The Best Pickleball Balls For Indoor And Outdoor (2020)
Want an easy to understand guide on how to find the best pickleball balls?
TOP PICK Summary For Indoor And Outdoor Pickleballs (2020)
I’ve done a lot of research to understand which pickleball balls are preferred by players. I’m covering various categories, including indoor and outdoor pickleball balls for both recreational and tournament play and large quantity buys.
Players will have their own opinion but I’ve made this list of the top pickleball balls based on the experience and opinions of many players.
The ONIX Fuse is the preferred pickleball ball for indoor play (tournament) because players like its predictable bounce and it’s USAPA approved.
Jugs is the preferred pickleball ball for indoor play (recreation) because of the price point, durability and bounce. It’s also USAPA approved for tournament play.
Dura Fast 40 is the preferred pickleball ball for outdoor play and for players who want to practice for USAPA sanctioned tournaments.
TOP is the preferred pickleball ball for outdoor play (recreation) because of its price point, durability and bounce. It’s also USAPA approved for tournament play.
TOP PICKS – INDOOR PICKLEBALL BALLS
The ONIX Fuse indoor pickleball is durable and has a good bounce with minimal cracking. This ball is available in orange which many find easier to see than other colors and is approved by the USAPA for tournament sanctioned play.
The ONIX Fuse indoor pickleball is a newer ball that was released after the ONIX Pure 2 was discontinued. It’s similar to the Pure 2 pickleball in that it’s USAPA approved for tournament play but it’s also a great option for recreational play.
Fuse balls have smaller holes which will help with balance and make them a good option for both indoor and outdoor play.
Another benefit is that these balls won’t need to be conditioned before playing a game so you can open the box and begin immediately playing.
The Fuse pickleball balls are also known for having great seam welding which helps with durability and the prevention of splitting and cracking.
It’s worth noting that although these pickleball balls are great to play with, are well balanced in the wind and when playing indoors, they will not last for an extended amount of play.
ONIX makes these in either orange or yellow and can be bought in quantities of 3, 6, 12 or 100.
Jugs is a great choice for a slightly less expensive indoor ball that is also approved by the USAPA for tournament play. Available in white or green, these balls are seamless, durable and will withstand a decent amount of play.
Jugs indoor pickleball balls are great for indoor play and are available in larger quantities which makes them a fantastic option for pickleball clubs and rec centers or just for the regular player who’s out on a court several times a week and needs a good supply of balls on-hand.
They are available in white or neon green so depending on your preference and the colors in your venue, one color might be easier to see than the other. The majority of players like using the Jugs balls but do note that the ball is a bit softer than others which does impact bounce and performance.
ONIX Pure 2
ONIX Pure 2 is another great option for indoor play.
Please note that it’s been discontinued but we decided to keep it on the list as a runner-up because players have traditionally had positive viewpoints about playing with this ball and since there’s still quite a bit of supply available on Amazon and other marketplaces, we thought it would be worth mentioning.
It’s a runner-up because of the obvious (it’s discontinued) but it’s also a bit more expensive than Jugs.
Another key point to note is that these balls are known for being the quietest on the market so for communities where low noise is important, these balls along with quieter paddles make a great combination.
Jugs pickleball balls are a great choice if you want a budget-friendly ball for indoor play that’s long-lasting and available in larger quantities.
Available in a quantity of 100, this is a great option for clubs, rec centers, or people who want to have extra balls on-hand. The bulk quantity of 100 makes the price per ball less than a grande cup of coffee.
This pickleball ball is USAPA approved, weighs 26 grams, and has 40 machine drilled holes that help with a balanced flight pattern.
Players comment that this ball is easier to see than most other balls, is available in white and lime green, and will last longer than most.
It’s important to note that these are indoor balls that tend to last longer than the typical construction of an outdoor ball and the overall consensus is that players really like Jugs.
The Jugs pickleball balls are also known for having great seam welding which helps with durability and the prevention of splitting and cracking.
It’s worth noting that although these pickleball balls are great to play, well balanced in the wind, they will not last for an extended amount of play. Available in a pack of 100.
TOP PICK OUTDOOR PICKLEBALL BALLS
The Dura Fast 40 is well known throughout tournament and recreational play as being the most consistent performing ball.
