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Are All Pickleballs the Same? Your Pickleball Questions Answered

A basket of pickleballs sits next to two rackets on a pickleball court.

TL;DR: Not all pickleballs are the same, but specific standards define their unique features and performance characteristics for consistent play.

  • Material and Design: Pickleballs are plastic and perforated, evolving from wiffle balls.
  • Specifications: Must meet USA Pickleball standards including size, weight, and perforation count.
  • Variability: Differences exist mainly between outdoor and indoor balls.
  • Durability: Cannot deflate but can deform over time; relatively inexpensive and easy to replace.

Pickleball isn’t just the name of the sport we all love, it’s also what we call the ball that’s a big factor in making our sport unique.

Pickleballs are very clearly different from fuzzy felt surrounding a hollow rubber core (like traditional tennis) or a small rubber ball (used in squash and racquetball). Instead, balls used in pickleball are made of plastic and perforated.

The structure of a pickleball has evolved from the beginning of the game, when wiffle balls were used, to produce modern pickleballs. Now, they’re designed for consistent performance at all levels of the sport.

Let’s take a closer look at what makes pickleballs unique and answer some common questions about them.

A close-up view of a single pickleball sitting on a court.

Pickleballs: FAQs and Their Answers

What Kind of Ball is Used in Pickleball?

It’s pretty simple: When you play pickleball, you use a pickleball. These specially designed balls are made with the game’s style of play and the other equipment used on the court in mind.

Pickleballs evolved from whiffleballs, which are similar but distinct in a few key ways. For example, the perforations on a wiffle ball are limited to one side of the ball, affecting how it moves when hit. The limited placement of those holes is great for simulating curveballs, but isn’t as desirable for a racket sport like pickleball.

What Does a Pickleball Look Like?

There are a few key qualities that define pickleballs, including:

  • Single-material construction. Pickleballs are made of plastic. They don’t contain other materials that form an inner core or hollow interior structure, as is the case for balls used in some other racket sports.
  • Perforations. That’s just a technical term for the holes present in every regulation pickleball. Those perforations are carefully placed to provide consistent play on both indoor and outdoor courts.
  • Light weight. Pickleballs only weigh slightly less than an ounce. The weight along with perforations both play key roles in the performance of pickleballs during games.

USA Pickleball, the sport’s governing body in the US, maintains very specific standards for pickleballs. The USA Pickleball Equipment Standards Manual lists the following specifications that influence what a pickleball looks like:

  • Balls must be of one single color except for identification markings.
  • The ball must have a smooth surface, although a slight ridge on its seam is allowed.
  • The pickleball ball size, i.e. the ball’s diameter, must be 2.87-2.97 inches.
  • The ball must have somewhere between a minimum of 26 and a maximum of 40 circular holes across its surface.

USA Pickleball has even more rules for testing the quality of pickleballs. These include expectations for the bounce height of a pickleball and ball compression standards. While not something that is easily noticeable to most players, these standards help maintain a sense of uniformity during play.

Look for the “USAPA Approved” seal on pickleballs when you’re purchasing new ones. This is an easy way to tell that the balls meet the strict standards set by USA Pickleball and are expected to perform well in play.

Are All Pickleballs the Same?

Thanks to all the details about pickleball shared to answer the previous question, it’s easy to see that not all pickleballs are exactly the same. Outdoor balls tend to be larger and have more holes, while indoor balls have opposite qualities.

However, pickleballs are precisely defined by USA Pickleball and other regulatory bodies for the sport. There’s only so much room for pickleballs to differ within those standards. For most people besides experienced pickleball players, most pickleballs look very much alike except for the color of plastic used.

Can a Pickleball Deflate?

Pickleballs are both rigid and lack an air bladder or other interior structure that contains air. So, in pickleball, deflated balls are not an issue. A pickleball can’t deflate because it’s not inflated to begin with.

However, pickleballs can deform, crack, and otherwise become unsuitable for play over time. They’re designed to stand up to wear and tear, but even precisely engineered, high-quality plastic won’t last forever. The good news is that pickleballs aren’t very expensive and they’re easy to buy, too!

Pickleballs and Everything Else You Need to Play

Pickleball Superstore offers high-quality indoor and outdoor pickleballs, as well as training balls. Of course, we also provide the full range of equipment, gear, and accessories needed for a game. We also offer a court locator to make it easy to play!

Shop for indoor and outdoor pickleball balls now!

Pickleball Superstore
Pickleball Superstore