The History of Pickleball Balls

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We all know the History of Pickleball. But what about the History of Pickleball Balls? We all know that Pickleball is a ping pong, tennis and badminton mash up that has frankensteined these popular games together. But there is a baseball connection too…

Let the Bros take you through the History of Pickleball Balls

Let’s kick it in.


The History of Pickleball Balls

The History of Pickleball tells you that in 1965, Joel Pritchard, Barney McCallum and Bill Bell first used a Wiffle Ball when creating the sport. Then they moved onto the Cosom Fun Ball, which slowly evolved into the Pickleball ball we all know and love today.

But the Wiffle Ball they used in 1965 is way different to what we call a Wiffle Ball today. And you can understand the reason why the Original Wiffle Ball wasn’t quite right for Pickleball.

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Let’s take a look at the first evolution of the Pickleball Ball.

The Original Wiffle Ball

The Wiffle Ball was invented by David N. Mullany in 1953, when he designed a ball that curved easily for his 12 year old son. The game of Wiffle Ball was developed as a miniature version of baseball. Over the years it gained popularity and became a competitive outdoor sport.

The original Wiffle Ball is a unique ball. One side of the ball is solid plastic without any holes. While the other side has 8-10 oval shaped holes and the ball is softer than a Pickleball ball. The ball is designed for baseball pitches. And it is still used today as a practice ball to throw curve balls and spike balls.

The Original Wiffle Balls also weren’t very durable and had a lot of flexibility within them. It wasn’t long before the Pickleball creators soon looked for better alternatives.

And the second evolution of the Pickleball Ball took place, and it lasted longer than most people think.

The Cosom Fun Ball

The Cosom Fun Ball is a toy from the 1950’s and is often considered a pre-cursor to the modern wiffle ball. It was found to be “more durable and provide a better playing experience”.

The Cosom Fun Ball is also the size of a baseball and was designed for “safe play in city environments”. It has evenly spaced holes around the ball and this design was later used for the modern version of the Wiffle Ball (the version we all know). You can see why this more balanced ball was preferred to the Original Wiffle Ball.

It is interesting to note, the Cosom Fun Ball was being used in Pickleball tournaments as late as 2013. Unfortunately the balls bounced too high, and they could not withstand “hard play”, as documented in this Pickleball Central post from 2017.

“In hard play, most balls would not last a single game before breaking at the seam. The boxes of broken balls at the conclusion of the tournament would have filled a mini van! Achieving great performance and lower bounce may prove a significant challenge for Jugs and Onix.”

USAPA Reapproves Jugs Pickleballs – Pickleball Central

This post captures some interesting history on the USAPA and Pickleball balls. It highlights the challenges players and manufacturers faced in 2017 to design the perfect pickleball ball that we use today for indoor and outdoor play.

Speaking of the USAPA, we move onto our third evolution of the Pickleball Ball.

The USAPA Approved Pickleball Ball

Barney McCallum, Pickleball Co-Inventor started the Pickle-Ball Inc, Pickleball paddle manufacturing company in 1972. As Pickleball grew, so did the organisations around the game, all looking to grow and advance the sport.

In 1984, the United States Amateur Pickleball Association (U.S.A.P.A) was formed and in 1992, Pickle-Ball Inc manufactured pickleballs in-house with a custom drilling machine. And in 2003, the USA Pickleball Association (USPA) was established.

From that point, official rules, tournaments and equipment regulations were implemented, along with the formation of other organisations like the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) in 2010.

With all of these passionate Pickleball organisations in place, the USAPA created an official standard for Pickleball balls. And according to the USAPA Approved Ball List, the first approved Pickleball was the Penn 40, manufactured by HEAD on the 7th of July 2018.

These were soon followed by the Franklin X-26 Indoor balls in Blue and Lime Green, on the 1st of December 2018. Over the years, the Approved Pickleball ball list has continued to grow, as Pickleball balls continue to evolve and improve with the latest in tech. All of the balls must conform to strict Pickleball specifications set by the USAPA and their Equipment Evaluation Committee (EEC).

Check out our post on What Pickleball Balls are used in Tournaments. Learn what are the top 4 Balls you will need to use to play in Pickleball Leagues and Tournaments across the World.

The Future of Pickleball Balls

The next evolution of balls is already taking place in Pickleball world. In November 2023, USA Pickleball announced it’s first certified Quiet product – The Owl by Owl sports. This paddle reduces noise by 50 percent. This quiet category of Pickleball equipment will include Pickleball balls, all in an attempt to mitigate pickleball noise pollution.

And no doubt, the biggest brains in Pickleball tech will continue the evolution of the Pickleball ball, with new materials, molds and features.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the history of Pickleball balls is a fascinating story. The storied past of 1950’s toy balls and miniature baseball balls all add to the unique mythology of Pickleball. And because of the tech involved in Pickleball, the balls will continue to evolve.

We hope you enjoyed this post on the history of pickleball balls. Feel free to let the Bros know if you already knew about the baseball connection. Because we surely didn’t, and thought it would be great to share it and the history of the pickleball ball.

Pickle On!

The Aussie Pickleball Bros.


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