Pickleballs and wiffle balls look like siblings. A fun fact is that the first game of pickleball used a wiffle ball as the game ball.
Wiffle balls and pickleballs are roughly the same size and have holes in them, but on further inspection, there are many differences between them.
In this piece, we’ll go over all these, from the differences in the sports themselves to their equipment and the respective game balls.
- Pickleball vs Wiffle ball: The Game
- Pickleball vs Wiffle ball: Balls
- Pickleball vs Wiffle ball: Hitting Equipment
- Pickleball vs Wiffle ball: Court
- Pickleball vs Wiffle ball: Which one is for you?
- Pickleball vs Wiffle Ball FAQs
Pickleball vs Wiffle ball: The Game
Pickleball was founded in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum on Bainbridge Island, Washington.
Wiffle Ball, on the other hand, was created in 1953 by David N. Mullany in Fairfield, Connecticut. So, wiffleball is at least a decade older than pickleball.
According to CNBC, more than 36.5 million people played pickleball in the US from August 2021 to August 2022. There’s no availability data on how many wiffle ball players in America as historically it has been more of a backyard sport.
However, the sport is becoming more professional with the advent of Major League Wiffle Ball. It’s the world’s most popular wiffle ball league and it has over 300,000 YouTube subscribers with 41 million views on YouTube so that shows it’s a popular sport in its own right.
Pickleball and wiffle ball are both derivative sports. That is, they were invented from a similar base sport.
Pickleball’s base sports are tennis, badminton and ping pong. Similarly, wiffle ball is based on baseball.
Points & Scoring
A wiffle ball game is won by the team with the most runs after a number of innings (usually 6).
A pickleball game is won by the person or team who scores 11 points. Winner must win by at least 2 points. A match is won by the player (s) who won the 2 out of 3 games.
Note: Some pickleball tournaments go to 15 or 21 points.
Pickleball is typically played in teams of 2 (doubles) or individually (singles). Wiffleball is a team sport and is played by a team of 2 – 10. During play, only 3 members of a team may be on the field.
Pickleball is a more professional game than wiffle ball with some players playing the sport as a career with salaries and sponsorship.
For example, Major League Pickleball (MLP) has a league of 24 teams & 6 events with prize money up to $5 million in 2023.
Lebron, Tom Brady and Kevin Durant have also invested in some pickleball franchises, while there isn’t a similar level of investment in wiffleball just yet.
A normal game of pickleball lasts anywhere between 15 – 25 minutes.
Wiffle Ball lasts a bit longer than pickleball with wiffleball games typically lasting about 50 – 60 minutes.
Pickleball vs Wiffle ball: Balls
Pickleballs and wiffle balls look very similar. They are both made of plastic, spherical and have holes or perforations in them, but they have some differences too.
Most wiffle balls are white, while most pickleballs are usually yellow, neon or orange.
Wiffle balls have 8 oval perforations, while pickleballs have 26 – 40 circular perforations. Also, wiffle balls are perforated on only half of the ball.
Pickleballs, on the other hand, are perforated all over the ball.
Wiffle balls generally weigh more than pickleballs. Wiffle Ball, Inc’s wiffle balls weigh 68 grams (2.4oz), while Franklin X-26 official USAPA pickleballs weigh 26 grams (.96oz).
There are two types of pickleballs: indoor and outdoor pickleballs. In Wiffleball, there is just one standard wiffle ball used for playing.
Suggested Content: Best indoor and outdoor pickleballs
Wiffle balls were designed for different types of movements when thrown in the air like knuckleballs, curve balls, slider drops, screwballs etc.
The one-sided nature of a wiffle ball generates an internal vortex that helps the ball spin more and change speed more than a regular ball, thus making wiffle balls much harder to predict and hit.
On the other hand, pickleballs can curve under pressure when hit, but generally the movements of a pickleball tend to be linear, straight and much more predictable than a wiffle ball.
Pickleball vs Wiffle ball: Hitting Equipment
To hit a pickleball, you use a pickleball paddle. To hit a wiffleball, you use a bat. There are the differences between pickleball paddle and wiffleball bats.
