Tennis ball

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Tennis balls at the 2012 French Open Roland Garros 2012 Ballkid.jpg
Tennis balls at the 2012 French Open

A tennis ball is a ball designed for the sport of tennis. Tennis balls are fluorescent yellow in organised competitions, [1] [2] but in recreational play can be virtually any color. Tennis balls are covered in a fibrous felt which modifies their aerodynamic properties, and each has a white curvilinear oval covering it.



Tennis ball at the 2011 Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships Tennis ball in hand - 2011 Japan Open.jpg
Tennis ball at the 2011 Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships

Modern 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 6.54–6.86 cm (2.57–2.70 inches). Balls must have masses in the range 56.0–59.4 g (1.98–2.10 ounces). Yellow and white are the only colors approved by the ITF, and most balls produced are a fluorescent yellow known as "optic yellow", first introduced in 1972 following research demonstrating they were more visible on television.

Tennis balls are filled with air and are surfaced by a uniform felt-covered rubber compound. The felt delays flow separation in the boundary layer which reduces aerodynamic drag and gives the ball better flight properties. [3] [4] 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. [5]

Tennis balls begin to lose their bounce as soon as the tennis ball can is opened. They can be tested to determine their bounce. Modern regulation tennis balls are kept under pressure (approximately two atmospheres) until initially used; balls intended for use at high altitudes have a lower initial pressure, and inexpensive practice balls are made without internal pressurization. A ball is tested for bounce by dropping it from a height of 254 cm (100 inches) onto concrete; a bounce between 135 and 147 cm (53 and 58 inches) is acceptable if taking place at sea-level and 20 °C (68 °F) with relative humidity of 60%; high-altitude balls have different characteristics when tested at sea level. [6]

Slower balls

The ITF's "Play and Stay" campaign aims to increase tennis participation worldwide, by improving the way starter players are introduced to the game. The ITF recommends a progression that focuses on a range of slower balls and smaller court sizes to introduce the game effectively to both adults and children. The slowest balls, marked with red, or using half red felt, are oversized and unpressurized, or made from foam rubber. The next, in orange, are unpressurized normal sized balls. The last, with green, are half pressured normal sized. [5]


Tennis balls, advertisement, 19th century Tennis balls, advertisement, 19th century.jpg
Tennis balls, advertisement, 19th century

Before the development of lawn tennis in the early 1870s, the sport was played as the courtly game of real tennis. England banned the importation of tennis balls, playing cards, dice, and other goods in the Act of Parliament Exportation, Importation, Apparel Act 1463. [7] In 1480, Louis XI of France forbade the filling of tennis balls with chalk, sand, sawdust, or earth, and stated that they were to be made of good leather, well-stuffed with wool. [8] Other early tennis balls were made by Scottish craftsmen from a wool-wrapped stomach of a sheep or goat and tied with rope. Those recovered from the hammer-beam roof of Westminster Hall during a period of restoration in the 1920s were found to have been manufactured from a combination of putty and human hair, and were dated to the reign of Henry VIII. [9] Other versions, using materials such as animal fur, rope made from animal intestines and muscles, and pine wood, were found in Scottish castles dating back to the 16th century.[ citation needed ] In the 18th century, 1.9 cm (34 in) strips of wool were wound tightly around a nucleus made by rolling a number of strips into a little ball. [10] String was then tied in many directions around the ball and a white cloth covering sewn around the ball.[ citation needed ]

In the early 1870s lawn tennis arose in Britain through the pioneering efforts of Walter Clopton Wingfield and Harry Gem, often using Victorian lawns laid out for croquet. Wingfield marketed tennis sets, which included rubber balls imported from Germany. After Charles Goodyear invented vulcanised rubber, the Germans had been most successful in developing vulcanised air-filled rubber balls. These were light and coloured grey or red with no covering. John Moyer Heathcote suggested and tried the experiment of covering the rubber ball with flannel, and by 1882 Wingfield was advertising his balls as clad in stout cloth made in Melton Mowbray. [11]


Before 1925, tennis balls were packaged in wrapped paper and paperboard boxes. In 1925, Wilson-Western Sporting Goods Company introduced cardboard tubes. In 1926, the Pennsylvania Rubber Company released a hermetically sealed pressurized metal tube that held three balls with a churchkey to open the top. Beginning in the 1980s, plastic (from recycled PET) [12] cans with a full-top pull-tab seal and plastic lid fit three or four balls per can. Pressureless balls often come in net bags or buckets since they do not need to be pressure-sealed.


