The ball is fundamental to many different sports. In fact, we wouldn’t be able to play one of the most popular sports in the world—tennis—without it. That’s why choosing the right model is so critical. Certain aspects of a tennis ball are key to pay attention to: the rubber, the presence of air inside and the manufacturing material are all factors that will influence your decision.
Still, we know that picking the right tennis ball is no easy task, since there are many different balls available. We’ve created the following guide to answer all the questions you might have when purchasing your own set of tennis balls. Bear in mind that whichever model you pick will impact your playing experience over time.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Ranking: The best tennis balls on the US market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you need to know about tennis balls
- 4 Shopping Criteria
- 5 Summary
- Tennis balls come in various models, ranges and prices, so picking the right ones can be hard. We’ll go over the fundamental characteristics that a tennis ball should have so you can shop confidently.
- Be sure to define your objectives before selecting specific tennis balls. You should be familiar with the rest of your tennis equipment. Do you like the design of the balls you’ve used before? Do you have room for additional items among your equipment? How much space is available in your tennis bag?
- If you’re looking to select the balls that are best for you, there are a handful of factors to take into account: material, functionality, value and color, to name a few.
Ranking: The best tennis balls on the US market
We’ve picked out the very best tennis balls available on the US market. Whether you’re looking for beginner tennis balls or to add to your existing collection, you’ll find a good variety of choices here. Consider the characteristics of each product, and review your goals before you decide on a specific model.
No. 1: Penn Practice Tennis Balls
Penn Racquet Sports has been making tennis balls and raquetballs since its founding in 1910, so it’s definitely a brand you can trust. In 1973, it was select as the official ball manufacturer for the US Professional Tennis Association.
This yellow three-pack comes in regular and limited-edition versions, and is very popular among tennis pros, beginners and others who use tennis balls, such as physical therapists and dog owners.
No. 2: Penn Championship Tennis Balls Extra Duty
Here’s another great product from Penn. These are the #1 selling tennis ball in America, and on Amazon, so you know it’s a good choice. Choose from sets of 1, 4, 6, 12, 15 and 24 cans with different numbers of balls in each, ranging from 3 to a whopping 72. You can pick the amount that works for you, but there are enough options to meet anyone’s needs.
These tennis balls feature controlled fiber release and natural rubber for consistency and reduced shock. They’re extra duty, so they’re best suited for hard court matches, but will also work well on softer indoor and outdoor courts. This is the official ball of the USTA leagues, another good sign that this product is high-quality.
No. 3: Wilson Prime All Court Tennis Balls
Wilson Sporting Goods is another well-known American sports equipment manufacturer that has made products for a number of sports since its founding in 1913! Tennis players love their rackets, grips, balls and shoes. Wilson is the official ball of the US Open, the Australian Open Grand Slam Championships and the NCAA Tennis league.
This three-ball Prime set features Duraweave felt that performs well on all court surfaces. You’re sure to enjoy extended play and durability with these balls. Choose from three different packs that contain between three and 72 balls, so you won’t need to restock any time soon.
No. 4: Wilson US Open Regular Duty Tennis Ball
These Wilson US Open Regular Duty balls are specifically made for play on clay or indoor courts. They’re perfect for tournament players who want consistent, superior performance every time they play.
The Wilson Regular Duty ball features exclusive Tex Tech Industries felt for durability. They’re USTA and ITF approved. This is one can of three yellow balls. Choose this product if you’re looking for overall quality and affordability.
No. 5: Tourna Mesh Carry Bag of 18 Tennis Balls
Last but not least, check out this awesome reusable TOURNA mesh bag that comes with 18 yellow or limited-edition balls. These pressure-less balls never lose their bounce, and feature extra durable felt. They’re great for tennis ball machines, practicing with friends or playing fetch with your dog.
TOURNA balls are regulation size and bounce to the regulation height. Use the bag for easy transport to and from the court, and then for storing the balls at home. If you’re pleased with the product but want a different number of balls or a bucket rather than a bag, check out the wide variety options from TOURNA available.
