If you are just starting out playing tennis as a beginner or are a coach looking to understand which are the best tennis balls to buy for beginners, we have just the right guide below for you.
A lot of newbies believe that a tennis ball is a tennis ball after all, be it any brand or type, all of them look the same and will also behave in the same manner. So, they think it’s safe to pick any ball and start having a hit. But that’s not the case.
There are different types of balls available which serve different purposes. Some give you more bounce, some less. Some are meant to endure the constant beating of the hard courts, some are meant for softer courts like clay.
Some balls are fast, while some are slow and then there are others that allow more spin.
In this article, we will take a look at different tennis balls that are best suited for beginners. But first let’s understand how tennis balls are made and what are the different types of tennis balls on the basis of their make.
How are Tennis Balls Made?
Tennis balls usually fall in two categories: Pressurized tennis balls and pressureless or non-pressurized tennis balls.
All tennis balls are made of rubber with felt covering. The pressurized balls are made with two halves of rubber combined together.
The hollow core is injected with pressurized air and this is the reason why these balls have better bounce. Since rubber can get damaged quickly, the felt covering helps in increasing the durability of the balls.
But these balls don’t last forever, as the pressure inside the ball keeps reducing over time and the ball loses its liveliness.
In contrast, pressureless balls or non-pressurized balls don’t have a hollow core. They are solid. They don’t bounce as much as pressurized balls do, but since their bounce don’t depend on air pressure, they last longer.
These are ideal for ball machines or for practice, where one needs lots of balls and they can also last for a long time. One wouldn’t need to replace them every now and then.
These balls are heavier than the pressurized balls and also slower. They also have a low bounce when compared to the pressurized balls but the bounce remains consistent for a long team.
People playing at an altitude of over 4,000 feet above sea level use pressureless balls. Usually at a high altitude, pressurized balls will bounce a lot higher and travel much faster. So pressureless balls suit those conditions better.
Categories of Tennis Ball on the Basis of the Cloth Used
Above we saw how a tennis ball is made and classified them on the basis of air pressure. Now we will distinguish them on the basis of the felt covering used on the ball. Based on them, there are two types: Regular duty balls and Extra duty balls.
Regular duty balls have thin felt and are meant for soft courts, such as clay. Since they have less felt, it doesn’t pick clay and also travels faster in the air.
In contrast, the extra duty balls have more felt. This allows them to last longer on hard surfaces. They are also fuzzy, which makes them go slower through the air than the regular duty balls.
Having understood the different types of balls based on the way they are manufactured; we will now see the different balls meant to introduce the game to beginners.
Different Balls for Tennis Beginners
For kids starting to play tennis, it’s important for them to learn the basics first.
They need to learn to hold a racket properly, increase focus and concentration and improve the hand-eye coordination.
If they start playing with fast and bouncy professional balls it will be hard for them to pick the ball and they would not learn the skills. To address the concern, manufacturers developed balls that match the appropriate age and skill of the kids.
They are softer than usual balls and even have a low bounce.
Kids who are taking their first lessons in tennis, usually train with three types of balls:
- The Red Ball
- The Orange Ball and
- The Green Ball
The red balls are larger and lighter than normal balls.
They are either completely red or more often have half red felt. These have 25% compression compared to regular tennis balls. Thus, they are very light and have a very low bounce.
This type of ball helps a kid learn how to hit. Since they don’t zip through the air and nor do they bounce too high, kids can learn to control their shots using the red balls.
Since beginners (up to 6 years of age) start on mini courts, the red ball is well suited for the small court size.
The orange ball looks similar in size to the regular yellow tennis ball and is slightly faster than the red balls.
Yet the air compression is only 50% of the regular tennis ball. These balls are much slower than proper tennis balls but they have more pace and bounce than the red balls.
Once the kids have learned the basic of tennis with a red ball, and have started connecting more balls with their rackets, it’s time for them to evolve their game and move to the orange ball.
It feels like a regular ball, is faster and has more bounce, thus helping them improve their game.
When transitioning from the slower balls to proper professional balls, the green balls come in handy. These have 75% compression.
So although they are still slower than professional grade balls, they are much faster and have a good bounce thus allowing kids to develop their game further and be ready to transition from slower balls to the faster ones.
Our Recommendation for the Best Tennis Balls for Beginners
- Dunlop Stage 3 Red Mini Tennis Balls
- HEAD T.I.P. I Tennis Ball
- Penn Quick Start Red Junior Tennis Ball
- Wilson Starter Orange Ball
- HEAD T.I.P. Orange 3 Tennis Balls
- HEAD T.I.P. Green 3 Tennis Balls
- Penn Control +
- Wilson US Open Green Tournament Ball
Dunlop Stage 3 Red Mini Tennis Balls
As we have seen above, the red balls fall in Stage 3 category and are ideal for kids below 8 years of age. These balls are pressureless and aren’t too quick.
