Pickleball Ball vs Tennis Ball: A Complete Guide

With the rise in popularity of sports and games, it could be difficult for new fans to keep track. There are various types of sports and an even wider variety of equipment used within. One of the most common things people mix up are balls from different sports. Pickleball recently rocketed to fame, leading people to learn more about it. 

After conducting in-depth research, we realized that many confuse a pickleball ball vs tennis balls. Since both sports appear similar on the whole, it is easy to make a mistake.

However, one feature strongly distinguishes the two sports: the ball. Pickleball balls and tennis balls are incredibly different. This article explains the various similarities and differences between both products in detail. It will also help you learn more about which ball to use for each sport. 

Pickleball Ball vs Tennis Ball – Which Ball is Better For You?

The most obvious answer to this question is the sport you are playing. Both balls are the most suitable for their respective sports. However, people use balls for many purposes, whether to teach their kids to throw or play fetch with their pets. So, unless one is purchasing these balls for professional use, they should consider these other factors before making a decision. 

We did a lot of research on both of these things and found that there is no right answer to this question. Both products have their unique selling points and uses. Ultimately, it depends on the user to determine which ball is best for them. To make a decision, you must assess your needs. You can do this by listing all your requirements and seeing which item best fulfills them. The latter sections of this article will give you more information about pickleball and tennis balls. Hence, you can use this information to make a wise choice. 

What Is a Pickleball Ball?

pickleball ball vs tennis ball
Source: Amazon.com

A pickleball ball is a small plastic ball that is suitable for playing pickleball. The qualities and make of a pickleball ball are as per the official pickleball game guidelines. Also, the game rules declare the ball’s dimensions, weight, and other specifications. Usually, these balls are orange or yellow and weigh very little.

Generally, there are two types of pickleball balls: indoor and outdoor.

  1. Indoor Pickleball Ball:

Indoor pickleball balls are much softer, lighter, and airier than outdoor balls. Further, these balls are ideal for use within four walls. The most common indoor pickleball gameplay settings include gyms, game rooms, etc. 

  1. Outdoor Pickleball Ball:

As the name suggests, you can use an outdoor pickleball ball to play the sport outside. These balls are thicker and weigh slightly more than indoor pickleball balls. The main reason for the difference in design is that outdoor balls must survive environmental changes like the wind. If you use an outdoor pickleball ball inside a gym or a closed court, you will notice a shift in how it bounces.  It should be noted that there are also differences pickle balls and whiffle balls are not the same.

What Is a Tennis Ball?

Tennis is a vast sport. There are several variations in the way one plays tennis. Consequently, there are various types of tennis balls to suit each occasion. However, a standard tennis ball appears bright—fluorescent green or yellow—and has a felt surface. The ball also has a rubber core that may or may not be pressurized. 

All tennis balls are either filled with pressure or not. While the former balls are wound tight and bounce higher, the latter is slower due to the lack of pressure. Pressurized tennis balls are also the top choice for competitive play since they usually offer better performance and last longer. You can further divide tennis balls into different types based on what court they help play in. Here are the most common types of tennis balls:

  1. Regular Duty Balls:

These regular-duty tennis balls are standard. If one does not specify a kind of tennis ball, they are referring to regular-duty balls. Further, these balls are generally all-purpose and can be used on all court types. 

  1. Extra Duty Balls:

As you may have guessed, extra-duty tennis balls are ideal for rougher use than regular tennis balls. These extra-duty balls have a thicker layer of felt around the core than usual. This extra padding allows the ball to survive on more coarse and abrasive courts. So, while a regular ball might wear out quickly, this tennis ball will last you several matches on such courts. 

  1. Slow Court Balls:

Slow court balls are specially made to play in courts that can slow the ball’s bouncing speed. Some courts can prevent the ball from bouncing well, reducing its overall speed. These balls can withstand such courts and minimize the impact of the court on the pace of the game. 

  1. High-Altitude Balls:

The location of the court is also essential to how a match plays out. Different places have different environments, weathers, temperatures, and altitudes. These balls are made to play tennis on courts at high altitudes. Often, the court’s location can become a deciding factor in the speed of the ball. Higher altitudes can cause regular balls to bounce higher or speed up. Usually, courts that are 4,000 feet or above sea level use high-altitude balls for their matches. These balls are generally pressureless, causing them to bounce lower than regular tennis balls. 

Similarities between Pickleball Ball & Tennis Ball

Now that you have a brief idea about pickleball and tennis balls, we can compare them. Before learning about the many differences between the two, let us look at their similarities. 


The first and most obvious common feature between the two balls is their purpose. The sports, pickleball and tennis, are very similar. They’re both played on courts, bouncing a ball back and forth between two ends with paddles or rackets. Hence, the balls for the two games also share some similarities. They’re both designed to bounce when you hit them with a paddle or a racket. Their size, material, weight, etc., depend on the same. 

