This question or a version of this question is something I am asked ALMOST every single day at the courts. What is the best ball to play with? What makes the DURA better? Why do you like something that breaks so quickly? All valid questions so let's get into it! First let’s get to the basics. The DURA FAST-40 Ball produced by Onix is a seamless, one-piece ball that has 40 holes in it (wow, that’s where the “40” comes from!). “Well Franklin has 40 holes in it, what’s the difference?” Good question but the unique difference is the DURA has 20 small holes and 20 bigger holes. This makes for inconsistencies in the bounce and even the impact. With so many spins and speeds in the game of pickleball, you can imagine how hard that would be to play with. So again, why do pros love it so much?
These inconsistencies combined with the hard plastic that makes the ball bounce faster than any other ball is what makes the ball so attractive to the pro player.
Let me explain. Pros typically have the best movement, mechanics, tactics, and overall skill. If I, as a pro, can perform a certain skill over and over again at a high level because my mechanics are so solid, it would seem I can outperform others over a long period of time even if there are variables involved with awkward bounces, outdoor elements, etc. To put it simply, the DURA FAST-40 rewards skill and increases the gap between players of different levels.
The Dura plays faster than any other ball and makes certain shots harder to deal with.
For example, the Franklin X40 is a fantastic ball but it is softer than the DURA. It is very easy to hit a 3rd shot drop and the ball is extremely slow. This type of ball would favor a more defensive player that doesn’t have the complete skill set with a full offensive arsenal.
So pro players want to be challenged to play with an inconsistent ball that rewards players that have a complete skill set. That makes sense. But do they not care that the ball breaks? In short, NO they don't!!! The DURA FAST-40 is the official ball of the APP and the PPA. Getting accustomed to a ball that you will see in tournament play is a must even if that means paying more for the correct product.
So now that I answered your question regarding the DURA, let's get to you! What ball is right for you? That’s a tough question to answer but I will break it down in the following ways:
I have never played pickleball before.
If you have never played pickleball before and you are trying it out for the first time with friends, it does not matter what ball you play with! Don't break the bank! Get any ball at your local sporting goods store and just have fun. Get a feel for the paddle and how it feels to make contact with the ball. Learn the dimensions of the court and what the non-volley zone is all about. The ball should be the least of your concerns.
I am getting into it and want to improve but I am just playing with my friends for now.
You love the game and probably are getting better at it. You should move on from that slow beginner ball and play with something that challenges you more and speeds up the game. A Wilson TRU 32 Ball or equivalent will be your best bet. This moderate ball is durable and consistent. It will allow you to practice your shots with the assurance that there will be a reliable bounce. The plastic is hard enough that the speed will increase and overall will be a great progression for you and your game.
Alright, I am pretty darn good. I play a lot and know what I'm doing. Getting ready to play a few local tournaments soon and see how I do.
At this point, you could go two ways but since you aren’t ready for the big leagues with the APP and PPA, I would suggest you save your money and go with the Franklin X40. The savings could go towards a new paddle! But the Franklin ball is perfect for you. It has 40 holes and it is only slightly softer than the pro ball. It will allow you to work on more aggressive dinking and slowly build up your fast game as well. If you can master this ball, well, we know what’s next!
I'm a tournament player and I want to play with the best. Durability shmurability—let's just play.
Well we know the answer here. If you want to play with what the pros are playing, the Dura Fast 40 is the only answer as of now. Companies like Wilson and others are working hard to come out with a competing ball but only time will tell. Plus certain associations would have to get on board to adopt the ball.