Shopping Guide: Everything you need to know about tennis balls
As is clear from our Ranking, there are a wide variety of tennis balls on the market. In fact, tennis balls are one of the best selling balls in the world. However, people have different needs depending on whether they plan to use it as a toy for their dog or for competing in professional tennis tournaments. That’s why we’ve answered the most common questions here.
What exactly are tennis balls?
These small felted balls are used to play one of the world’s most popular sports: tennis. Different variations on the tennis ball are available for you to buy, and you should know the differences between them. It’s important that you pick your tennis balls depending on certain factors.
What kinds of tennis balls are there?
All tennis balls share a set of common features. For example, they don’t have seams, so as not to impact the bounce. The yellow color is standard as well, because it allows you to see the ball on a range of court surfaces. The model you pick may vary depending on the type and speed of the court you hope to play on. Here’s a small table to help you get an idea of the options:
|Type 1||Used on slow courts (clay)|
|Type 2||For medium speed courts (acrylic and carpet)|
|Type 3||Fast courts made of natural or artificial grass|
You may also see slight variations in the weight and diameter of tennis balls. The weight usually ranges from 56 to 59.4 grams. The diameter, meanwhile, ranges between 65 and 68 millimeters. The skill level of the tennis player also plays a role. The table below explains it:
|Soft-core balls||Best for beginners. Lighter, offering greater control.|
|Rubber and felt balls||Good for more experienced players. They are harder and heavier.|
|Pressurized balls||These are the balls used by professional tennis players.|
What are the best tennis ball brands?
These days, many brands make tennis balls, but not all are created equal. In this section, we introduce you to the best tennis ball brands after analyzing the various offers on the market and considering the value of each product. So which one is right for you?
|Wilson Starter||Balls suitable for kids as they transition to conventional balls. They are yellow and orange. Effective on 18-foot courts.|
|Penn||One of the best brands. They have a good bounce and are quick. They are appropriate for pros and mid-level players. Great durability and consistency.|
|Head||Suitable for higher-level players. They are commonly used in tennis schools. Good for grass courts and clay. They are well pressurized.|
|Wilson||Good quality and affordable. Yellow-greenish color. Very nice bounce.|
How do I know which tennis balls are the best?
Before reading this, you might have believed that tennis balls are a basic item, and that buyers don’t need to know about them in order to make a good purchase. However, your experience playing tennis can vary greatly depending on the tennis balls you decide to use. Factors like the ball’s bounce or the way its received will be different from one model to the next.
In fact, we might even say that tennis balls are as important as your tennis shoes or racket. So the first step toward picking a quality tennis ball is reading the label on the package. Doing so allows you to figure out if the model is designed for children, amateur players or professional tournaments.
You’ll see that balls tailored to children usually come in different colors, making them more attractive and fun. Additionally, they will have lower pressure. They are softer, so that they can bounce more while going at a slower speed. The small hairs on the ball—also known as the fuzz—are also longer. This offers a larger contact surface, and the balls don’t go as fast.
The more pressurized a ball is, the more power you can put into it. It’s also important that your ball isn’t missing any fuzz, or else the direction the ball travels in after being hit could shift. Tennis balls also need to be firm enough that they aren’t deformed at all when squeezed.
Which tennis balls are best for beginners?
If you’re just beginning to play tennis, we recommend that you pick slow balls, so you won’t be shocked by the bounce or excessive speed. You should be comfortable and feel confident with your first shots. Balls with less pressure (thick rubber) and a softer core are best for this purpose.
Foam balls, mini tennis balls (children’s) and intermediate balls are also good options for beginners. These balls are recognizable because they’re usually made with a mixture of yellow felt and another color. To summarize, look for a flexible ball that doesn’t have too much pressure. The balls you play with will change as your skill improves.
Which training balls should I use?
Balls designed specifically for training are meant to withstand hours and hours of play, so they don’t wear down while you practice. This type of ball is non-pressurized and has a hard core. To boost their durability, training balls are made from hard rubber and coated with a thin felt layer.
