Tennis Ball Buying Guide

Tennis Balls Buyer Guide

Shopping for tennis balls may seem fairly straight forward, but you probably have more options than you might expect. We’ll translate the tennis lingo for you so you can be sure you know exactly what you’re buying. To learn more about the different types of tennis balls available and what kind you should use, please review our collected facts and thoughts captured in this Guide to Tennis Balls.


In general, tennis ball manufacturers of the best known brands produce three classes of balls, professional level, championship level, and recreational level. Professional level tennis balls are the highest quality ball of that specific manufacturer, and indeed are often the same balls used in professional tournaments. When you buy a professional level ball, you can expect to get the performance and durability that that brand has to offer. Championship level tennis balls are the next step down, but are certainly sufficient for most league match play and will leave most customers more than satisfied. Recreational balls are typically intended as practice balls for loading up the hopper or ball machine and are not allowed for match play in many leagues. Tennis balls must conform to certain criteria for size, weight, deformation, and bounce criteria to be approved for regulation play. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) defines the official diameter as 65.41-68.58 mm (2.575-2.700 inches). Balls must weigh between 56.0g and 59.4g (1.975-2.095 ounces). Yellow and white are the only colors approved by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and ITF, and most balls produced are fluorescent yellow (known as “optic yellow”) the color first being introduced in 1972 following research demonstrating they were more visible on television.

Why are tennis balls fuzzy?

Tennis balls are filled with air and are surfaced by a uniform felt covered rubber compound. The felt trips the air flow boundary layer which reduces aerodynamic drag and gives the ball better flight properties.

Why are tennis balls numbered?

Often the balls will have a number on them in addition to the brand name. This helps distinguish one set of balls from another of the same brand on an adjacent court. The numbers range from 1-4.

Pressurized Tennis Balls

Tennis balls begin to lose their bounce as soon as the tennis ball can is opened and can be tested to determine their bounce. A ball is tested for bounce by dropping it from a height of 100 inches (2.5 m) onto concrete; a bounce between 53 and 58 inches (1.35 – 1.47 m) is acceptable (if taking place at sea-level and 20°C / 68°F; high-altitude balls have different characteristics when tested at sea-level). Modern regulation tennis balls are kept under pressure (approximately two atmospheres) until initially used.

Extra Duty/Regular Duty/High Altitude

Almost all professional and championship tennis balls are available in extra duty, regular duty and high altitude variations. This may sound complicated, but extra duty is just tennis lingo for ‘hard court balls’, while regular duty balls are for clay or indoor courts. High altitude is fairly self-explanatory, as these balls are better suited to the thin air of high altitude courts.

Extra Durability Tennis Balls

You may have observed the switch to new balls after only seven games into a match while watching pro tennis matches.  During heavy hitting, tennis balls can lose pressure quickly, and that the life-span of a tennis ball is fairly short. Indeed, you would be correct. Most experts say that once opened, a can of balls left at room temperature will become unplayable in two weeks or less. That’s without even hitting them. Wilson ‘s Double Core balls have a synthetic rubber coating on the inside of their typically rubber core, which helps prevent air from escaping. That wouldn’t do much good if the felt wore down at a normal pace, so Wilson fitted the ball with an extra-durable felt layer. Wilson claims that the Double Core balls maintain their bounce twice as long as conventional balls, but feels the same on impact as a typical Wilson ball.

Professional Tennis Balls

Are there any differences between Penn ATP, ProPenn, Wilson US Open, Dunlop Grand Prix, and Prince Tour balls? They are all great tennis balls, with barely any differences between them. If you take a can of each brand, unmarked and change out the balls every couple of games you will not notice the change. Why, because they are pro level balls made to be exacting for tour play. Every single brand will get you reliable play, consistent bounce, and solid performance. It doesn’t matter whether you hit hard or soft, solid or just beginning. It’s that simple. So, what does stepping up to a pro level ball gain a player over the Wilson Championship or Penn Championship balls? Here is the difference between the professional and championship line. The Championship balls represent those balls that don’t live up to all the quality controls each ball has to pass through during manufacturing. They are rejected for the premium line, but this does not mean the balls are necessarily bad, more like they aren’t quite perfect. Therefore, the Championship level balls are going to play well. Users have mentioned that the balls don’t quite bounce exactly the same between cans nor maintain their bounce quite as long as the pro level balls but overall still a decent ball. Any pro would certainly be able to play fine using them and many did growing up while learning tennis. What does all this mean? If you play a lot of tennis, you hit hard and often, then the longevity of pro level ball will save you some money overall as you don’t have to throw them out so often. If you don’t play so much, well, grab what’s on the shelf that you can afford and know that you are still going to have a lot of fun playing.

Pressureless Tennis Balls

Pressure-less balls usually have a stiffer, woodier feel than pressurized balls, and except for the Tretorn brand, do not bounce as high as brand new pressurized balls. Unlike pressurized balls, though, they do not lose bounce over time. In fact, they get bouncier as they get lighter, due to fuzz loss. The balder they get, the more their flight, bounce, and spin response changes from what you would expect of tennis balls.

Tennis Elbow Ease

In the ongoing war against tennis elbow, Dunlop has recently taken the battle to the ball, developing its Dunlop Abzorber tennis balls, which Dunlop claims reduces the impact to the arm by 15%. Needless to say, tennis elbow sufferers should give this ball serious consideration.

How The Grand Slams rule on Tennis Ball Use

Each Grand Slam will provide tennis balls in accordance with the following: 1.Six (6) balls are to be provided for each main draw match and are to be changed after the first seven (7) and thereafter every nine (9) games throughout the tournament. Ball changes and the number of balls used per match shall be the same for all matches throughout the tournament and may be altered only with approval of the Referee in consultation with the Grand Slam Chief of Supervisors. 2.If a ball is lost or becomes unplayable then another may be added as soon as possible for use in play; when there are fewer than four (4) balls remaining, then another ball must be added for use in play. During the warm-up or within two (2) games after a change of ball, a new ball shall be used as a replacement; otherwise a used ball of like wear shall be supplied. Play must be continuous even if a ball needs to be replaced. 3.In case of a suspended or postponed match, the balls used in the warm-up will not be the balls used when play resumes. 4. At least three (3) new balls per day for practice must be available free of charge to each player accepted in the main draw or qualifier from the day prior to the commencement of the tournament until he is eliminated. Any qualifier with a computer ranking may receive practice balls one (1) day prior to the qualifying sign-in. Balls of the make to be used in the main draw tournament are to be available for a reasonable period prior to the commencement of the tournament. Players must return practice balls. Cheap tennis balls can be used for practice play or tennis ball machines.