The Definitive Guide to Indoor vs. Outdoor Pickleballs (2024 Update)

indoor vs outdoor pickleballs

Have you ever wondered why there are different types of pickleballs for indoor and outdoor play?

Is there really a difference between indoor vs outdoor pickleballs?

The answer is yes, and understanding these differences is key for both casual and competitive players alike.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the key differences between indoor vs outdoor pickleballs and how they have an impact on the game.

Get ready to learn about the distinct variations in material, size, weight, and hole patterns that make indoor and outdoor pickleballs uniquely suited for their respective playing environments.

By the end of this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to choose the right pickleball for your game and make a smooth transition between indoor pickleballs and outdoor pickleballs.

Let’s get started.

Difference Between Indoor vs Outdoor Pickleballs

an indoor pickleball and an outdoor pickleball

Indoor pickleball balls and outdoor pickleball balls may look similar, but they each have unique qualities that make them suited for specific playing environments. These differences, including material, size, weight, and performance, ensure that players have an enjoyable and tailored game in both settings.

From softer plastic indoor balls for smoother surfaces of indoor pickleball courts to harder outdoor balls with excellent wind resistance, understanding these distinctions is key to excelling in both environments.

Material Differences

Indoor balls are crafted from a softer and more flexible plastic, making them lightweight and ideal for indoor play. The softer composition of indoor balls allows for better control and longer rallies on indoor pickleball courts, providing a gentler touch for beginners and those looking to perfect their skills.

On the other hand, outdoor balls are constructed with thicker, harder, and heavier plastic to make them more durable and suitable for rougher outdoor conditions. With the additional wear and tear outdoor balls face from the elements, a tougher material is necessary to withstand the challenges of outdoor play.

Size and Weight Variations

When it comes to size, both indoor and outdoor pickleballs typically measure about 2.87 to 2.97 inches in diameter, adhering to the official Pickleball Association’s standards. Despite the similarities in size, there are noticeable differences in weight. Indoor pickleballs are lighter, generally weighing around 0.81 to 0.88 ounces. The lighter weight is conducive to the indoor game’s slower pace, allowing for extended rallies and improved control. Conversely, outdoor pickleballs are heavier, weighing approximately 0.85 to 0.92 ounces, to withstand outdoor conditions like wind. The added weight provides strength and durability, ensuring that the ball maintains its path, regardless of the weather conditions.

Performance Factors in Indoor and Outdoor Play

indoor pickleball courts

The performance of indoor and outdoor pickleballs can be significantly impacted by the playing surface and weather conditions. Indoor courts tend to have smoother, more consistent surfaces, which are better suited for the softer, lighter indoor balls. Outdoor courts, on the other hand, are often rougher and more textured, requiring a more durable and wind-resistant ball.

Additionally, weather conditions can greatly affect the performance of both indoor and outdoor pickleballs. While indoor play is not susceptible to weather-related issues, outdoor play demands a ball that can handle a variety of weather conditions, from scorching heat to gusty winds and even cold weather. Heck, with how much people are playing outdoors these days they even need to withstand rain!

Playing Surface Impact

close up of a pickleball on a court

Indoor balls are designed to perform better on smooth surfaces found in indoor courts. The characteristics of an indoor ball include:

  • Softer plastic
  • Larger holes
  • Better airflow
  • Somewhat slower gameplay

The playing surface impacts indoor balls and outdoor balls differently due to their distinct build and composition. Indoor balls, being lighter and softer, are more suited for smooth, hard surfaces typically found on indoor pickleball courts, like wooden or concrete floors. The softer plastic of indoor balls allows for better control and more sustained rallies, which is preferable on the fast indoor surfaces.

Outdoor balls are designed to perform better on rough outdoor courts. The characteristics of an outdoor ball include:

  • Thicker, harder plastic
  • Smaller holes
  • Less airflow
  • Somewhat faster gameplay

Conversely, outdoor balls are built to withstand the rougher, uneven terrains of outdoor courts. These outdoor courts are often made of asphalt or concrete, presenting more wear and tear. The thicker, harder plastic of outdoor balls can handle this roughness without significant damage. The added weight provides stability in flight, allowing the ball to withstand elements such as wind and maintain its path. Hence, the choice of indoor vs outdoor pickleballs – greatly depends on the playing surface and environmental conditions.

Weather Conditions and Ball Performance

pickleball ball performance in bad weather

Outdoor balls are specifically designed to combat wind and other weather elements that can affect gameplay. The smaller holes and heavier weight help to provide better wind resistance, ensuring a more stable flight in windy conditions.

However, indoor pickleball balls are not as resistant to these factors and may not perform as well outdoors. Temperature and humidity can also affect the performance of both indoor balls and outdoor balls. Hot and humid conditions can cause the pickleball balls to become softer and slower, while cold and dry conditions make them harder and faster.

Having a good understanding of how weather conditions impact pickleball performance can help players better adapt their gameplay to the environment.

Hole Patterns in Indoor vs Outdoor Pickleballs

The number and size of holes in indoor pickleball balls and outdoor pickleball balls differ, affecting their flight and performance. Indoor pickleballs have 26 larger holes, allowing for better airflow and slower gameplay, while outdoor pickleballs have 40 smaller holes for improved wind resistance and durability.

These differences in hole patterns not only impact the overall performance of the pickleballs but also contribute to their suitability for specific playing environments. Let’s examine the hole patterns in indoor and outdoor pickleballs more closely.

