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The Differences Between Indoor and Outdoor Pickleball

Pickleball is played both indoors and outdoors, and, as such, there are some differences between the two versions. A good example of this is the ball itself. Some balls are best suited for outdoor games, while some are only for indoor courts. 

Generally, pickleball balls are similar to wiffle balls but they tend to be slightly heavier. USAPA, the organization that oversees the affairs of pickleball in the United States, approves a few modifications to different kinds of balls used for indoor and outdoor games. The ball may vary in size, number of holes, bounce, weight, and hardness. 

The Differences Between Outdoor and Indoor Pickleballs

  • Outdoor pickleball balls are harder and smoother. This helps them last longer despite being exposed to harsher conditions. Indoor pickleball balls are softer and lighter, and they suit the smoothness of an indoor court and the lack of factors such as wind which may affect them.

  • Outdoor balls have smaller holes compared to indoor balls. Also there are more holes. Typically 40 holes give or take. 

  • Indoor court balls have fewer, larger holes, and they don't bounce as high. That makes them more controllable for serving, albeit with less power. On the other hand, outdoor court balls have more, but smaller holes. They bounce higher and allow for more powerful shots but often with less control. 

  • Indoor pickleball balls have fewer holes as well. Typically 26 or thereabouts.

Other Factors That Differentiate Outdoor and Indoor Pickleball

  • Weather: When playing indoor pickleball, the only things you have to consider when hitting the ball are your opponent's position and how you can hit the ball to outsmart them. It is a whole different game with an outdoor court, as you must also consider the wind's direction and force. 

    No matter how good you are at pickleball, if you are not able to adjust to the wind’s effects on your game, you may find it hard to win in outdoor games.
  • The Surface: If you alternate between indoor and outdoor pickleball frequently, you may have to work extra hard to adapt your playing styles to each version. 

Outdoor court surfaces and the features of the ball tend to make it move faster, so if you want to win, you’ll have to move faster too!

For inside court games, the ball's movement slows down a bit, and will require you to make more calculated moves. Also, shots may travel longer because there’s no wind to hinder the ball’s movement. 

What Do Indoor and Outdoor Pickleball Share?

While there are obviously some differences between indoor and outdoor pickleball games, some things don’t differ, such as: 

  • Court Dimensions: A standard pickleball court must be 20 feet wide and 44 feet long. 
  • Rules: Pickleball has the same rules for both indoor and outdoor courts. 
  • Paddles: There is no need to get different paddles - you can use the same paddle for indoor and outdoor courts. 
  • The Net: The net size remains constant whether you are playing an indoor pickleball game or an outdoor game. The height must be 34 inches at the center and 36 inches at the sideline. 

Check out our “Team Pickleball” page for more tips, gear, promos, and more - all related to pickleball!

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