Joseph works as an editor in one of the magazines dedicated to video games. Here, at RecRoomPick, he’s given the opportunity to enjoy the reverse of the medal – the no less engaging world of offline games.
Ryan knows everything when it comes to gaming, both online and offline. Since his early years he’s been in love with arcades, air hockey, and foosball. Finally, he’s given the opportunity to share his knowledge and opinion on the hobby of his life (and even get paid for it!).
Last updated: May 04, 2021
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Pickleball is one of the most versatile of the racket sports, able to be played year-round either indoors or outdoors, with a varying number of players, either two or four. The ball itself is central to the sport, but not all balls are created equally. Whether you are a newbie to the sport or a seasoned veteran looking to take your game to the next level, you want to make sure you have the best pickleball balls for your play style.
We did the hard (but fun!) work of testing over 30 different pickleballs to help us determine the best ones. Normally, after such rigorous testing, we are able to name an Editor’s Choice winner, but we were split on the best balls for pickleball. We would up be naming a Best Indoor Pickleball – Jugs Sports Indoor Pickleballs – and the Best Outdoor Pickleballs – TOP Ball Outdoor Pickleballs, which would work perfectly for most recreational players. It wound up being a close contest, so we’ve included the top 10 pickleballs on our list.
When we considered our final ratings, we looked at a few key details. First of all, we wanted to see if the balls were designed for indoor or outdoor use, since that is of utmost importance. Also, only a handful of balls are approved for tournament play which makes it a major positive if you are a competitive player. Lastly, we looked at other important features, like the color and weight of the balls, the number of balls in a pack and other key features that might help make your final decision – check the detailed reviews of each ball. Not sure why these matter? Check out our buying guide below as well!
In the narrow contest for the best outdoor pickleballs, it was the TOP Ball Outdoor. It had everything we are looking for in an outdoor pickleball. These are made with a one-piece solid construction, which means they have no seam or obvious weak spot. That makes these top pickleballs durable and long-lasting, which makes the 12-pack go a long way. These have a ton of small holes, perfect for outdoor play. The pattern is actually 40 holes, patented for excellent play.
While not essential, it is also nice that these balls come in a variety of colors, which can be a nice selling point if you have a personal preference. This is modeled after the classic Dura Fast 40 outdoor ball, which is one of the standard bearers for pickleball players. In fact, this ball is one of the few approved by the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) for tournament play.
When you play pickleball outside, you recognize that you might be dealing with a little more wear and tear on the harder surface and conditions. The fact that these balls are durable and tournament approved and easy to play with, including the nice cherry on top of different colors makes these our top choice.
One of the best brands for pickleball balls is Jugs Sports, so it should come as no surprise to see them top the list for the best indoor pickleballs. These are designed and optimized specifically for indoor play, although they can also be used outdoors, albeit not in tournament play. One of the key difference makers with this particular ball is that they are a little bit softer than the Dura balls. Given the closer confines of the indoor pickleball game, a little extra softness can prevent injury without sacrificing playability.
The design here utilizes 26 larger holes, which is definitely suited to the indoor game. In terms of color availability, you are set with only lime green or plain white, but these balls are approved for tournament play by both the USAPA and the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP).
As a product, there are a few big things that make this a top choice. You can get these balls in as little as a 6-pack or as big as a 36-pack. Indoor pickleballs tend to last a bit longer, so the smaller variety can work, but avid players will love the ability to buy in bulk. Another added plus is that these are durable enough to be used in baseball games, like a classic whiffle ball, without suffering from too much breakage. A sensational product.
Why is it special?
Multiple available pack sizes from 6 to 36 balls
Approved for indoor tournament play by the USAPA and the IFP
Durable construction allows it to be used for baseball or outdoor pickleball as well
What are the flaws?
Only available in two colors; some players would like to have them in yellow
While this Onix product is marketed and listed as an outdoor pickleball, it is one of the few pickleballs that is designed to be played either indoors or outdoors (although it is only approved for outdoor tournament play). In fact, these balls are marketed as ready to play right out of the box, whether you want to go inside or outside.
Another cool differentiator has been that this Onix Fuse G2 ball is one of the newest and most advanced balls on the market, which gives it some serious advantages. First off, this has top of the line seam welding, which makes it a serious step forward from the original Fuse balls designed by Onix.
To the average eye, the holes drilled into a pickleball may seem random or haphazard, but the pattern is actually engineered to produce a consistent bounce and flight to take some of the random chance out of the game and leave the skill of the players to be the paramount factor in determining a victory. One thing that can go either way is the fact that this ball only comes in smaller packs, as little as three and just as much as 12 balls. For casual players, this is fine, but for regular players, the wear and tear of outdoor play can make these packs not very dollar efficient.
Why is it special?
