Indoor vs Outdoor Pickleballs: Is There A Difference?

indoor vs outdoor pickleballs

One of the greatest things about the sport of pickleball is that it can be played both indoors and outdoors. However, you may find yourself forced to play indoors whenever the temperature out there plummets or the weather gets too windy. Also, if you’re used to playing indoors only, your friends may decide one day that they want to try playing in the outdoors.

What we’re trying to say is that as a pickleball player that wants to take his/her skills to the next level, you have to learn how to play in both situations, regardless of preference. You might think that playing indoors is similar to playing outdoors, but there are a few variations that need to be taken into account, one of which is the type of pickleball balls you’re going to use.

Types of Pickleball Balls

Pickleballs are divided into two types: indoor pickleballs and outdoor pickleballs. The differences between both types are crystal clear and every pickleball player should be aware of them. You’ll find that most pickleball manufacturers tend to create both types.

Indoor Pickleballs

These models tend to have larger holes than the ones present in outdoor pickleballs. Generally, indoor pickleballs are much softer and easier to control than outdoor models. On the flip side, it can be quite challenging to slam an indoor pickleball because it will usually have more drag than its outdoor counterpart.

Indoor pickleballs usually have more textures than outdoor models, which allows for better spin. Additionally, they have longer rallies and they’re slightly smaller and lighter in weight. An indoor pickleball won’t crack very easily like an outdoor ball. Also, soft spots start developing when an indoor ball gets worn out.

Due to their lightweight body, indoor pickleballs are highly affected by wind, which is why they’re called indoor pickleballs and should not be used in outdoor situations. The lightweight body also makes these balls a lot quieter than outdoor models and it hurts less to be hit with an indoor ball than an outdoor one.

Outdoor Pickleballs

Outdoor pickleballs are made of smooth plastic that gives them a harder and heavier body. They also feature 40 drilled holes. Their heavier construction gives them the ability to resist wind. You don’t want to get hit with an outdoor pickleball, though. The great thing about outdoor pickleballs is that they can be hit hard very easily because they have less drag than indoor models.

An outdoor pickleball will come off the paddle much quicker and harder than an indoor ball. The fact that outdoor models are harder to control creates for a more heated gameplay because it’ll take some serious finesse to handle them. An outdoor pickleball won’t have a great life cycle as it’s going to go out-of-round or crack at some point that’s not too far in the future, so stack up.

The life cycle of an outdoor pickleball is generally determined by the playing style, temperature, and playing surface. And since they go out-of-round easily, you want to check for the roundness on a regular basis. One way you can do that is by hitting the ball with a spin and observing how it moves. Lastly, outdoor pickleballs tend to be noisier than indoor models due to their weight.

Pickleball Ball Requirements

There are very specific requirements set by the USA Pickleball Association that a pickleball ball should meet which we’ll be getting into next, but you need to know that meeting those rules isn’t the end of the story. A pickleball must be on the USAPA’s list of approved pickleballs in order to be officially approved. The list goes through updates from time to time.

The list of approved pickleballs is stacked with various models. In order to differentiate between those models, each ball must have the manufacturer’s logo printed on it and must have a uniform color. Not only that, but each ball must be tested for bounce on a granite surface or a 12 x 12 x 4-inch place. The ambient temperature for the bounce test has to be between 75-80 °F.

Official USAPA Requirements:

  • The material from which the ball is made must be smooth and molded
  • The pickleball must have a uniform color and manufacturer’s branding
  • The diameter of the pickleball has to fall between 2.87 and 2.97 inches
  • The weight of the pickleball must be between 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

Common Pickleball Colors

When it comes to the colors of pickleballs, the official USAPA rules don’t require a specific color. The only thing that the rules specify is that the ball must have a uniform color. The most popular color that you’ll see is orange. Also, white and yellow pickleballs are very common. Generally, a pickleball player finds it easier to see a pickleball that has a darker color, especially inside gyms.


Are indoor and outdoor pickleballs interchangeable? Well, an outdoor pickleball isn’t a very good choice for indoor situations because it will skip off the floor very often and won’t bounce in a way that you’d like. On the other hand, a lot of players tend to use indoor balls in the outsides due to their lightweight construction and quietness, especially casual players.

Personal preference aside, your choice of whether to go with an indoor or outdoor pickleball will mainly depend on the weather. To ensure that the weather doesn’t hinder you from playing your favorite sport, we’d highly recommend that you stack up on each type. Keep in mind to buy sets of darker colors so that you can see the balls clearly whether outside or inside a gym.

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