why do Pickleball Have Holes?

The Cool Reason why do Pickleball Have Holes: A Complete Guide

Step into the intriguing world of pickleball, where the game is as unique as its name! Quite often, people new to this racket sport find themselves puzzled over one question: Why do pickleballs have holes?

This might seem like a trivial detail, but it’s actually a key factor that adds an interesting twist to the game. In this article, we will unravel the cool reason behind why these distinctive balls are peppered with holes.

Why do pickleballs have holes?

Pickleballs are designed with larger holes spread uniformly around their surface for specific reasons. Primarily, the larger holes allow for decreased speed and enhanced control during a game, creating a balance between power and precision.

This therefore assists the pickleball player in maneuvering the ball with ease and accuracy. Additionally, the hole size contributes to the ball’s lightweight nature, an important feature given that pickleball games require frequent and swift back-and-forth movements.

Furthermore, the holes are strategic for reducing wind resistance, thereby ensuring the ball moves in a straight path. Consequently, the dynamics of the hole size in pickleball are crucial to the overall gameplay.

The Purpose of Holes in Pickleball Balls

Pickleball balls have holes on their surface for several key reasons related to aerodynamics, impact reduction, and gameplay effects.

Aerodynamics and Flight

The holes in pickleball balls allow air to pass through the ball during flight. This creates a more stable trajectory and reduces aerodynamic drag and turbulence compared to a solid ball. The perforated design promotes straighter flight paths and more predictable bounces.

Reduced Impact and Bounce

The holes in the balls act as cushioning by absorbing some of the impact when the ball bounces. This reduces the speed and force of the bounce compared to a solid ball. Essentially, the holes function like mini shock absorbers.

Creation of the Holes

In the 1960s, pickleball creators drilled holes in plastic wiffle balls to slow down the game after finding that solid whiffle balls bounced too erratically. The perforated design allowed them to control speed and bounce.

Effect on Gameplay

The holes give pickleball balls a distinct feel and performance. The ball has a softer feel at impact, and the reduced bounce leads to extended rallies. The holes also create an audible sound during play for improved feedback.

In summary, the strategic purpose of the holes is to improve aerodynamics, reduce bounce, and deliver ideal gameplay characteristics for pickleball. The perforated design achieves the specific performance the creators were seeking when inventing the sport

Indoor vs. Outdoor Pickleballs

Pickleballs designed for indoor and outdoor play may look similar, but they have key differences to accommodate the distinct playing conditions of each environment. Here are some factors to consider when comparing indoor and outdoor pickleball:

How Do You Tell the Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Pickleballs? 

Identifying the difference between indoor pickleballs and outdoor pickleballs is quite straightforward once you get familiar with their specific characteristics. Indoor balls typically have larger holes and are lighter compared to outdoor pickleballs.

This design makes indoor pickleballs perfect for indoor play since they can be easily hit with a paddle and they fly well in the calm air indoors.

On the other hand, outdoor pickleballs have smaller holes and are heavier, making them more resistant to wind and excellent for playing outdoors. Both indoor and outdoor balls may look the same in terms of their plastic material and size, but these main differences in their weight and hole size distinguish their suitable environments for play. 

1. Number of Holes

Outdoor balls: The number of holes in a ball can significantly vary based on its specific use. For example, outdoor balls used in various sports typically contain about 40 holes. These holes are strategically designed to stabilize the ball during flight and optimize its outdoor playability.

Indoor balls: On the other hand, indoor balls tend to have a lower count—around 26 holes. This is due to the controlled environment, where wind and other weather factors do not come into play. Additionally, the number of holes on a pickleball is also an important feature determining its performance during the game. 

2. Hole Diameter

The diameter of the holes in a standard pickleball is typically around 0.922 inches (2.34 cm). The size and distribution of these holes play a crucial role in the aerodynamics and performance of the ball during play.

The consistent hole diameter is a key factor in maintaining the standard characteristics of pickleball, ensuring a uniform playing experience for players, whether indoors or outdoors.

