Finding the right tennis balls can be a lot harder than it looks. At first glance, you’d imagine it’s as simple as going to the superstore and grabbing a can, checking out, and playing. But, unfortunately, there is a lot more to it. Those days are gone, really. Sure, you can do that, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but there is a whole lot more that you need to know. If you are a beginner, you’ll want a certain type. For tournament play, you’ll want this kind, and for practices you’ll want another. It all depends on you and your level of ability and what you’ll be using them for. With the internet, this process can be even tougher for you because there are just so many choices there to overwhelm you. Today, we’re going to take a look at the best tennis balls on the market in 2019 by reviewing the most popular ones out there. We’ll also be presenting you with a buying guide and answering any questions you might have. Let’s get going!
Top Tennis Balls Comparison Chart
|Name||Type||Court/Surface||Price||Where to Buy?|
|Wilson Prime All Court Tennis Balls||Type 1||Clay/Indoor Court||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Wilson Championship Extra Duty||Type 2||Hard Court||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Penn Championship Extra Duty High Altitude||Type 2||Hard Court/High Altitude||$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Tourna Pressureless Tennis Ball Pack||Pressureless||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Gamma Pressureless Tennis Ball Bucket||Pressureless||All Court Types||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Penn Championship Regular Duty||Type 2||Normal Courts||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Gamma Sports Foam Tennis Balls For Children||Type 2||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
Tennis Balls Buying Guide
Figuring Out Where You Are
A tennis ball is only going to be as good as you allow it to be. In order to get the utmost out of your experience, you have to be able to judge yourself properly. Are you a great player or are you a beginner? There are ratings scales, called the NTRP, that help explain this. It helps you to know what your ranking is so that you will not overestimate yourself and get into some sticky situations as a result. This rating scale tells a lot about where you’re at as a player. If you are low on the list, then you are a beginner or novice. You’re still learning. You don’t need the fanciest balls in the world, but what you do need is something that is super durable. Even if they aren’t perfect and pick up a bit of drag over time, it won’t hurt you that much because you are learning and just need repetitions. If you’re a professional level player, or someone that is going to be in the relatively near future, you can’t settle for anything that isn’t just the absolute best. This means you can’t have a super durable. Pro players usually go through many balls per match and then they don’t even see them anymore. This is because they can’t afford for the ball to be scuffed up in any way. This is why if you watch a match on TV you will see them deliberating over which one to use and which ones not to use for their serves. It’s crucial that they get what they like so it will work for them. They might not last forever, but they are top class. If you’re somewhere in the middle of the two, then you need something else entirely. An intermediate player isn’t going to want to, or likely be able to, throw away their balls after one match. They also, though, need something that can be higher quality than the lower tier ones. This means they need a blend of each. These balls don’t have the consistency level that the pro balls do, but they still help you out a great deal and can make you quite happy.
Types of Balls and Surfaces
To go even further into detail, we’ll now take a look at the different types of balls that can be used as you play on various surface types. The type isn’t all that complicated, and we will keep it short here in this section. Some of the balls you’ll see online will be listed with this, so this will be helpful to you if you do happen to see that displayed.
Type 1 balls are used on courts that are slow. This means they’d be best for clay courts, like the ones that are used in the French Open. The reason this type of ball is used there is because the clay causes the ball to kick up higher. This bounce means that without the right ball, the play would be super slow and points would drag on too long. These balls help to alleviate this a little bit, but by and large the clay court tournaments emphasize players that are extremely agile and have excellent stamina. Case and point: Rafa Nadal and his dominance in France. It just suits him.
Type 2 balls are used for ‘normal’ speed courts. This usually includes the hard courts that are a staple of most places. In almost all cases, unless you are a pro or grew up at Wimbledon or Roland Garros, you’re going to be playing on so-called “pavement.” This surface is very harsh to the balls, so you will have to be careful about what kind you use. Also, you should never assume that one court is the same as the other. There is a lot of variation from one to another, so you should look out for that.
Type 3 balls are the ones that will be used on the fastest courts out there. This is mostly going to be the type that you see used at grass courts, such as Wimbledon. The reason that play is so tough there is because the bounce of the ball comes in at a low angle. There isn’t as much running, even with the correct ball, and you see points won on power a whole lot of the time. This is just a natural occurrence and byproduct of the surface type that you have to look out for.
