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Welcome to the Pickleball Paddles Plus Ball Selection Guide

There can be a lot to know when it comes to selecting the right ball...which is to say, it's also easy to over-complicate your decision.
We're here to make the decision easy for you. So, for starters, let's keep it simple!

Indoor vs Outdoor Pickleballs

Yes, there is a difference. Indoor and outdoor balls are designed differently for very specific reasons. In this, knowing where you will be doing most of your playing is really the most important consideration when selecting the right ball.

Indoor Balls: Indoor playing surfaces such as gymnasiums and wooden floors are typically smooth surfaces without any texture to them at all. Also, playing indoors means you don't have to contend with wind, or even slight breezes affecting the flight of your ball. For these reasons, indoor pickleballs are normally a bit softer, have fewer holes than outdoor balls (usually 26), and the holes are bigger. These factors combine to produce a ball which bounces off of an indoor surface as expected. Because indoor balls have a bit more "give" to them, they also tend to last longer than outdoor balls before they break or go out-of-round. However, for the same reason, it is more difficult to produce a serious power shot with an indoor ball as the impact energy is more readily absorbed by the ball's softer materials.

Outdoor Balls: Outdoor playing surfaces such as tennis courts and purpose-built pickleball courts feature a rough texture designed to assist players in gripping the playing surface and pivoting to run down shots. Further, playing outdoors means you must contend with breezes and other weather conditions. For these reasons, outdoor pickleballs are designed to be harder, have more holes than indoor balls (usually 40), and the holes are smaller. These factors combine to produce a ball which will resist sliding when it bounces off of the playing surface; meaning, it will pop right back up at an expected angle even if the playing surface isn't perfectly clear of dirt or debris. Because outdoor balls are ridgid, you will notice scuffs and scrapes develop on the surface of an outdoor ball very quickly. Don't worry, this doesn't affect the playability of the ball much at all. You will also notice a definite difference in how an outdoor ball responds to a hard strike. The ridgidity of this ball means a hard hit translates to a fast-flying ball, and a bit of a sting when strking bare skin (so keep your paddle up!). Think of the difference between a baseball and a softball in this way. However, for the same reasons, outdoor balls do tend crack or break far more quickly than a comparable indoor ball. This is normal.

As you can see, there are trade-offs with each type of ball. To reiterate, your anticipated playing conditions should really drive your decision here. While you learn the game, there's no harm in picking up a sleeve of each type of ball to ensure you are prepared to play anywhere. Then, once your game develops to the point you are competing against other skilled players, you will probably indentify a preference in the brand of indoor or outdoor ball you enjoy playing with most often. You may even get to the point of prefering an outdoor ball while playing indoors, knowing your shots will fly further and the pace of the game will increase. But until you get to that level, your best bet is to keep it simple!