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3. Weight

The weight of pickleballs can significantly impact the gameplay experience, whether it’s indoors or outdoors. While indoor pickleballs are typically lighter, ranging from 0.78 to 0.935 ounces, outdoor pickleballs tend to be slightly heavier, weighing in at around 0.85 to 0.92 ounces.

This difference in weight directly affects how the ball moves through the air and bounces on different surfaces.

When playing indoors, the lighter weight of the pickleball allows for quicker movement and precise control, making rallies more dynamic and fast-paced.

On the other hand, outdoor pickleballs with a slightly heavier weight offer better resistance to wind and allow for more predictable shots, especially in open-air environments where wind conditions can vary.

4. Hardness

When it comes to the hardness of indoor and outdoor pickleballs, players may notice a distinct difference in their feel and performance.

Indoor pickleballs are typically softer, allowing for better control and spin, while outdoor ones tend to be harder, bouncing more predictably on rougher surfaces. The hardness factor is essential to consider when choosing the right pickleball for your game.

5. Durability

  • Indoor Pickleballs: Designed for gentler indoor surfaces, they may wear out more quickly if used outdoors. The softer material is more prone to damage on rough outdoor courts.
  • Outdoor Pickleballs: Built to withstand the harsher conditions of outdoor play, they are more durable and resistant to wear and tear.

6. Material:

Indoor pickleballs are typically made of softer materials like plastic or polymer. The softer material reduces the impact on indoor surfaces and minimizes noise.

Outdoor pickleballs are made of harder materials, such as hard plastic. The harder surface is more durable and withstands the rougher outdoor playing conditions.

7. Wind Resistance:

  • Indoor Pickleballs: Designed without much consideration for wind resistance, as indoor environments are typically sheltered from wind.
  • Outdoor Pickleballs: Feature hole patterns and materials that help minimize the impact of wind, making them more stable during outdoor play.

8. Colour:

  • Indoor pickleballs often come in bright, vibrant colours. This enhances visibility in indoor settings with controlled lighting conditions.
  • Outdoor pickleballs typically come in more muted or high-visibility colours to improve visibility in various outdoor environments.

Why Are There So Many Holes in Outdoor Pickleball?

Have you ever wondered why outdoor pickleballs have so many holes? It’s not just for aesthetics or a design fad; these holes actually serve a specific purpose on the court.

The holes are strategically placed to reduce wind resistance, allowing the ball to move more efficiently through the air and making it easier for players to control their shots.

This design feature ultimately enhances the overall playability of the game, giving players a more enjoyable experience on the court.

Furthermore, the holes in outdoor pickleballs also contribute to their durability and performance.

By reducing weight and increasing air flow through the ball, these holes help prevent warping and cracking, ensuring that outdoor pickleballs can withstand intense gameplay and environmental factors. 

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Why Do Outdoor Pickleballs Have Smaller Holes?

The smaller holes on outdoor pickleballs serve a crucial purpose in enhancing the game dynamics and durability. Unlike indoor pickleballs, outdoor ones are designed with smaller holes to withstand external elements such as wind and heat.

The reduced hole size helps mitigate the impact of strong winds during outdoor play, allowing for more controlled flight paths and a better overall playing experience.

Additionally, the smaller holes contribute to the ball’s durability by minimizing wear and tear from rough surfaces like asphalt or concrete, common in outdoor pickleball courts.

How Many Holes Does an Indoor Pickleball Have?

An indoor pickleball typically has 26 to 40 smaller precision-drilled holes. These smaller holes reduce the bounce rate, making the indoor ball more controllable for the swift gameplay associated with indoor pickleball.

However, an outdoor pickleball ball usually has fewer, between 40 and 66, but larger holes, designed for the outdoor environment where wind resistance can affect gameplay.

Regardless of indoor or outdoor pickleball, the purpose of the holes and the pickleball paddle’s performance is to offer players an ideal experience that emphasizes accuracy, control, and speed.

