Maybe you’ve noticed, but when a dog chews on a tennis ball long enough, it loses all of its bounce. Why? Probably because they punctured it or tore it apart at the seams. But that happens when you play with a tennis ball too often as well.
In major championship tournaments, like the Australian Open going on this week in Sydney, players must change balls every seven games within a match. It’s highly unlikely a ball stays at its optimum condition for the entirety of a set. Players are also able to change balls whenever they want. It’s why you see pre-serve routines include a few solid bounces of the ball, and why sometimes after bouncing the ball a player will discard it to one of the speedy ball kids keeping track of them.
Yes – it’s true your average player isn’t serving the ball over 100 miles per hour – but it begs the question: how often should you change out your tennis balls?
It’s a hard question to answer, and one that many have asked, but first you need to know what wears a tennis ball out.
What Wears a Tennis Ball Out?
This really comes down to two major factors – ball pleasure and felt wear.
Your standard tennis ball has about 27 pounds per square inch of pleasure when it’s fresh out of the can. This amount of pleasure is recommended for competitive play, and only lasts between one and three hours under competitive play conditions, hence the frequent changes of balls at your favorite ATP events.
When playing recreationally, the waters are a bit murkier. It’s commonly thought that a ball can last anywhere from one to three weeks of non-competitive, leisurely play. This is more about feel, because as a ball loses pressure, it loses its bounce at an exponential rate.
This being said, dead balls still pop up. It’s best to have fresh balls on hand at all times. Luckily, Qranc has you covered with its tennis ball subscription model, which delivers ITF approved balls to your door so you’re never stuck with a bum ball.
An obvious sign of degradation, felt wear happens over time no matter what surface you’re playing on. It’s certainly accelerated by playing on harder surfaces like city courts versus the lush grass of the All England Club, but regardless of where you play, the felt will wear out.
For players who spin the ball, this may happen sooner than a depressurized ball, but for many it’s unlikely you’ll see enough wear on a ball to change it out before the pressure has escaped from the ball.
So now that we know the signs – how long can we really expect a ball to last?
This comes down to a ton of factors, like how hard you and your opponent hit the ball, weather conditions, court surface type and condition, and the kind of balls you use. But the answer, simply put, is a lot faster than you’d think.
A 2020 study from Charles University in the Czech Republic found that in Grand Slam events in 2019, the average rally before a ball degraded on a scientific level was only 4-5 shots. This is obviously at the highest levels the game can be played but extrapolating their findings to someone who plays tennis three times per week is not that hard to do.
If an average shot in a men’s championship level match is played somewhere between 70 and 80 miles per hour, with serves jumping well above 100 miles per hour, and the ball only lasts 4-5 shots – you should probably buy tennis balls more often once per month. And probably even closer to a new can per week.
It all depends on how often you play, or how often your dog gets into your tennis bag, which is why Qranc’s tennis ball subscription is any tennis player’s number one resource to avoiding dead balls at the courts. Not only do dead balls take away from your game while playing, but they also have the opportunity to teach you bad habits that can last. Playing with a ball that has significantly less pressure than is recommended by the ITF or required by organizations like the ATP simply means you’re not getting the most out of your time on the courts.
Always be ready to play at the top of your game with Qranc.