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Friday, February 9, 2018

Playing with Four Different Balls

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

I recently returned home from a trip through Florida. Along the way I played some pickleball. The interesting part is that I got to play with 4 different balls. The Villages supplies only Dura Fast 40 balls to its courts but I also played with Onix Pure 2 balls in a private game with friends. At the USAPA Ambassador Retreat, Franklin graciously supplied its X-40 balls for all play. But Onix was also a vendor sponsor and provided a few sample Fuse balls for test play. This post is my comparison of the 4 balls.

Onix Pure 2

Everyone knows the pluses and minuses of this ball. It is the preferred ball for clubs because it rarely breaks. It is the devil incarnate to top-level players because it bounces too high and cannot be put away. I've always liked the way it came off the paddle. It was soft and easy to control. But I have also always hated that good shots aren't rewarded. But it is going away so these comments are relevant only to serve as a basis for comparison with other balls.

Dura Fast 40

The Dura has also been around for a long time. Players either love it or hate it. Its life is significantly shorter than the Onix Pure, though. It breaks - a lot - especially in colder temperatures. It also goes out of round after a few hard hits. Players can see the ball wobble as it flies through the air. From a playability view, I love its bounce because it does reward good drop shots and dinks. It deflects much more quickly off the paddle due its hardness, so the feel is not there until it is played with for quite a while. Its hardness also prevents applying as much spin. Folks at The Villages play only with the Dura because they believe a player cannot be effective switching back and forth between balls.

Franklin X-40

My first experience with the Franklin ball was at the ambassador retreat. I liked it a lot. From all perspectives, except life, it seemed to take the best from the Onix Pure and the Dura. It seemed softer than the Dura but harder than the Onix. That made it very playable off the paddle with the ability to hit hard, soft, and spin shots easily.  Its bounce rewarded good soft shots. I'm not really a power player but it did seem more difficult to put away. I attribute some of that to its coloration. It was extremely visible allowing for longer points. It did crack but less often than Dura. I never saw one go out of round in my games.

Onix Fuse

The Fuse is Onix' replacement for the Pure. Byron Freso had a brand new ball that he showed me. It was very similar in hardness to the Franklin, making it harder than the Pure and softer than the Dura. It played a lot like the I liked it a lot, too. It seemed to stay on the paddle face like the Pure but the bounce was the same as the Dura and Franklin. I only got to play it for one game and they were only available for demonstration games so there was no real endurance test.

In summary, I prefer the Franklin and Fuse balls for outdoor play. They will take less adjustment for an indoor player like I am. I can't wait for both companies to start marketing indoor balls as well.


  1. I was playing with an instructor and he was knocking off my 3rd shot drops with backhand rolls. I just couldn't get the ball to play low enough to make it un-attackable. I mentioned that I thought the Onyx we were playing bounced higher than a Dura. He seemed unaware of this.

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