Indoor Pickleballs vs. Outdoor Pickleballs

Even if you've been playing pickleball a while, you might be wondering: What is the difference between outdoor and indoor pickleballs? This blog is here to explain how they differ, how to tell apart indoor and outdoor pickleballs, and help you find the best fit for your court.

Pickleball, a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, has surged in popularity. One of the essential pieces of equipment in pickleball is the ball itself, which comes in two main varieties: Indoor and outdoor.

These ball types look similar and many people confuse them. Understanding the differences between these two types of balls is crucial for players of all skill levels to choose the right equipment. 

Understanding Pickleball Balls

Are you asking: What pickleball do I need? Before diving into the specifics, it's important to note that all pickleball balls are made of a hard plastic with holes in them. Pickleballs might be called wiffle balls and they may look like toy baseballs that come with kids' sets.

Why do pickleballs have holes? These holes help the ball travel through the air, but the number and size of these holes vary depending on whether the pickleball ball is designed for indoor or outdoor use.

Indoor Pickleball Balls

Indoor pickleball balls are designed to perform best in controlled environments where wind is not a factor. They are commonly used on gym courts, at schools, churches, or community centers, for example.

Key features of indoor pickleballs:

  • 26 Holes: Indoor pickleballs have larger holes and there are 26 of them.

  • Softer and Lighter: Indoor balls are generally softer and lighter than their outdoor counterparts. This is because they don't need to combat outdoor elements like wind or rocks.

  • Larger Holes: Indoor pickleballs have larger holes. Larger holes mean the ball moves slower and is easier to control, which can lead to longer rallies and a more strategic game.

  • Less Bounce: Indoor balls have slightly less bounce. Gym floors and other indoor surfaces are harder than many outdoor surfaces, so a ball with less bounce is preferable to keep the gameplay consistent.

  • Color: Often, indoor balls are colored to stand out against the typically light-colored floors and bright lighting of indoor courts. Instead of being yellow, they can be purchased in dark green, blue, or red, for example.

Outdoor Pickleball Balls

Outdoor pickleball balls are designed to handle the variability of outdoor environments, particularly the wind.

How to tell what is an outdoor pickleball:

  • 40 Holes: Outdoor pickleballs have 40 holes and they are smaller.

  • Heavier and Harder: Outdoor pickleballs are made to be heavier and slightl harder. The extra weight helps keep the ball stable in windy conditions and ensures it travels faster than indoor balls.

  • Smaller Holes: Outdoor balls have smaller and more numerous holes compared to indoor balls. The smaller holes reduce the impact of the wind on the ball’s path. If you compare outdoor and indoor pickleballs side by side, it's obvious which is the outdoor ball because of the 40 holes and spacing.

  • More Durable: Outdoor pickleballs are constructed to withstand rougher play on outdoor surfaces, which are often harder on equipment than indoor court surfaces.

  • Color: Outdoor balls are usually a smooth, bright color such as yellow or neon green to ensure good visibility in natural light.

Choosing the Right Ball for Your Game

When choosing between an indoor or outdoor ball, consider the environment in which you will be playing most often. If you play exclusively indoors, an indoor ball will likely serve you better, providing better control and a slower game suited to strategic plays. Conversely, if you play mostly outdoors, an outdoor ball will perform better in the elements and on rougher surfaces. Keep in mind that some indoor balls and outdoor balls look very similar. There may be different plastic weights and styles. But, if a pickleball has 40 holes, it is an outdoor ball. 

What Pickleball for an Indoor Pickleball Facility or Pickleball Club?

Because pickleball is so popular, there are many indoor facilities and clubs springing up all over the country, specifically for pickleball. At these places, the courts typically have an outdoor surface (coated, speciality concrete courts). In these facilities, players will use an outdoor ball, not the indoor balls intended for gyms and converted courts.  


Both indoor and outdoor pickleball balls have their unique characteristics tailored to different playing environments. By understanding these differences, you can choose the right ball that not only complements your style of play but also enhances your overall game experience. Whether you’re a seasoned player or just starting, the right equipment can make all the difference in your enjoyment and performance in the game of pickleball. Ready to shop for gear? We've got indoor pickleballs and outdoor pickleballs ready to hit the court!

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