This blog post is fertile ground for double entendres. I am going to resist the temptation, but feel free to comment however you like.
I suspect that, like most of you, I am tired of balls going out of round and/or cracking after only a short period of play. Because I am an instructor, I go through a lot of balls, more than I would like to.
When we first started playing nine years ago, we played mostly in an indoor facility that had poor lighting and balls that were not that great. The balls had strange colors, like light brown or dirty yellow, but, I suppose, because there were so few people playing (it was sometimes hard to get four people together) the facility didn’t invest much in balls.
So I, thinking I was doing everyone a favor, I bought a bunch of Jugs indoor balls. Oh, the outrage! “We can’t play with these. They’re too soft!” (I later discovered that another indoor facility used Jugs exclusively).
Anyway, it seems that pickleball players have strong opinions about the balls they play with.
My favorite ball had been the Diadem Premier Power Pickleball Ball, which Diadem says is the “official ball of Power Pickleball, the fastest growing pickleball competition encompassing leagues, tournaments, and clubs.”
Well, I have never heard of Power Pickleball, so I don’t know what that is all about.
Anyway, the reason I liked the Diadem ball is that it seems to last forever. The reason for this is, in my opinion, the Diadem ball is a bit softer than most of the other balls that get used at my club and other area clubs. However, when I have tried to use them in a game, most players would complain about that softness, saying my favorite ball is the (pick one-Franklin X, Dura Fast 40, or the Engage pickleball balls).
Here is my take on some of those balls (my opinions).
- The Dura Fast 40 Pickleball is a heavy ball, weighing 0.92 ounces. It plays great for a while, like a couple of games, but gets out of round quickly. In temperatures under 50 degrees or so, it cracks frequently.
- The Franklin X weigh approximately 0.88 ounces, lighter than the Dura. It does not get out of round (not that I have noticed at least), but it cracks frequently. I’m not talking about a tiny crack you know is there and have to search to find, but a crack that covers 1/3 of the circumference of the ball. A BIG crack. On the plus side, it’s easy to tell when the ball is cracked.
- The Engage Tour pickleball ball is a ball that you cannot crack no matter how hard you try. It is great for training beginners, but advanced players don’t like it because it is HARD. There is not a great amount of feel to these balls. Good for a ball machine, though.
What about other balls? We use the Selkirk SLK in our machine and they are okay for a while. But they get out of round in a hurry. There are times when the ball coming out of the chute and going over the net looks like a knuckleball. Why did we get them? They were cheap. We have a few hundred and toss them out as they get wonky.
So, I decided to try some other balls and consulted the USAPA Equipment Standards manual (which you can see here: https://usapickleball.org/docs/eec/Equipment-Standards-Manual.pdf). I find it interesting that there is nothing in the manual about durability; however, it does say that “the ball shall be made of a durable material molded with a smooth surface and free of texturing.” I guess “durable” is a relative term. Let’s face it – the manual was probably created when there were two or three companies that dominated the market.
I found three manufacturers (one of which makes one of my favorite paddles) and tried out their balls. No, I will not name the companies. These balls all had a common problem – they got out of round after less than an hour. I mean, you go to hit a ball and it bounces sideways away from you, and not from the spin your opponent put on the ball.
I complained (and got refunded). One company sent me an email that read something like this: We have been getting complaints that our balls are going out of round quickly. We discovered that our manufacturer has been providing us an inferior product, not what we ordered. We are looking for a new manufacturer.
I imagine that happens a lot, given where most of the products are made.
After watching a Tyler Loong podcast, one in which he mentioned Crown pickleball balls, I decided to try them. There are a couple of things I like about Loong’s podcast. He seems to get under Tyson McGuffin’s skin, something I find humorous. Don’t get me wrong. I like McGuffin and have been to his camps. I think he has two personas – his on-court persona and his PB persona.
The other thing I like about Tyler Loong is that he promotes Acacia pickleball shoes. He even has his own shoe with that company. Read my review here: https://theadventurousboomer.blog/review-of-the-acacia-tyler-loong-signature-ii-cloud-shoe/
Anyway, we have been hitting with the Crown balls for three days, drilling for a couple of hours, playing skinny singles, and playing a few games of doubles. Even in sub-50-degree weather, the balls have held there shape and have consistency in shape.
Below is a chart that Crown has on its website, and I agree with it (for the most part).
I can’t comment on spin, because I seem to generate the same amount of spin regardless of which ball I use (of those listed above).
So, from now on, I am going to purchase Crown balls when the need arises.
Right now, the balls are $8.99 for 3. If you want a 15% discount, you can use this link https://crownpickleball.store/greghansen14, or this discount code – GREGHANSEN27.
Yes, I get a 15% commission on sales, so clearly, I will get rich in no time whatsoever.