Why Are Yellow and Orange Balls Used in Pickleball?

why do Pickleball Have Holes
Orange and Yellow Pickleball

The yellow ball with 26 holes is designed for indoor use, while the orange ball with 40 holes is intended for outdoor play. Pickleball balls are available in various colours, such as pink, blue, and green. To determine whether a ball is suitable for indoor or outdoor play, simply count the number of holes.

Can You Play Pickleball With a Wiffle Ball?

While you can technically use a wiffle ball when playing pickleball, it is not highly recommended. The traditional pickleball paddle is designed to interact with the unique properties of a pickleball, which has a different size, weight, and bounce compared to a wiffle ball.

Wiffle balls also tend to be less durable, often breaking or getting damaged after vigorous play. The wiffle ball’s lighter weight and larger holes can also alter the game dynamics, making it less suited for both indoor and outdoor pickleball settings where wind and other elements can greatly affect play. 

Tips for Choosing the Right Pickleball balls

Consider Your Skill Level

  • Beginners should use plastic balls, which are more durable and bounce less. This allows you to develop control.
  • Intermediate players can use composite balls for a touch more bounce.
  • Advanced players often prefer indoor balls made of polymer for maximum control.

Match the Ball Type to the Playing Surface

  • Indoor balls with smaller holes work best on indoor hard courts.
  • Outdoor balls have larger holes and stand up better to concrete and asphalt.
  • There are also balls made specifically for playing on grass.

Evaluate Durability

  • Plastic balls are the most durable, but they get scratched up over time.
  • Composite models with a plastic core and polymer cover offer better weather resistance.
  • Indoor balls have the shortest lifespan and are meant for temporary use.

Consider Your Climate

  • In hot climates, choose balls made of durable plastic that can withstand heat.
  • In cooler weather, composite balls react better and bounce more consistently.

Know the Official Ball Specifications

  • Official tournament balls must meet strict size, weight, bounce, and design standards.
  • Recreational balls offer more variation as long as they are near the standard size.

Following these tips will help you select the right pickleball balls for your skill level, playing environment, climate, and purposes. Testing out different ball types is also recommended for finding your ideal fit.

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In conclusion, pickleball has holes in order to reduce wind resistance and enhance the speed and playability of the ball. The size and number of holes in a pickleball game are regulated by the governing bodies to ensure consistency and fairness in the game.

Indoor pickleball balls typically have smaller holes compared to outdoor balls, as indoor games do not face the same wind factors as outdoor games. The number and distribution of holes also differ between indoor and outdoor pickleball balls to accommodate varying playing conditions.

Overall, the design and placement of holes in a pickleball are strategic and purposeful, contributing to the overall experience and enjoyment of the game. 


Why are there holes in pickleballs?

The holes in pickleball balls help control the bounce and speed of the ball during play. The perforated surface reduces aerodynamic drag for more stable flight while also cushioning the impact on bounce. This allows for rallying on a smaller court.

Why do pickleballs break so easily?

Plastic pickleballs can become brittle and crack over time, especially when exposed to extreme temperatures. Balls left outside in hot or cold weather are prone to breaking down. Indoor polymer balls have a very short lifespan and break easily with outdoor use.

What’s the difference between yellow and green pickleballs?

Yellow balls are made for indoor play, and green balls are made for outdoor play. The colours help players quickly identify which ball is appropriate for the playing surface.

What is the difference between indoor and outdoor pickleball?

Indoor balls have smaller holes, lower bounce, and are softer. Outdoor balls have larger holes to reduce wind resistance, more bounce to stand up on asphalt, and are more durable.

Can you use indoor pickleball balls outside?

It’s not recommended. Indoor balls will get damaged very quickly on rougher outdoor surfaces. The softer material and smaller holes make them unsuitable for outdoor play.

How many games do pickleballs last?

With average use, plastic outdoor balls may last 1-2 months, while indoor polymer balls last 1-2 weeks. Higher-quality balls and less frequent play can extend their lifespan. But balls do need replacing over time.


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