Pickleball is a fast-paced and exciting game that has been growing in popularity worldwide. The sport requires a specialized ball that can withstand constant impact, provide consistent bounce, and have uniform sound. In this article, we will discuss the types of pickleball balls used in tournaments, their features, and what makes them different from other types of pickleball balls.
Types of Pickleball Balls Used in Tournaments
Pickleball balls come in three main types: hard plastic, polymer, and composite. Each type has its unique features, advantages, and disadvantages.
Hard Plastic Balls
Hard plastic balls are the cheapest and most common type of pickleball balls used in non-tournament settings. These balls are often used for recreational play and are less durable than other types of pickleball balls. Hard plastic balls have a high bounce and a loud, distinct sound that is recognizable to most pickleball players.
Polymer balls are a newer type of pickleball ball that is more durable and consistent than hard plastic balls. These balls are made of a single piece of plastic and are designed to have a consistent bounce and sound. Polymer balls are less noisy than hard plastic balls and are often preferred by players who are sensitive to noise.
Composite balls are made of a combination of materials, including plastic, rubber, and other materials. These balls are the most expensive type of pickleball balls and are designed to provide the best performance and durability. Composite balls have a softer feel than hard plastic and polymer balls and are often preferred by tournament players.
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What Makes a Tournament-Grade Pickleball Ball?
A tournament-grade pickleball ball must meet specific criteria set by the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA). These criteria include size, weight, hardness, bounce, and other factors that affect the ball’s performance. A tournament-grade pickleball ball must have a diameter of 2.87 to 2.97 inches and weigh between 0.78 and 0.935 ounces.
Features to Consider When Choosing a Pickleball Ball
Choosing the right pickleball ball for your needs can be a challenging task, especially if you are new to the sport. Here are some essential features to consider when choosing a pickleball ball:
Durability is a critical factor to consider when selecting a pickleball ball. A durable ball can withstand constant impact, reducing the need to replace it frequently. Polymer and composite balls are generally more durable than hard plastic balls.
A consistent bounce is essential for a good game of pickleball. A ball that bounces inconsistently can be frustrating to play with and can affect your gameplay. Polymer and composite balls have a more consistent bounce than hard plastic balls.
The sound of the ball hitting the paddle is an integral part of the game. A ball with a uniform sound can help you play better and feel more confident in your shots. Polymer and composite balls have a less distinct and more uniform sound than hard plastic balls.
The weight of a pickleball ball is an important factor to consider when selecting a ball. Most tournament-grade balls weigh between 0.78 and 0.935 ounces. A ball that is too light may not provide the desired speed, while a ball that is too heavy may be challenging to control. Some brands, like Onix, add weight to their pickleball balls to provide better stability and prevent wobbling.
The number of holes on a pickleball ball can affect its flight and bounce characteristics. Most tournament-grade pickleball balls have 40 holes, which are evenly distributed around the ball. Some balls may have fewer holes, which can affect their performance.
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Which Brands Make Tournament-Grade Pickleball Balls?
Several brands make tournament-grade pickleball balls that meet the USAPA’s specifications. Here are some popular brands that make high-quality pickleball balls:
Day 1 Sports Pickleball
Day 1 Sports pickleball balls are USAPA-approved and designed for tournament play. These balls have 40 precise holes for constant flight and rebound, and they are made of a durable polymer material. Day 1 Sports pickleball balls are suitable for outdoor use only and come in packs of six or twelve.
Onix Pickleball Ball
Onix pickleball balls are designed for aggressive play and are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. These balls have a unique hole pattern that provides better flight and control, and they are made of a durable composite material. Onix pickleball balls come in packs of three or twelve.
Franklin Sports Pickleball
Franklin Sports pickleball balls are USAPA-approved and designed for tournament play. These balls have a consistent bounce and are made of a durable rubber material. Franklin Sports pickleball balls come in packs of three or six.
Dura Fast 40 Pickleball
Dura Fast 40 pickleball balls are USAPA-approved and designed for tournament play. These balls are made of a durable plastic material and have a consistent bounce and flight. Dura Fast 40 pickleball balls come in packs of six or twelve.
Selecting the right pickleball ball for your needs can make a significant difference in your gameplay. When choosing a ball, consider the features that matter most to you, such as durability, bounce, sound, weight, and hole count. Also, consider the brand and type of ball that best suits your playing style and preferences.
In conclusion, pickleball balls used in tournaments must meet specific criteria set by the USAPA. These criteria include size, weight, hardness, bounce, and other factors that affect the ball’s performance. Several brands make tournament-grade pickleball balls that meet these criteria and are suitable for serious competitive play.