Recycling bin for tennis balls Reciclaje pelotas de tenis - IMG 20200703 112826 762.jpg
Recycling bin for tennis balls

Each year approximately 325 million balls are produced, which contributes roughly 20,000 tonnes (22,000 short tons) of waste in the form of rubber that is not easily biodegradable. Historically, tennis ball recycling has not existed. However, in 2015 three companies (Advanced Polymer Technology, Ace Surfaces and reBounces) joined together to create a recycling system that incorporates recycled tennis balls into a tennis court surface. [13] Balls from The Championships, Wimbledon are now recycled to provide field homes for the nationally threatened Eurasian harvest mouse. [14]

In literature

The gift of tennis balls offered to Henry in Shakespeare's Henry V is portrayed as the final insult which re-ignites the Hundred Years' War between England and France. [15]

John Webster also refers to tennis balls in The Duchess of Malfi . [16]

Related Research Articles

Tennis Ball sport with racket and net

Tennis is a racket sport that can be played individually against a single opponent (singles) or between two teams of two players each (doubles). Each player uses a tennis racket that is strung with cord to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over or around a net and into the opponent's court. The object of the game is to maneuver the ball in such a way that the opponent is not able to play a valid return. The player who is unable to return the ball will not gain a point, while the opposite player will.

Tennis court Type of sports venue

A tennis court is the venue where the sport of tennis is played. It is a firm rectangular surface with a low net stretched across the centre. The same surface can be used to play both doubles and singles matches. A variety of surfaces can be used to create a tennis court, each with its own characteristics which affect the playing style of the game.

Table tennis Racket sport

Table tennis, also known as ping-pong and whiff-whaff, is a sport in which two or four players hit a lightweight ball, also known as the ping-pong ball, back and forth across a table using small rackets. The game takes place on a hard table divided by a net. Except for the initial serve, the rules are generally as follows: players must allow a ball played toward them to bounce one time on their side of the table, and must return it so that it bounces on the opposite side at least once. A point is scored when a player fails to return the ball within the rules. Play is fast and demands quick reactions. Spinning the ball alters its trajectory and limits an opponent's options, giving the hitter a great advantage.

A football is a ball inflated with air that is used to play one of the various sports known as football. In these games, with some exceptions, goals or points are scored only when the ball enters one of two designated goal-scoring areas; football games involve the two teams each trying to move the ball in opposite directions along the field of play.

Cricket ball Ball used to play cricket

A cricket ball is a hard, solid ball used to play cricket. A cricket ball consists of a cork core wound with string then a leather cover stitched on, and manufacture is regulated by cricket law at first-class level. The trajectory of a cricket ball when bowled, through movement in the air, and off the ground, is influenced by the action of the bowler and the condition of the ball and the pitch, while working on the cricket ball to obtain optimal condition is a key role of the fielding side. The principal method through which the batsman scores runs is by hitting the ball, with the bat, into a position where it would be safe to take a run, or by directing the ball through or over the boundary. Cricket balls are harder and heavier than baseballs.

Billiard table

A billiard table or billiards table is a bounded table on which cue sports are played. In the modern era, all billiards tables provide a flat surface usually made of quarried slate, that is covered with cloth, and surrounded by vulcanized rubber cushions, with the whole thing elevated above the floor. More specific terms are used for specific sports, such as snooker table and pool table, and different-sized billiard balls are used on these table types. An obsolete term is billiard board, used in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Walter Clopton Wingfield

Major Walter Clopton Wingfield was a Welsh inventor and a British Army officer who was one of the pioneers of lawn tennis. Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1997 as the founder of modern lawn tennis, an example of the original equipment for the sport and a bust of Wingfield can be seen at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum.

This page is a glossary of tennis terminology.

Frontenis Sport

Frontenis is a sport that is played in a 30 meter pelota court using racquets and rubber balls. It can be played in pairs or singles, but only pairs frontenis is played in international competitions. This sport was developed in Mexico around 1900, and is accredited as a Basque pelota speciality.

Soft tennis Variant of tennis, played with soft rubber balls instead of hard yellow balls

Soft tennis is a racket game played on a court of two halves, separated by a net. Like regular tennis, it is played by individuals (singles) or pairs (doubles), whose object is to hit the ball over the net, landing within the confines of the court, with the aim of preventing one's opponent from being able to hit it back. Soft tennis differs from regular tennis in that it uses soft rubber balls instead of hard yellow balls.

Ball (association football) Spherical object used in association football tournament

A football, soccer ball, football ball, or association footballball is the ball used in the sport of association football. The name of the ball varies according to whether the sport is called "football", "soccer", or "association football". The ball's spherical shape, as well as its size, weight, and material composition, are specified by Law 2 of the Laws of the Game maintained by the International Football Association Board. Additional, more stringent standards are specified by FIFA and subordinate governing bodies for the balls used in the competitions they sanction.

