Indoor pickleball has fewer but larger holes and is heavier and softer than outdoor pickleball.

But did you know why are the balls designed like this for each playing environment?

Choosing the right ball for your court surface is important for ideal bounce, speed, and durability.

Let’s compare indoor and outdoor pickleballs.

Indoor vs Outdoor Pickleballs

Indoor vs Outdoor Pickleballs

Let’s break it down so you know exactly what’s up when it comes to indoor versus outdoor pickleball.

Outdoor balls

First up, outdoor balls. These are made from durable, high-density plastic designed to withstand outdoor courts made of concrete or asphalt. 

They’ve got smaller holes – usually around 40 of them – which help cut through the wind when you’re playing outside. The small holes also give the balls a lower bounce and more controlled flight.

Outdoor balls weigh a little more too, around 0.925 ounces. This gives them some extra stability when playing in the elements. And since they’re hard plastic, they crack more often than go flat. Every 10 games or so you’ll probably see some cracks forming. 

No bueno! But that’s the tradeoff for that nice crisp bounce you get with outdoor balls.

When it comes to color, you’ll see a lot of neon green, orange, and yellow outdoor balls. Those bright hues make it easy to see the ball coming, even when the sun is blazing down. Pretty clutch for outdoor play.

Indoor balls

Now on to the softer, smoother indoor balls. These use plastics like LDPE that have a bit more give to them. 

The holes are bigger – usually 26 – to help create traction on those slick indoor floors, especially wood. More holes would just make them skid all over the place!

Since the plastic is softer, indoor balls usually weigh slightly less than outdoor ones, around 0.917 ounces or so. They bounce a little higher and control like a dream. 

Seriously, you can put some crazy spin on these puppies! But with softness comes less durability. Indoor balls slowly warp and get soft spots rather than cracking. Still, they’ll often last over 20 games before you see signs of wear.

For indoor balls, more peculiar colors are available, like pink, white, and blue. Visibility is less of an issue indoors and most stand out nicely.

So when should you use indoor versus outdoor balls? The court surface is more important than just being inside or out. If you’re playing outdoors on a textured asphalt or concrete tennis court, go with outdoor balls. 

Use those same balls indoors on a similar court surface.

But for super smooth, slick floors like you see in gyms, bust out the indoor balls to get the most control and avoid skidding all over the place. 

Can You Use Indoor Pickleballs Outdoor?

It’s generally not advised to use indoor pickleballs when playing outside.

Indoor balls aren’t built to handle rough outdoor concrete and asphalt. They’re more prone to damage or getting lost outdoors too. Since indoor balls have larger holes, they get pushed around more by wind interference and may not react as expected.

 If you have to use indoor balls outdoors, only do so on calm days with minimal wind. Stick to very smooth, clean outdoor courts. And keep it to casual recreational games rather than tournaments where performance matters. 

For serious outdoor play, opt for balls specifically designed for exterior courts and conditions. But feel free to experiment with indoor balls outdoors for more casual play if you wish!

Best Outdoor Pickleball Balls

When it comes to outdoor play, you want a ball that can handle the elements.

Outdoor pickleballs have smaller holes – usually 40 – which help improve aerodynamics and stability when facing windy conditions. Some top outdoor ball models include the Dura Fast 40, Onix Pure 2, and Top Ball.

The advantages of these balls are that they’re a bit heavier, have more bounce, and generate more power on shots. Their hard plastic construction also makes them less affected by humidity and temperature fluctuations outdoors.

The downsides are that outdoor balls tend to be harder, louder, less durable over time, and harder to see outdoors compared to bright-colored indoor balls. But for pickleball played on exterior courts, outdoor balls give you the performance you need to play your best game.

Best Indoor Pickleball Balls

When selecting an indoor ball, you’ll want to consider several factors.

Choose a bright color that contrasts well with the floor and background. Indoor balls should have a soft feel. And opt for durable construction that resists cracking and denting with frequent play.

Some top indoor pickleball recommendations are the Jugs Bulldog for its soft feel and visibility, the Onix Fuse G2 for its seamless design and consistent bounce, and the Franklin X-26 for its balanced weight and durability.

With the right indoor ball, you’ll be primed for optimal control and performance on indoor courts.

USAPA Ball Specifications 2023

USA Pickleball used to have restrictions on the balls’ diameter, hardness, and weight, but they were removed. According to the official guidelines, these are the latest requirements:

  • A minimum of 26 to a maximum of 40 circular holes
  • The ball will be one uniform color, except for identification markings
  • The ball must have a manufacturer’s name or logo printed on the surface

You can check out the approved list of pickleballs here.

FAQ

Why Do Indoor Pickleballs Have Larger Holes

The larger holes on indoor balls are strategic for indoor court performance. The bigger holes reduce air resistance, allowing for more controlled shots with additional spin on smooth interior surfaces. Some perks of the larger perforations are that indoor balls tend to be softer, quieter, and more durable than outdoor balls. 
The downsides are that the lighter weight gives them less bounce, and indoor balls can be more affected by humidity and temperature fluctuations inside. But the benefit of enhanced control and spin thanks to the bigger holes makes indoor balls the right choice for slick indoor floors.

How Many Holes Are in an Indoor and Outdoor Pickleball

There are usually 26 holes in an indoor pickleball and 40 holes in an outdoor pickleball. 

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