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Friday, October 21, 2016

Thoughts about the Ball

As discussed in yesterday's post, A Pickleball Controversy?, the introduction of the Onix Pure ball has created some controversy in the pickleball world. The relative bounciness of the new balls has changed the nature of the game for some players. The reality is that different balls are used all the time. Here is Sarah Ansboury's thoughts on the ball in an RV Pickleballers' article called The Pickleball Ball…Changes, Preferences and Practice.

The Pickleball Ball…Changes, Preferences and Practice

As I travel around the country, I find I have to play with a different pickleball ball. Is it tough? Yes, but is also part of the game.

Changing Pickleball Balls

Frankly, we had a close call at the US Open in Naples. We were originally told it was going to be a new Wilson ball. However, we found that after about 5 shots many of the balls would loose their “round”. Fortunately, the tournament directors switched back to the Dura prior to the actual event. Since many of us were introduced to outdoor pickleball using the Dura, we were very happy to see this move.

Pickleball Preferences

However, the pickleball ball like the venue is a matter of preference. When I first started playing pickleball, all of my play was indoors. I got used to the way the ball bounced, playing at the same temperature all the time, and the fact that wind did not affect play. We all have seen situations where indoor players have difficulty dealing with the elements when they play their first outdoor event. Likewise, I have a friend in The Villages that avoids indoor events just because they feel they see the ball better outdoors.

These sort of preferences exist in tennis as well….but we need to remember they are preferences. It is a little amusing to see the reactions of some of the players to the new Onix Pure 2 ball. Yes, it is a new ball. Yes, it responds a bit differently. However, I suspect it is not the last new ball we will see.

For what it is worth, here are my impressions of the balls we typically play:
  • The jugs, and other indoor balls seem to be softer and slower. Since they are softer, it is easier to keep the ball low. That coupled with the lack of wind and sun, the points tend to last longer.
  • The Dura is a bit bouncier. You have to expect the ball to pop off your paddle more quickly. You will have to absorb the ball a bit more with your body, to keep it down. The Dura also appears to be affected more by climate. It becomes a rock in very cold weather and gets soft when left in the hot sun.
  • The Onix, to me, is even more bouncy. Also, a ball that I was used to putting away tended to slow down off the bounce and in the air, making it easier for my opponent to get it back. To me, it seemed that playing with the Pure was similar to playing indoors.
However, everyone seems to agree, the Pure seems to last a lot longer. No one complained that balls lost their round or split during the TOC. I can understand why clubs that are spending their own money buying balls may prefer a quieter ball that lasts longer.


At the Tournament of Champions, we needed to take a little extra time practicing with the new ball because it was different. As I said above, I didn’t find that adjustment that difficult because the Pure reminded me of playing indoors.

It seems that a lot of people have a lot of strong opinions about the ball. I certainly have my own preferences as well. But the important thing is to take the time to practice when you know you are going to be playing with a new ball, or in a different environment. Take time to note the differences you can feel. Determine if you need to make any adjustments. As always, it just comes down to practice!

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