Altitude is another thing that has to be mentioned here in this section. If you are playing some place that is high up in the mountains, you will need something a little bit different in order to have a sufficient game. Ever watched a baseball game at Coors Field in Denver on TV or even in person? The players hammer the ball out of that park like it’s nothing. That’s because they don’t change the ball from the regular one used. This is what would happen if you didn’t get a ball that is meant for high altitude in tennis. It makes it almost impossible for players to return serves and other good, high velocity shots as well. A pressurized ball is the kind here that gets greatly effected. However, if you want to use a pressureless ball, then it won’t happen to them because of the way it is constructed.
Pressureless Balls and Their Pluses and Minuses
A pressureless ball can be a god send for some players out there, though it is not for everyone. If you are a player that practices a ton, or if you play at altitude, this is a very viable contender for you to take a look at. Pressureless balls are great for practice because they retain their shape for a very long time, and thus are quite consistent. They are also great in conjunction with tennis ball machines, so if you are playing a lot of hours with a machine, that’s going to be what you want to use. The only time pressureless balls ‘go bad’ is when the felt starts to wear off. Other than that, they don’t lose their ‘pop’ like a normal ball would naturally do over time. You don’t have to worry about keeping them in place until you are ready to play, unlike balls that are pressurized, and that is another thing that will encourage recreational players and those that hit a ton of balls to buy them.
How exactly do they work? Pressureless balls work because the rubber shell exterior that they used makes them bounce. This is in stark contrast to balls that are pressurized. Pressurized balls used pressure, as the name implies, to give them the bounce. They thus end up losing that bounce over time, and they don’t give you the same bite that you need consistently. However, there are some things to look out for. Some players just don’t like the feel or pressureless balls that much. They would rather have the more ‘natural’ type. They are harder and heavier, too, and this feel just doesn’t cut it for some out there. The choice is up to you, but you will have to take a lot of factors in account. If you’re just practicing a lot as a beginner, you’re going to definitely want to get them unless you are on a rather large budget. You’ll also want to make sure you have them in the event of the tennis ball machine being your best friend as those don’t cause it to malfunction nearly as often.
Before moving on, it is important to point out that a pressurized ball begins to lose its ‘goodness’ when you take it out of the can. The can keeps pressure upon the balls, and when it is opened it’s just like a bottle of soda. If you open soda and leave it sitting for three weeks in the fridge, the taste is going to be awful. The bounce of your tennis ball isn’t going to be nearly as good, either, after you have let it sit around for an extended period of time. If you do open the container, you should use the balls right away and get as much use out of them. The level of play will diminish over time, but it should be adequate for a decent stretch.
Price Points and Ball Varieties
Depending on the price you want to pay, there are a wide range of options to choose from. Ball manufacturers have designated three different types of names that they apply to their balls: Recreational, Championship, and Professional. These three kinds of balls are pretty self explanatory to figure out.
A recreational ball is meant for players that don’t play all that often. Because they don’t play that much, the general feel of the ball isn’t going to be all that important because it’s just mostly for fun between a friend or two. This type of ball is the cheapest amongst the ones that are readily found, so you won’t be breaking your wallet in half by buying them. Recreational balls are also good for practice, too, because if they are end up losing their edge or getting destroyed in some way, then they don’t cost you all that much. Even players that are not beginners could find these useful as they are very easy to find and can do a job for you.
A Championship ball is one that is meant for use in tournaments- which are oftentimes referred to as Championships in tennis. This type of ball, though, can be used by more than just pros, contrary to what the name might imply to you. Really the name is there to help them stand out against recreational ones. This more glamorous name is also good for league play, too, because they have increased feel over the recreational ball. Sometimes, this type will last longer, sometimes they will not. It really just depends on what brand and what you are using them for. The price is a bit higher than recreational balls, and in most cases it should last longer than the aforementioned type.
