ

Despite the similar look, there are several specific differences between these balls. Let’s take a closer look and learn more facts that describe indoor and outdoor pickleballs!

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5 features of indoor pickleball balls

Indoor play means a bit milder playing conditions.

So, the characteristics of indoor pickleball balls are related to indoor play.

Here are 5 main features that describe a common indoor ball:

#1: Fewer holes. To define the type of ball, start by counting its holes! You can see that indoor pickleballs normally come with fewer holes over the shell, unlike outdoor pickleballs. That is one of the most prominent features that differentiate indoor balls from outdoor versions.

On the indoor pickleballs, you can see 26 round holes drilled over the plastic shell. This is a minimal number of holes for a pickleball ball. The difference in hole patterns refers to certain playing conditions; thus, the indoor balls are handier to control when playing in the inner court.

#2: Larger holes. Different hole size is the next feature that opposes indoor vs. outdoor pickleballs. As a rule, there are much larger holes (usually 40%) in comparison to outdoor versions!

This feature improves the flight characteristic of the indoor balls. As there is no weather impact on the indoor courts, the ball should move freely over the playing area.

#3: Softer plastic. A common indoor pickleball ball is a bit softer ball created for indoor playing. A ball that is designed with softer material is more compatible with the indoor court surface that is not so harsh. Indoor pickleballs are commonly made of softer plastics that are suitable for indoor conditions.

 #4: Less weight. The larger holes and slightly softer plastic are the reasons why indoor pickleballs weigh less. While indoor playing, less weight is a profit. This type of play doesn’t require high bouncing, so the balls made of soft materials are your best bet.

#5: More durable. Indoor pickleball balls are known to last a bit longer. The softer material makes them less bounce and damage.

Although soft plastic may seem vulnerable, most indoor balls tend to have better longevity than outdoor balls. In addition, they are less prone to soft spot formation.

When used just for indoor play, these balls have a good chance to live a long life.

Generally, it is possible to take an indoor ball for playing outdoors. But in fact, each ball is created specifically for certain conditions, so choose the right ball for playing in the inner courts.

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5 features of outdoor pickleball balls

Outdoor courts provide specific playing conditions, so you need to get different equipment.

Here are 5 typical features of outdoor pickleball balls:

#1: More holes. You can visually differentiate indoor and outdoor pickleballs. Place an indoor pickleball next to an outdoor ball to compare them. The last one comes with more drilled holes over its shell!

Most outdoor balls come with 40 small holes on the surface. However, there are no strict requirements that call for a certain number of them. Sometimes you can meet indoor balls with 26 or 32 holes, which can be a bit confusing.

#2: Smaller holes. One of the main signs that help you to differentiate outdoor balls is the smaller hole size. Typical outdoor pickleballs have numerous smaller holes over the shell. This point defines the flight characteristics of outdoor pickleballs.

#3: Harder plastic. Constructed of hard plastic, these balls are created explicitly for outdoor play.

While playing in the open court, the outdoor ball meets much rougher surfaces. That is why outdoor pickleballs are highly recommended for playing on outdoor courts.

#4: More weight. When you compare indoor vs. outdoor pickleballs from the weight point, you can notice that outdoor balls are slightly heavier. The answer is in the harder plastic shell and the number of holes!

It seems weird, as an outdoor pickleball has lots of holes over its surface. However, the hole diameter is much smaller; thus, 40 smaller holes cover less area than the 26 bigger holes.

The extra weight of the outdoor balls can help to withstand such playing conditions of the outdoor court as windy weather, rougher court surface, and more intensive playing style.

#5: Less durability. Outdoor play means different conditions, such as ambient temperature, playing surface, more intense playing style, etc. As a result, outdoor pickleball can face some damage issues while playing.

Because of the hard shell, outdoor pickleballs tend to get damaged more often than indoor softer balls. The harder surface is more prone to crack and cover with soft spots, so their longevity is usually shorter.

This point often depends on your play style: during intensive play, you can change several cracked balls!

Is it okay to play with the indoor pickleballs outdoors? This is technically possible, but remember that indoor balls are created specifically for indoor pickleball courts. Their higher longevity is related to certain conditions.

While playing in the outdoor pickleball court, a common indoor ball can be damaged easier than after indoor use. It has a lower bounce and moves slower, so you will find it difficult to use it in the pen air. The overall design of an indoor ball is not related to the outdoor conditions.

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Are there different pickleball balls?

There are two kinds of balls projected for indoor and outdoor play.

The indoor balls are commonly created of softer material and have fewer holes on their surface. They are designed specifically for playing pickleball indoors, so they are more lightweight and have better flight properties.

The outdoor balls are projected for the outdoor courts accordingly. Their plastic surface is covered with a larger number of smaller holes. They can withstand higher temperatures, and rougher playing surfaces, and have a higher bounce that allows you to play outdoors actively.

What pickleballs are used in outdoor tournaments?

For the outdoor tournaments, the outdoor pickleball balls must receive the USA Pickleball Association’s official approval. They have to meet a list of requirements such as the right size, weight, color, material, texture, and bounce level.

What is the difference between yellow and orange pickleballs?

In some cases, different colors are related to the light conditions. The indoor pickleballs are generally yellow, as this bright color makes them better visible while playing indoors. The outdoor balls tend to come in different colors, such as orange, yellow, or bright green.

Sometimes the question is just in the specific preference of a pickleball player. Some people find it easier to see certain colors, so they opt for either orange or yellow balls.

The USA Pickleball Association requires one uniform color for the pickleball balls. No extra details are allowed on the evenly colored pickleball ball’s surface except the identification marks from the manufacturers.

Final thoughts

As you can see, there are enough points that differentiate indoor and outdoor balls. These two types are different balls that are specifically designed for different playing conditions.

Opt for the right pickleball ball and have a great game!

Orson Carte

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