Indoor Ball Holes

indoor pickleball balls

Indoor pickleball balls feature:

  • 26 larger holes, which allow for better airflow and contribute to slower gameplay
  • The larger holes result in a softer, more controlled hit
  • Indoor pickleballs are ideal for beginners and those looking to improve their techniques in a more forgiving environment.

The larger holes also contribute to the indoor pickleballs’ suitability for smoother indoor court surfaces. With better airflow and slower gameplay, players can focus on control, accuracy, and finesse, rather than brute force and speed.

Outdoor Ball Holes

outdoor pickleballs

Outdoor pickleball balls, on the other hand, have:

  • 40 smaller holes
  • Better wind resistance and durability
  • Consistent performance in various outdoor conditions
  • Suitability for rougher, textured surfaces, as they are less likely to be affected by the irregularities of outdoor courts.

The smaller holes and harder plastic of outdoor pickleball balls result in a faster-paced game, challenging players to react quickly and adapt to the increased speed. This makes outdoor balls better suited for experienced players or those looking for a more intense and competitive game.

USA Pickleball Association Approved Balls

usa pickleball approved balls

The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) has specific guidelines and approved balls for both indoor and outdoor play. These guidelines give quality and consistency in tournament play, as well as promote fair competition among players. By using USAPA-approved balls, players can be confident that they are playing with a pickleball ball that meets strict performance and durability standards.

Some of the most popular USAPA-approved pickleball balls include the Franklin X-40, the ONIX Pure 2, and the Dura Fast 40 for outdoor play. As a player, getting acquainted with the USAPA guidelines and approved balls is key to ensuring the correct equipment for your game and adherence to the rules.

Choosing the Right Color for Your Pickleball

colorful pickleballs

Choosing the right color for your pickleball ball is super important for visibility, whether you’re playing indoors or outdoors. Popular color options like orange and yellow are great choices as they offer excellent visibility on different court surfaces and backgrounds. When deciding on a color, consider the playing environment and lighting conditions to make sure everyone can easily see the ball.

What’s more, using a uniform color enhances the visibility of the pickleball, making it easier for players to spot and follow the ball during gameplay. By going for a bright and consistent color, you can up your game and make sure both you and your opponents can always see the ball clearly.

Tips for Transitioning Between Indoor and Outdoor Play

Transitioning between indoor and outdoor play can be challenging due to the differences in performance and gameplay between indoor and outdoor pickleballs. For a smoother transition, here are some tips:

  • Practice with both indoor and outdoor balls to get used to the differences in weight and feel.
  • Adapt to the differences in wind resistance by adjusting your shots and strategies.
  • Take note of the court surface compatibility and make necessary adjustments to your game.

By following these tips, you can improve your transition between indoor and outdoor play.

Some tips for transitioning between indoor and outdoor play include:

  • Adjusting your grip to accommodate the difference in size and weight of the pickleball
  • Modifying your shots to account for differences in bounce and speed
  • Getting used to the different hole patterns of indoor and outdoor balls

Practicing in both environments and tailoring your gameplay accordingly will enable you to excel in both indoor and outdoor pickleball.

Can You Use Indoor Pickleball Balls Outdoors and Vice Versa?

While you technically can use indoor pickleballs outside and vice versa, it’s not recommended due to the distinct differences between them. Indoor pickleballs are made with a softer plastic and are lighter, designed for smoother indoor courts. Using them outdoors on rougher surfaces could damage the ball and negatively impact your game due to the ball’s inability to withstand wind and other weather conditions.

Similarly, outdoor pickleballs, made with harder, thicker plastic and designed to withstand wind and rougher conditions, are often too heavy and fast for indoor play. They could potentially damage indoor court surfaces and make the game unnecessarily challenging due to their pace.

Therefore, for the best pickleball experience, it’s advisable to use the appropriate ball designed for your specific environment — indoor pickleballs for indoor courts and outdoor pickleballs for outdoor courts. This ensures optimal performance and durability of the balls and an enjoyable game for all players.


Understanding the key differences between indoor and outdoor pickleballs is essential if you want to excel in both environments. From variations in material and size to hole patterns and performance factors, indoor and outdoor pickleballs are uniquely suited for their respective playing spaces.

By familiarizing yourself with these differences and practicing with both indoor and outdoor pickleballs, you can adapt your gameplay to various conditions and smoothly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Always remember to choose the right pickleball for your game, and enjoy the exciting and dynamic sport of pickleball in all its forms.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Do Pickleball Balls Last?

We’ve got you covered with our article answering how long pickleball balls last here.

What Are the Best Pickleballs?

Again, we’ve got you covered with our review of the best balls here.

How to tell the difference between indoor and outdoor pickleballs?

Indoor pickleballs have 26 holes and larger hole diameters, while outdoor pickleballs tend to be heavier and have 40 holes.

Which pickleball has more holes indoor or outdoor?

Outdoor pickleballs have 40 smaller holes, a heavier weight, and harder plastic than indoor pickleballs. Indoor pickleballs are lighter, have larger holes, and are optimized for better performance on a smooth court. Therefore, outdoor pickleballs have more holes than indoor pickleballs.

Do indoor pickleballs have large or small holes?

Indoor pickleballs have larger holes than outdoor ones, usually with 26 holes instead of 40. These larger holes cover more surface area and make them easier to control due to their softer plastic construction, although they are more challenging to slam because of the extra drag created. The larger holes also make them more suitable for indoor play, as they are less likely to be affected by wind or other environmental factors. Additionally, they are easier to see in low light

Editorial Process:

In our reviews, we either test products personally or, when that’s not possible, base our reviews on research from trusted sources and customer feedback, ensuring unbiased and informed opinions. Read our editorial process here.

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