There are a lot of pickleballs out there.
In this review, I'll cover:
- What are the best pickleballs?
- Where can you find and buy the best pickleball balls?
- What features does a regulation-standard pickleball need to have and what materials should it ideally be made out of to give you the best reliability out on the court?
- How much should you have to pay for a decent pickleball in terms of price?
- A buyer’s guide that will help you to discern between the good pickleballs from the not-so-good pickleballs, as well as some frequently asked questions.
I'll admit with this review, I haven't tried ALL of the pickleballs out there. As you can see there are 54 (as of this writing) balls approved by the USAPA for tournament play. And that's just the balls that are approved! There are a whole host of other balls that are NOT approved.
Here's the thing to remember though: all pickleballs will wear out, go out of round or crack eventually after a few games (though some last longer than others), so if you are playing pickleball on a regular basis, you could easily buy a few types of balls and use them to learn which you like best.
Check out this sad line-up:
So taking a step back: these unique balls are perforated, made from durable plastic and are very lightweight, however, they do have to conform to regulation standards to be used in official competitions.
What to look out for when choosing a ball
To boil down the most important things to consider when buying a ball:
- Color: pick a color that contrasts enough with the surroundings you are playing in to be able to easily see it
- Whether it's indoor or outdoor
- Bounce: some balls bounce higher than others.
- Whether you need a USAPA approved ball if you're playing in (or are planning to play in) a tournament
- And, of course, price
Outdoor Versus Indoor Pickleball Balls
I covered this in depth in my article What's the difference between indoor and outdoor pickleballs? but to summarize some of the salient points:
Outdoor balls are harder and heavier and have smaller, more-numerous holes.
Indoor balls are softer, lighter and have larger, fewer holes.
Active outdoor players will often choose outdoor balls, which are slightly more durable, built to withstand the harsher surface of the court.
You might only play a few games with an outdoor pickleball, whereas an indoor one might last you for months, as the courts are smoother and generally more forgiving.
If you are a more intense outdoor player, then you’ll appreciate a ball that is slightly thicker and more durable.
Some players have described their outdoor balls as being too bouncy, which hinders the speed at which they feel comfortable playing.
However, some players might find indoor balls lack responsiveness, desiring that bounce that guarantees and fun and lively play.
The list of the best indoor and outdoor balls below have been evaluated on their playability, how well they bounce and respond off the paddle, as well as how long they last on the court.
I've also worked out how much they’ll injure your wallet.
(Some of the below links are affiliate links which means we get paid a bit if you click through and buy something — don’t worry it doesn’t add anything to your cost! Just helps keep the site running.)
BEST OUTDOOR PICKLEBALL BALLS
Our first outdoor pickleball is built for the harder courts and smooth trajectory, coming as it does with patented ‘True Flight Technology’, which means that it will remain straight and true even in the most adverse weather conditions.
The large hole size reduces the level of wind resistance, with a durable plastic construction - introducing the Onix Pure 2 Outdoor Pickleballs.
This pickleball ball comes in several different colors, so you can buy as many as you want to suit your particular personality, remaining visible in the air against a white sky.
This will be important for preserving the accuracy of your games.
Outdoor balls such as the Onix are built heavier and as a result, they hit the paddle a lot harder, making them more difficult to control.
Due to the lack of control that you might get from these balls, your outdoor pickleball rallies might be a lot shorter than your indoor ones.
- The design - these are designed with more perforations which will reduce the amount of drag that you’ll experience during your rallies.
- Because of the durability, you can expect your games to last longer than with some of the other outdoor pickleball balls.
- The weight of these balls will give you a better sound on impact and will generally hit their target dead on every time.
- The True Flight Technology will ensure that you’ll be able to have a great game of pickleball even in harder winds.
- As with all outdoor pickleballs, you can expect these to go out of round very quickly - meaning that they will split and diminish their ability to hit straight every time.
