Choosing the Best Pickleball Ball
Which pickleball ball is the best? With so many pickleball balls on the market, it’s hard to choose the “right” one. It would be easy if all the balls were the same, but they aren’t.
In general, the best ball is the one that meets your skill level and your specific playing conditions.
Below are the official specs for a tournament grade pickleball ball (say that 10 times fast). In our opinion, only a few of them really matter in choosing a ball.
Pickleball Ball Specifications
USA Pickleball (formally known as USAPA) has adopted the rules of the game to include ball specifications as listed by the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP). As of this writing there are 50+ approved pickleball balls for tournament play.
Specifications for official balls:
- Weight of the ball – 22-26.5 grams
- Size and diameter – 73-75.5 mm in diam.
- Number of holes – 26 to 40
- Colors – must be solid
- Logos – must be present
Indoor vs. Outdoor
Interestingly, USA Pickleball/IFP specifications do not distinguish between an indoor vs. an outdoor ball. USA PIckleball does not care where you use the ball.
Any ball can be sold and used as an indoor or outdoor ball. Basically, play with the ball you like.
Number of Holes in a Pickleball
When I first started playing pickleball, I mistakenly thought the difference between indoor and outdoor were simply the number of holes. Nope. A manufacturer may choose any number of holes, large or small, between 26 and 40. While there may be a tendency for more “indoor” balls to have fewer and larger holes, this is not a qualifying attribute of either ball. The Wilson ball has 32 holes.
Holes can be used to adjust the weight and balance/flight of the ball. Period.
Hardness, Bounce and Weight
Hardness and bounce are, in our opinion, the two variables to consider when selecting yoru pickleball.
The pickleball ball is to bounce 30-34 inches when dropped from a height of 78 inches and landing on a granite surface measuring 12” x 12” x 4” (memorize this, it will be a test question).
This is one of the most important and unique features of each ball. A ball with a higher bounce is easier to hit. HIgher bouncing balls produce games with more put aways as the ball is likely to bounce above net height. In our opinion, this is a great ball for beginners.
A lower bouncing ball makes it more difficult to “bang” the ball across the net and encourages dinking, thus keeping the game “below the net.”
Hardness, determined by the material used, creates different levels of friction, aka skidding. For instance, a softer ball, such as the Onix Outdoor, will skid less on an indoor basketball court. This ball is often used for indoor tournaments, however, this ball may be too slow for outdoor play on an asphalt surface. A harder ball, such as the Franklin X 40, may be perfect for this type of outdoor surface.
In general, we like the heavier weighted balls. It has a truer flight in windier conditions. Heavier balls give you better feel and more accurate shots.
The Best Pickleball Ball
In the end, it’s up to you, but we recommend a heavier ball in all situations.
Your skill level will help you choose the bounce of the ball.
The playing surface can help determine the hardness of the ball.
The Franklin X 40 and Dura Fast 40 are often seen in pro tournaments. They are hard, heavy and don’t bounce as high as the softer Onix balls often used in indoor tournaments played on finished surfaces.
The harder balls, in our opinion, skid way too much for indoor surfaces such as a basketball court.
Hey! We’d love to hear what you have to say about your favorite ball! Leave a comment!
Keep your game “below the net.”
Bob and Randy