Indoor vs Outdoor Pickleball: A 7-Point Comparison Guide

Young player poised to hit a pickleball with a paddle in an indoor court.

Pickleball has gained significant popularity as a sport in recent years, offering an enjoyable and social experience for players of all ages and skill levels. The versatility of the game allows it to be played both indoors and outdoors, depending on available facilities and personal preferences. However, there are several differences between indoor and outdoor pickleballs, which are essential to understand to optimise the player’s gameplay and adapt to different conditions.

The primary difference between the two types of pickleballs lies in the quantity and size of the holes in each ball. Indoor pickleballs generally have 26 larger holes, while outdoor pickleballs have 40 smaller holes. This difference in hole size and number impacts multiple factors, including weight, hardness, texture, and durability. Consequently, this affects the performance, control, and spin that players can achieve with each specific ball type.

Additionally, the climate and surface of the court play a crucial role in determining the most suitable pickleball type. Indoor courts typically have softer and smoother surfaces, which are more forgiving on the softer, lighter indoor balls. In contrast, outdoor courts often consist of harder, more abrasive surfaces, necessitating a more robust and durable outdoor ball.

Understanding Indoor Vs Outdoor Pickleball

Pickleball is a fast-growing sport that can be played both indoors and outdoors. One of the main differences between the two lies in the characteristics of the equipment used, specifically the pickleballs themselves. There are significant differences in the design, material, and purpose of indoor vs outdoor pickleballs that players should understand in order to choose the right ball for their game.

A yellow pickleball rests near the edge of a blue pickleball court with a stark black background.
The calm before the serve: A lone pickleball awaits the next exciting rally on a blue court, illustrating the simplicity and appeal of the game.

Indoor pickleballs typically have larger holes, measuring around 0.43 inches in diameter, while outdoor pickleball holes measure roughly 0.282 inches. Indoor balls generally have 26 holes, covering more surface area and resulting in a lighter weight ball. Despite having 40 smaller holes, outdoor pickleballs are slightly heavier due to the thicker material used in their construction.

The material differences impact the balls’ performance during gameplay. The lighter indoor pickleballs tend to have less bounce and produce less noise, making them suitable for indoor court surfaces like wooden gymnasium floors. On the other hand, outdoor pickleballs are designed to endure the tougher, rougher surfaces such as concrete or asphalt courts. They have a firmer build, leading to a higher bounce and more durability against the elements.

Additionally, outdoor pickleballs tend to have shorter rallies and might need to be replaced more frequently due to exposure to weather conditions and the wear from outdoor court surfaces. Popular brands for outdoor balls include Onix, Top, and Dura.

When considering rules and gameplay, both indoor and outdoor pickleball are essentially the same. The United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA) sets the laws that apply to both environments, ensuring a consistent experience for players regardless of the location. Consequently, the choice between indoor and outdoor pickleballs mainly depends on individual preferences and court conditions.

Indoor Pickleball

Indoor pickleball Characteristics

Indoor pickleballs are designed specifically for consistency and control on indoor court surfaces. These balls have larger holes, typically numbering 26, and are made from a soft plastic material. The texture and softness of the indoor pickleballs contribute to their durability, making them suitable for gym floors and other indoor surfaces.

Indoor pickleballs usually weigh around 23 to 26 grams and have a diameter of about 2.9 inches. Their lighter weight and larger holes allow for better control and a slightly slower pace of play compared to outdoor pickleballs. The bounce and size of indoor pickleballs are consistent across various brands, ensuring that players can focus on the game’s fundamentals without worrying about equipment disparities.

Indoor balls are available in a variety of colours but most often come in white or a high-visibility yellow hue. The material of indoor pickleballs is lightweight and has a certain degree of hardness to ensure optimal performance. However, this hardness is generally less than that of their outdoor counterparts, as the balls need to be gentle on gym floors and similar indoor surfaces.

Indoor pickleball Courts

When playing pickleball indoors, court surfaces are an important aspect to consider. Indoor courts are usually constructed using materials such as wooden gym floors, rubberised tiles, or synthetic flooring. The surface material should provide adequate traction and support for players while ensuring a consistent ball bounce. Shoes with non-marking soles are recommended for indoor pickleball to maintain the court’s condition and minimise noise levels.

Indoor courts typically have a standard size of 20 feet by 44 feet for both singles and doubles play, similar to outdoor courts. These court sizes accommodate the necessary boundaries, service boxes, and non-volley zones, ensuring game play remains true to the sport’s nature regardless of the location.

Playing indoor pickleball offers players an opportunity to refine their skills in a controlled environment with consistent equipment and court surfaces. Indoor pickleballs and court materials are specifically designed for the unique challenges of indoor play, prioritising player control, comfort, and noise reduction alongside durability and performance.

Outdoor Pickleball

Outdoor pickleball Characteristics

Outdoor pickleballs are designed to withstand varying weather conditions. They are made of harder plastic which enhances their durability, weight, and bounce. Outdoor balls typically feature 40 smaller holes, giving them better wind resistance and consistency when subjected to different weather elements.

Due to the material used, these balls tend to be slightly heavier than indoor ones, weighing between 0.81-0.95 ounces. Their hardness and weight allow for fast-paced gameplay, providing players with more control and power during matches.

