Indoor vs Outdoor Pickleballs: Key Differences

Indoor vs. Outdoor Pickleballs Key Differences

Pickleball, a sport that has rapidly gained popularity, uses different types of balls depending on whether the game is played indoors or outdoors. While to the untrained eye, all pickleballs might look similar, there are significant differences between indoor and outdoor pickleballs that affect gameplay.

It’s important for players to understand these differences so they can choose the right ball for their game and maximize their performance.

Let’s dig into the key differences between indoor and outdoor pickleball.

Indoor vs Outdoor Pickleballs

Not all pickleballs are created equal. In fact, there are some key differences between indoor and outdoor pickleballs that can affect the way a game is played. These differences include size, weight, material, bounce, and durability.


One of the main differences between indoor and outdoor pickleballs is the material used to make them. Indoor pickleballs are typically made of soft plastic or foam, while outdoor pickleballs are made of hard plastic. This difference in materials affects how the balls bounce, move through air, and feel when struck by a paddle.

Indoor pickleballs have a softer surface which makes them easier to control and less likely to cause injuries. They also have less bounce, making them more suitable for slower-paced games and precise shots. On the other hand, outdoor pickleballs have a harder surface that allows them to withstand rougher surfaces like concrete or asphalt. They also have higher bounce which makes them better suited for faster-paced games played outdoors.


Another key difference between indoor and outdoor pickleballs is their color. Indoor pickleballs are typically white or yellow while outdoor pickleballs can be found in a variety of colors including green, orange, and pink.

The reason behind this difference is mainly due to visibility. Indoor courts are usually well-lit with bright artificial lighting, making it easier to see white or yellow balls. Outdoor courts, on the other hand, can have varying levels of natural light and shadows that can affect visibility. Therefore, outdoor pickleballs come in brighter colors to make them more visible against different backgrounds.


The materials used for indoor and outdoor pickleballs also affect their durability. Indoor pickleballs are not designed to be used on rough surfaces and may quickly wear out if used outdoors. On the other hand, outdoor pickleballs are specifically designed to withstand harsher playing surfaces and last longer than indoor balls.

It’s important for players to consider the durability of pickleballs when making a purchase, especially if they plan on playing frequently or in different environments.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Pickleballs Key Differences

Key Differences

Here’s a detailed look at these differences:

1. Number of Holes

One of the most noticeable differences between indoor and outdoor pickleballs is the number of holes.

  • Indoor Pickleballs: Typically have 26 larger holes. The larger holes help reduce the ball’s speed and make it easier to control in the more predictable indoor environment.
  • Outdoor Pickleballs: Usually have 40 smaller holes. The smaller holes help the ball withstand wind and other outdoor elements, providing a more consistent flight path.

2. Hole Diameter

The diameter of the holes also varies significantly between indoor and outdoor pickleball.

  • Indoor Pickleballs: The holes are wider, averaging about 0.43 inches in diameter. This larger size helps to slow down the ball, making it easier to manage on indoor courts.
  • Outdoor Pickleballs: The holes are smaller, averaging about 0.282 inches in diameter. The smaller holes help the ball cut through the wind and maintain a stable trajectory.

3. Weight

Weight is another critical factor that differentiates indoor from outdoor pickleball.

  • Indoor Pickleballs: Tend to be lighter. This lighter weight is suitable for the controlled environment of indoor play, where wind is not a factor.
  • Outdoor Pickleballs: Are generally heavier. The added weight helps the ball stay on course despite wind and other outdoor conditions. However, the weight difference is nominal, often less than 1%.

4. Hardness

The hardness of the pickleball affects its bounce and durability.

  • Indoor Pickleballs: Made from softer plastic, which makes them less prone to cracking and more durable over time. The softer material also results in a slower bounce, which is ideal for indoor play.
  • Outdoor Pickleballs: Constructed from harder plastic to withstand the rougher outdoor surfaces and elements. This hardness gives the ball a faster bounce but also makes it more prone to cracking.

5. Durability

Durability is influenced by the materials and construction of the pickleball.

  • Indoor Pickleballs: Generally more durable due to their softer plastic, which is less likely to crack but may develop soft spots over time.
  • Outdoor Pickleballs: While designed to be robust, the harder plastic used in outdoor balls makes them more susceptible to cracking and splitting, especially under extreme weather conditions.

Can You Use Indoor Pickleballs Outdoors and Vice Versa?

Technically, you can use indoor pickleballs outdoors and vice versa, but it is not recommended.

  • Using Indoor Balls Outdoors: Indoor balls are too lightweight and not designed to handle wind or rougher outdoor surfaces. This can lead to poor performance and a frustrating playing experience.
  • Using Outdoor Balls Indoors: This is more common and feasible but not ideal. Outdoor balls are heavier and harder, which can make indoor play more challenging and less enjoyable.

Choosing the right type of pickleball for your playing environment is crucial for an optimal playing experience. Indoor and outdoor pickleballs are designed with specific features to handle the unique conditions of their respective environments. Understanding these differences can help you select the right ball and improve your game, whether you’re playing indoors or outdoors.

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