Basketball (ball) Inflated ball used for basketball games

A basketball is a spherical ball used in basketball games. Basketballs usually range in size from very small promotional items that are only a few inches in diameter to extra large balls nearly 2 feet (60 cm) in diameter used in training exercises. For example, a youth basketball could be 27 inches (69 cm) in circumference, while a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men's ball would be a maximum of 30 inches (76 cm) and an NCAA women's ball would be a maximum of 29 inches (74 cm). The standard for a basketball in the National Basketball Association (NBA) is 29.5 inches (75 cm) in circumference and for the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), a maximum circumference of 29 inches (74 cm). High school and junior leagues normally use NCAA, NBA or WNBA sized balls.

History of tennis

The racket sport traditionally named lawn tennis, now commonly known simply as tennis, is the direct descendant of what is now denoted real tennis or royal tennis, which continues to be played today as a separate sport with more complex rules. Most rules of (lawn) tennis derive from this precursor and it is reasonable to see both sports as variations of the same game. Most historians believe that tennis was originated in the monastic cloisters in northern France in the 12th century, but the ball was then struck with the palm of the hand; hence, the name jeu de paume. It was not until the 16th century that rackets came into use, and the game began to be called "tennis." It was popular in England and France, and Henry VIII of England was a big fan of the game, now referred to as real tennis.

1877 Wimbledon Championship First staging of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships

The 1877 Wimbledon Championship was a men's tennis tournament held at the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, London. It was the world's first official lawn tennis tournament, and was later recognised as the first Grand Slam tournament or "Major". The AEC & LTC had been founded in July 1868, as the All England Croquet Club; lawn tennis was introduced in February 1875 to compensate for the waning interest in croquet. In June 1877 the club decided to organise a tennis tournament to pay for the repair of its pony roller, needed to maintain the lawns. A set of rules was drawn up for the tournament, derived from the first standardised rules of tennis issued by the Marylebone Cricket Club in May 1875.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to tennis:

Four wall paddleball, or paddleball, is a popular court sport in the Upper Midwest of the United States, on the West Coast of the U.S. and in the Memphis, Tennessee area. It is played with a paddle and small rubber ball on a standard handball or racquetball court, with similar rules to those sports.

Penn Racquet Sports

Penn Racquet Sports, Inc. is a subsidiary of Head N.V. that manufactures tennis balls and racquetballs. Penn was founded in 1910 as Pennsylvania Rubber Company of America, Inc. in Jeannette, Pennsylvania. Penn was acquired by Head N.V. in 1999 and is currently headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona.

10 and Under Tennis is a program that was introduced by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) in the summer of 2010. Upon making the change official in 2012, it modified the format of all USTA and International Tennis Federation (ITF) events involving players of years 10 and younger. The program changes the game making it easier for children to succeed. The objective is to adapt the court, balls, racket, and net to the size and strength level of youth players. These alternations create the opportunity for younger players to spend more time hitting balls rather than chasing them. It allows them to hone tennis skills and accelerate their development. The hope is that earlier success in tennis will translate to a lifetime of interest in the sport and perhaps set a foundation for generations of more world-class players.

Bouncing ball Physics of bouncing balls

The physics of a bouncing ball concerns the physical behaviour of bouncing balls, particularly its motion before, during, and after impact against the surface of another body. Several aspects of a bouncing ball's behaviour serve as an introduction to mechanics in high school or undergraduate level physics courses. However, the exact modelling of the behaviour is complex and of interest in sports engineering.


  1. "ITF Technical - History". International Tennis Federation . Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  2. "Inside Wilson's tennis ball factory". ESPN The Magazine. 30 August 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  3. "Golf Balls, Cricket Balls and Tennis Balls". Princeton University. 5 October 2005. Retrieved 2009-10-20.
  4. Dr. Rabi Mehta of NASA-Ames, entitled Aerodynamics of sportsballs, Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, 17:151–189, 1985.
  5. 1 2 "Colors & Numbers on Tennis Balls". Epic Tennis Academy. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  6. "ITF Technical - Approval Tests". International Tennis Federation. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  7. Bell, R.C. (1981). Board and table game antiques. Osprey Publishing. ISBN   0852635389.
  8. Morgan, Roger (1995): Tennis, The Development of The European Ball Game, ISBN   0-9510251-8-X
  9. "The Hammer Beam Roof".
  10. Cross, R. "Dynamic properties of tennis balls." Sports Engineering 2 (1999): 23-34.
  11. Gillmeister, Heiner (October 1, 1998). Tennis:Cultural History. A&C Black. ISBN   9780718501952 via Google Books.
  12. Recycling, PETRA (PET Resin Association), retrieved 21 July 2010
  13. , ASBA (American Sports Builders Association), retrieved 21 December 2015
  14. "'New balls, please' for mice homes". BBC News . Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  15. "When we have match'd our rackets to these balls, We will, in France, by God's grace, play a set" Henry V, act 1, scene 2
  16. "We are merely the stars' tennis balls, struck and banded/Which way please them" The Duchess of Malfi, act 5, scene 4