Racquetball Balls Buying Guide
Racquetball balls come in a variety of colors, such as blue, red, and black. When I was first starting to play racquetball and didn’t know much about the sport, I assumed all these colors were for purely aesthetic reasons. However, that’s not the case. Different colors indicate how lively or bouncy a ball is. That is, how fast it tends to travel after bouncing off different surfaces on the court or being hit by the racquet. In addition to bounciness, the colors themselves aid in visibility in different lighting conditions. For example, one color can be seen better in artificial lighting inside the court. Whereas, a different color would be better for a sunny day on the outside court.
United States Racquetball Association requires the tournament balls to measure 2.25 inches, so all manufacturers produce balls of that size. And they are all made out of soft rubber. So the size and material are the two things all racquetball balls have in common, regardless of color. Speaking of tournaments, different racquetball organizations continuously make deals with manufacturers to exclusively use particular balls in their tournament. So there is no one type of ball used consistently by all organizations and within each organization it is possible for the official ball to change from time to time.
In addition to choosing color when shopping for racquetball balls, another thing to consider is the number of balls in a container. Racquetball balls typically come either in 2-ball cans, 3-ball cans, or 12-ball jugs. Getting a a 12-ball jug is more cost efficient, since per-ball cost is lower than with the smaller cans. However, you need to understand that all the balls are pressurized inside during production. When they are put in containers, the containers themselves are pressure sealed to keep the balls in equilibrium. Once the container is opened, the balls will begin to slowly lose pressure, even without being used. And of course once you start using the balls, this process is accelerated and eventually the balls lose their initial bounciness and, what people refer to as, go dead.
How much use you get from a single ball is a personal preference. Serious players who also want a consistent bounce out of their balls tend to use a new ball every 3 to 5 games. Some people judge by the visibility of the manufacturer logo on the ball. Once you can’t see it, they switch to a new ball. Beginners who don’t want to keep constantly buying new balls or simply cannot feel much difference between a fresh ball and a dead ball tend to simply use the same ball until it breaks. Depending on your budget, it’s up to you how to deal with this issue. Just be aware that balls do go dead over time and I would recommend not waiting until a ball breaks before switching to a fresher one. Manufacturer logo rule of thumb is a pretty good one.
Here are the different racquetball balls, from the least bouncy to the fastest:
|Black Balls, like these GearBox Black Balls are the slowest of all racquetball balls and are designed to promote longer rallies. For this reasons, these balls tend to be pretty popular with seniors. They also tend to be pretty durable and don’t break as easily as some of the faster balls.|
|Blue Balls, like Penn Ultra-Blue are the most common indoor racquetball balls. They are medium speed and fairly durable, so they are very popular with amateur players. It’s also the official ball for USRA and the Legends Tour.|
|As far as I know, only Ektelon is making these dual-color balls with their Revolution line. These are not very common yet and have only been introduced fairly recently. TO me, they felt slightly faster than blue balls, but not by a lot. But the interesting thing about the two colors like that is you can better see the spin of the ball.|
|Green Balls, such as these Pro Penn Green Racquetballs are one of the fastest balls for indoor play. They are almost as fast as the Purple balls, but are more durable than Purple ones. If you are looking for fast and intense rallies, these balls are for you. They are official balls for USA Racquetball.|
|Purple Balls, such as these PURPLE PRO PENN HD Racquetballs are the fastest racquetball balls for indoor use. It’s the official ball of IRT and the most common balls used at professional tournaments. So if you want to know what pros use, get a can of these. However, what I found is that these balls are not very durable and don’t last very long. It’s not a problem for pros, since during tournaments a fresh ball is used for every game. But if you find like these balls, but find them breaking too frequently for your tastes, I suggest you switch to green ones. Although they are not as fast, they are still pretty comparable to purples, but much more durable.|
|Red Balls, such as these Ektelon Fireball Racquetballs are the fastest racquetball balls overall. They are designed for outdoor use and provide better visibility in sunlight and more durability being hit against concrete courts. These are official balls of World Outdoor Racquetball (WOR) tournaments. Although these are idea for outdoor use, some people do play with them indoors for particularly intense rallies. They are certainly fun to play with for their speed, though they are kind of tough to see indoors, since white (walls), brown (floor), and red (ball) tend to blur together at high speeds.|
Pink Balls are only made by Wilson with their Wilson HOPE Racquetballs line. They were introduced together with the rest of their Hope line of products. Part of the proceeds from the sale of these products are donated to breast cancer research. These balls are as fast as red ones, but actually provide much better visibility. So if you want to play with the faster racquetball balls indoors, I suggest you pick up some pink ones instead of red.
So that’s an overview of the variety of racquetball balls available on the market today. If you are completely new to racquetball and want to get a feel for majority of these options, one economical way of doing that is by picking up Penn Giant Variety Jug. It has 3 of purple, green, blue, and red balls.