One of the pleasures of getting ready for a tennis match is cracking open a new canister of tennis balls. You can get a bit more zip on your shots and achieve a higher bounce on your serves to keep your opponents further back in the court.

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However, on the other hand tennis balls can be equallyfrustrating.They lose their bounce and become dead quite quickly rendering them almost useless for matches (although you can usually still practice with them)In this article, let’s look at how long tennis balls last and when you should replace them, how quickly they begin to lose their bounce, how you can make them last longer and what you can do with them when they’re not suitable for matches any more.For recreational use, a fresh can of tennis balls should be fine for a few hours of play. That means they should be ok for a couple of matches, providing you use them over the course of a week or two. For competitive players, you really want a new set of tennis balls every match.
Contents1 Why do tennis balls lose their bounce?2 How quickly does a tennis ball lose its bounce?3 How do you know when a tennis ball needs to replaced?3.1 Bounce3.2 Squeeze3.3 Sound3.4 Lack of felt or fuzz on the ball4 How long do tennis balls last unopened?5 How to make tennis balls last longer?5.1 Pressureless tennis balls.6 What can you do with old tennis balls?7 FAQs8 Additional Resources

Why do tennis balls lose their bounce?

Tennis balls are kept in pressurized containers which preserves the pressure inside the ball. However once the seal is broken, the pressure is gradually lost inside the tennis ball.
This happens naturally over time, which is why if you open a new canister of tennis balls and don’t even use them for a while, they will have already lost some of their bounce when you play with them in a game.The pressure inside the ball will escape even faster during a match as it hits the ground and comes into contact with a tennis racket. The harder you hit the ball, more pressure is lost, which is why professional players may have a few ball changes during a match.

How quickly does a tennis ball lose its bounce?

For most players, a new can of balls should be fine for a bestof 3 sets match but they will start to lose their bounce after just a fewgames.As professional players hit the ball harder then recreational players, you’ll see them changing to a new set of balls every 9 games.
That’s why it’s always seen as an advantage to serve firstafter the umpire announces “New balls please”. That extra bounce will make itharder for the receiver to get the ball back in play.

How do you know when a tennis ball needs to replaced?


This is the most obvious factor. You can find this out justby dropping a tennis ball on the court and seeing how well it bounces. If you’reunsure if it’s still ok to use in a match, compare it with a new ball andcheck.If it bounces just a little lower than a new ball, you’re probablyok, but if it’s considerably worse, just toss it to one side and only use it forpracticing.


Try squeezing the tennis ball in the palm of your hand. If you can compress the sides of the ball very easily, it’s probably dead and not fit for use any more. A new ball will hardly give at all when you squeeze it in your hand.


This is a little trickier to pick up on. A dead tennis ballwill have a very dull thud sound when you make contact with it with yourracquet, unlike a new one which have more of a ping when you hit it.

Lack of felt or fuzz on the ball

Take a look at a new tennis ball. You’ll see that felt caneasily come off it. An older tennis ball will have worn patches on it and feela lot smoother.

How long do tennis balls last unopened?

As they are kept in a pressurized can, they do last a longtime in an unopened canister.However, one popular misconception is that the balls will last indefinitely. This isn’t the case, as air can still leak over time. For most tennis balls (in an unopened can) they have a shelf life of about 2 years.

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How to make tennis balls last longer?

If you find it frustrating getting through new canisters oftennis balls every week, the only way to make them last longer is to reduce howquickly they lose their pressure.If you’re interested there’s a product called Pressureball which is essentially a soft tube you can put used balls in, storing them at 14 PSI, which is the same pressure as in an unopened canister. It’s a handy little product which dramatically increases the length of time you can use tennis balls, until the felt starts to wear out).
Other than that, there’s not a whole lot you can do.I came across a thread on Tennis Warehouse about storing tennis balls in the freezer as a way to reduce the loss of pressure inside the balls. However, the consensus over there is that it doesn’t really work