- NOT USAPA approved. So if you want to train for a tournament, don't use these.
Our next model of outdoor pickleball balls come with optimum drill holes that are precision-engineered to give you that straight, dead-on trajectory on every hit that you make.
They strike well on the paddle and deliver that satisfying sound that will give you confidence during those competitive matches - introducing the Tourna Strike Outdoor Pickleballs.
These balls come with 40 drilled holes in their body to limit the amount of drag to next-to-nothing. This means that you can expect a very straight shot even in more resistant weather such as wind or light rain.
If you do experience mild adverse weather conditions, you won’t want the play to cease, so having a ball like that Tourna that you can rely on is crucial.
These come in a host of bright colors, which will again be helpful for visibility.
These balls come from reinforced, lightweight plastic, and have been approved for USAPA/IFP play, so you won’t have to worry about them letting you down in active competitions.
- The durability - these balls are made from reinforced plastic, which is thicker than a lot of the other models that you’ll see on the market.
- With over 40 drilled holes, these balls experience very little drag. This will help you achieve those dead-on shots that are important for accuracy in your games.
- These balls are specially adapted for light and breezy conditions, as well as having decent responsiveness off the paddle.
- These come sold in a bulk of around 200, which means that you can buy one packet and not have to worry about your next batch for a good few months (depending on how much you play).
- These balls have been known to split a lot quicker after frequent play. This might adversely affect their performance in harsher weather.
Our next outdoor pickleball ball is constructed from a molded design that results in one of the strongest balls on the court.
These are also the most common type of ball played with in outdoor tournaments. If you are training for an outdoor tournament, these are likely your best bet.
These balls are extremely hard and respond well off the paddle, but should generally be reserved only for the professional players who are looking to play in tournaments - introducing the Dura Fast 40 Pickleballs.
The Dura balls are very resilient to repeated hard hits, making them the ideal unit for fast-paced tournaments and intense rallies.
You might still burn through these balls after a few rounds, but if it’s hard and fast playing you like, then these balls will outlast all other models.
The holes in this ball are drilled rather than molded, which helps with the flight of the ball and improves overall accuracy, something craved by the professional players.
Out of the 40 holes on this ball, 16 of them are larger, 24 are smaller, which helps achieve a straight flight pattern.
- The drilled hole sequence will increase the trajectory of these shots, reducing the amount of drag quite significantly.
- The durability of this ball is second-to-none, you’ll be able to go for a few quite intensive rounds, allowing you to improve your game and get the best of your opponent.
- This ball is perfectly suited to pro tournament players. The solid construction means a responsive feel off the paddle and a straight shot every time.
- These pickleball balls are also great to be used in windy outdoor conditions.
- USAPA Approved and very common in tournaments
- The hardness of these balls means that inexperienced players might want to steer clear of them, as they will be a lot harder to control off the bat.
- Might crack faster than you would like
BEST INDOOR PICKLEBALL BALLS
These indoor pickleball balls are some of the best rated on the market today, coming in a soft plastic that is very responsive off the paddle and has a decent bounce off leather, vinyl and waxed wood floor surfaces.
The more casual players will appreciate this responsiveness as it leads to a more active and leisurely game - introducing the Jugs Pickleballs.
This pickleball will play well on all sorts of softer indoor courts, with more texture on the surface, giving the ball that extra bite that it needs.
This ball weighs in at 8/10-ounces, making it one of the most lightweight indoor balls, giving you more bounce at the expense of slightly less control.
Players who enjoy more intense indoor games will love this model, with great responsiveness and bounce on harder surfaces, although some more experienced users complain that this ball does not have the bounce that they require.
You can expect these balls to last through weeks if not months of play.
- These balls come in a wide range of colors, meaning increased visibility and hopefully increased accuracy for your shots.
- The ball responds well when bouncing off the vinyl, rubber, laminated wood and various other indoor materials.
