Pickleball, a game that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, has gained popularity among people of all ages and skill levels. However, unlike those sports, pickleball requires a unique type of ball. But what exactly is a pickleball made of? Prepare to be surprised!
The Evolution of Pickleball Balls
In the early days of pickleball, players used a type of plastic ball called Cosom, which had larger holes and was slower. However, as the sport evolved, so did the pickleball itself. With the establishment of the International Federation of Pickleball and USA Pickleball development, regulations were put in place, even for pickleball balls.
Today, regulation pickleballs are made of a lightweight plastic material. They are injected into a mold and then cooled to harden. The manufacturer then drills holes of equal size into the ball, giving it the familiar appearance we associate with pickleballs. These regulation balls typically have between 26 and 40 holes, depending on their purpose and the manufacturer’s preferences.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Pickleballs
There are two main types of pickleball balls: indoor and outdoor. Each type is designed to match the characteristics of its respective court. It’s important not to confuse the two, as they have distinct differences.
Indoor pickleballs are specifically designed for indoor courts, which have softer and smoother surfaces compared to their outdoor counterparts. These balls are made with a lighter and softer plastic to adapt to the smoother playing surface.
Indoor pickleballs have fewer holes, usually around 26, and are slightly larger than outdoor pickleballs. They are also less bouncy, giving players more control during serves. The lighter weight of indoor balls, about 0.8 ounces, makes generating power more challenging, resulting in longer volleys.
While indoor pickleballs may become softer over time, they are less likely to develop cracks. However, they are not recommended for outdoor play due to their lighter weight and susceptibility to wind and faster wear on hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt.
Outdoor pickleballs, as the name suggests, are specifically designed for outdoor courts. These courts are often made of hard, rough surfaces like tennis courts. To withstand the wear and tear of these surfaces, outdoor pickleballs are made of heavier and more durable plastic.
Outdoor pickleballs weigh around 0.9 ounces, slightly heavier than their indoor counterparts. The extra weight allows players to generate more power during hits, making the game more intense and fast-paced. Additionally, outdoor balls have more holes, typically around 40, which are smaller compared to indoor balls.
Due to their durability, outdoor pickleballs are not commonly used on indoor courts, as they can cause damage to the softer playing surface. However, they are suitable for outdoor use and are less prone to cracking.
Foam Pickleballs: A Quieter Alternative
One issue that has arisen with pickleball is the noise generated when the plastic ball hits the wooden paddle, which can be disruptive, especially in residential areas. To address this concern, some manufacturers have introduced foam pickleballs, which are designed to minimize noise.
Although foam pickleballs are not allowed in official tournaments, they offer a quieter option for casual play. It’s important to note that foam balls are lighter than standard pickleballs and may provide a different playing experience.
Additional Information About Pickleball Balls
Apart from the materials and types of pickleballs, there are a few other things worth knowing:
USA Pickleball-Approved Balls
USA Pickleball maintains a list of balls that are approved for use in tournaments. This list includes 61 specific balls from various manufacturers. These balls must meet certain criteria, such as being of a single color (usually yellow, white, or orange), standard sizes, and weights.
The Best Pickleball Manufacturers
Some well-known manufacturers of pickleballs include Wilson Sporting Goods and ONIX. Wilson’s TRU 32 ball is made using a mold and thermoplastic resin, with 32 evenly spaced holes. ONIX produces the popular DURA Fast 40, which is widely used in pickleball tournaments and known for its fast play.
Pickleball is a unique and fast-paced sport that has captivated players around the world. Although it requires minimal equipment, the choice of pickleball can greatly influence the gameplay experience. Whether you’re playing indoors or outdoors, there are specific balls designed to enhance your performance.
It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the characteristics of different pickleballs and choose the one that best suits your needs. While there are numerous options available from trusted manufacturers, all regulation pickleballs are more than sufficient for enjoyable gameplay.
Remember to refer to USA Pickleball’s list of approved balls for official tournaments, and don’t be afraid to explore foam pickleballs for a quieter play experience. Happy pickleballing!
As a passionate enthusiast of all racquet sports, I have developed a deep love for pickleball. My entire family regularly plays this exhilarating game. Through this website, I aim to provide performance tips and buying information to help you make informed decisions.
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