This kind of tennis ball is used for training because it’s very affordable. But training balls aren’t only used in tennis schools—they’re also common in Nordic countries because they can withstand especially low temperatures.
What are pressurized balls?
Pressurized balls are filled with a specific amount of air pressure. The flexible rubber they’re made with means that they’re especially comfortable and dynamic. They are usually covered in thick felt. If you want to surprise your opponent while using these balls, stay away from using flat shots.
If you’re playing on a smooth court, your shots should gain speed. On a clay court, however, they will be slower. Pressurized balls give room for you to make good effects, but they also tend to absorb humidity and may weigh more as their thickness increases. Although this model is the most expensive and has the least durability, they are still the most popular among amateur tennis players.
As you’ve learned, there are many different tennis balls available on the US market. That’s why it’s so important for you to compare various models prior to making a purchase. In the next section, we’ll go through the key aspects that you should take into account before making a final decision. We’re confident these crtieria will help you pick the best tennis balls for your needs.
- Level of play
- Felt and core
- Playing surface
- Ball pressure
- Type of ball
Level of play
Earlier in the article, we displayed in a table how certain brands tailor their tennis balls to certain levels of play. There are high-performance models for professional athletes, and others—usually cheaper and less resistant—for beginners. Be sure you know which ones are suitable for your level.
If you’re an experienced player, look for professional balls. But if you just like to hit the ball around with friends or play as a hobby, beginner or training balls might be best for you. This is a very important factor, so don’t overlook it!
You should always look for balls that are designed to last. Pressurized tennis balls are generally known to have a shorter life cycle, but check each brand for specifics. Some include reinforced rubber liners or additional felt.
Felt and core
The best tennis balls have high-strength felt and a core with high elasticity. These two factors are necessary to figure out how long the product will last. We strongly advise you to begin a match with a set of brand new tennis balls, especially if your goal is to get better shots.
The terminology used to designate which kind of ball is suitable for which surface can be a bit confusing at first. But it’s really just one additional way for you to figure out which tennis balls are appropriate for you. Here are the names and characteristics of each type:
|Regular Duty||Clay and indoor courts. Soft felt but less durability.|
|Extra Duty||Made for outdoor courts. The felt is woven with extra wool to deal with harder surfaces.|
|Special Regular Duty||For grass surfaces. The felt is anti-stain treated so that grass won’t affect the color.|
|High-altitude||These balls are used at altitudes of at least 1,200 meters, since normal balls tend to ‘fly’ at such heights.|
While pressurized balls contain air, non-pressurized models just have a thicker rubber layer. Below are the pros and cons for both types of ball. This is another important factor that shouldn’t be neglected when selecting your very own tennis balls.
|Type of ball||Advantages||Disadvantages|
|Pressurized balls||They’re fast, sensitive to movement and offer superb power when hit. As the most commonly used type, they last a long time and can withstand regular play.||They are more costly.|
|Non-pressurized balls||They’re mostly used for training.||Due to their thick rubber, they’re less reactive and not as comfortable to hit.|
Type of ball
Intermediate balls are made for kids between the ages of 9 and 10. They’re meant to be halfway between balls for children and those for adults. Their bounce is smaller than other standard models. Soft balls are specifically made for children’s tennis training. Foam balls are best for the youngest players, as they are also the lightest.
Tennis balls come in hermetically sealed plastic cans or tubes so that they won’t lose any pressure before you open them on the court. In professional games, a ball is only used for a maximum of nine games prior to being replaced. If it isn’t replaced, small deformations on the surface may begin to affect the playing experience.
Tennis balls have improved significantly in recent years. One quality in particular can make a really big difference when you play: the speed. Furthermore, tennis balls should be made using a single, consistent material, because the stitches of the seams can cause low quality bounces.
If you found our guide on tennis balls useful, please leave us a comment in the section below. You can also share this article with your friends and family on your social media!
(Source of featured image: Fabio Formaggio: 32575824/ 123rf.com)