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Pickleball Vs. Tennis Ball Size

First conceived in 1965, Pickleball has grown into a nationally recognized sport played by 4.2 million Americans every year. Over eighty million people will be playing the game in the next 10 years at the current growth rate.

Tennis balls must measure 2.57-2.70 inches in diameter and weigh between 1.98-2.10 ounces. The color of official tennis balls is “optic yellow.” Pickleball can be any hue, made of perforated plastic, with a diameter measured between 2 7/8 to 3 inches and a weight between  0.78 and 0.935 ounces.

Pickleball and tennis are played on different sized courts and use different racquets (bats in the case of Pickleball). There are differences between the games, and the ball size and weight are very different and have differing flight characteristics.

The Differences Between Pickleball And Tennis Balls

The regulations governing the difference in the ball sizes used by each sport dictate a stringent control of the size balls used by each body.

Permitted Tennis Ball Specifications

The properties of tennis balls are very rigidly specified by the governing body, more so than virtually every other discipline which incorporates a ball in its play.

The Colour Of  A Tennis Ball

Although official tennis federation balls are colored optic yellow, this is only a relatively recent development. Up until 1986, tennis balls were white.

The Indian tennis association was the first to develop balls with rubber covers and pressurized air inside. The first examples of these balls were often black or white.

After conducting several surveys, in 1976, the International Tennis Federation ruled that only two-color tennis balls would be allowed, white and yellow, because these colors were easier to see on a Television screen.

In 1986, Wimbledon officially selected “optic yellow” as the only uniform color and rejected all white balls.

The Construction Of A Tennis Ball

Tennis balls are made by combining two hollow rubber shells and then filling the completed ball with gas, pressurized to 12 pounds per square inch. The resulting pressurized tennis balls have better bounce and spin characteristics while traveling faster.

The rubber shell is covered with a tightly bound felt made from nylon or wool. The felt delays the flow of air over the ball’s surface and reduces the aerodynamic drag, which gives the ball better flight characteristics.

Tennis balls must bounce between 53 inches and 58 inches high when measured from the top of the ball after being dropped onto a concrete floor from an elevation of 100 inches.

The Dimensions Of A Tennis Ball

Tennis balls must have a diameter that falls between 2.57 and 2.7 inches. Using the formula we all learned at school of 2πr, we can calculate the allowable circumference of a tennis ball as  2πr, which results in the calculation of the minimum circumference of a tennis ball 2*3.14*1.285 (half the diameter), which equals 8.0698 inches.

The maximum allowable circumference of a tennis ball is  2*3.14*1.35 (half the diameter)= 8.478 inches.

The average circumference of a tennis ball is 2*3.14*1.317 (half the diameter)= 8.2739 inches.

General Information About Tennis Balls

Tennis balls are not very durable, and after a maximum of 4 weeks of moderate play, they will “go bad.”

All tennis balls suffer from leaks out of microscopic holes, and even unopened tennis balls kept in the pressurized sealed tube they were sold with will lose their bounce and firmness characteristics after two years.

Permitted Pickleball Specifications

Despite the game’s relatively short history, The United States Of America Pickleball Association (USAPA) has imposed strict specifications to which a Pickleball must conform.

The Colour Of  A Pickleball

USAPA regulators have been very pragmatic in determining what colors a Pickleball may be.

There is no official requirement, and players can choose their colors. Color choice is usually based on the court surroundings, and the optimum color will contrast with the surroundings and, therefore, can be seen by the players.

The Construction Of A Pickleball

Pickleballs are made from a smooth, durable material similar to that used in constructing a Wiffle ball.

Pickleballs must have between 26 and 40 circular holes in the ball’s surface.

Pickleballs can have a seam or ridge from the manufacturer, but the join cannot impact the flight of the ball or bounce characteristics.

Pickleballs are required to have a bounce of 30 inches to 34 inches measured to the top of the ball after the ball is dropped from a height of 78 inches onto a granite surface.

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The Dimensions Of A Pickleball

Pickleballs must have a diameter that falls between 2 7/8 to 3 inches. Using the formula of 2πr, we calculate the allowable circumference of a pickleball as 2πr, which calculates the minimum circumference of a tennis ball as 2*3.14*1.39 (half the diameter) equals 8.0698 inches.

The maximum allowable circumference of a tennis ball is  2*3.14*1.50 (half the diameter)= 9.42 inches.

The average circumference of a tennis ball is 2*3.14*1.445 (half the diameter)= 9.0746 inches.

An instrument, which measures the hardness of a surface, called a durometer, must score between 40 to 50 at a temperature of between 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit when used on a Pickleball.

General Information About Pickleballs `

Like tennis balls, Pickleballs are not very durable and are only expected to last ten games before they show cracks.

Different styles of Pickleballs are used in indoor and outdoor courts. There is no restriction on which type of balls players can use indoors and outdoors but using the “incorrect” will not provide the same satisfactory response to a strike.

If players compete primarily in an indoor or outdoor environment, they will want to play with the appropriate ball. Playing outdoors in a windy area requires an outdoor ball, or the game will be unmanageable.


Even though the game of Pickleball was strongly influenced by tennis, the equipment used by the sport has diverged quite considerably over the years. Although within 10% of the size of a Pickleball, tennis balls weigh twice as much as an official Pickleball, and they bounce 1 and half times as high as a Pickleball.

As they have developed into such different games, it is easier for players to include both as part of their sporting prowess.


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