A wiffle ball bat is taller, longer and bigger than a pickleball paddle. Pickleball paddle length cannot exceed 17 inches, while wiffle ball bats are usually 32 inches in length (can be no longer than 42 inches).
The surface of a pickleball paddle is flat, while that of a wiffleball bat is curved at all sides.
A wiffle ball bat is heavier than a pickleball paddle. This is because it is smaller. A wiffle ball bat typically weighs 36 oz (1kg) while a pickleball paddle weighs 7 – 8.5 oz.
A wiffle ball bat is a long and narrow bat that resembles a baseball bat, while a pickleball paddle looks like an oversized ping pong paddle that has a squicircle head.
Pickleball paddles can be made from a variety of materials: usually graphite, fiberglass, aluminum, wood or even composite materials. Wiffle Ball bats, however, are made of plastic or sometimes made of wood.
Pickleball vs Wiffle ball: Court
The field of play in pickleball vs wiffle ball is very different. Here are the major differences.
The pickleball court is similar to a tennis court, and as such it has a rectangular shape.
The wiffle ball field is triangular similar to that of a baseball field. So, a wiffle ball field looks like an isosceles triangle with a curved bottom.
The standard pickleball court measures 44 feet long and 20 feet wide (all-inclusive of lines).
The wiffle ball field dimensions are more complex because it has 2 straight lines on the perimeter and a curved back field.
The right and left foul poles on either side of the field are usually 90 – 95ft from home plate while straight away centerfield will be around 100 – 105 ft.
Wiffle ball is mostly played on grass fields, or in the park. Pickleball is played on pickleball courts, tennis courts or even basketball courts.
The material for pickleball courts varies from concrete, asphalt, tile, artificial turf, hard wood or plastic surfaces.
Pickleball vs Wiffle ball: Which one is for you?
For me, I prefer pickleball. This is because it’s easy to play and requires less people. I tend to prefer to play sports alone or at least in small teams. Also, pickleball takes less time than wiffle ball so that’s why I like it.
However, if you prefer larger team sports and have a love for baseball, you should definitely go for wiffleball. If you have a yard or park close to your house, you could easily play with a group of friends.
Related post: Padel vs Pickleball
Pickleball vs Wiffle Ball FAQs
- Is a pickleball a wiffle ball?
No, a pickleball is not a wiffle ball. A wiffle ball is similar to a pickleball only because it is a perforated plastic ball. However, a pickleball is evenly perforated through its circumference, while an official wiffle ball is only perforated on one side.
- Can you use a wiffle ball to play pickleball?
Yes, you can use a wiffle ball to play pickleball, but you can only use a USAPA approved pickleball ball for tournament pickleball play.
- What sports use a wiffle ball?
The sports of wiffle ball and baseball use wiffle balls. Wiffle ball uses a wiffle ball as the game ball while baseball also uses wiffle balls during some practice sessions.
- How heavy is a pickleball?
A standard pickleball weighs 0.96 oz or 26 grams.
- How heavy is a wiffle ball?
A wiffle ball weighs 2.4 oz or 68 grams.
- How many holes does a wiffle ball have?
A wiffle ball has 8 holes.
- How many holes does a pickleball ball have?
Most pickleball balls have between 26 – 40 holes.
- How long do pickleball balls last?
Depends on the brand and quality, but in general, pickleball balls last a few games. The usual estimate is 10 games, give or take. If you play year-round, you might as well buy packs of 40 every 3 months or so.
- Does it hurt to get hit by a pickleball?
No, it doesn’t. A pickleball might sting a little on contact, but it’s not a pain you will remember. It’s pretty harmless.
- When was pickleball invented?
Pickleball was invented in 1965.
- When was wiffle ball invented?
Wiffleball was invented in 1953.
- How long is a pickleball game?
A standard pickleball game lasts about 20 minutes.
- How long is a wiffle ball game?
A wiffle ball game usually lasts 50 – 60 minutes.
All in all, by my count, that’s 20 major differences between pickleball and wiffle ball. To be honest, I didn’t expect there to be that many differences when I started writing. That’s kinda cool!
In summary, pickleball and wiffle ball are basically two different, fun sports that are best played in a team with similar balls, but vastly different sport rules, equipment and fields of play.