A Professional grade ball is one that the pros would use to play in TV and the such. This doesn’t mean that Joe Schmo can’t use them, but it just means that they are of a higher quality than the other two main kinds. Your local leagues and tournaments might even require the use of balls such as these, so it just really depends upon the rules and regulations that they’ve set aside for play. This type is made from the very best materials and will end up setting you back more than a regular ball would. However, you might be a little surprised to learn that the durability is not going to be as good with them. That is because they have less forgiveness. You just can’t have everything, so you have to pick and choose. If premium feel and responsiveness is what you want, this is the right choice for you.
Regular and Extra Duty
These are two more terms to add to your ever-increasing list of vocabulary to know about tennis balls. Hang in there, it’s really not that bad, we promise! Regular duty and extra duty are very much related to the terms we have looked at before, and it’s just a way that manufacturers can make their products stand out and help you pick what you need. A regular duty ball is one that you would want to use in a clay court setting or on an indoor court. Indoor courts tend to be softer than outdoor ones, so that is a good idea for you to go with. An extra duty ball is best for either grass or harder surfaces. They can take that pounding a little bit better than normal regular duty balls would be able to do so. The main thing that is different between them is just the felt. Extra duty balls have more felt, making it thicker and better to resist those abrasions. You can use regular duty balls on outdoor courts, and many do indeed do that, but they will probably not give you the same level of durability as extra duty ones. In major tennis tournaments, the men and women use divergent balls. In most Championships, men would use a regular duty ball. It’s got less bounce and thickness to it, and it makes the game more fun to watch. Women use extra duty so that they can hit the ball a bit harder. At Wimbledon, though, both men and women use the same type- regular duty- because of the grass surface being a pretty good equalizer.
Best Tennis Ball Reviews
Wilson Prime All Court Tennis Balls
Kicking off the list is a good general use ball from Wilson, one of the leaders in this sector. This ball is approved by the US Tennis Association and has a durable felt makeup to it. Each pack comes with three balls, and you have a choice of how many cans to buy. They will begin to go bad once you open the pack, so be careful and make sure not to do so until you are ready to play. Coming in at a very reasonable price, this is a good set for beginners and players that don’t want to spend way too much. They do a very good job on clay and in indoor conditions, so the versatility is the biggest thing that people are happy with, especially for the price. Once the pop is worn out with these, they are pretty much done, so that is the biggest bummer associated with them.
- Good for different court types
- Low price is very nice
- Durable for the price
- Big drop off after initially losing its pop
Wilson Championship Extra Duty
If you’d like something a little more heavy duty, then the Championship Extra Duty is the place to turn to for you. They do cost a bit more, but the thing with these is that they are proven to be a great quality that is used by a lot of college programs. The extra duty makes them great for those hard, harsh courts that are so common in the USA, and when you combine it with the durable felt, it gives you even better durability than the previous selection did. You can also use them quite effectively in tournaments as well as just fooling around and practicing, making them a good one to turn to in those situations. Being able to last on the harder courts is a big deal, so you should consider them for that purpose. They do wear out pretty quickly, though, compared to pressureless, so keep that in mind.
- Great for hard courts
- Still a durable choice
- Pretty good price and can be used in tournaments
- Not as durable as pressureless
- Loses its edge quickly
Penn Championship Extra Duty High Altitude
If you’ll be hitting a hard court and playing at elevation, this is the choice that looks to be your best bet. The extra duty felt means they won’t wear out as quickly, while the ball is engineered to bounce less in order to allow you to actually play a viable match. Furthermore, this is a set that can be used in tournaments, so it’s a step up from the recreational level and will have better feel because of that as well as good durability, too. Using wool fiber along with the felt, it reinforces the balls and makes them even stronger. The price is quite good as well, and one feature that it also has is a reduced shock. This makes it consistent and will allow you to play without too many little niggles. One huge problem they have is that the smell once you open the can, so be aware and do so outside.
- Good price
- Great for high altitude
- Holds up on hard courts
- Has a terrible smell
- Loses pressure quickly when cold
Tourna Pressurless Tennis Ball Pack
If you’re looking for something to practice with, then Tourna has you covered here. You can use these along with a tennis ball machine, and you won’t have to worry about replacing them until you have knocked the felt off! They do come in a pack of 60, but they are affordable and need to be considered. Because of the pressureless makeup, they are able to last a lot longer than ordinary balls. They won’t offer you the same kind of feel as normal balls will, to be fair, but you do get consistency with them, which is a major factor that has to be present if you are going to improve as a player. Also, they are a regulation size, which has not always been the case with balls of this variety. Like the Penn offering before, these have a very chemical smell to them, so watch out for that. Also, quality control is a bit lacking with them, so some of them are better than others out of the pack.
