How Long Does a Pickleball Last? The Answer May Surprise You.

Many new pickleball players are curious about how long does a pickleball ball last. Pickleballs are quite durable and can be played with for a considerable amount of time. However, like all things in life, pickleballs do not last forever. And since you are only playing with one ball per match, it is important that you are not using a ball with any defect. Let’s look at a few things that can take your pickleball ball out of the game.

Cracks Kill Pickleballs. Any type of crack in the pickleball ball is a complete deal breaker, and it should be disposed of immediately. 

Now you might be wondering, can pickleballs be recycled?

Technically, pickleballs can be recycled. But since they are often produced from low-density polyethylene and contain several different polymer types, melting at different temperatures, they can be difficult to recycle. Many players choose to take out-of-commission balls and turn them into pickleball art.

Warped Balls Ruin the Game. A pickleball must be round. If the ball takes on any type of oval shape or contains any lump or bump, it should be removed from play. These types of pickleball defects can cause all sorts of problems during gameplay, including unintended direction changes and odd bounces.

how long does a pickleball ball last

Firm Balls, No Mush. Both indoor and outdoor pickleballs have different types of malleability. If a ball feels like it is not giving a true bounce or feels dead off of your paddle, squeeze it with your hand and thumb to see how it feels compared to a new ball.

Ball Discoloration. OK, this reason to remove a pickleball ball from play might be a little picky. But I enjoy playing with a ball that still has the sheen it was manufactured with. The brighter the ball, the easier it is to track and hit. There’s even a new 2023 pickleball rule that players must avoid wearing clothing that closely matches the ball color. See, color counts! And if I’m being honest, I despise playing indoors with pink balls. I find them hard to see, and the slight delay in ball recognition hurts my game (at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

There is no definitive answer as to how long does a pickleball ball last; there are far too many factors such as temperature, the force of contact, paddle type, etc. In Pickleball Rookie’s opinion, at around the 3.5 level, a pickleball ball should not be used for more than a dozen games.

Wondering how you can make a pickleball ball last longer?

  1. Avoid Hitting the Ball on the Ground
    One of the best ways to make your pickleball ball last longer is to avoid hitting it on the ground. When you hit the ball on the ground, it puts unnecessary wear and tear on the ball, which can shorten its lifespan. If you find yourself hitting the ball on the ground frequently, try practicing your shots so that you make contact with the ball in mid-air instead. Also, consider avoiding bouncing the pickleball before you serve and fit it on a fly.
  2. Use a Softer Pickleball Paddle
    Another way to prolong the life of your pickleball ball is to use a softer paddle. Softer paddles are less likely to damage the ball when making contact, which will help it last longer. If you are unsure what type of paddle to use, ask a pickleball coach or another experienced player for guidance. In general, a softer paddle will give you more control and less power.
  3. Store the Pickleball Properly
    When you are not using your pickleball ball, be sure to store it properly. Pickleball balls should be stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Additionally, make sure that the ball is not stored near any sharp objects or under anything heavy. By taking proper care of your ball when you are not using it, you can help to ensure that it lasts as long as possible.

How often do you replace your pickleballs? Please share your thoughts on when a pickleball ball should be discarded. I love learning this great sport together!

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