- The weight of these pickleballs is one of the lightest on the market, giving you a decent bounce and more lively play.
- This is ideal for casual pickleball players, with an easier rebound off the paddle that will not cause any great stress on the wrist or hands when playing.
- Some users have complained that after using the Jugs brand for so long that other balls seem a lot less responsive than they are used to. This might make it difficult if you’re thinking of transitioning between indoor and outdoor play.
Our next brand of indoor pickleball balls is constructed from a two-piece design that has 26 holes that are precision-molded rather than drilled.
This means that it will suffer from less drag when in the air, giving you those long and straight shots that won’t feel too heavy against the paddle, giving you a greater degree of control - introducing the Gamma Sports Photon Indoor Pickleballs.
You can get these in packs of 3, 6 or 60, the latter option meaning that you’ll only have to buy one packet every 6 months or so, depending on how intense your playing is.
The fluorescent green color will mean that you can keep the ball visible throughout your play and increase the accuracy of your shots.
If you buy a lot of these balls, then they are perfect for practicing your drills and getting a rally going up and down the court.
You can also insert these into your automatic pickleball machine, one method that will greatly improve your swing and accuracy both on indoor and outdoor courts.
- These balls have been sanctioned by the USAPA for professional tournament play, so if you are a professional player, these will be the balls for you.
- These balls are luminous and will provide you with greater visibility, allowing you to improve your accuracy and stamina.
- The Gamma balls come in packs of 60, allowing you to have plenty of reserves, which will certainly help when practicing.
- The precision-molded holes will reduce the drag on your ball by some margin, giving you straight, dead-on shots.
- This might not be a great model for experienced players who like a rough and intense game, as these balls might split faster than other brands of indoor balls.
Best PickleBall Balls Buying Guide
When it comes to picking out the right pickleball for you, you’ll need to decide what type of game you’ll be playing as well as to what intensity.
If you are playing outdoor competitive pickleball, then I would certainly recommend that you select the hardest ball that you can find on the outdoor list as well as one that is USAPA approved.
Indoor balls tend to last a lot longer than outdoor balls because they’ll be striking softer surfaces and will not be exposed to the sun.
An indoor pickleball will also hurt you a lot less if you get hit by one, so it might be a better option if you are a casual player.
What Are The Specifications For A USAPA Regulation PickleBall?
Regulation pickleballs must have between 26 and 40 holes drilled into them.
NOTE: the USAPA rules do not specify that you must use outdoor balls outside and indoor balls indoors. You can technically use any approved ball in any situation whether indoor or outdoor as long as it has been approved.
Outdoor balls tend to have around 40 holes, whereas indoor balls have fewer at 26. This is because you’ll get a lot less wind drag in an indoor game than you will in an outdoor game.
Some pickleball manufacturers will slightly modify the number of holes in their balls, while still staying within the rigid specs set by the officials. It is not uncommon to find pickleball balls that have around 32 holes drilled into them.
Drilled holes will have more straight aim than precision-molded holes, as they let a lot more air go through them during play.
On an outdoor ball, it will also not be uncommon to find balls with different-sized holes to improve accuracy.
Here are all of the nitty gritty details quoted from the USAPA rule book:
2.D.1. 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, except 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.
2.D.2. Size. The ball shall be 2.87 inches (7.29 cm) to 2.97inches (7.54 cm) in diameter. The maximum out-of round diameter variance shall not be greater than+/-0.020 inch (0.51 mm).
2.D.3. Weight. The ball shall weigh between 0.78 and 0.935 ounces (22.1 and 26.5 grams).2.D.4. Bounce. The ball shall have a bounce of 30 to 34inches (76.2 to 86.4 cm) to the top of the ball when dropped from a height of 78 inches (198.1 cm) onto a granite surface plate that is a minimum of 12 inches(30.5 cm) by 12 inches (30.5 cm) by 4 inches (10.2cm). The test is to be performed at an ambient temperature of 70 degrees F plus or minus 5 degrees F.