Durable construction using advanced seam welding technology
Versatile enough to be used both indoors and outdoors
When you get started playing pickleball, you’ll start with just about any old ball, especially since basic whiffle balls are substantially cheaper than dedicated pickleballs. However, when you first upgrade to a true pickleball, the difference can be easy to notice. The Onix Fuse Indoor Pickleballs are the perfect first upgrade because the difference is immediately noticeable.
Precisely constructed with larger holes with indoor play in mind, which they are approved for tournament play, per the USAPA. Another thing that makes it good for the casual player is the fact that these balls come in packs of 3, 6, or 12. Since the indoor game causes less wear and tear, this can be excellent for casual players, although seasoned pros might find the smaller pack size frustrating.
These balls come in only one color, orange. While not having the choice can be conceived as a negative, several players enjoy the orange ball for the indoor game because the contrast with the standard yellow pickleball court makes it easier to see and play. Especially if you are just getting serious about your pickleball game, this can be a big selling point and can make your playing experience a lot more fun.
Why is it special?
USAPA approved for indoor tournaments
Great for beginning pickleball players looking for their first high quality pickleball
Franklin Sports is one of the biggest brands across several sports, and pickleball is no exception. Their outdoor pickleball makes our list as one of the best pickleball balls because they are solid and durable and available to buy in bulk, which is great for serious players.
One of the bigger frustrations for outdoor pickleball players is going through balls fairly quickly. Even with highly durable equipment, the outdoor elements and wear and tear caused by the rougher playing surfaces means serious players have to change out balls on a regular basis. This can help solve the problem because you can buy 100 balls in a single order. Obviously, this isn’t a great deal for the casual player, but the avid player can take advantage of cost savings to get balls in bulk and not deal with the hassle of constantly needing to find balls.
However, quantity doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have quality. Thankfully, these Franklin balls are reliable, as well. They are solid, one-piece construction, making them durable. USAPA approved for outdoor tournaments, and these have a standard and solid 40 holes with a 74-millimeter diameter with 26 grams of weight. A perfectly reliable and durable ball available in bulk.
What do we love it for?
Available in quantities up to 100
USAPA approved for outdoor play
Single one-piece construction
The colors make them highly visible
What were we disappointed with?
Smallest pack size is 12, which may be a lot for casual players
If you aren’t an experienced pickleball player, you may be surprised to discover that many pickleballs actually require conditioning, breaking in to achieve proper playability. One of the biggest advantages of these Gamma Sports Photon Pickleballs is that they come ready to play right out of the box. They are constructed to emphasize balance and the skill of the player, rather than by dumb luck caused by substandard equipment. With this ball, you can play right away and not sacrifice any of the sanctity of the game.
There are versions for both indoor and outdoor play, the difference being the number of holes drilled. No matter what you choose for play type, you can get a 3, 6, or 60 pack of balls.
While it is approved for play by the USAPA, there is one drawback to these balls. Many durable balls utilize single-piece construction to avoid a seam that can be a spot of weakness. These balls are two-piece construction, which does feature a seam. However, these balls make up for it with excellent balance and the ability to play right away.
What are its best features?
Available for either indoor or outdoor pickleball
Ready to play right away
Good options for buying in bulk
What could be improved?
Two-piece construction offers a seam that may be less durable
If you are looking to play like the pros (and there are definitely pickleball professionals), you can’t go wrong with the Dura Fast 40 Outdoor Pickleballs. The manufacturers of Dura Fast actually invented the game, and that makes them the “original” pickleball. This classic is tried and true. While many newer companies have come in to make pickleballs, Dura Fast remains one of the leaders in the area, and the professionals agree. In fact, this ball remains the official ball of both the US Open Pickleball Championship and the USAPA Pickleball National Championship, two of the premier tournaments for the sport.
From a design standpoint, these are classic, with 40 smaller holes, optimized for the conditions found outdoors. It’s also made with a single-mold construction, eliminating any seams, optimizing durability. Designed specifically for outdoor play, these balls are meant to last 3 to 10 games of harsh outdoor conditions, which is equal to or longer than many competitors. Another positive is to consider the three colors, which you can select from being green, white, or yellow.
For this ball, the biggest downside is the lack of selection in pack-size. This ball comes only in a pack of six with no option for less or more, depending on your usage.
What are our favorite features?
Official ball of pickleball’s biggest tournaments
Solid one-piece construction
Tested as one of the most durable balls on the market
Three colors to choose from
What could be better?
Available only in one pack size
Durability issues mentioned by some users even if played indoors
Obviously, the weather will always play a factor when you are playing a sport like pickleball outside. However, the job of a well-designed pickleball is to remove the impact of the elements as much as possible on the flight of the ball, and that’s something that the Onix Pure 2 Outdoor Pickleball Balls do fantastically well.
