Started one summer in 1965 when no one could find a shuttlecock to play badminton, Pickleball got its start using a whiffle ball, a low-set badminton net and solid paddles made of wood. A badminton court and tennis-like rules were combined for this ad hoc family game to be played with two to four players.
The ball is served with an underhand stroke so that contact with the ball is made below waist level (waist is defined as the navel level) in an upward arc from behind the baseline, diagonally to the opponent’s service zone. With a rulebook adopted in 2010, the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) has taken on the role to ensure consistency in rules and regulations wherever pickleball is played.
Section 2.D. of the IFP’s Official Tournament Rulebook addresses the ball.
2.D. Ball Specifications.
The Ball. The ball pictured on the left is customarily used for indoor play and the ball pictured on the right is customarily used for outdoor play. However, all approved balls are acceptable for indoor or outdoor play.
The complete list of approved balls is on the IFP website.
2.D.1. Construction. The standard ball shall be made of durable plastic material molded with a smooth surface and free of texturing.
2.D.2. Size. The official ball shall be 2 ¾ inches (6.99 cm) to 3 inches (7.62 cm) in diameter.
2.D.3. Weight. The ball shall weigh between 0.8 and 1.02 oz (21 and 29 grams).
2.D.4. Bounce. The ball shall have a bounce of 29 to 37 inches (73.7 to 94 cm) when dropped from a height of 75 inches (190.5 cm) onto a concrete floor. Test to be performed at a room temperature of 75 to 80 degrees F (24 to 27 degrees C). (added March 31, 2014)
2.D.5. Hardness. The ball shall have a hardness of 35 to 50 on a Durometer D scale at a temperature of 75 to 80 degrees F (24 to 27 degrees C). (added March 31, 2014)
2.D.6. Design. Spacing of holes and overall design of the ball must conform to the straight flight characteristics required for play. Balls that fly or bounce erratically shall not be used.
2.D.7. Approval. The Tournament Director will choose the tournament ball. Balls approved for play in any IFP sanctioned tournament must be named on the official IFP list of approved balls.
International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) Official Tournament Rulebook – http://ipickleball.org/rules/pbrules-ifp.pdf