Most players who play regularly in tournaments use this ball for practice and recreational games so that they gain the experience of playing with the Dura Fast 40 which helps them prepare for tournament games.
The Dura Fast 40 has been manufactured for years and is USAPA tournament approved.
These balls are built to perform, and they fly true, straight, and fast. They’re rotationally molded as 1-piece with 40 precisely drilled holes which allow for consistent flight and bounce.
They’ve been designed and engineered for outdoor & hard-court play.
High-end, sanctioned pickleball balls don’t last forever and the durability is affected by weather, play style & court surface and per the manufacturer, you can anticipate the life of 3-10 games in harsh conditions.
According to the manufacturer, tests demonstrated that Dura ball life is equivalent to or longer than competing balls.
While these balls are used often in tournaments, including the USAPA pickleball national championships, they don’t last long which makes it frustrating and more expensive than using other balls.
Manufactured by Pickleball Central, TOP outdoor balls are rotationally molded for strength, straight flight, and for a predictable even bounce.
With one-piece seamless construction, there aren’t any weak points and the ball is evenly balanced.
The TOP balls are made with a patented 40-hole pattern perfect that makes them perfect for outdoor play.
If you are looking for budget-friendly pickleballs that are long-lasting and available in large quantities as well, these are a great option because they become more affordable than Dura or Onix.
Many players appreciate these balls but there were some complaints about them not being round or losing their shape.
Generally, most players like playing with these balls but there were reports of inconsistency with the manufacturing.
TOP PICK – LARGE QUANTITY – Outdoor Pickleball Balls – Franklin Sports X-40 Outdoor Pickleball Balls
The Franklin Sports X-40 outdoor pickleball ball weighs 26 grams and has a very balanced flight pattern due to the 40 very precise machine drilled holes.
The seamless design means that there aren’t any weak points in the ball and it should last for hours of play and it’s easy to control because of the hole placement.
It’s USAPA approved for tournament play and a great option for practice and recreational play.
Available in red or yellow. Choose whichever color you think will be easiest to see.
These pickleballs are more expensive than Jugs indoor balls but players appreciate the quality.
TOP PICK – LARGE QUANTITY – Outdoor And Indoor Pickleball Balls – GAMMA Photon Indoor and Outdoor Pickleball Balls
I’ve chosen the GAMMA Photon pickleball balls as a second great option for both their indoor and outdoor picklballs.
They are at a great price-point and have a large following of very happy pickleball players.
The GAMMA Photon is liked by players because of its durability and the neon yellow or green that makes it easy to see.
Its 2-piece construction is well balanced and ready for playing out of the box without any conditioning which is very convenient and ensures that the ball is not going to be bouncing hire than you want.
Pickleball Ball Buyer’s Guide (2020)
What’s the difference between indoor and outdoor pickleball balls?
At initial glance, indoor and outdoor pickleball balls look the same but if you take a closer look you’ll notice that they typically have a different number of holes and different-sized holes, and the material surface is different.
While indoor and outdoor pickleball balls can be substituted for the other, they perform differently so it’s best to use a ball that is appropriate for the venue – whether it’s indoor or outdoor.
Remember that when you are choosing a ball, try to find a ball that will contrast with your surroundings and if you are practicing for tournament play, ensure the ball that you practice with is the same as the designated ball for the tournament so that you can get accustomed to that particular type of ball.
Usually, an outdoor pickleball will have thicker walls that will help the ball last when being used on outdoor courts and bounce.
Quite often outdoor balls can easily get caught in the wind and that’s why they’re usually made with smaller holes that help manage the ball in the wind, but this means that there’s more material, making the ball heavier.
If you’re practicing for tournament play, you’ll want to practice with the Dura Fast 40 because this is the ball that is most often used in tournament play. It also bounces lower than most other balls (which is good to avoid giving opportunity for your opponent to smash the ball over the net) and it’s quite heavy for a ball, making it good for playing in the wind.
However, if you aren’t practicing for a tournament, the ONIX Fuse is a good option because it has a softer feel and doesn’t bounce high which limits the opportunity for your opponent to smash the ball.