2.D.5. Hardness. The ball shall have a hardness of 40 to 50 on a Durometer D scale at an ambient temperature of 70 degrees F plus or minus 5 degrees F.2.D.6. 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.
Buying Pickleballs In Bulk
If you are an occasional player, you might be less inclined to buy your pickleballs in bulk, although if you are an intense player, then you might see yourself wearing through dozens of balls a month.
However, if you are a part of a recreation center or a local pickleball club, buying a pack of 3 or 6 simply won’t make a lot of sense. In this case, you’ll certainly want to buy in bulk.
Luckily, as you can see from the list above, a lot of pickleball ball manufacturers make their balls in bulk and sell them for a pretty reasonable price.
To save money on buying pickleballs, you could contact the manufacturers directly and ask for some cut-price deal.
A lot of clubs seek sponsorship from the manufacturer, who will give it in return for free advertising at the club or might just send some free gear over for a charity match.
Quiet Pickleball Balls
It is very common for a community that you’re playing in to have very strict rules on pickleball noise - that’s right.
Pickleball games can make very loud sounds and if you find yourself playing in the evening, then this could lead to disturbances and ultimately complaints from the neighbors.
You can purchase quieter pickleballs made from softer foam, as well as softer padded paddles.
While these might not be regulation approved, you can still use them for casual games or to get a few hours more practice in at your local club.
These quieter balls have a very similar weight and feel to traditional hard pickleballs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Use Indoor Pickleballs In An Outdoor Court?
Judging from the tone of this article, you might think that it is strictly prohibited to use indoor balls on an outdoor court and vice versa.
But actually, this is far from the truth.
Some outdoor players actually prefer to use indoor balls on their courts, as the balls are generally more lightweight and more responsive off the racket and on the floor.
However, you will have to remember that indoor balls will not last as long outdoor balls due to their softer texture and material.
If you are planning on using indoor balls outside, we’d recommend that you buy in bulk, as you can expect to go through them a lot quicker.
Generally, you’ll find a lot more instances of indoor balls being used outside than outdoor balls being used inside, as the latter is a lot harder and just don’t have the same bite on the polish hard surfaces of the court floor.
How much do pickleballs cost?
You can expect to pay between anywhere between about $0.35 per ball all the way up to $4,00 per ball depending on the where you're buying it, the brand and how many you're buying.
And finally, here's a bit of a curve ball. If you're looking for a practice ball that will last a long time and is great for kids:
Our final model of indoor pickleball ball is one that is slightly different to the ones that I've seen before, being a larger and much heavier brand of training ball.
The bounce of this training ball does mimic the play of a genuine ball, allowing you to significantly improve your pickleball game - introducing the Gamma CGQ2600 Qck Kids36 Ball.
As you could probably tell from the title, this ball is great for kids to use.
If you have children or young teens that want to learn the fundamentals of the game with a training ball that feels as realistic as a regular pickleball.
This ball can just as easily be used by adults doing practice drills, holding up well against rainy and windy conditions, so you can just as easily use this ball outdoors as well as indoors.
This has a lower bounce and is much heavier, so you can expect a harder game but with much more control.
- This ball is around an inch smaller than a regular pickleball, but it will be a good starter for kids or novice adults who want to get into pickleball but need to develop their backhand swings on a softer ball first.
- Even for a beginner ball, this will give you all the features of a proper pickleball - a solid trajectory, good loft and great responsiveness of any indoor surface.
- This is perfect for drills and can even be used outside in moderately adverse weather conditions such as breeze or light rain.
- Rather than buying 200 genuine pickleball balls to practice with, I would recommend just buying a few of these balls. They will be very resistant to splitting and can last much longer on gentle training play.
- Again, this is a practice ball for kids and the bounce is far less responsive than a lot of other indoor pickleball balls.
Last update on 2021-04-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API