Wear and Tear

When you play a sport for too long, your body experiences fatigue. Similarly, when you use some equipment to play a sport for too long, it experiences wear and tear. You can cure your fatigue by taking frequent breaks. However, there is no way to renew the equipment you use. Hence, you usually change it between games. 

Tennis balls and pickleball balls both experience heavy wear and tear. While their degradation usually depends on the game atmosphere, they have shorter lifespans than other game equipment. So, in professional matches, it is usually “suggested” that the balls be switched once every few games. 

Differences between Pickleball Ball & Tennis Ball

While the two sports may closely resemble one another, pickleball balls and tennis balls share a stark contrast. Whether it is their look, size, or design, both balls are very distinct. This section discusses the most prominent differences between the two balls in depth. 


One of the first factors that can help you differentiate between pickleball balls and tennis balls is their color. You can identify this difference without holding, touching, or even playing with the ball. 

Tennis balls have a trademark fluorescent yellow color. While you can use other colors for recreational play, the former is a must for professional games. The ball also has a hollow white oval running around the side of it. Interestingly, tennis balls were a different color before. Initially, they were black and white. However, officials discovered that it would be easier to view them on TV if they were a different color. So, in 1972, the ITF introduced new tennis balls with a yellow coating for official gameplay. 

On the other hand, the official pickleball committee has yet to specify the color of the balls used in gameplay. However, orange pickleball balls are currently the most popular for outdoor pickleball, closely followed by yellow ones. Also, people playing indoors usually use yellow or white balls. Although, some say they prefer darker colors so the ball is more visible. Lastly, every pickleball ball uses only one color that remains uniform around the surface. 


The material a ball uses dramatically affects the way it plays. Since tennis courts are much larger than pickleball courts, tennis balls can travel farther than pickleball balls. For this purpose, tennis balls generally use felt and rubber as their primary design materials. On the other hand, pickleball ball makers solely use plastic to create these balls. 

Traditionally, tennis balls used leather or cloth rags stuffed with horsehair. However, modern tennis balls have a rubber core consisting of two smooth rubber hemispheres glued together. Further, the makers then cover this rubber core with a felt layer and steam it to make it appear fluffy. These balls generally have two types of felt exteriors: premium and casual. The first type of felt contains high amounts of wool and other rich fibers. These quality materials make the ball softer for better bounce and flight. Further, a casual felt coating is more economical. It uses various synthetic fibers, like nylon, which is ideal for practice games. 


While both balls are spherical, they have different structures. Tennis balls have a smooth surface, while pickleball balls have uniform holes. 

People often mix these perforated balls up with Wiffle balls. While the two share some similarities, pickleball balls are unique. According to the guidelines of the official sport, there must be 26 to 40 circular holes at even spacing on the ball’s surface. Further, pickleball balls have a diameter ranging between 2.8-2.9 inches. They also weigh around 0.8 ounces. Indoor pickleball balls are lighter, weighing about 0.78 ounces. However, outdoor balls are slightly heavier, about 0.9 ounces.

Tennis balls are much heavier than pickleball balls and require more care in handling. Pressurized tennis balls are more tightly wound and can cause serious injuries if they hit you. These balls may weigh more than pickleball balls but are smaller in size. Standard tennis balls have a diameter of about 2.5 to 2.7 inches. Further, tennis balls weigh nearly twice as much as pickleball balls. According to the ITF, standard tennis balls must weigh approximately 1.9 to 2.1 ounces. 

Bounce and Speed

Since these balls differ in weight and size, they also produce different results. Both balls travel at different speeds and bounce differently. Tennis balls generally bounce higher than pickleball balls. However, the latter travels faster. 

The USAPA has developed a general test to measure the bounce of every pickleball ball. The ball will only be accepted for gameplay if it bounces between 30-34 inches when you drop it from a height of 78 inches.

The committee will not approve the ball if it rises too high or too low. To be used in professional matches, you must register a ball on the USAPA’s approved ball list. Hence, it must meet the required specifications.  This is largely due to the what size net need for pickleball.

According to ITF rules, a standard tennis ball must bounce up to 53-58 inches higher when dropped from 100 inches above. 


The final difference between the two balls is how long they last. While both balls experience wear and tear, tennis balls are generally more durable than pickleball balls. One tennis ball can usually last for up to seven matches. However, pickleball balls are required to be changed every four to five games.

Please note that these numbers may vary depending on the situation. What we mentioned is only the average durability of these balls. However, environmental and gameplay conditions might affect this durability. 

Pickleball Ball vs Tennis Ball: Final Thoughts 

People often need help selecting between tennis and pickleball balls because the two sports are similar. However, with proper research, you can distinguish between the two better and quickly decide. Tennis balls have a smooth, even surface, but pickleball balls have small, circular holes on the exterior. Lastly, while tennis balls are heavier and bounce higher, pickleball balls are airier and travel faster.