Wiffle Ball is a great past time, and yet it is one that has evolved. The idea of hitting a small plastic ball with a stick or bat predates even the name wiffle ball, which is actually a brand name. According to the history of the family run company that owns the wiffle ball trademark, the name was inspired by the “wiff” of a player swinging and missing.
Whiffle balls were designed originally as a pitchers ball since the icon oval shaped cut-outs on the ball make the ball curve viciously out of the strike zone when thrown correctly. The cut outs add drag which not only makes the ball curve but has the added benefit of reducing the ball flight when hit and thus making it easier to play on a smaller field.
These days wiffle ball has moved to a generic brand name. In talking with a variety of ball players it can simply mean playing with any ball and bat combination that is primarily designed for smaller fields. These training baseballs and training softball come in a variety of designs, each with their own unique features. Picking the best one is important especially as you consider what space you have to play and train, so checkout the list below before you design your own backyard wiffle ball field.
Wiffle Ball – Best For a Nostalgic Outing
The traditional Wiffle ball is a simple classic, founded in 1953. It is designed as a simple baseball training tool that can cut down on arm fatigue and make it easier to keep a ball in play. It is also durable; one downside of the other balls, without holes or ovals in them, is that they can be rather easy to dent or break if you use the wrong bat. It is tempting to just swing with whatever you have in your hand and a hitter shouldn’t be faulted for breaking a too fragile ball, but at least the iconic wiffle ball is easy to bend back into shape. The best part is that these are cheap to pickup and easy to find as they are carried in the early summer months at a variety of grocery markets, drug stores, and sporting good shops.
Blitz Ball vs. Wiffle Ball
A competitor to wiffle ball, Blitzball was founded originally in 2007. If Wiffle ball is the American classic, then Blitzball is from the steroids era. The ball design is a series of hexagons that allow it to catch the air and bend as much or more than a wiffle ball. Since it is not perforated and since it typically comes with a more weighted bat it will fly much further on average than the same hit from a wiffle ball.
For those with limited space or smaller frames that still want to hit dingers, a blitzball has a much better payoff as the ball flight is more uniform than perforated ones. At the same time a blitzball hit well is still at risk of doing some damage to car paint or even thinner windows.
Since its founding, the blitzball has made a name for itself and grabbed shelf space at a number of retailers. The packs of blitzball are more expensive than wiffle, both online and off. A part of this might be do to the modern toy industry which requires a bigger marketing spend, where as wiffle ball can trade on its strong brand name.
Still, there have been recent years where blitzball has outpaced its older rival in terms of search regularity as seen in the below Google trends summary for the terms. Unsurprisingly both of these terms pop up more in the summer months when the weather throughout the US is more cooperative to playing ball.
Smush balls are a foam style training ball that better mimics the pitched flight of a real ball. The flight is not the same as a seamed heavier ball, but they are significantly closer than both Blitzball and Wiffle balls which are designed to curve aggressively. Smush balls also do what their name suggests when hit, they smush. On the receiving side being hit by a smush ball is less risky than any of the other options on the list and the likelihood of denting a car or scratching paint is much lower with these foam balls.
Impact balls are a blend between a brand name, the SKLZ Impact ball, and a description of other training balls with reduced flight. Most of these look similar to wiffle balls, with holes in the ball to increase drag in the air but the material is different. The material difference makes it more reliable to hit these with a metal or wood bat without risking destroying a $3-$7 investment of a ball. Extra weigh from the rubber material also means that these balls fly much further. For tiny backyard fields this makes them a bad option, but when you have the room to swing away the impact baseball feels much nicer coming off a bat.
Training Ball Style Comparison Chart
There are more than just four types of training balls or wiffle balls that you can play with, but generally they break down in a handful of categories. Each of this exist in various sizes as well, typically standard baseball and softball size but also at even tiny levels. If you really want a challenge pick up a 1.5″ diameter foam ball, like those used in some Nerf guns, and try hitting that!
|Easy To Throw Curves||Durable (Metal Bats)||Good For Home Runs||Cost||Material|
|Wiffle Ball||X||$||Polyethelene Plastic|
|Impact Baseballs||X||X||$$||EVA Rubber|
Is Blitzball better than Wiffle Ball?
If you came here looking for a simple yes or no, unfortunately it is not that easy. Wiffle ball and blitzball offer different experiences. If you are looking for a ball that is good for the smallest field possible the blitzball is going to be a bad option.
On the other hand if you want to throw a variety of pitch types and freeze batters at the plate the blitzball might be a good option. In general, Wiffle ball is good for a less advanced game and Blitzball is best for advanced players looking for another challenge.