If you take a badminton court, lower the net, use Tennis rules, and exchange your racquet for paddles, you get Pickleball.
But, unlike tennis and badminton, pickleball has a standardized custom on the style of ball used when indoors or outdoors. Although not a large difference, each design of the ball aims to improve a player’s game based on where they are.
If you’re looking for a complete beginner’s guide check out: Pickleball Strategy: Complete Beginners Guide!
Indoor vs. Outdoor Pickleball: Brief Overview
Pickleball is a relatively new game only coming to fruition around the 1960s. Pickleball began in a casual and domestic setting. Since then, the sport has grown into a recreational sport played across the country. While it bears many similarities to tennis and even ping pong, it differs in one main aspect. There is a distinction between indoor and outdoor pickleball.
Pickleball has yet to stake its claim in the broad landscape of racquet and paddle sports. Games such as tennis and badminton still hold a higher distinction. But, pickleball is on the rise. Although designated pickleball courts exist, they are not as common yet.
As it is, pickleball often exists within the margins of sports like tennis and basketball. These sports already have established courts in their name. Basketball is not a similar game to pickleball. But, its vast popularity has warranted thousands of courts country-wide. Fortunately, pickleball can capitalize on this for indoor play.
Pickleball courts, indoor or outdoor, are set as being 44 feet by 20 feet. They are not large courts, being the same size as a badminton court. They are also far smaller than a tennis or basketball court. This makes it easy to use these courts for pickleball games.
When played indoors, pickleball often utilizes one half of a basketball court. This amounts to roughly 94 feet by 50 feet. This excess of footage of 47 feet by 50 feet allows plenty of room to contain a pickleball court with ease. Given the extra space, two pickleball courts can be set up on a basketball court at once.
Outdoor pickleball often borrows space from its nearest sport relation, tennis. A tennis court is more than large enough for a game of pickleball. Players can tape or use other means of court adjustment to mark new court lines for pickleball.
Pickleball players can adjust outdoor basketball courts in the same manner as indoor ones.
The size of a pickleball court must remain consistent whether indoor or outdoor. But, one thing that players cannot always avoid is the difference in court materials.
Players can repurpose an indoor basketball court the same way an outdoor one can. But an indoor and outdoor basketball court does not have the same surface material. This leaves pickleball players with inconsistency for a playing surface. If they go from an indoor basketball court to an outdoor one or a tennis court, they must deal with various floors.
When using a basketball court indoors, it follows that one’s pickleball court will be wood. Although not deemed unacceptable, it does somewhat affect how players’ gameplay.
When borrowing an outdoor basketball or tennis court, this means the material of the court will most likely be asphalt or concrete. Courts made for pickleball specifically are often made of asphalt, anyway. But, unlike tennis, pickleball is not played on clay.
How Courts and Atmosphere Affect Pickleball
If the material for indoor and outdoor courts differs from each other, then the ball itself adjusts depending on the setting. Aside from the court material itself, other circumstances around the game also affect Pickleball.
A ball will not respond to wood the same way it does to asphalt or concrete. Air pressure and wind are not much of an issue indoors. When playing outdoors, they become a point of consideration.
When altering between indoor and outdoor play, these points change what ball you use. Although not a hard and fast rule, there is a custom to use different balls for indoor and outdoor games.
While both indoor and outdoor pickleball adhere to very similar standards, they differ on a couple of different points. These points are recognized throughout the sport and are the main differences between indoor and outdoor pickleball.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Pickleball Balls: Main Differences
The largest difference between indoor vs. outdoor pickleball is the ball itself. Their structure differs and they intend to serve players in slightly different ways. The gameplay is not meant to change drastically. If anything, these minor differences between balls help to keep all games consistent across all court styles.
While the courts vary from indoor vs. outdoor pickleball, this is often because pickleball borrows them. The courts are often repurposed basketball or tennis courts.
However, the main difference between indoor and outdoor play is the ball. It’s an officially recognized aspect of the game that authorities stress players should adhere to. Since the surface and atmosphere of gameplay is different, the ball used in play should complement this. Due to this, indoor and outdoor balls differ on two key features.
Number of Holes
The ball used in both indoor and outdoor pickleball is similar to the Wiffle ball. They are both made of plastic, are relatively lightweight, and bear the distinctive feature of containing numerous holes on its surface. However, pickleball has specific kinds of balls that Wiffle balls should not replace.
An indoor pickleball typically has 26 holes which are larger than those belonging to its outdoor counterpart. They also are made of a softer plastic than outdoor balls for better control on the court.
An outdoor pickleball generally has 40 holes which are smaller than the indoor variety. Manufacturers say the multiple holes help negate wind interference. This could potentially and significantly interfere with gameplay.
The other key difference between indoor and outdoor pickleball is their weight. This feature is the second of the two that helps adjust the gameplay to be more suitable depending on the location of the game.
Indoor pickleball balls are lighter in weight than their outdoor equivalents. Its design requires no weather resistance of any kind. The surfaces these balls interact with are much less abrasive, as well. This eliminates a need for a degree of the hardiness of the balls.
The design of outdoor balls accommodates something indoor balls need not address: the weather. A little extra weightiness for an outdoor ball helps resist wind during gameplay.
Since outdoor pickleball games typically occur on a different surface than indoor games, the extra weight of an outdoor pickleball also aids in its durability when played on concrete and asphalt. These are harsh surfaces that can damage a ball, so the outdoor ball’s design suits that need.
Are you looking for the best pickleball balls? If so, check out our guide: The Best Pickleball Balls for the Money-Buying Guide and Reviews!
Each type of ball only requires as many differences as are necessary to accommodate the difference in their setting. The number and size of the holes vary primarily for weather, wind, and the surface on which they bounce.
In other aspects, the balls largely remain the same. The diameter of both indoor and outdoor balls is the same. The choice of color has little to do with indoor or outdoor play, but rather its ability to be well-seen on the court.
Both styles of balls seek to reach the same standards designated by the International Federation of Pickleball. Although small, these differences between indoor and outdoor pickleball seek to improve and equalize gameplay for all players around the country.
Check out some of our other guides:
Learn: About Pickleball, Why is it Called Pickleball?, Pickleball Rules, Pickleball Court Dimensions, What is Pickleball?, Pickleball Singles vs Doubles – Strategies and Rules, and How to Play Pickleball Singles-Skinny Singles!
Equipment: What Type of Pickleball Paddle is Best?, Best Pickleball Shoes, Learn More About Pickleball Equipment and Where to Buy It, Best Pickleball Clothes for Men and Women, Best Pickleball Accessories And Must-Have Gear, and Best Pickleball Paddle.