How to choose your tennis balls?
Round, yellow, made from rubber and covered in a fluffy felt, the wide range of tennis balls available all look fairly similar but can vary considerably in terms of performance. Therefore what are the differences between them and how do you choose the right tennis balls?
Stage balls are designed to introduce new players to tennis. They look distinct from regular tennis balls and offer considerably different performance characteristics.
Stage One balls are the softest variety of tennis balls, and are designed for children aged 6 and under. Some stage one balls will be made from foam whilst others will be made in the traditional form of rubber covered with felt. The performance of the ball is specifically designed for young children, especially in terms of the softness. This means the ball bounces at around 25% of the height of a regular tennis ball, ensuring the ball does not fly over the child's head after bouncing. This softness also means that the impact of the ball on the racket does not damage a child's wrist. Stage one balls are often available in a range of eye-catching colours designed to encourage children trying the sport for the first time.
Stage Two balls are designed for children under the age of 10 who have graduated from stage one balls. The performance characteristics again are tailored to meet the needs of young players, with the bounce height of the ball twice that of a stage one ball or 50% that of a standard ball. The ball is half yellow and half orange in terms of design, making them easy to identify.
Stage Three balls are designed for children from the age of 10 upwards and adult players taking up the game for the first time. These balls are ideal for any player looking to improve their technique, thanks to the fact that the ball is slightly slower through the air than a regular tennis ball and the bounce height is 75% of a regular ball. These factors offer developing players more time to reach the ball and think about their shot, making rallying easier than with a normal ball. Stage three balls can be identified thanks to the green spot painted onto the felt.
Adult players who have mastered their technique or are playing competitively will look to play with standard tennis balls. However, within this category of tennis ball, there are also further varieties, with the biggest distinction being between pressureless balls and pressurised balls.
Pressureless balls are designed with thick rubber walls and no internal pressure. Designing a tennis ball in this way helps create a durable, long-lasting ball ideal for training with or for occasional players looking for a ball they can use whenever they play. Balls that are available individually are usually pressureless balls.
Pressurised balls by contrast are designed with thinner rubber walls, though they still manage to achieve the same bounce thanks to the internal pressure. Pressurised balls are faster through the air, and so are the performance option and the balls used in professional matches, though they are less durable than pressureless balls and therefore need to be changed more regularly.