The texture of outdoor pickleballs is usually rougher compared to indoor ones, improving their grip on various court surfaces. To enhance the visibility of the ball, outdoor pickleballs can be found in bright colours such as yellow, orange, and white, which stand out against the court background.

Outdoor Courts

The court surface for outdoor pickleball is different from that of indoor games. Outdoor courts are typically made from concrete, asphalt, or traditional tennis court surfaces, providing a more consistent and smooth playing area. The standard court size for outdoor pickleball measures 20 feet by 44 feet, similar to an indoor court.

Players must consider the weather when playing outdoor pickleball since the sun and glare can impact their vision during the game. It is essential to wear protective eyewear and comfortable, lightweight shoes, specifically designed for outdoor courts. These shoes offer better traction and support on the hard court surfaces, ensuring players’ safety and performance during the game.

As outdoor pickleball is often played in windy conditions, paddles for outdoor games should be designed to contend with wind resistance. The ideal paddle for this purpose would be lightweight, allowing for better manoeuvrability and control during the match. The paddle’s surface material and shape also play a significant role in creating a balanced gameplay experience.

Comparison of Indoor Vs Outdoor Pickleball

There are significant differences between indoor and outdoor pickleball, with each type offering unique experiences and challenges. In this section, we will discuss the primary distinctions so that players can make an informed decision on which version of the game to focus on.

Indoor Pickleball is played on a court, usually within a sports or recreational facility. The main characteristic of indoor pickleballs is that they are made of softer plastic and have 26 larger holes. Consequently, these balls are lighter, produce a softer impact, and exhibit a lower bounce rate. Indoors, the playing surface affects the ball’s movement, with wooden or hard courts creating a firm, consistent bounce.

In comparison, Outdoor Pickleball is played in open-air settings on hardcourt surfaces, often with noticeable climatic factors. Outdoor pickleballs are made of harder plastic and have 40 smaller holes, resulting in slightly heavier balls with a higher bounce rate. Additionally, wind and temperature fluctuations can impact ball trajectory and game dynamics.

The rules for both indoor and outdoor pickleball are mostly the same; however, some minor variances exist due to the different environmental conditions. For instance, indoor players may need to adjust their strategies and techniques to account for the reduced bounce, while outdoor players often develop unique skills to handle various weather elements.

To summarise the pros and cons of each type:

Indoor Pickleball


  • Controlled environment with consistent playing conditions, less impact on joints due to the ball’s softer material, and available year-round.


  • Limited access to facilities may restrict playing opportunities, and higher fees can discourage regular participation.

Outdoor Pickleball


  • Accessibility to public courts, increased social interaction, broader skill development due to diverse weather conditions, and a more dynamic playing experience.


  • Exposure to weather may lead to cancelled sessions and potential hazards on wet or uneven surfaces, and the harder ball may increase the risk of injury.

Ultimately, the choice between indoor and outdoor pickleball depends on individual preferences and available resources. Playing both versions can allow enthusiasts to enhance their skills, meet new teammates, and enjoy the sport from various perspectives.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Indoor Vs Outdoor Pickleball

When deciding whether to play indoor or outdoor pickleball, there are several factors one should evaluate. First and foremost, a player must take into account their skill level and playing style. Beginners might find that indoor courts provide a more controlled environment which is ideal for learning the basic techniques. On the other hand, experienced players may appreciate the challenge posed by outdoor courts, with varying weather conditions affecting the ball’s behaviour.

Weather and climate play a significant role in determining the choice of indoor or outdoor pickleball. Outdoor courts can be more enjoyable in favourable weather conditions, but when the climate is too hot, cold, windy, or wet, indoor courts offer a more controlled and stable environment. Additionally, indoor courts allow for year-round play, regardless of weather conditions.

Another essential factor to consider is the actual differences in the balls used for indoor and outdoor pickleball. Indoor pickleballs typically have 26 wider holes and are slightly softer, lighter, and have less bounce compared to outdoor pickleballs, which have 40 smaller holes. Hence, understanding the weight difference between indoor and outdoor pickleballs helps players adapt to the changing dynamics of the game when transitioning between indoor and outdoor playing environments.

Lastly, it’s crucial to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each type of court. Indoor courts may offer a smoother playing surface, leading to a faster game; however, the noise level and limited space can be challenging. Outdoor courts provide a more significant playing area and natural light, but the court surface might be rougher, increasing the risk of injury and putting more strain on players’ bodies.

Taking these factors into account, players should choose the environment that best suits their preferences and playing style, ensuring they have a pleasant and enjoyable pickleball experience.


Indoor and outdoor pickleball each have their unique characteristics, providing varying experiences for players. With indoor pickleball often played on wooden floors or concrete court surfaces at recreation centres, players can benefit from a controlled climate and, therefore, a consistent gameplay.

On the other hand, outdoor pickleball courts, which usually have a harder surface, offer an exhilarating challenge due to the weather elements, specifically the wind, which can influence the flight and speed of the ball.

The distinction between indoor and outdoor pickleballs significantly affects the gameplay. Indoor balls have 26 larger holes, while outdoor balls have 40 smaller holes, resulting in a heavier construction that is more resistant to wind.

The choice of ball matters, as it determines the overall weight, hardness, texture, and durability during play. Despite their differences, both indoor and outdoor pickleballs have a common goal of providing a fun and competitive sport for individuals of all ages and skill levels.

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