Balls for Pickleball
The balls are divided into two major categories: indoor and outdoor. For indoor play, pickle balls typically have larger holes; for outdoor play the plastic material is often slightly harder and the holes slightly smaller. Apart from those two, there is another category called Quiet Ball made of solid foam, but this is not yet approved by USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) and commonly used only in certain communities with noise restrictions, USAPA pickle ball specifications can be found here. Balls are painted in many different colors including white, yellow, red, orange, green, blue, pink, and purple. The color only affects the game play with regard to visibility, particularly when playing outdoors in the sun. While some pickleball players may be serious about which color is best; the important thing is to choose a color that stands out on the court to improve visibility.
Differences in holes and materials affect the bounciness of the ball. Indoor pickleball is most commonly played on indoor tennis courts, tile or wood floors, so larger holes and softer materials help to keep the ball move slightly slower to encourage better play. Faster games are good, but they can be discouraging or too challenging when players can no longer have good control of ball movement. Therefore your level of play may dictate which pickle ball you want to choose. Outdoor games may be played on clay or other surfaces that resemble the texture of sand. This is not typical but if it is the case where you play the ball may need to bounce more for an enjoyable speed of play. The most popular color for indoor play is yellow, but you can use any indoor ball of any color as long as you have good visibility. Green pickleballs are the most widely used for outdoor play.
Based on the Official Tournament Rulebook by IFP, approved ball specifications for the game are:
|Physical Characteristics||Approved Specifications|
|Construction||Standard approved ball must be made of durable plastic material molded with smooth surface. Texturing is not allowed.|
|Size||Diameter of an official ball is can be from 2.75 inches (6.99 cm) to 3 inches (7.62 cm).|
|Weight||An official ball weighs between 0.8 oz and 1.02 oz (21 grams to 29 grams).|
|Bounce||When dropped from a height of 75 inches (190.5 cm) onto concrete floor, the ball shall have a bounce of 29 inches to 30 inches (73.7 cm to 94 cm). Bounce test is performed at a room temperature of 75° F to 80° F (24° C to 27° C).|
|Hardness||On Durometer scale at temperature 75° F to 80° F (24° C to 27° C), and an official ball shall have a hardness of 35 to 50.|
|Design||Balls that bounce or fly erratically shall not be used. Overall design including spacing of holes must conform to straight flight characteristics|
Although there are clear differences between outdoor and indoor play, particularly concerning the court surface that affects bounciness, all balls approved by IFP are acceptable for both outdoor and indoor pickleball games. But do know that any color can be either approved or disapproved at the discretion of the tournament director. So we recommend you play with multiple colored balls if you intend to play in tournaments just so you do not become bias towards one color or another only to find out that it is not going to be used in the tournament you just signed up for.
Brief History of Pickleball
Although many modern racket sports were originally invented for fun or out of boredom, only few of them retain their leisure factors; pickleball is one of those few to remain a fun sport for all ages and skill levels. However it is also has begun to have tough competitions throughout the world.
It is played as a singles or doubles match on a badminton-sized court typically on a modified tennis court. Pickleball combines many elements of its siblings such as table tennis (also known as ping pong), tennis, and badminton. The rackets are a solid paddle, while the net and rules are based on those of tennis but with few modifications, and the layout of the court is similar to that of badminton.
In the summer of 1965, the first ever Pickleball game was played at the home of Joel Pritchard on Bainbridge Island, Washington. He was actually a State Representative who in 1970 was elected to U.S. House of Representatives for the State of Washington. The name Pickleball was named after Pickle Boat, where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats. Some claim that it was derived from Pritchard’s family dog, Pickles. According to Joan Pritchard, Joel Pritchard’s wife, the dog was not on the scene for two more years. The dog was named after the game, not the other way around.
Joel Pritchard and his two friends found themselves bored after returning from golf, and then they tried to setup a badminton court. Because they could not find a shuttlecock, they modified the game by lowering the nets and fabricated paddles of plywood. The ball was a Wiffle ball. There were not any specially made balls for the game, and they had a Wiffle ball available.
The highest governing body of Pickleball is the IFP (International Federation of Pickleball). Since its introduction in 1965, the game is now present is many countries including the United States, Canada, Finland, Spain, France, India, Belgium, and New Zealand. The first known international pickleball tournament was held at South Center Athletic Club located in Tukwila, Washington. Most participants were tennis players who knew very little about the game.