At first glance, a squash ball and ping pong ball appear quite similar – both are small spherical balls used in fast racket sports. But when you look closer, there are actually many differences between the two balls in terms of weight, size, materials, bounce, speed, and ideal use.
Here are 11 ways that squash balls differ from ping pong balls:
- Weight – Squash balls are heavier at 24g vs ping pong’s 2g.
- Size – 40mm diameter squash ball vs 40+mm ping pong ball.
- Bounce – Squash balls have a super high bounce, ping pong balls bounce lower.
- Materials – Squash uses rubber, ping pong is plastic.
- History – Ping pong balls since the 1800s, squash balls from the 1960s.
- Speed – Squash balls reach over 175 mph, ping pong balls only up to 100 mph.
- Serve Speed – Squash serves up to 150 mph, ping pong serves under 100 mph.
- Records – Fastest squash serve is 179 mph, ping pong serve is 83 mph.
- Durability – Ping pong balls break easily, squash balls very durable.
- Brands – Dunlop, Wilson for squash; DHS, Nittaku for ping pong.
- New vs Old – Old squash balls bounce more, old ping pong balls crack.
Read on as we explore all the ways squash balls differ from ping pong balls in depth!
Difference in Weight
The most noticeable difference is that squash balls are far heavier than featherlight ping pong balls. Squash balls tip the scales at 24 grams on average.
In contrast, regulation ping pong balls weigh just 2 grams! This ultra-light weight allows them to float slowly in the air. The heavier squash ball provides more force.
I was amazed the first time I held a ping pong ball after years of squash – it felt hollow, like it might blow away!
Difference in Size
While close in size, squash balls have a slightly smaller diameter of 40mm (1.6 inches).
Ping pong balls are ever-so-slightly wider at 40+mm, roughly 1.57 inches across. Not a huge difference, but noticeable side-by-side.
When I’d switch between them as a beginning player, the ping pong ball looked cartoonishly oversized on the strings compared to the more compact squash ball.
Difference in Bounce
Here’s where they differ most dramatically – squash balls have an extremely lively, high bounce off hard surfaces thanks to their pressurized interior. They compress over 1mm when dropped.
Ping pong balls have a much deader, lower bounce due to the thin plastic. They barely compress when dropped. This controlled bounce suits the back-and-forth exchanges of ping pong.
The ball’s trajectory is drastically different – the squash ball rockets up vertically whereas the ping pong ball floats flat. I had to completely alter my swing angle and follow-through coming from squash.
Squash balls consist of a pressurized nitrocellulose compound interior encased in a smooth rubber exterior shell.
Ping pong balls are made of lightweight celluloid or modern plastics like ABS for the uniform shell. No pressurization – the interior is just hollow air!
The rubber shell gives squash balls their lively bounce. Ping pong balls are designed for floaty control.
History of Both Balls
Ping pong balls have existed since the late 1800s, originally made from ivory or cork sheet. The iconic lightweight plastic balls emerged in the 1900s with the sport’s rise.
Squash balls with pressurized air pockets were developed more recently in the 1960s by Dunlop. Their revolutionary two dot design changed squash forever!
So ping pong balls evolved much earlier as equipment for an established game. Pressurized squash balls are a more modern innovation.
Speed They Travel
The light, bouncy squash ball reaches extremely fast speeds off the racket, over 175 mph for pros!
Ping pong balls move much slower through the air, topping out around 100 mph even on hard smashes from top players. Their floaty nature prevents higher speeds.
It still awes me to watch squash pros crush the ball at almost double the max ping pong pace! You have to be lightning quick.
How Fast is a Serve?
- Squash players hit serves from 120-150 mph pace on average.
- Ping pong serves reach 50-80 mph at most, and usually float slower.
The heavy squash ball carries great speed even on serves. The ping pong ball has a slow, floating trajectory by design.
My arm was relieved at the slower pace transitioning to ping pong from squash! It’s a more controlled speed.
What is the World Record Speed of Both?
- The fastest squash serve is an incredible 179 mph set by Australian Cameron Pilley in 2018.
- For ping pong, the Guinness World Record belongs to jump serve expert Ron Brooks who clocked an 83 mph serve in 2014.
So there’s almost a 100 mph difference between the fastest recorded serves! Squash balls are sixth gear speed, ping pong is more second gear.
How Both Compare to Balls from Other Sports
Squash and ping pong balls travel at hugely different velocities:
- Squash balls – 175+ mph potential
- Ping pong balls – Under 100 mph
- Tennis balls – 150+ mph serves
- Baseball – 105 mph off bat
- Golf balls – 205+ mph drives
The super-light ping pong ball prevents it reaching speeds anywhere near other sports. Squash can rival golf and tennis for sheer pace!
The Best Makes of Balls for Either Sport
For squash, Dunlop’s Pro double dot ball is arguably the world’s most popular. Other leading squash ball brands include Wilson, Head, Prince, and Pointfore.
With ping pong, DHS, Nittaku, Butterfly, and STIGA are top manufacturers trusted by professionals. I like DHS D40+ 3-star orange balls for recreational play – durable yet fast like the pros!
You can’t go wrong with Dunlop squash or DHS ping pong balls in my experience.
Best Ways to Store or Maintain the Balls
Ping pong and squash balls need opposite care:
- Ping pong balls crack easily, so avoid extreme temperature fluctuations. Don’t leave in a hot car! Rotate balls frequently.
- Squash balls hold their pressure well for months as long as they’re kept at room temperature and not overheated.
So fragile ping pong balls require more active replacement before cracking occurs. Squash balls practically look after themselves!
How a New One Compares to an Old One
Amazingly, squash balls improve for the first month as the materials settle in. Old balls bounce a touch higher than brand new.
But ping pong balls deteriorate quickly, losing their bounce consistency as the plastics break down over weeks of play. Old balls may crack suddenly on hard hits.
It’s satisfying to control a worn-in squash ball. With ping pong, I’d nervously eye old balls, not knowing when they’d break!
Despite appearances, squash and ping pong balls have dramatic differences in their weight, speed, bounce, composition, and ideal maintenance. This shows they’re engineered for very different sport requirements and playing characteristics.
Understanding these contrasts helps select the right ball for your playing style and chosen racket sport. While cousins in shape, their designs diverge – from the featherlight ping pong ball to the supersonic squash ball and everything in between! I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for the science and engineering behind these spheres.