Indoor Vs Outdoor Pickleballs: Which Pickleball Should You use?

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What Are the Key Differences found in indoor vs outdoor pickleballs?

Pickleball is unique because it’s one of the few sports that can be played indoors or outdoors. With that, you may find yourself questioning if your equipment is best suited for indoor or outdoor pickleball.

Well, to keep it simple, the only equipment you need that differs are shoes and pickleballs.

Before we dive into indoor vs outdoor pickleballs, we should first go to the rules and regulations of pickleballs.

yellow outdoor pickleball on court surface next to orange indoor ball on hardwood floor

Pickleball Ball Specifications

According to the USAPA, you must have the following for a regulation pickleball

  • The material of the ball must be smooth and molded
  • The pickleball must have a uniform color with the manufacturer or company logo printed or embossed on the surface.
  • The diameter of the ball must be between 2.87 and 2.97 inches (7.29-7.54 cm)
  • The weight of the pickleball must be between 22.1 grams and 26.36 grams (0.78 and 0.935 ounces)
  • The out-of-round variance of the ball must not exceed +/- 0.02 inches
  • The bounce of the ball must be 30-34 inches dropped from 78 inches
  • The hardness of the pickleball must be 40-50 on a Durometer D scale
  • The pickleball must have 26-40 circular holes that are evenly spaced (more on this later)

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive into what makes indoor pickleballs different from outdoor pickleball balls.

Indoor Pickleballs

With an indoor pickleball there are three things you’ll notice right out of the package.

  1. Soft Feel
  2. Larger Hole size
  3. Variety of Colors
orange outdoor pickleball with dimensions.

Feel 

Indoor balls have a soft, rubbery feel to them. This creates less speed off the paddle face and a lower bounce off the hardwood floor.

Indoor balls can last you a very long time. You can get months of play out of them until they start to finally soften up too much and eventually crack.

Indoor pickleballs are more controllable, and since they are softer and harder to generate speed with, you tend to see longer rallies.

Holes

The hole size of indoor pickleballs is noticeably bigger than outdoor pickleballs. Also there’s a lot fewer holes. An indoor pickleball ball has around 26 large holes. 

You’re not battling elements such as wind on an indoor court. The conditions are always controlled, so you can get away with a lighter softer ball.

Colors

Finally, you’ll notice that indoor pickleballs come in a variety of colors besides yellow. You may see blue, orange, or red balls. 

These colors are much more visible on an indoor setting with synthetic light on the hardwood court. 

It contrasts more and creates better visibility.

assorted colors of indoor pickleballs.

How Much does an Indoor pickleball Weight?

An indoor pickleball weighs 24-26 grams (0.84-0.91 ounces) on average. 

Outdoor Pickleballs

Just like Indoor balls, when you get a pack of outdoor pickleballs you’ll notice three features.

  1. More solid material
  2. Smaller holes
  3. Fewer color options
outdoor yellow  pickleball with dimensions

Feel

Outdoor pickleball balls are much more solid. As I mentioned before, you’re fighting wind and other conditions. With a heavier, more compact ball, it’s going to be able to fight the wind more efficiently.

Because of the harder plastic and the more abrasive conditions of an outdoor pickleball court, they usually won’t last you very long.

Holes

The smaller holes also help battle wind, but because of the solid material with smaller holes you can generate a little more speed off the paddle face.

Outdoor pickleballs have 40 smaller holes typically, BUT there are some variations with this.

You’ll find some pickleballs that have 24 medium holes and 16 smaller holes. These are still regulation.

Colors

There are not many color options when you get outdoor balls. You’ll pretty much only see yellow or orange like the Dura Fast 40, or neon yellow and almost a neon green like the CORE Outdoor Pickleballs

Outdoor pickleballs are these bright colors so they contrast the darker colors of a typical pickleball court.

You can get outdoor balls in different colors, like red or pink, but for tournament play they’re typically yellow.

How Much Does an Outdoor Pickleball Weight?

An outdoor pickleball typically weighs about 25.4-26.1 grams (0.89-0.92 ounces) on average with a size of about 74 millimeters

So.. What’s The Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor pickleballs?

Outdoor pickleballs are about 0.1-0.4 grams heavier (barley noticeable) on average compared to indoor. That is because outdoor pickleballs are made of softer plastic with 26 holes compared to 40 holes in outdoor pickleballs.

As far as ball size, indoor balls are about 73mm on average whereas outdoor balls are 74mm on average. Slightly bigger, but again not a noticeable difference.

Although they both come in a variety of colors, it’s more common to see yellow or green balls for outdoor play, whereas you’ll see all sorts of colors for an indoor ball.

Furthermore, the texture and durability are also different. An indoor ball is easier to squish and softer than outdoor balls.

The outdoor balls will tend to crack whereas indoor balls tend to change shape which is called “egging.”

Finally, in terms of performance, an outdoor ball is going to come off the paddle face faster and bounce higher than an indoor pickleball.

Because the indoor ball is softer and comes off the face with less speed you get more forgiveness, and control.

What is the Best Type Pickleball for Beginners?

As a beginner I would suggest going for an outdoor ball. They’re going to allow you to have more fun and get the feel for the game.

Outdoor pickleballs have more forgiveness since they’re softer, and they come off the face a little slower so you can have longer rallies.

Can I use indoor Pickleball Outdoors?

Although it’s an indoor pickleball, you can still use them for playing outdoors, but keep in mind that if it’s a windy day, the wind might take hold of the ball.

What is the Best Type Pickleball for Intermediate Players?

Intermediate players should be using a tournament ball or a hybrid ball to really start to experiment with different shots and trajectories.

A hybrid ball still has 40 holes, but instead of small holes, they’re medium size holes so you get a little more forgiveness but still enough feedback if you hit a bad shot.

Conclusion: Indoor vs Outdoor Pickleballs

When comparing indoor vs outdoor pickleballs, they are not entirely interchangeable.

Outdoor balls are way more like to get affected by windy conditions. If you don’t want to have to keep an eye on the weather report all day, then I would just stick to outdoor balls for an outdoor court.

If you like the soft feel and low bounce that the indoor balls have, you could check out a hybrid ball, or a ball with 40 medium holes.

The most clear and noticeable in indoor vs outdoor pickleballs will be seen in performance. The size and weight are so tiny that it’s almost not noticeable.

However, when you hit an indoor pickleball vs outdoor pickleball, you’ll see a he difference in feel and how far it goes.

All in all, I would go with what you and your playing partners are comfortable with. If you’re in competition, then just make sure it’s complies with USAPA regulations.

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