All About Pickleball Balls - Dink Pro

Everything About Pickleball Balls

pickleball balls

Does The Type Of Ball You Use Really Matter?

The short answer is “Yes!” The longer answer is, “It’s complicated!” In this post, I will explain the ins and outs of Pickleball balls. My goal is to help you understand what your choices are and what balls work best for you and your playing circumstances as well as finding the best bargains.

So Many Choices!

Currently, the USA Pickleball Association lists 50 different balls approved for tournament play. (You can see the complete list here: https://equipment.usapickleball.org/ball-list/)

Indoor VS Outdoor Balls

indoor and outdoor balls
The first major division between Pickleball balls is indoor vs. outdoor (but even this is not as straightforward as it may sound!).  If you are a beginning Pickleball player, you do NOT want the embarrassment of showing up to play outdoors with an indoor ball (or vice versa). Here are the basics: it’s all about the holes. Most outdoor balls have smallish (not necessarily all the same size) holes; usually 40. Indoor balls have fewer holes (usually 26) which are larger than the holes on outdoor balls. The primary reason for the the smaller holes on outdoor balls is to help them be more wind resistant. Outdoor balls tend to also be heavier and harder than indoor balls. Generally outdoor games are played on a rougher surface requiring a ball with more durability than indoor surfaces (usually a wooden gym floor). And here is the indoor exception: if you are playing indoors on a court with a standard rough tennis court surface, you want to use an outdoor ball. Beyond this indoor/outdoor division, a great deal of the differences in balls is a matter of taste. We will look at some of the top brands and explain the differences as we go

Outdoor Balls Compared

See summary price comparisons below.

Onix Pure 2

As we looked at several “Top Pickleball Balls” lists online, the ball that was most often picked #1 was the Onix Pure 2. The interesting thing is that this very popular recreational ball is NOT on the USAPA approved list! Why? Because it is too bouncy! (According to the USAPA, “A ball dropped from 72 inches onto a granite surface at between 75 and 80 degrees [I’m not making this up!] should have a bounce of 30 to 34 inches.”) The Onix Pure 2 bounces about 36 inches. Bad for their rating by the USAPA, but good for beginners and older players who want more bounce to be able to get to the ball. So this unapproved ball continues to be the most popular ball out there! It is very durable, flies true, bounces consistently, and is easier to direct with your shot. (And it is one of the more expensive balls to purchase: see below.) If, however you ever want to play in tournaments or with more accomplished players, playing with the Onix Pure 2 may not be the best way to develop your game!

Onix Fuse G2

The manufacturer’s blurb for the Fuse G2 is (I kid you not!): “Ready to play right out of the box”!!! This made me laugh! I assumed all balls were ready to play right out of the box. Well, almost all do, except for the previously reviewed Pure 2! (There was, for a time, an allowance made by the USAPA for tournament play with Pure 2’s, but they had to be “conditioned.” That is, they had to be squeezed 96 times; 6 times each in 16 different place in order to reduce the ball’s bounce to the required 34 inch maximum. Such conditioning is no longer allowed. Hence the Fuse G2’s claim to be “ready to play right out of the box!”) So in short, the Onix Fuse G2 is the company’s answer to a tournament ready Pure 2. Similar in durability and tru flight, but not as bouncy.

Dura Fast 40 (The Pro’s Choice)

 
The Dura Fast 40 is the most popular ball with the pros and is the most prominent ball used in USAPA sanctioned tournaments. It is a harder ball for faster play. Because it is harder and smoother, it  is a bit of a challenge for beginning players to control, but I like it! The down side is that it is one of the more expensive balls and it tends to crack and break more quickly than most other balls. The Pros don’t care: they don’t pay for them, but your wallet might.

Franklin X-40 (My Choice)

Which brings us to my personal ball of choice. The Franklin X-40 plays very much like the Dura Fast 40, but costs quite a bit less and is less likely to break! And it is the official ball of the U.S. Open Tournaments. (One note: if you play outdoors in colder weather—30’s to low 40’s—both this ball and Dura Fast, because of their hardness, play a little too fast!)

Our last two outdoor balls are great budget friendly alternatives to the more established balls listed above:

A11N

The A11N Pickleball ball plays very similarly to the Fuse G2. It’s solid, with good wind resistance and is significantly less expensive than the G2. A great choice for recreational play.  

EasyTime

Our final budget outdoor ball, similar in play to the A11N is the EasyTime ball. This one however comes in a six pack with three indoor and three outdoor balls, which might be a great choice for someone just starting who wants to try both outdoor and indoor balls.

A review of outdoor balls will be forthcoming when the weather turns cold and I am forced indoors. In the meantime here is a chart showing the major brands, their average review score on Amazon, and their price each when purchased by the dozen (most do sell in 3’s or 4’s as well).

Top rated indoor and outdoor balls compared by their average Amazon user review score and their price each (when purchasing a dozen).

OUTDOOR

Brand/Ball Average Amazon Review Price ea. By Dozen
Onix Pure 2 4.8 $2.83
Onix Fuse G2 4.7 $3.26
A11N 4.7 $1.50
Franklin X-40 4.6 $1.92
EasyTime OD 4.6 $1.83
Dura Fast 40 4.3 $3.08
Penn 40 4.3 $2.67
Tourna OD 4.3 $1.08
Engage Tour 40 4.2 $2.50
Top OD 4.1 $2.92

 

INDOOR

Brand/Ball Average Amazon Review Price ea. By Dozen
EasyTime ID 4.6 $1.83
A11N 4.5 $1.50
Onix Fuse ID 4.5 $3.00
Gamma Photon 4.4 $2.17
Jugs 4.4 $1.42
Franklin X-26 4.3 $2.59