Indoor vs Outdoor Pickleballs – what’s the difference?

What kind of ball is used in Pickleball?

Pickleball is a sport that can be played by anyone og all ages and skill levels. Over the last years, it has been rising in popularity across North America. This sport is a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. But what makes this sport distinct from others is that this one doesn’t demand a lot of equipment compared to, say for example, golf that requests you to have thousands in bags and balls. While the paddle is only part of the equation, the ball is also one great aspect if you want to succeed at this sport. 

Pickleball is played using plastic balls that are very similar to wiffle balls that are made of a tough rubbery plastic and contains a number of holes. It comes in different colors but they are usually made in bright colors such as orange and neon green so that they are easy to see. 

There are different types of indoor and outdoor pickleballs that are appropriate for each play. There are no official guidelines from the USA Pickleball Association or USAPA what specific ball you should use in court. Although you won’t be punished for playing with the wrong type of ball, it’s still best that you use the appropriate ball for the type of court you’re on. 

Outdoor Pickleball Characteristics

A lot of beginners in pickleball playing would think that the type of balls used for indoor and outdoor playing are the same. Luckily, you came across this article (by luck or intention) to teach you that not all pickleball balls are the same.

Yes, pickleball balls come in two versions; outdoor and indoor balls. But first, let’s discuss the first type of balls: the outdoor balls. 

Outdoor balls are larger, heavier, and harder compared to indoor balls.

They also come in smaller holes and smoother plastic composition. Combining all these characteristics, this type of ball makes it come off the paddle harder and faster. As a result, it is more difficult to control the ball, thus having shorter rallies and a faster-paced game. 

Another characteristic of outdoor pickleball balls are they are heavier and have smaller, more numerous holes. Each ball usually has about 40 holes on it and weighs about 0.9 ounces. 

In case you’re wondering, there is actually science involved in here why outdoor pickleballs are heavier and have smaller holes. This is because smaller holes and heavier balls are less affected by winds. You can also expect that outdoor balls are noisier and getting hit with one hurts a lot than indoor balls. 

The most popular brands of outdoor balls are Onix, Tourna, and Dura

Indoor Pickleball Characteristics

Indoor pickleball balls are the polar opposite of outdoor balls.

Indoor pickleballs are basically smaller, lighter, softer, and have larger holes than outdoor pickleballs.

An indoor ball weighs around 0.8 ounces. Since they are lightweight, they come off the paddle and are effortless to control, thus giving you a slower-paced game with longer rallies. 

Indoor balls are also less noisy than outdoor balls because they bounce high enough on indoor courts like gym floors. And what’s great about indoor balls is that you can definitely use them outside! Yes, there are some players who opt to use indoor balls outside because they are easier to control and the rallies last longer. 

In case you’re wondering if there are specific indoor balls that are used in tournaments–positively yes! 

For the most popular indoor balls, the Onix Fuse indoor ball is on top of the list. This brand has an exceptional seam welding that offers greater durability and resists splitting, plus it’s USAPA approved. 

There’s also the Gamma Photon Indoor Pickleball that is known for its durability and precision. This twenty-six hole design ball is made to navigate the conditions of indoor play. 

How can you tell the difference between an indoor and an outdoor pickleball?

Now that you know the different characteristics of indoor and outdoor pickleball balls, it would now be easier for you to distinguish the difference between the two types of balls. 

The easiest way to tell the difference between an indoor and outdoor ball is by simply looking at the balls. As mentioned above, indoor pickleballs have larger holes while outdoor balls have smaller holes.

Although there is no set number for indoor or outdoor balls, usually indoor balls have 26 holes, while outdoor balls have 40 holes. 

Indoor and outdoor balls can also be quite different depending on where they will be used. Usually, outdoor balls have a thicker design so that it can withstand harsh terrain and wind. Indoor balls, on the other hand, have a softer design and are more suitable for indoor courts and gym floors.  

Another difference between an indoor and outdoor balls is the level of noise that it creates while using them in games. Since outdoor balls are heavier and larger than indoor balls, they are usually noisier. On the other hand, indoor balls are lighter and smaller than outdoor balls, it only creates less noise in the court. 

And lastly, the difference between an indoor and outdoor ball is that indoor balls are easier to control and gives you a slow paced game and shorter rallies, while outdoor balls are more difficult to control and gives you faster-paced games and longer rallies. 

It’s not really hard to tell the difference between indoor and outdoor balls. Basically, the two balls are the polar opposites of each other. But if you want to go for a more versatile ball, go for the indoor balls because they can be used for both indoors and outdoors. 

Pickleball Tip: I buy my indoor and outdoor pickleballs in two different colors. Its the easiest and fastest way to tell the difference between the two.

For outdoor pickleball I like to use these neon green pickleballs because I find they are easier to see than yellow. For indoor pickleball I like to use these orange pickleballs.

I also do not mind the yellow ones for indoor use. But hey pick your favorite color – they even come in blue!

Just pick a color and stick to it so you do not confuse your indoor and outdoor pickleballs.

Do pickleballs wear out? How long do balls last? 

Just like any sporting balls, pickleball balls also wear out. Although the composition of pickleball balls are made of durable plastics, these balls also crack and wear down especially if you have been playing them for quite some time. 

Although there are a lot of brands of pickleball balls that are pretty more durable than others, still it’s hard to answer how long these balls will last. The brand of balls play a significant factor, but you also need to consider other factors like the weather conditions. The colder the weather, the higher chances that an outdoor ball might crack easily. 

Another factor is also how hard you hit the ball. Although outdoor balls are known to be more durable than indoor balls, there’s still a possibility that you may replace them too soon especially if you hit the ball too hard coupled with a rough outdoor court. 

There are some balls that can last you for a long time, and there are also other balls that won’t even last an entire game. The key is to have a lot of backup pickleball balls so you can always stay in the game. 

Can you use indoor pickleball balls outside and outdoor pickleballs inside?

There’s really no definite rule that says you can’t use your indoor pickleball balls outside, and your outdoor pickleball balls inside. However, it is highly advisable that you only use outdoor pickleballs outside because they are prone to slipping when bouncing on gym floors. 

However, there are players that use their indoor pickleball balls for outdoors and that is perfectly fine. One reason for this is that indoor balls are softer than outdoor balls so it’s easier to control and have longer rallies. But one disadvantage of using indoor balls outside is they are sensitive to wind so they are more affected by it. 

Another thing to consider when you want to use either of the balls is the color. Outdoor pickleball balls have more distinct and bright colors because if it’s getting dark, you can easily see the balls. So, if you are using a dark colored indoor ball for outdoor plays, you may have a hard time seeing the ball during the game. You may think that this is just a small factor, but it can definitely affect your overall performance in a game. 

To be safe, pick a ball that has a bright and distinct color regardless if it’s an indoor or outdoor ball so that you can easily see it during the game.


Nicole is a pickleball enthusiast who started playing pickleball in 2017. Always trying to improve her game, she shares helpful tips and tricks for people wanting to learn to play pickleball. Its an obsession.

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