- Good price for a ton of balls
- Very durable
- Good for machines
- Terrible smell with them
- Quality control is a letdown
Gamma Pressurless Tennis Ball Bucket
In the same vein as the Tourna comes Gamma here with another offering of pressureless tennis balls. Only this time, they come in a bucket, which can come in handy when picking them up and transporting them to and fro. They come in a pack of 48, and have an even better price than the Tourna, while giving you the same sort of durability levels as the previous listing. Because of that durability, these are ideal for practicing with. Not so much tournaments or matches, however. They are also good on just about all court types because they are consistent and don’t change all that much compared to their pressurized counterparts. The feel of them is a lot different than what many players are used to, so it does take some time to get used to. They also have some quality control issues, with some being softer than others, so that is another disappointment. Also, the felt is not the best, so those that hit with spin might lose see it peel off quicker.
- Excellent price
- Durable and good for practice
- Bucket is a great addition for carrying
- Felt peels off with spin applied
- Feel is off
- Quality control is lacking
Penn Championship Regular Duty
If you want something that will do you well on normal courts, then this is another good option to go with. The Penn Championship line is already a good one and it’s quite affordable, too, with these coming in very cheaply in a 36 pack. They are pressurized, so you will have to watch out when you open each individual can. You should wait to do that until you are ready for play. These balls have elastic seams in them that help them to withstand the elements and to help prevent them from cracking. They also use that wool fiber to make them last longer than ordinary regular duty balls. Keep in mind that they won’t do quite as well as most extra duty balls when it comes to hard courts outside, but that doesn’t mean they will do an awful job by any means. Be careful because colder weather does take a toll on them and makes them wear out faster, so just know that you and you should be good to go.
- Good price for a lot of balls
- Does well inside and on clay
- Won’t crack and holds up well
- Won’t be as good on outside surfaces that are hard
- Cold weather isn’t good with them
Gamma Sports Foam Tennis Balls For Children
If you want something for a junior player to be able to practice with and improve upon, then this is a good idea for them. Gamma allows them to get better without having to worry about big, unfair bounces going over their heads with these. There are three different choices, presumably for the three stages of development, though it is a little bit lacking on information and a little frustrating there. Because they are foam, they are going to be very durable and will hold up well to a lot of abuse, which they will surely be taking when kids are involved. Proper handling is required with ‘regular’ balls, but these can take more improper usage than those. It’s really cool, too, that they have went with a softer core instead of a harder one. It means the young player can get that feel off the racquet that comes with a normal ball but without the high bounce. They’re also a bit bigger, so that is also a help for training tools. The price is a little high, so be prepared for that.
- Great to train kids with
- Won’t bounce much but jumps off the racket
- Three choices to pick from
- Price is high because of foam
- Won’t bounce as high, so not good for normal players
Conclusion And Final Tennis Balls Recommendations
With so many companies in the market and the internet being such a prevailing presence in our lives, the number of tennis balls available to you has never been greater. With so many to pick from, finding the right one for you can be so difficult if you don’t know where and what to look for. However, after our guide today, as well as our FAQ’s below, you will be able to rest assured that you have a much more complete, all around knowledge of tennis balls. You’ll now be able to find exactly what you need and you’ll be able to do it much, much quicker than ever before. See you on the court!
FAQ’s About Tennis Balls
Can I Use a Color Other Than Green For My Ball?
Yes, you can do so, but you most likely will not be allowed to do so in official play. The only colors that are considered ‘OK’ to use in tournaments are green, the traditional color, and white. Other colors are not intended for tournament play. There are other colors that you will see if you spend a lot of time around tennis courts, with the most prevalent being red. However, red is used to help junior players get up to speed with their games. This is totally fine for learning, but they will not be using that color for long. Those balls are a little bigger than the orthodox ones, thus they need the alternate color to differentiate them from the ‘regular’ balls.
