Indoor VS Outdoor Pickle - Why It Matters Which One You Use
While most of your pickleball equipment will transition gracefully from indoor to outdoor play, the pickleball is designed for one or the other.
Unlike a rubber ball like a tennis ball, which can deform due to court texture, a pickleball is made of hard plastic and can react very differently when exposed to different court textures and weather.
Just as the hard plastic of a wiffle ball has to be hit from a plastic wiffle bat, pickle balls are designed for the surface they bounce off (court surface), which differs in indoor and outdoor play.
All pickleballs used in official play must meet the equipment standards of the United States Pickleball Association (USAPA) and are listed with them as "approved" or "tournament certified" items. Equipment standards specify everything from materials and textures to size and weight.
Indoor and outdoor kimchi must be.
2.87" - 2.97" in diameter
Made of smooth, untextured material
Any solid color
0.78-.935 oz. in weight
Bounce when tested according to their concrete slab test criteria 30"-34"
26-40 round holes for creating flight characteristics
Because indoor pickleballs are designed and built to be played on indoor courts, they are made of slightly softer materials and often have larger and fewer holes. Indoor pickleballs are not designed to support a rough court surface or to account for the effects of wind during play.
Appearance and Design
Both indoor and outdoor pickleballs come in a variety of colors, but the most common are yellow, white and orange, as these colors tend to be easier to see. Indoor pickle balls have larger and fewer holes, favoring a 26-hole design over a 40-hole design.
Indoor pickleballs are designed to be quieter when the court bounces.
Indoor pickleballs are made to be played on indoor courts, which means gym floors or wooden floors like basketball courts. Since these surfaces are more forgiving than asphalt or concrete, the ball can be designed to be softer and still withstand a wide range of play.
Indoor pickleball is easier to control during play and often allows for longer rallies. Softer materials and fewer, larger holes make their trajectory more predictable. On the other hand, indoor pickleballs have less force behind them and will therefore bounce off the paddle with less force.
Outdoor pickleballs are slightly heavier and larger than indoor pickleballs, although they both meet the guidelines established by USAPA.
Appearance and Design
Like indoor pickle balls, outdoor pickle balls come in a variety of colors and are made of hard plastic. When comparing indoor and outdoor pickle balls, you will notice that outdoor pickle balls have more small holes.
Outdoor balls tend to break or not round rather than wear out, while indoor pickle balls soften.
Types of Pitches
Outdoor pickle balls are designed to be played on concrete or asphalt courts. Outdoor balls do not bounce well on indoor courts and may slip, skid or jump rather than produce predictable bounces.
Outdoor balls move faster and interact and paddle more aggressively with the court, which means you can hit the ball harder, but they are more difficult to control than indoor balls. This results in shorter rallies.
Outdoor balls are affected by ambient temperatures and become harder at lower temperatures, which can increase the chances of cracking.
Can you play indoor balls outdoors? And vice versa?
Although outdoor pickleball does not work well on indoor courts, pickleballers sometimes choose to use indoor balls outdoors. The quieter game, greater control and longer rallies of indoor pickleball are attractive to some outdoor players. Keep in mind that wind can have a greater impact on indoor pickleballs because they are lighter and have larger holes.
How to choose a pickleball
If you play pickleball indoors, you will need to purchase both indoor and outdoor pickleballs. If you play outdoors, you will want to purchase both outdoor and indoor pickle balls.
If you play both indoors and outdoors, it is best to have indoor balls for indoor play and outdoor balls for outdoor play, but if you only want to purchase one type of ball for both playing environments, then indoor balls are the best choice.
Whether you choose an indoor or outdoor pickleball, some of the characteristics to consider include longevity, price, type of material and flight pattern.
Due to the exposure to rough surfaces and weather, outdoor pickleballs last about 10 games or an hour of play time. Indoor pickleballs last longer because they are not exposed to harsh conditions.
All pickle balls are made of plastic, but they vary in the type of plastic and how they are processed. Indoor balls are made of a lighter, softer plastic, while outdoor balls are made of a denser, stronger plastic, which makes them slightly heavier and more wind-resistant.
The holes in the pickleball are the reason for their flight pattern. Manufacturers vary in their designs, and many have features such as more predictable bounces and more realistic flight paths. This is achieved by constructing the balls slightly heavier and eliminating seams or making any seams as smooth as possible.