They help beginners learn how to strike balls consistently, and since they don’t have a high bounce or great speed, they won’t be flying off court.
- This is made of rubber and not foam, so even adults who have never played the can try with this ball
- They are 75% slower than standard balls, thus gives more time to beginners to focus and hit their strokes
- Because of the speed and bounce of the balls they are suitable for small courts and not meant for bigger courts.
HEAD T.I.P. I Tennis Ball
These also fall in the red ball category, which are 75% slower than standard balls. They are, however, bicolored (bright red and yellow) for better visibility.
They are bigger and slower, thus allowing beginners to learn how to hit precise shots.
The predictable, low bounce, allows beginners to gain more control over their game.
- Apart from the above mentioned characteristics, these balls are also more affordable compared to a lot of other red ball options. Beginners may not be looking to splurge on balls until they start developing their game and hence these balls come in as a good option.
- The low bounce and speed mean they need to be used in smaller courts and even be more effective when being played with smaller rackets.
Penn Quick Start Red Junior Tennis Ball
When it comes to tennis balls, Penn is one of the most trusted names. So it’s no surprise that its junior red balls are popular among kids who are taking their first lessons.
These low compression starter balls are well suited for the smallest size courts (36′)
- They are made of durable felt and hence last longer.
- Meant for smaller courts
Wilson Starter Orange Ball
This is the second stage ball meant for kids or beginners, who have learned the basics and are now ready to develop their skills further by playing with balls that are faster and have more bounce than the red balls.
The Orange Starter Ball has lower compression and hence it bounces 50% lower than regular tennis balls.
- These are durable
- They are of same size as traditional balls and so better prepares beginners transitioning to bigger courts and smaller balls
- The bounce is ideal for beginners to further improve their strokeplay
- These are usually suited for medium-sized courts (60′)
- Some players who develop hitting skills with stage 3 balls directly jump to stage 1 balls and give these a miss.
Head T.I.P. Orange 3 Tennis Balls
These are pressureless balls well suited for players who are ready to transition to bigger courts.
They are softer, bigger, and 50% slower through the air than the traditional balls, thus increasing the reaction time and making it easier to hit.
The orange and yellow two-tone felt is easier to sight and its perfect for the mid-size courts.
- Being pressureless they last longer
- Players with advanced skills may skip the mid-size court and jump directly to full size courts
HEAD T.I.P. Green 3 Tennis Balls
While green balls are the third stage during the development of a junior player. This may also be the first stage balls for adult beginners.
Adult beginners, who are built well or have a basic knowledge of the game may begin with green balls and HEAD T.I.P. GREEN 3 tennis balls are a great option.
They are only 25% slower than a standard tennis ball and helps kids to keep their strokes under control. These balls are ideal for kids and first-timers to learn how to play on full size courts.
- They are affordable
- They are well suited for beginners getting their first taste of full-sized court.
- These also have low bounce and hence players need to lean forward to play their strokes. It’s good for players transitioning to standard balls, but players with advanced skills may not opt to play with green balls.
Penn Control+ tennis balls
These are perfect for beginners who are above nine years of age and who play on a standard 78’ tennis court.
The Control + ball reduces speed by 25%, which give greater control and also encourages rallies. They are manufactured with premium high-visibility felt and therefore, are long lasting.
All Penn QST products are USTA and ITF approved and endorsed by the PTR.
- Premium quality felt means the balls are durable.
- These are considered one of the best in the green ball category
- Advance players may prefer the yellow ball as the bounce is 25% less.
Wilson US Open Green Tournament Ball
The US Open Green Tournament Ball is another great option for developing juniors who prefer a slower ball with less bounce.
These pressurized green felt tournament balls are recommended for juniors and beginner adults using rackets between 25″ and 27″ in length.
- Transition balls, great to improve a variety of strokes
- The bounce remains lower than regular balls and many advanced beginners may want to skip it and play with standard balls.
Final Words on Best Tennis Balls for Beginners
In earlier times, kids used to start playing with worn out standard balls. But with advanced technology, now there are different balls meant for different stages of one’s evolution on a tennis court.
From foam balls to red rubber to orange to green dot balls that’s how one advances in the junior days. The ball size keeps decreasing, the bounce and speed keep increasing as players continue to develop their game.
Selecting the right balls early in the career allows one to learn with ease, get better control over shots and improve stroke-making.
So it’s always advisable not to start with standard balls but hone the skills with balls meant for beginners before transitioning to the faster balls.