Whether you play pickleball outside in the sun or inside under the lights, it’s the same great game we know and love. Of course, there are pros and cons of playing inside or outside, but pickleball is pickleball. You may have to deal with gusty winds outside and you won’t get a dose of vitamin D inside. Now whether you choose to play with an indoor or outdoor pickleball is a different story. But what’s the difference and why would you choose one over the other? Let's dive in.
Indoor pickleballs are designed specifically for indoor play. Since indoor pickleball doesn’t deal with as many elements, specifically wind, indoor balls are designed with fewer holes and are larger than outdoor balls. If you see a ball branded as ‘26’ or has “26” in the name, you’re safe to assume it is designed for indoor play. While you won't be shunned from the PB community or sent to pickleball jail for bringing an indoor ball to the outdoor courts, you certainly won’t get the same level of performance from your indoor ball outside. With the larger holes, indoor balls are a bit softer and slower than outdoor balls, so you can assume your rallies might last a bit longer inside. Also, while outdoor balls seem to crack at the most inconvenient time, indoor balls get soft and mushy the more they’re smacked around, making driving a ball past your opponent even more difficult.
Outdoor pickleballs are the most common ball you’ll encounter and are designed for outdoor play in the elements and on a hard surface. They are harder than indoor balls, most commonly have 40 holes, and are specifically designed to combat the wind. Being harder and heavier allows outdoor balls to travel faster through the air, making outdoor play faster than indoor. While outdoor balls don’t get as soft and mushy over time, they do crack and get misformed (or out of round) more often, especially in cold-weather play. So be ready with a backup in your bag to bust out at any time, mostly in those winter months!
If you’re going inside but playing on a tennis/pickleball hardcourt surface, it’s fair game to bring an outdoor ball and get your dink on. The other way around? Not so much. So, when buying pickleball balls, think of where you’ll be spending the most time and purchase accordingly. It never hurts to have both on hand just in case one of those rainy days forces you inside!
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