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Do Pickleballs Wear Out and Go Bad? How Can You Tell?

Close-up shot of orange pickleball indoors.

Are you hooked on pickleball? Then purchasing the right game equipment will be the first thing you want to do. You see, in order to play pickleball, you need certain types of equipment that include a special ball.

If you’ve already purchased the pickleball ball or are planning to do so, you may be wondering if it’ll wear out and go bad over time and what you can do about that. Well, yes pickleballs do wear out and go bad. However, it depends on a few factors, i.e., if they are outdoor or indoor pickleball balls.

Outdoor balls are mostly used by professionals for competitive games, they are harder and will crack or go out of round after some time. On the other hand, indoor pickleball balls last longer and will not crack because they are mostly used for friendlier games. They get soft spots after a long time and hitting them will feel like hitting a mashed orange.

Overall, pickleball balls last anywhere between a few games to a few weeks or months. However, the pickleball brand, player’s playstyle, and surface of the court will all contribute to how long the pickleball ball lasts. Knowing more about the different types of pickleballs available will help give you a better understanding of why they wear out and go bad, and it will as well help you make a better choice next time you go out to purchase pickleball balls.

Keep reading as we take a look at the two types of pickleball balls, some of the most well-known brands and also explain the reason why they last longer. We’ll also share how you can tell if a pickleball ball is worn out and needs replacement. Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding of why and how pickleball balls wear out and go bad.

What are the two types of pickleball balls?

Below we’ll take a detailed look at the two types of pickleball balls and share the few brands that make them:

1. Outdoor pickleball ball

Outdoor pickleball balls on the basket.

Outdoor pickleball balls are designed for outdoor courts and they’re constructed from durable material. The quality is heavier and harder because they’re intended to withstand outside weather conditions such as the wind. Outdoor balls are made from smooth plastic consisting of about 40 drilled holes, they also come in different weights and sizes, making them versatile.

Outdoor pickleball balls are easier to hit because of their strong and durable construction and also because they have less drag. Controlling them is a bit difficult though. Because they’re exposed to outdoor conditions and mostly bounce on harder surfaces, outdoor pickleball balls will crack or wear out faster and will require replacement more frequently than indoor surfaces.

Best brands for outdoor pickleball balls

The well-known brands for outdoor pickleball balls include Dura, ONIX, and TOP. These three are accepted by USA Pickleball Association for tournament play. Let’s look at them in detail below:

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  • Dura Fast 40 Outdoor pickleball balls: These are said to be the original pickleball balls. They are durable and designed for outdoor use. The Dura fast 40 ball consists of 40 holes of different sizes, the balls are made strong to withstand outside weather conditions and they’re available in yellow, white, orange, and neon.
  • The ONIX Fuse Outdoor pickleball balls: The construction of these types of pickleball balls offers great durability and resists splitting. They come ready to use right from the box and come in two colors which are orange and yellow.
  • ONIX PURE 2 Outdoor pickleball balls: These are made using an injection molded process and consist of holes that are of the same size. The design of these balls generates a long-lasting ball that bounces perfectly throughout its life span.
  • TOP Pickleball (Outdoor) by PickleballCentral:  These are great for outdoor use and they’re heavy. They are made in China and weigh about 25 grams. They are constructed through a rotationally molded one-piece process and after cooling, holes are drilled into the ball. They’re available in orange, yellow, neon, and white.

2. Indoor pickleball ball

Indoor pickleball balls on abstract pattern background.

Indoor pickleball balls have opposite features to outdoor balls. For starters, they are soft and consist of larger but fewer holes when compared to the outdoor ones. Outdoor balls have extra drag which makes them hard to smash, however, controlling them is straightforward.

When outdoor pickleball balls wear out, you will notice soft spots, unlike the outdoor types, which do not crack or go out of round. Indoor pickleball balls weigh about 0.8 ounces and allow for more control. They are specifically designed for indoor use as they cannot withstand the wind or other weather conditions found outside.

Again, they have more texture which allows players to generate more spin and the rallies are usually longer when compared with outdoor pickleball balls. Indoor balls are lighter, which makes them difficult to hit and this is the downside to those who like playing indoor pickleball on outdoor courts. Many players like playing outdoor games using indoor balls because they are more indulgent and allow more control over the game.

However, this may reduce the balls’ lifespan since they’re designed for indoor use. Now, we’ll take a look at the most common pickleball ball brands that you can choose from when purchasing balls for indoor use.

Best brands for indoor pickleball balls

Some of the most well-known brands for indoor pickleball balls include Jugs, Dura, Midnight, and ONIX. These are also accepted brands by USA Pickleball Association for tournament play. Let’s look at them in detail below:

  • Jugs Pickleball (Indoor) by Jugs Spots: This type is mostly used for outdoor play but can be used for indoor games as well. They’re made of soft plastic and consist of bigger holes. They weigh about 0.85 ounces and are available in colors such as white, and bright lime-green. They are also made in China.
  • Big Hole Dura Outdoor Pickleball balls:  These are also mostly used for indoor use but can as well be used outdoors. They are lighter and weigh about 0.9 oz with bigger holes intended to slow down the ball. The Nig Hole Dura balls are produced through a rotationally molded one-piece construction process, in which after cooling holes are drilled on the ball.  They are strong and come in a variety of colors to choose from such as yellow, orange, white, and neon.
  • Midnight pickleball balls: The midnight indoor pickleball balls are made from soft plastic and come in a variety of colors which are black, indigo blue, red, and pink. They weigh about 0.85 ounces and have big holes. They’re durable, and when played on the right court surfaces, can last longer.
  • The ONIX Fuse Indoor Pickleballs: These are the indoor version of the ONIX Fuse of outdoor pickleball balls.  They consist of larger holes and are mainly designed to fly straighter, bounce more properly, and last even longer. They are heat welded to ensure maximum durability and are available in yellow and orange.

Signs of a worn outdoor pickleball ball

Pickleball paddles and balls in the shadow of net.

If you use an outdoor pickleball ball for some time, it will eventually start to wear out, forming a different shape. The ball will begin to take on the shape of an egg as one side starts to squish while the other becomes more protruding. Continuing to play with the ball in this state weakens it in the middle and will cause it to crack or break suddenly.

Also, as the outdoor pickleball balls start to wear out, the hard plastic becomes softer meaning heating them as hard as before becomes impossible. Using such a ball can reduce the performance of a player. So once the ball reaches this state, the best thing to do is replace it.

Signs of a worn indoor pickleball ball

Top view shot of pickleball paddle and ball.

The roundness of the ball is one indicator that the ball has worn out, if it’s no longer perfectly round then it’s time you replace it with a new one. Another sign is softness, once you see the indoor pickleball ball having soft spots on its surface, then it has definitely worn out. Unlike the outdoor pickleball ball, the indoor ones do not crack, so you will only notice they’ve worn out if they are no longer as round as before or if you notice soft spots.

Sound and feel can also be another indicator that the ball has worn out. For example, if the sound of your shorts sounds different than before, it could mean the ball is worn out and needs replacement. Again, if the ball looks bruised and battered, it’s time for a replacement.

What affects the lifespan of a pickleball ball?

Pickleball paddles and balls on the bench.

As mentioned, a pickleball ball can either be made for indoors or outdoors. Even though they are both made from plastic, they react differently on their respective playing surface. Outdoor balls are designed hard because they are usually used on concrete surfaces while indoor ones are softer and used on wood or grass surfaces.

The lifespan of pickleball balls is affected by the playing surfaces or playstyle of the players, and also by receiving a lot of beatings.