Skip to Content

Can You Use a Tennis Ball for Pickleball?

Tennis balls left on the court line.

Pickleball is a fun sport that is very similar to tennis. As a racket sport, pickleball can be played indoors or outdoors, and can be played by yourself or with some friends. Pickleball is a great game for people of any age and is a perfect transition sport for people who love tennis. With all the overlap between sports, it makes sense to want to play pickleball with a tennis ball.

Unfortunately, a tennis ball cannot be used to play pickleball. Not only is the ball the wrong material, but the wrong weight as well. Pickleballs are usually plastic, while a tennis ball is a felt-covered rubber ball. Playing pickleball with a tennis ball could result in a broken racket or a hurt wrist or arm.

Related To: Can You Wear Tennis Shoes for Pickleball? | Pickleball vs Tennis – Similarities? | Can You Play Pickleball With a Tennis Racket? | What Equipment Do You Need To Play Pickleball?

What Is the Difference Between a Tennis Ball and a Pickleball?

Two yellow pickleballs left on the court.

While the two sports may be highly similar, a different type of ball is used to play each sport. There are several differences between a pickleball and a tennis ball, including:

  • Material – A pickleball is usually made of light plastic, similar to a wiffle ball. The plastic is thin, and it is covered with small, perforated holes. A tennis ball is made of rubber, and it is covered in felt.
  • Roughness – A tennis ball is meant to be rough, creating friction between the ball and the racket strings. This feature allows a tennis player to create spin when hitting the tennis ball. A pickleball is meant to be smooth, making it easier to hit the ball with the flat, paddle-style racket.
  • Temperature – The rubber tennis remains the same size and hits the same way regardless of the outdoor temperature. A pickleball, though, changes drastically with the outside temperature. When it is hot, a pickleball can get soft and not respond well. The thin plastic can be prone to cracking when it is too cold.
  • Weight – Usually, a pickleball weighs between 0.78 and 0.935 ounces. A tennis ball is more than double this weight, weighing between 1.98 and 2.10 ounces.
  • Size – A tennis ball usually measures between 2.57 and 2.70 inches in diameter. A pickleball is slightly larger, measuring between 2.8 and 3 inches in diameter.

Are There Different Types of Pickleballs?

Pickleball balls in a box with different colors.

Just as there are different types and brands of tennis balls, there are also different types of pickleballs. Usually, pickleball styles are divided into indoor and outdoor pickleball styles. A popular indoor pickleball type is the JUGS ball. A popular outdoor pickleball type is the Dura 40.

Because pickleballs are lightweight, they can easily be affected by the wind and outside weather. Indoor pickleballs usually have larger holes since wind won’t be a big factor indoors. Outdoor pickleballs usually have smaller holes to limit the impact wind has on the ball’s flight path.

While using an indoor ball is preferred for indoor use, and an outdoor ball is easier for outdoor play, it is not absolutely mandatory, as long as you use the wiffle ball style of pickleball and not a tennis ball.

How Long Does a Pickleball Ball Last?

A person holding a small pickleball.

The longevity of pickleball will vary drastically depending on several outside factors. Different brands of pickleballs tend to last longer than others, and an indoor pickleball usually lasts longer than an outdoor pickleball.

Pickleball Master Course by Steve Dawson ($199)

In general, you can expect to get about ten games out of a single outdoor pickleball before the thin plastic starts to crack. An indoor pickleball may last slightly longer because they are not continuously exposed to outdoor conditions.

What Color Pickleball Is Easiest to See?

Different types of Pickleballs on a metal basket.

Pickleballs come in various colors, with some colors easier to see than others. For many, a red pickleball tends to be the easiest to see, especially when playing indoors. The red pickleballs feel and fly the same as traditional indoor pickleballs but are easier to see on the court. For many, the red color contrasts well against the traditional blue pickleball court.

What Happens If You Use a Tennis Ball Instead of a Pickleball?

Bunch of tennis balls on a container.

It is not a good idea to play pickleball with a tennis ball. You may run the risk of possibly damaging your equipment. Pickleball is meant to be played with a flat paddle-style racket. Hitting the heavy tennis ball with the extra weight could cause the racket to break or crack. The pickleball rackets are not meant to handle a tennis ball’s extra bounce or velocity.

Further, playing pickleball with a tennis ball could cause serious injury. Hitting the heavy tennis ball could cause a shock injury to your shoulder, elbow, or wrist. This extra impact from hitting the heavy ball with a small racket can cause muscle soreness or even tendon and ligament damage.

Playing pickleball with a tennis ball could also be dangerous for other people playing in the surrounding area. Pickleball is meant to be played on a small court, a fraction of the size of a tennis court.

A tennis ball will fly further and faster, which could interrupt or even hurt people playing in close proximity to you. It is important to only play pickleball with the intended plastic wiffle ball-style ball.