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The Best Pickleball to Buy at Each Level (An Honest Guide)

This guide reviews pickleballs (the actual ball) you should consider playing with, depending on your level of play and other preferences discussed below. Read on to learn more...

pickleballs on net

(Photo: Darryl Kenyon)

If you're reading this, you may be in the market for pickleballs, but are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of options out there.

Choosing the right ball for your level of play can be a confusing task. We have come up with this straightforward guide to help you navigate the ball market.

Some criteria include: How the ball bounces off a paddle and the ground, whether they are approved for tournaments, and how long they last before breaking, and how much they cost.

View all current ball deals on Pickleball Central today.

Read on to see which ball is suitable for your level of play...

Top Pickleball by Level

At every level of play - from pure beginners to seasoned veterans - use of a proper pickleball can greatly affect your experience and enjoyment. It matters!

And it's easy to get lost in the sea of choices with so many brands. Here's our short list:

Dura Fast 40: Mandatory for advanced

The pinnacle of pickleballs, the king, the original. The Dura has been around for ages and is the gold (or perhaps neon yellow) standard for ball playability.

It is a lively, action-packed, and crazy ball. You can hit it hard and put a ton of spin on it. The downside is that the ball does crack after a while. You will have to replace the ball sometimes.

If you are advanced or close, this is the ball for you, no doubt.

dura pickleball

Franklin X-40: The everyman's ball

Many tournaments these days now use the Franklin, due to strong partnerships.

Any intermediate player should stay sharp with the Franklin's feel, as events often use it.

A 100-pack is $187, which is about as low as any quality ball will go for in retail. Most balls cost more like $3-4 each, instead of under $2. So if you think you'll play pickleball for the foreseeable future, this is easily the best deal for you.

The Franklin is also a good teaching/training ball due to price and durability.

franklin pickleball

Tourna Strike: Gaining experience...

This ball is among the cheapest on the market. A 36-pack with tote bag is only $1.25 per ball! This is known as a great ball for practice.

Tourna is a trusted brand in pickleball, but this ball is not used in sanctioned events. You won't see it as the official ball of a tournament. But the price and familiar feel are appealing.

This ball is best for folks who are in the earlier stages of their pickleball journey, where minor ball differences are fine. Tourna also makes an indoor ball at an even better price!

tourna strike pickleball

Onix Pure 2: For the new and novice

Perhaps you play on indoor surfaces such as sleek basketball wood or softer gym matting. They do necessitate a different ball with fewer holes.

The Onix Pure 2 is the supreme indoor ball for indoor surfaces, and is a solid choice for novice and newer players who are still getting a feel for the pace of the sport.

You can easily use this ball outdoors as well. This ball will be a pinch slower and less lively than the rest, making it a good ball to learn with early on. Nothing wrong with that!

onix pure pickleball

Pickleball Balls FAQ

How many balls should I bring with me?

If you have a play group, you should have at least 3-4 balls on hand. All balls do eventually crack (more on that next question), and also balls can be lost over a fence or get wobbly.

It's good to have a dozen or two stocked at home, and bring 3+ to the courts each time.

If you are doing drills or rigorous practice, you may want a ball basket with dozens of balls. The Picklehopper is a solid one, and the JOOLA Caddy is an elite option.

How often do balls break?

Depends if your group plays hard or soft. Elders and youth may not break balls as often.

If folks are blasting hard shots, a ball may break every couple games. This can add up. That's why buying at least a 12-pack is usually smart! Buying bulk reduces the cost per ball too.

Do I need to be advanced level to use the Dura ball?

Not at all. While it's true that most advanced players use the Dura, or Franklin, it doesn't mean they can't use other balls too. And it doesn't mean new players can't use the Dura.

Novice players might find the Dura to be difficult to control, with crazy spin and pace, but that could be perceived as a good and fun thing just as much as a downside.

It's up to you and what kind of games you want to have. The Dura ball could be fun for any player. It just happens to be the top pick of pros.

Bottom Line

This guide is not a definitive diagnosis, but merely some suggestions. View all current ball deals on Pickleball Central today.

You can and should experiment with all of these balls over time. Our aim is to simplify the choices for you, giving an honest evaluation of each ball's suitability for various players.

We have evaluated almost all pickleballs, ensuring our recs are based on objective criteria and genuine user experience. You can take our info and make your own informed decision!

Hopefully you now have a clear picture of the best pickleballs for your level of play.

Click photos or blue links above to shop pickleballs on Amazon.

When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. It does not affect the price at all. PaddlePal is completely viewer-supported and we will not present a product unless we have researched the market to provide accurate, informed recommendations.


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