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How Long Do Indoor & Outdoor Pickleballs Last Before Breaking?

A lot of pickleball players wonder how long their pickleballs last and at what point they should be replaced

If you’re curious about how to tell when a pickleball needs to be replaced, you’re in the right place.

What’s the average lifespan of a pickleball?

This depends because numerous factors go into a pickleball’s resiliency (or lack thereof).

Under certain conditions, some balls will consistently break within 1-2 sessions while others can last for months.

Here are some of the key ingredients to the longevity of pickleballs:

The style of the players that hit them. A ball can last all summer long if it’s being hit by a group of older slower placed dinkers. Conversely, a ball won’t last nearly as long if it’s being used by a group of “bangers” that neglect the soft game in favor of hitting the ball as hard as possible.

The weather they’re played in. Pickleballs tend to crack way faster in cold weather and warp/lose their shape more easily in warm weather.

How they’re taken care of. Any pickleball that’s stored in a hot car, garage, or in direct sunlight will wear out more quickly. If left out baking in the hot sun on a court, don’t expect them to last long.

The type and brand of ball. Certain balls do well in situations that others struggle in. For example, Durafast 40 outdoor balls might last only 30 minutes to an hour before cracking in a cold-weather, power-focused game. More about ball variance later.

Longevity of indoor vs outdoor pickleballs

Indoor balls will typically last longer than outdoor balls.

This is because they’re typically softer, which makes them crack less. They also experience less exposure to the elements.

But indoor balls do get become “dead” and lose their bounce much quicker than most outdoor balls due to their softness.

We have an in-depth post about the difference between indoor and outdoor pickleballs if you’re curious to learn more.

How can I tell when a pickleball is dead or broken?

How can you tell when a pickleball shouldn’t be used anymore?

Do they just break in an obvious way? Or do they slowly lose their structure and feel less bouncy over time?

This usually depends on the type of ball. But every ball can deteriorate in different ways given different circumstances.

Some harder balls usually work great until they crack, which becomes obvious when it happens. It won’t hit well at all.

But a lot of the softer balls become unusable far before they crack. They usually start to feel squishy and don’t bounce at all like they used to. They might look warped and more oval-like, as well.

A quick test is usually required because there’s no discrete and obvious endpoint to the life of a pickleball unless it’s cracked.

Does it feel similar? Does it bounce similarly? Does it look similar?

You can check if a ball is becoming “egg shaped” i.e losing its sphericality, but throwing the ball up, spinning it, and assessing it with your eyes.

If you think a ball is past its prime and might not be worth using anymore, you can also try comparing it to a new version of the same ball.

Note that many balls develop soft areas. You can take your thumb and press down on different areas of the ball to test for variable pressure resistance.

Sometimes, a ball that looks okay on the surface is just too dead feeling for your taste, meaning it’s time for a new one.

Do people generally play with a ball until it breaks or discard it when it softens or loses shape?

This depends on the players and the setting (recreational vs. competitive play).

Many rec players will use a ball until it cracks or becomes drastically warped out of round. Some will even continue to play with a ball that has clear dead spots until someone in the group gets fed up and decides to buy a new one.

Some rec groups have much less patience and will discard a ball that feels even slightly off in favor of a new ball.

In high-level competitive play, balls (and paddles) are switched out more regularly to avoid potential performance issues.

Overall, pickleballs are treated differently than tennis balls, longevity-wise. In tennis league play, new balls are switched in constantly, but in pickleball league play, gently used balls are commonly used.

Which pickleballs should I buy with long-lastingness in mind?

To decide which balls to invest in, consider the factors of your environment and play style. Certain regions and groups have their preferred ball.

If you’re in a warm climate, then I’d recommend playing with harder balls like Dura Fast and the Franklin X-40. They are excellent balls that are prone to crack in cold climates but hold up well in warmer climates.

If you’re in a cold climate, I’d recommend a softer ball like the Onix Pure 2 or Fuse G2 that doesn’t crack as easily.

If you want the best ball based purely on your play style, check out our post on the best pickleballs of 2023 and choose the ball type that works best for your game.

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