What Are The Stages for Kids?
We hinted a little above, but there are three stages for kids. The first stage, known as Stage 3, sees them use red balls. The age range here is from five to eight. At this age, they can play on a much smaller court, 36 feet, in order to get a grasp of it. These balls don’t bounce as high, they are slower when you hit them, and also, of course, are bigger. Stage 2 comes between the ages of eight and ten years old, when they can use an orange ball. This is to be used on a 60 foot court. While the court is bigger, they still don’t bounce as highly as a normal ball would, and they are also slower as well. Stage 1, then, is green balls and is intended for players between nine and 12. They play with them on a 78 foot court. This type is the same size as the standard balls you usually see, but they still have a little less bounce and are a bit slower, allowing the junior player some time to transition into the full game.
Why Are Tennis Balls Yellow?
Tennis balls are the fluorescent yellow we have all grown accustomed to for a very good reason. Research has been done to determine that this color is best for players to help them pick up the speed and flight of the ball when it’s being hit at a high rate of speed!
Are Tennis Balls Still Changing?
Yes, they definitely are. Unlike with tennis racquets, the tennis ball still just keeps on evolving over time. Companies are getting better and better at making slight changes to them that give them major improvements, and that doesn’t seem to be slowing down. In some areas of sports, we are seeing this occur, while in others there just isn’t much development. Tennis is still very much in an age of evolution, at least with the tennis ball, so it might be time for you to get on the hunt for a new ball to play with if it’s been a year or longer since you took a look at them.
Are There Balls That Help Arm Pain Much?
Really, there aren’t that many out there, at least as of yet, that are able to effectively absorb shocks to the arm. Some attempt to do so, and they claim to help by 10-15 percent, but that’s a pretty low number. If you’re playing with a heavy hitter, it can be uncomfortable. An elbow or wrist brace, whichever you need, or just refraining from play so much, might be the only answers for you. You can try balls that absorb more, but the effects aren’t going to be as great as you’d like them to be.
What Is Tennis Elbow?
Many people might fear that tennis elbow is going to happen to them right away when they begin to play tennis, but this is simply not the case. Tennis elbow is actually a bunch of small injuries that add up over time. Basically they are stress fractures in your elbow. You can try out balls that are more absorbant to help curb this, but the truth of the matter is that most of the remedies for this debilitating injury are only good after the fact. And even then the amount they help is marginal for many. If you experience great pain and have just begun playing, it could be that you hyper extended your elbow. While this is a different injury entirely, it’s pretty serious. Try not to bang your joints if at all possible!
Is The Ball Different For Men and Women?
Yes, the ball is different, at least at the highest levels of play. Women use a faster ball (think Type 3) in order to be able to play harder and more aggressively against one another. Men actually use a slower ball so that no one is able to jam the ball in too fast, thus making it a very boring serving showdown between two massive Goliaths.
Are Tennis Balls Supposed to Bounce At A Certain Height?
Yes, they are. Tennis balls are mandated to bounce around the mid 50s (inches) when you bounce them from a height of 100 inches. This is done so that they are all pretty much uniform and that matches are fair. Without this, you could go from one part of the country to the next and end up playing a totally different type of tennis than you are used to playing. High altitude balls do not bounce as high, because they have to offset for the extra distance that comes with elevation, but it’s not a major difference. Balls for kids also bounce less, because you don’t want them getting bounced over their heads and discouraging them from playing.
Is There Anything to Help Balls Retain Pressure?
There are actually products available now that will help balls keep their original pressure when you are not playing. When you buy a pack of balls off the shelf, you don’t see this feature. As soon as you open the can, it’s gone. You can’t just put the top back on and expect it to work. It’s just storage at that point. One such company that offers a product like this claims their tube will work for an entire year. You could give this a try, but more research would be required before we fully recommended it to you.
What About My Dog?
In the event you are here because you want to find a ball for your dog, you should be looking for something high quality. The reason why is because lower quality and very cheap ones wear out quickly. Extra duty balls are ideal for dogs, as they can’t chew through them as much. Also, be very careful to not get anything with foam, as it will be torn to shreds by the dog and will leave you in a mess. In general, latex is the only thing that could potentially cause a canine to get sick.