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Choosing Pickleball Balls


Within drop-in pickleball groups, there are more arguments about balls than anything else in pickleball. Everybody, it seems, wants to play with the ball that gives them the greatest advantage.

Players who like to spin, want to play with Onix balls. Players who don’t want to receive balls with a lot of spin, want to play with Durafast. And players who have trouble seeing the ball, want to play with flourescent green Jugs balls.

Beyond that, we have observed another trend which is players who are accustomed to playing outdoors in the USA show a decided preference to playing with outdoor balls even when playing indoors. On the other side are players who only play indoors and play exclusively in Canada. These players tend to prefer indoor balls.

Here at Racquet Network, we don’t involve ourselves in the inter-player arguments. We carry everything.

However, for program directors who are caught in the middle and just want to come to a fair decision about the best ball for their group, we can offer the following advice.

Best Ball for Outdoor Use

If your group is playing outdoors, the best ball to choose is an outdoor ball. Outdoor pickleball balls have smaller holes and they are a bit heavier. This makes them better for days when there is a breeze, which is pretty much everyday outdoors.

Best Ball for Indoor Use

Indoor balls can’t really be used outside unless you are playing on a windless day. But there is no rule to say that outdoor balls can’t be used indoors. Many programs choose to use outdoor balls indoors.

Indoor balls are a bit lighter and travel a bit slower than outdoor balls. As a result, men and intermediate/advanced ladies tend to prefer to use outdoor balls. This is because a heavier, faster ball leads to a faster game that benefits better players, while a lighter, slower ball is best for beginners.

Best Ball for Beginners

When playing outdoors, the best ball will be an outdoor ball, regardless of the levels of the players. But when playing indoors, an indoor ball is best for beginners because it is lighter and slower than an outdoor ball. So if you have an indoor program and you want it to be beginner-friendly, choose an indoor ball.

Harder balls are also better for beginners because harder balls are harder to spin. Softer balls (like Onix) are preferred by intermediate to advanced players because they like to hit with spin. If, therefore, your intention is to choose a beginner friendly ball, your best choice will be a harder, indoor ball, such as Jugs or Durafast.

Best Ball for Intermediate/Advanced Players

There is no question that the majority of intermediate and advanced pickleball players prefer softer, faster balls. This allows them to better use their power and reflexes. It also allows them to use soft placement shots (call dinks) when they are up at the net.

More advanced pickleball players also tend to prefer a ball they can easily spin — something that most beginners loathe. The best ball for spin is a softer ball, such as the Onix Fuse G2. So if you are a program director who wants to build a program that favors more athletic players, choose a soft, outdoor ball even if your group is playing indoors.

In our experience with indoor pickleball groups here in Canada, the green Jugs polyball is the best overall compromise ball for most groups. Because it is liighter and slower, it favors beginners and newer players. Jugs are also softer than Durafast balls but harder than Onix, so it is still possible to spin them, although not as easily.