The competition to be declared the best pickleball ball is stiff. Pickleball can be played in or outdoors, making a choice on what type of ball to purchase complicated if you aren't familiar with all the lingo and options. Do you start with beginner balls, or just assume yourself a pro and go straight to the tournament ready choice? Tough decisions. (I thought so.)
I was trying to pick out the equipment I needed to start playing pickleball. After a fair bit of searching, I found the best choices available online, summed up for you below. Two brands are top-rated, and tournament play approved and have in/outdoor approved balls.
I've taken those top two pickleball ball brands, Franklin Sports Inc. and Onix Sports, divided them by where you use them, then explained the differences and benefits depending on your skill level (and investment).
Now don't think I'm just a gal who can extensively write about balls. I've covered it all for you: learn about paddles, including and the best ones for spin, shoes, or just start with the rules. Or if you are looking for drills to help improve your game then read our review here.
If you just want to know what to buy, you can skip to the summary.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Pickleball Balls
Indoor and outdoor balls look the same but have a major difference in the number of holes in each ball. Each ball weighs between 22 and 26.5 grams (0.78 to 0.935 ounces), but an outdoor ball has 40 holes, and an indoor ball has 26.
Tournament approved pickleball balls are usually yellow or neon green. Luckily, the world is full of people with different needs. If you hate yellow, you can buy this pink or blue one. If you have money to burn, it's big bucks for this red one.
You can choose the type of ball you need based on the type of court where you'll be playing or find a color that suits your personal requirements. The neon yellow of the common pickleball ball is bright enough for most of us to follow while playing. Where you play might have weird lighting that makes the optic yellow balls less visible.
Indoor Pickleball Balls
One of the main selling points of the Franklin X-26 pickleball balls is the use of EVA materials in their construction. EVA, not the robot, is an anacronym for ethylene-vinyl acetate. ETA is a type of polymer that “produces materials which are ‘rubber-like’ in softness and flexibility.
This, claims Franklin Sports, makes the ball more durable and gives it a more consistent bounce. These balls are on the heavier end of the accepted weight range, though, which can be a deterrent for people who prefer lighter balls for indoor play.
Overall, the Franklin Sports Indoor pickleball balls are near perfect. The only flaw is the lack of weight choices; these balls even come in neon blue.
The Onix Fuse Indoor Ball has many great qualities. There are two high visibility colors available, orangey-red and yellow. Here is the thing about the Onix Sports brand: they don’t go into as much detail about their product as Franklin Sports does. There are no weights or ball dimensions included.
The only indication you have that the product meets specifications is that they tell you it does. I found this annoying, making a true comparison hard. If you’re interested, Onix promises “truest flight” and “most authentic bounce.”
They mention the durability of the seam on the ball because of the ‘exceptional seam welding.’ I’m not bashing Onix, though. They may be vague in their descriptions, but they sell a lot of balls to people that really like them. They are also quite a bit cheaper than Franklin Sports, which is why they are getting four stars.
Franklin Sports X-26
Onix Fuse Indoor Ball
May decrease durability
May decrease durability
~ $13 plus shipping for 3
~$9 plus shipping
Best Indoor Pickleball Balls for 2021
When it comes to these two brands, Franklin Sports X-26 Indoor Pickleballs are the choice if you are more than a casual player. If you are just starting out or looking for a budget option, choose the Onix Fuse Indoor Ball.
Outdoor Pickleball Balls
This ball is engineered. What makes it different is that it is made in one piece with rotational molding, so no seam to weaken it. It uses polyethylene plastic in the construction, so no fancy EVA, but the seamless manufacture makes it more durable. They come in yellow and pink. This is the bestselling ball of its type, made to last, but buyer beware…you pay more for this ball than most others.
Bad news: this only comes in yellow. Good news: this Onix ball is a cheap pickleball ball. The other limitation of these balls is they only come up to a twelve pack. If you’re looking to buy in bulk, these won’t work. Or maybe a dozen is enough for you? I need more since I lose them all the time.
Franklin Sports X-40
Onix Fuse G2 Outdoor Ball
No seam, one-piece
Exceptional seam welding
Official Ball of the US Open Pickleball Championships
3x more durable than the original Fuse ball
~ $10 plus shipping for 3
~$9 plus shipping for 3
Best Outdoor Pickleball Balls for 2021
I think the Franklin pickleball balls are the better product, but I don’t need professional-level equipment for getting wiped off the court by my teenage daughter, so my choice here is the Onix Fuse G2 Outdoor Ball for its durability and lower price point.
I think it’s important to mention that, if you’re a new player, you definitely don’t need to purchase from these two brands. There are many contenders for brand choices. If you’re new to pickleball, you might not be familiar with Franklin or Onix. There are sports brands you’ll likely recognize in the mix as well.
Champion Sports Indoor Pickleball balls are inexpensive and claim to meet all tournament requirements. You can get a pickleball set of six for under $10, which makes them much cheaper than the Franklin or Onix pickleball brands.
Your mileage may vary, though, as overall feedback on these balls is that they wear out fast and kind of suck. If you need a big name, though, this is probably the Kardashian of pickleball balls.
Wilson Tru 32 Pickleball Balls are not only a trusted sports brand, but they are a little different from standard balls, both indoor and outdoor. Usually, an indoor ball has 26 holes, and an outdoor ball has 40 – that’s standard.
Wilson has changed this up by making a dual pickleball ball that has 32 holes. It’s injection molded with a proprietary formula for the material. Pretty neat. These balls are more expensive than the others, running about $8 for two.
In case you’re looking to buy in bulk, I found a great deal on two hundred TOURNA Strike Pickleballs in your choice of indoor or outdoor for under $180. If you suck as hard as I do, the number of balls flying by your head into the bushes might justify this many. Or maybe you want to start a league? That’s a good idea, too.
What Should I Buy?
That’s why you’re here; after all – you want to know top recommendations for indoor and outdoor pickleball balls. I studied hard to write to you about neon balls, but I understand if you want to skip all that and find out the good stuff. On the other hand, if you read this far, sweet. Thanks.
I’m going to give you a scenario, and you find which one best describes you to see what pickleball balls are going to suit you best. These are my opinions, and none of the brands I’ve mentioned have endorsed this article.
Don’t be afraid to try different types of balls. Different weights, number of holes, and the materials used may work with you better than they did for me. Still, I’m pretty smart, so you can take my advice if that makes it simpler.
If you’re planning on participating in tournament play, the clear choice for you is going to be the Franklin Sports indoor or outdoor balls. They come in different colors, are used by professionals, are durable, and affordable.
People Who Play Once A Month But Must Have Top Of The Line Everything
It’s okay, I understand. You need the nicest stuff, and you want people to know it. Go with the Wilson Tru 32 Pickleball Balls.
If you’re looking to pick up a game or two, are just learning, or just don’t care about what brands make what and who the pros are, the Onix Fuse Indoor Ball is rated well for durability and quality.
I’m Starting a League
You should buy a ton of balls all at once! You can buy 200 neon green balls from TOURNA Strike.
There you go, friend, look no further. You’ve got the basics covered on what are the best pickleball balls for 2021, based on your gaming level and the type of court you plan to play on. I’ve given you my top recommendations based on quality, durability, and price. Off you go, shop away!
See you on the court!