In summary, here are the differences between indoor and outdoor pickleball balls:
- Outdoor balls have more holes than indoor holes but regulation approved balls can have anywhere between 26 – 40 holes.
- Outdoor balls are heavier, harder, and have a smoother surface compared to indoor balls.
- Outdoor balls have smaller holes than indoor balls.
- Outdoor balls are known to be a bit harder to control than indoor balls but are also easier to hit.
- Outdoor balls are more exposed to the elements (UV rays as an example) and a harder playing surface which can cause them to degrade more quickly than an indoor ball.
- Outdoor balls are also more likely to lose their shape causing them to be replaced more often than indoor balls.
- Outdoor balls are heavier and smoother so if you get hit with one, it’s likely going to hurt more than getting hit by an indoor ball.
What Are The Official Pickleball Ball Specifications From the USAPA?
The USAPA defines the specifications for pickleball balls.
If you’re playing in a tournament, you’ll need to use a ball that is on the approved pickleball ball list.
And in major tournaments, the tournament organization will determine what brand of pickleball will be used.
In summary, the IFP and USAPA specifications for official pickleball balls are:
- The ball must be made of a durable material molded with a smooth surface and no texture.
- The ball must be one uniform color except for identification markings.
- The ball may have a slight ridge at the seam as long as it does not impact the ball’s flight characteristics.
- The ball should be 2,87 inches in diameter.
- The ball must weigh between .78 and .935 ounces.
- The ball should have a bounce of 30-34 inches.
- The ball should have a hardness of 40-50 on a Durometer D scale.
- The ball should have at least 26 holes and no more than 40 circular holes.
- The ball must have a manufacturer or supplier’s name or logo printed or embossed on the surface.
Durability and Longevity
There are many pickleball balls on the market and various lifespans and in particular, there is typically quite a difference between indoor and outdoor pickleball balls.
Outdoor balls tend to wear and crack or split quickly and sometimes only after a short time playing. This is caused by a combination of the elements (sun, heat etc…) and the often harder/stiffer material.
The Dura Fast 40 is well known for not lasting past a few games which leave players frustrated and yet, many professional and more serious players prefer this pickleball ball for recreational and non-USAPA tournaments, keeping in mind, that this is the ball for many USAPA sanctioned tournaments.
On the contrary, players love the ONIX Pure 2 Outdoor ball because they find that it will last longer and they get a lot of games out a ball and they are at a good price point. This ball is the highest rated ball that I found in my research although there could be others that rate just as high but were not included in my research.
Both these are outdoor balls, probably exposed to similar elements and playing surfaces so it really does come down to the material and manufacturing process.
What Does It Mean to “Condition” A Pickleball Ball?
Conditioning a pickleball ball refers to breaking in the pickleball by playing with it until the bounce is between 30-34 inches off the ground. The USAPA defines the regulated height of 30-34″ and sometimes when pickleballs are new, they bounce much higher.
Previously, the USAPA would allow balls to be conditioned before playing a tournament game but that is no longer allowed. If a ball wants to be approved for tournament play, it must pass the test and bounce between 30-34″.
If you live in a community where there are noise restrictions meaning you can’t be playing pickleball whenever the mood strikes, you may want to consider buying a Gamma Sports ball.
Or maybe you want to be hitting the ball off your garage wall and it drives people crazy because of all the noise coming from the ball. I know I like to head into the garage and hit the ball against the wall (at any time of the day) and it can get really loud.
The Gamma Sports ball was originally designed to be a kid’s tennis ball. Although it’s a bit heavier (.7 oz), a bit smaller by 1/10th inch and has a lower bounce, it’s a great option for practicing particularly when you don’t want to make as much noise as you would if you were playing with a regular indoor or outdoor pickleball.
There are so many pickleballs on the market to choose from, it can be confusing and difficult when trying to choose which pickleball brand to buy.
Sometimes you need to play with a pickleball for a bit, to determine which ball you think you’ll like best, however, I hope that this list of narrowed down options is helpful and will make it simpler to determine where to spend your money.
Just remember that if you are practicing for a tournament, try to find out which pickleball ball will be used in the tournament and then make it a point of practicing with the same brand.
Pickleballs typically feel very similar but in some cases, there is a noticeable difference.