These balls are of heavier and heftier construction, which makes them weigh more than some of the other balls on the market. This allows them to continue a straight path in any outdoor conditions, like wind or rain, called their True Flight Technology. Another innovation found in this ball is a consistent bounce, which is no mean feat given some of the uneven surfaces found in the outdoor game. Another nice facet of this ball is that it is available in almost any size pack that you can imagine, starting at just 3 balls or as many as 100 with 5 sizes in between.
The biggest drawback to these balls is the fact that they are no longer approved for play in USAPA tournaments. If you have tournament aspirations, this ball won’t be a good fit. However, the average player may not be deterred and enjoy the all-weather capabilities of this ball.
What makes it special?
Solid construction designed to withstand the elements
The Onix Pure 2 Indoor Pickleball Balls are the indoor counterpart of the previous entry on the list. That means it features a few of the same impressive technological advancements. The indoor ball also has the True Flight Technology that allows for consistent play. If True Flight works well in the harsh conditions of outside pickleball, it really shines in the perfect conditions indoors. As well, the indoor balls have the Authentic Bounce Technology, which makes it an excellent and consistent play. There are fewer odd bounces that can determine the outcome of a match than many other balls. In fact, the balance and heft of these balls makes it our winner for the most balanced balls.
The indoor balls do lack one of the nice selling points you find with their outdoor counterpart. Instead of being available in seven different sizes, up to 100 balls, the indoor balls are only available in 3 or 6 packs. However, the indoor game goes through balls at a slower rate than the outdoor game, so the need to buy in bulk isn’t as pressing.
These balls also share the biggest drawback of their outdoor counterparts – they are no longer approved for USAPA tournament play.
Here’s a novel concept: there are pickleball players who like to play both inside and outside. This may not sound surprising, but most packs of balls are only designed to cater to one or the other. These EasyTime products are the only ones on this list that includes both indoor and outdoor balls in the same pack, something that is particularly appealing to casual players. Even more appealing to them is the fact that the pack isn’t nearly as expensive as the dedicated indoor or outdoor packs of other products. A six pack of mixed indoor and outdoor balls (three of each), costs less than $2 per ball. It’s this price point and flexibility that earned our Budget Pick award.
However, there are some drawbacks to these balls that you might expect. The focus on casual players and family fun will leave serious players wanting more. Instead of the durable, one-piece construction that is a must-have for serious players, these balls utilize a seamed 2-piece construction. They are durable enough to stand up to casual play but not for serious players. With this in mind, it won’t come as a surprise that these balls aren’t approved for tournament play.
What makes it special?
Only balls to include both indoor and outdoor balls in the same pack
Competitive price point is ideal for casual play or family fun
What cons did we find?
Not approved for tournament play
Not as durable for repeat use, more geared towards casual players
Things to Consider
If you are new to pickleball, this might seem like a big fuss. It can be easy to just assume that all balls are alike. However, that’s actually far from the case. The ball can have a huge impact on your playing experience. If you are wondering what the big deal is, we’re happy to break it down.
Can the right pickleball ball improve your game?
Absolutely, the best pickleballs will alter your game for the better, whether you play indoors or outdoors. Especially when you are playing competitively, the goal of the game is for the best player of the match to win because of their skill level. Lower quality balls are more likely to develop cracks or to have balance issues, which will negatively impact the predictability of the ball in a game. That can create so-called bad bounces, which will make it difficult to play.
Not only will a good pickleball removes some of the impact of luck from a game (although luck will always be a part of every sport), but it can help you improve your game as well.
As any athlete knows, practice makes perfect, but practice with a bad ball will make the process much harder. A ball that flies and bounces consistently, without major defects or cracks will fly the same way almost every time. When you practice with a good ball, you will see the same results and circumstances you’ll see in competition. With repetition of predictable circumstances, you’ll be able to see your game improve because you will be able to anticipate the movements of the ball better and learn how best to respond to those movements. Even if the equipment doesn’t make a skilled player, having the right ball can bring out and enhance the skills of the player.
Indoor or outdoor balls: what’s the difference?
This may seem like another ploy designed to just sell more pickleballs, but there are actual differences between indoor and outdoor balls. After all, professionals and serious players use different balls for their tournaments for a reason.
Now, to be fair, for casual players with no tournament aspirations, it is entirely possible to use balls inside and outside interchangeably. The differences are subtle and, for players just playing for fun, won’t be a big deal. However, the design between the balls is done for a reason, and for the best playing experience, you will use an indoor ball inside only and an outside ball in the elements.
If you are curious about what the difference is, there are a few important categories.
Does weight matter?
The biggest thing that is different between playing inside and outside is the elements present outside, such as wind, weather, and uneven playing surfaces. The balls designed for outdoor playing are meant to mitigate those factors, so they don’t play as big of a role in the outcome of a game or the playing experience. To that end, outdoor balls tend to be heavier, giving them a little more heft. Because the outdoor surfaces tend to be rougher, the heavier ball makes it less subject to wear and tear and take more consistent bounces. In addition, the ball is also sturdier, so it can take more of a beating. Even with this in mind, outdoor balls don’t last as long as those meant for indoors. For serious players in the elements, a ball is lucky to last ten games outside.
