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Friday, February 16, 2018

More on Balls

See the ball, hit the ball, the brand doesn't matter...

I wrote an article last week about playing with 4 different outdoor balls - Playing with Four Different Balls. Sarah Ansboury had a recent article on her blog that discusses balls from the perspective of a tennis player. Whether that applies to you or not, she makes some great points.

Tennis Balls vs Pickleballs…There are Differences

During our stay in Florida this month I realized there is something former tennis players need to realize about pickleballs. You see tennis balls and pickleballs are not the same.

Tennis Balls

When we played tennis, it was customary to open a can of three balls and rotate among them. I noticed the other day that many former tennis players bring three pickleballs to the court and do the same thing. However, pickleballs are not yet manufactured to the exacting standards of tennis balls. There are also material differences that will always effect the way a pickleball reacts.

Pickleball Differences

There are 2 major differences between pickleballs and tennis balls:pickleballs

  • First, there is temperature.  A plastic pickleball will be affected by hot or cold weather.  On a very hot day, many balls will get soft and as a result will not be as lively.  In very cold weather, some balls have a tendency to crack pretty quickly.
  • The second major difference is the roughness of the ball.  A rougher ball, one that has been played with longer, will feel differently coming off the paddle.

Tournament Play

During recreational play many players switch balls with a neighboring court, however, many of us can actually feel the difference. That is why in tournament play, we play with one ball during the whole match unless it breaks.

You may have noticed players hitting a ball up in the air before a match begins. We are looking for a few key things.  First, we are looking for wobble. By hitting the ball up with a bit of sidespin we can see how true the ball will fly off the paddle.

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There is one other point that Sarah makes that is worth repeating. One reason the Onix balls  are so popular is because they never break. But the reality is that breakage is not the only factor in a pickeball's life. Sarah says:

When I teach, I will often use the brand of pickleball my student prefers or plays with most often.  If that brand has a tendency to get soft in spots, I will check by giving the ball a squeeze in my hands.  If the ball gives under the pressure of my hands, or there is a soft spot, we will use another ball.

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