Musings about a definitive "best" pickleball

I originally posted the following as a response to @PickleballPhil’s post over here: What is the best Pickleball to play with, and why? :wink: but my response was a bit lengthy and I didn’t want to distract from the flow of that conversation. So I’ve split my post out as a blog entry. Here’s a few thoughts I’ve had over the past year as I’ve been getting more entrenched in the world of pickleball…

I love this topic. You can go :100: different directions with it.

One thing is for certain… there’s a lot of rhetoric about what pickleball is best. Dura. Is this just rhetoric? What quantifiable or definitive aspects of the Dura ball make it objectively and unequivocally the “best” pickleball?

I’m not going to suggest that one ball is better than another. Some break and warp easier than others. Some are soft. Some are hard. Some are responsive. Some just die. All of them play a little bit differently. I just want to go deeper than rhetoric to discover if there really is a “best” pickleball out there ツ

Btw… I’m not qualified at all to have a respected opinion on this as I’m only a year into pickleball. But I want to encourage those who are much more qualified that I am to challenge the status quo on this question.

Here’s a personal anecdote to frame my position:

About a dozen years ago as I was learning some new “growth mindset” philosophies and shifting a lot of mental paradigms in my life, I learned something that has stuck with me through the years…

Sometimes people will ask a question or make a statement that seems like there is a definitive answer or that their statement is a definitive truth. It could seem this way because of the way it’s stated, its persuasive nature, or because it just seems like a strong or logical statement.

Try adding “…to whom?” at the end of the phrase or question. This gets you to start opening your eyes/mind to the various ways you can analyze a topic, idea, or position… without personal bias. It helps you to explore a variety of truths that may exist around that a statement or question. :blush:

When I read Phil’s original question, I instinctively attached the phrase I just mentioned… thus making the question… “What is the best pickleball to whom? and why?”

  • What is the best pickleball for someone who enjoys a softer ball and all that entails?
  • What is the best pickleball for someone who likes a harder ball and all that entails?
  • What is the best pickleball to use outdoors, when you live in Utah and are playing when the weather is between 30º and 45º (Dura is the only wrong answer here! :laughing: Unless you don’t mind going through $10 worth of balls for every hour you play! hehe)
  • What is the best pickleball for someone who primarily plays outdoors? (then you could maybe have 10+ variants to this question)
  • What is the best pickleball for someone who primarily plays indoors? (another ten+ variants to this question)
  • What is the best pickleball for someone who plays indoors and likes the challenge of play with a ball that is not responsive and just dies?
  • What is the best pickleball for someone who plays indoors and likes a ball that’s responsive and bouncy and doesn’t become gummy?

Let me be clear on one thing. I’m not being critical of Phil’s question… I just want to go beyond the surface and explore this question objectively.

I feel like this might just be a question of preference. Does anyone agree?

I believe there’s probably a scientific approach to analyzing balls… their density, physical composition, resilience, balance, durability, potential velocity, and a physicist could probably add a few more objective data points here.

Has anyone seen an extensive video analysis on objective data points about pickleball properties? I wonder if there’s any data that validates the points many of us have made, based on our personal observations, experiences, and preferences.

I can appreciate the widely accepted sentiment that better players like Dura balls and that they are the harder pickleball to play with and that’s why the better players like them.

But I can’t help but wonder about the scientific side of this. Is there some proven data that shows that because of certain quantifiable factors, Dura ball is a harder ball to play with, thus making it the “best” ball for professional play?

Does the way a Dura pickleball plays make it better or worse than another? Without adding specific qualifiers to that question, we can’t expect to arrive at a clear, unbiased answer.

There’s no question that different balls create completely different playing experiences. It may just come down to what playing experience you enjoy the most. Do you enjoy a more challenging game? Do you prefer playing with a ball that lasts forever so you’re not going through >2 balls/day? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

You like a challenge and think Dura is the best way to get the best challenge?

Then I challenge you to play with a ball that you don’t like. Get perfect at playing with a ball you hate. I suspect that would take a great deal of skill, to get to that point.

I personally think it’s fun to change things up. This past indoor season we used the Onix Pure 2 indoor balls for the most part. Then Penn came out with their balls. A different experience for sure!!!

Franklink X-26 Indoor Pickleball (blue)
There’s also this other ball that nobody really plays with, but I enjoy trying to change it up…

The blue Franklin X-26 and when I try to bust it out… everyone (including me) agrees to go back to the Onix Pure, after the first game! hahah!

But I can’t help but think about why we switch back… it’s because we PREFER the Onix Pure. It would be a nonsequitur to conclude that the Onix Pure is the “better” ball… unless we agreed upon a clear construct under how we define the ideal or perfect playing experience.

Is the Onix Pure the best indoor ball? I can’t answer that without rhetoric. To me, it provides a unique experience that I enjoy… above all other indoor balls. A majority of people might feel the same as I do. But that’s not a definitive indicator it’s the “best” ball… only that it’s the “most preferred” ball. ツ

I think it would be funny to watch a pro tournament where they had to use the Onix Fuse G2s :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:. It would be a very different playing and spectating experience. Perhaps even a little comedic.

Those of you who think the Dura is the best ball… in the spirit of constructive debate… I’d love to hear more of your sentiment that proves your opinion is not just rhetoric or what has become the status quo.

And watch out… b/c it seems like Franklin is doing a good job of trying to establish a new status quo :flushed:


How much of this “new status quo” is because they can offer the ball cheaper, thus saving tournaments money. Does franklin offer more money? I was interested to see how the franklin ball did in the Florida muggy heat. The ball already gets soft in dry heat, but I’m not sure how it does in wet heat.