Next time you’re at a tournament hanging out with a group of pickleball players from different towns, ask them with a measure of naivety which ball they think is the best. Then sit back and enjoy the fireworks! It’s the ultimate pickleball enthusiast’s conversation-starter and an excellent source of entertainment. Because perhaps no other topic evokes as much passionate debate and opinion-making; in fact, in pickleball circles it is the equivalent of naively (or these days, perhaps stupidly!) asking a group of casual acquaintances at a cocktail party if they lean Republican or a Democrat.
Recently, Pickleball Savings asked a number of the world’s top professional players which ball they prefer. And we found that they unanimously and very quickly point to one ball – the Dura Fast 40 Outdoor. The reasons they gave for choosing this ball are quite interesting and worth relating to you.
The Dura was developed by the original pickleball manufacturer, Pickle-Ball Inc., which was sold in recent years, and more recently the Dura ball was acquired by Escalade Sports which is also the current owner of Onix Pickleball. Dura is the official ball of the USAPA Nationals, the US Open, and most all of the biggest tournaments in the world. Now, in 2020, it is also the official ball of the APP Pro Tour and the PPA Pro Tour. Professional players are now demanding that they play with the same ball consistently and Dura is their choice, so at least at the pro level there is one less variable to worry about from tournament to tournament. Pro players almost always demand to play outdoors or, if indoors, on a court with an outdoor sport-court surface. They don’t like to play on wood gym floors, or rubberized, or smooth concrete – so they almost never play with an indoor ball if competing.
The Dura is a manufactured in a plastic mold. It is made with a relatively heavy wall-thickness which gives it some durability (hence the name) and a heavier weight than most other balls. The 40 holes (again, the name) are milled after the ball is molded. The holes themselves are smaller than an indoor ball and milled in two different diameters which gives the Dura its excellent aerodynamics and characteristic playability.
The Dura ball is not necessarily known for its durability which makes its name an ironic misnomer. They are prone to breaking especially with big hitters in cold weather. And they get out-of-round, again especially with big hitters, and when the ball is warm. Pros and top players are willing to overlook the Dura’s inherent lack of durability because they like how well the ball plays. The Dura is going to play harder and fly faster in cold weather; in warm weather it plays softer and with less flight. A new Dura is going to be slick and smooth, whereas once the surface is roughed-up with play, it lends itself to the players’ ability to impart more spin. Players adjust to the characteristics and temperature of the Dura, sometimes throughout a tournament day when temperatures start cooler then warm during the day.
The Dura has a very unique way that it bounces, one that pro players have come to rely upon. For instance, when a player hits a perfect drop from the baseline, she can rely on the Dura not to bounce too high and become attackable like some other balls. It has the same behavior with dinks. Pros will tell beginners and intermediates that practicing with a Dura will make them a better player.
Are you a ball snob yet? If you are then here’s one last tip – which we will call “advanced” ball snobbery. If you are in a game, and your Dura rolls onto the adjacent court, then keep an eye on it and get your same Dura ball back. Even if they are playing Dura too. Now you know why. The two balls are different.