Inside, balls don’t deal with any of the rougher elements. Surfaces are well-maintained and smooth. The lighter plastic of the indoor ball simply fits the aspects of indoor play better.
The number and shape of holes
The other big difference between indoor and outdoor balls is the design, number, and shape of the holes. Again, outdoor balls are meant to lessen the impact of the elements on the game. One of the big factors when playing outside is wind. To account for wind, the outdoor balls have smaller holes but more of them. For example, the standard tournament balls for the outdoor game feature 40 smaller holes equally distributed around the sphere.
When playing inside, wind obviously isn’t as big of a factor. The indoor balls have fewer holes, but each hole is bigger. Standard indoor tournament balls have 26 holes. The increased air flow allows for more consistent and accurate bounces and trajectories in indoor conditions. You will get increased accuracy and better all-around play with the indoor ball on indoor surfaces.
What colors are the best?
This may seem like an element purely of personal preference, but there may be some strategy for selecting the color of the balls you’ll use. The most common colors tend to be white, neon green, or a neon yellow, although you can also find orange and pink balls.
The reason that the color can be an important part of the game is the contrast between the ball and the playing surface.
If the ball is too similar in color to the surface, it can be hard for players to see. For example, many indoor playing surfaces have a yellow tinge, and players prefer to pick one of the colors, like orange, that pops better against this tint, so it is easier to see and play.
One thing to remember, pickleball is often noisy, and it’s hard to avoid that. The air flow between the holes of the ball can make a whistling noise that is hard to ignore. In some communities, there have been serious disputes and complaints over pickleball noise. Generally, indoor pickleball courts are soundproofed, so the noise isn’t as much of a concern. If noise is an issue, there are practice balls that are made of foam, which is notoriously quieter. These balls won’t bounce and travel the same as regular balls, so none made our top list of the best pickleball balls, but they are still an option. Another idea to help noise is that several paddles are being made to restrict and reduce the noise.
There are a few major brands for pickleballs, although not as many as other games, especially since the sport is newer. Dura claims to have invented the game and created the original pickleball, and they remain one of the industry leaders today. In fact, the Dura Fast 40 Original Pickleballs are still the official ball of the major championships in the sport, like the US Open. However, newer ball manufacturers have entered the game and are doing an admirable job, including our top choices, made by TOP and Jugs. Also, manufacturers like Onix have specialized in pickleballs and have multiple entries on our list.
IFP and USAPA specifications of official pickleballs[a8]
The two major governing bodies of the sport are the International Federation of Pickleball and the USA Pickleball Association. They both have stringent standards for what makes a ball competition standard. For instance, here is one of the definitions from the USAPA rulebook: “An official pickleball is made of plastic and is between .78 to .935 ounces and 2.874 to 2.972 inches in diameter. There are no color restrictions other than the ball must be a single, consistent color.” If you aren’t feeling like getting out a precise scale or ruler when selecting your balls, most tournament ready balls will be marked as USAPA or IFP compliant on the packaging. For instance, most of the ones on our list are approved, and we marked them as such.
When it comes down to making the final decision, there are a few tips to keep in mind. Decide if you are planning to play more inside or outside (consider the EasyTime Outdoor and Indoor Pickleball Balls if you’ll do both). Then, consider if you are playing casually, or you will be playing competitively and select your ball accordingly.
For casual play, you can absolutely use whatever ball you’d like. However, using an indoor ball outside will result in a different standard of play. Also, if you are looking to play competitively, it’s best to use the right ball in the right playing environment.
It’s a pretty big deal to be approved in tournaments, and most balls that are will make it fairly obvious. If a ball doesn’t state it’s tournament approved and by which body, there’s a good chance that it isn’t. We clearly mentioned in this list the balls that were and were not approved for tournament play.
Pickleball is a noisy sport, but there are a few things you can do to cut back on the noise. For practice, foam balls are sold, which will cut back on the noise but don’t provide the best playing experience. Another option is to select a paddle that has some noise reducing features.
Wrapping It Up
We played a lot of pickleball to adequately test the various products put in front of us. While we had a lot of fun, it was hard work to get to our final scores. Normally, we select one final Editor’s Choice winner, but that simply wasn’t possible when determining the best pickleball balls. The outdoor and indoor balls are so different that we picked the best product for each environment.
For indoor games, our winner was Jugs Sports Indoor Pickleballs. The durable design and option to get between 6 and 36 balls helped nab to top spot. That being said, the gap was narrow, and each of the products we selected for our top 10 was high quality and worthy of your recreation dollars and hours.