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 indoor or outdoor pickleballs is a different story. But what’s the difference, and why would you choose one over the other? The Paddle Experts at JustPaddles explain everything you need to know and more. Let's dive in.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Pickleballs
At a high level, pickleballs used for indoor and outdoor play are typically made from different materials, which can affect their durability, bounce, and speed. Here are some of the key differences between indoor and outdoor pickleballs:
Material: Indoor pickleballs are made from a softer plastic, while outdoor pickleballs are made from a harder, more durable plastic that can withstand rougher surfaces like concrete or asphalt.
Size: Indoor and outdoor pickleballs are the same size, with a diameter of about 2.9 inches. However, outdoor pickleballs are often slightly heavier, weighing around 0.9 ounces, compared to indoor balls, which weigh about 0.8 ounces.
Holes: Indoor and outdoor pickleballs have different hole patterns. Indoor balls have fewer, larger holes (26), and outdoor balls have more, smaller holes (40) to minimize being affected by the wind.
Color: Indoor pickleballs are typically bright yellow, while outdoor balls can be yellow, green, or orange. The brighter colors of outdoor balls help make them more visible in different lighting conditions.
Performance: Due to the differences in material and hole patterns, indoor and outdoor pickleballs have different levels of bounce, speed, and spin. Indoor balls tend to have a lower bounce and slower speed, making them easier to control and ideal for beginners or for playing in smaller spaces. Outdoor balls have a higher bounce and faster speed, making them better for more advanced players and for playing on larger courts.
Now, let's dig a little deeper and outline indoor pickleballs and outdoor pickleballs in more detail.
Indoor pickleballs are designed specifically for indoor play. Since indoor pickleball doesn’t deal with as many elements, specifically wind, indoor balls have fewer, larger holes (26) and outdoor balls have more, smaller holes (40) to minimize being affected by the wind.
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 pickleball 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!
Already have some pickleballs? The next thing you need is some pickleball paddles! There are hundreds of paddles on the market, which is why we have an entire page dedicated to Pickleball Paddle Reviews! If you need more information, give us a call at 1-866-382-3465, email us (firstname.lastname@example.org), or utilize our LIVE CHAT to speak with a Paddle Expert today. We’re JustPaddles, and we’re with you from Click to Court!