Recently I heard a friend who is an avid cricket fan, call tennis players finicky. I chuckled at his assessment but he had piqued my interest and was left with no option but to ask him why he thought so.
“Why do these tennis players have to look at multiple balls before selecting one? Can’t they just select one and get done with it?”
I began to explain the reason behind that but stopped short. Thought to myself, if he has had his doubt on him, there would be a few others who would have a similar question and why do I not put that up as a post here (which I can then share with my friend as well!).
So here goes.
At the start of a tennis match, one of the rituals is that the players are presented with an array of tennis balls, for lovers of the game of tennis; you must have noticed how tennis players carefully peruse different balls before they finally settle for a particular ball.
This action clearly signifies that there are some characteristics that make some balls more desirable than others.
When they are presented with the various balls, they often pick about three different balls from the person bearing the ball. This act is very common among professional players and leaves us wondering why the players do this.
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Why Do Tennis Players Select from Multiple Balls?
There are various reasons why the players may select a preferred ball. Here’s a list of five reasons why tennis players look at different tennis balls before selecting one.
On a very practical note, some players prefer to play with newer balls, it is observed that they have fewer hairs on them and allow them to travel faster.
As one of the super fast players Andy Roddick confidently said, he aims to select the ball that travels fastest when facing his opponent, that when he combines this with his already super fast serve, he becomes an almost indomitable opponent.
The more a ball is played, the less speed it will posses, making it easier for the opponent to catch up with the ball and reply the serve, and a top server might not like this too much.
Roger Federer has often acknowledged he often chooses balls and this choice is based on how new the ball is. He believes that this will enable him get more speed and outsmart his opponent.
This may explain why players search for balls that have been used less when they want to make a serve.
Slow Down the Pace of the Game
One of my favorite female tennis players Caroline Wozniacki said that she adopts different strategies during a game, that she may choose a fluffy ball to slow down the pace of the game if her opponents return is quite swift.
It is widely believed that a fluffy ball travels slower.
Balls that become fluffy after being frequently hit will have a greatly decreased speed. Every tennis session or rally is unique. Some sessions are long, while others end quite quickly, the toll on the balls that are played during the longer sessions are more.
If a player observes that his opponent is quite fast, he may decide to switch the game to his advantage by opting for a fluffy ball. After all, every player desires to come out victorious at the end of the game.
Rest Between Points
It is a bit of a tactical move to take some time out to rest after a point is gained.
Time spent selecting the “right” ball can be useful to both players, as they can gainfully catch their breath and have some moment of rest before the next bout begins.
It can be very exhilarating to be running around the court while trying to catch a ball that was served by the opponent. Players may choose to seize every opportunity available to take that break, although with the Stop Clock these days, it does become a little difficult to do that these days.
Jumping on to the Bandwagon
It is not unusual for people and in this case players to follow the band wagon trend, for most activities that people do, they do it as a way of observing “ritual” they do not have any specific reason why they do it, other than that they see others do it.
Some players like Andy Murray agree there may be no difference between the balls, but that he just selects the ball because every other player does it. In his opinion, he does not like to be the odd man out. While this may not make much sense, it is what it is.
Everyone loves to choose if they are given the opportunity to do so. That power to determine what can aid your fate in a chosen game can be very thrilling.
While there is no proof that the choice of the ball can influence the outcome of the game, players have observed that the balls play a big role in scoring points, and do all they can to secure the best ball that can guarantee their success. For Novak Djokovic, he don’t know why he selects the ball he does, he just believes that this process makes all the difference.
Every now and then, a tennis player may get ahead of his opponent during the course of the game by something called “the lucky hand”. Players often believe that some balls are pre-destined to bring good luck their way and stop at nothing in trying to locate these “lucky balls”.
Players try to develop a keen eye for the balls that helped them win a previous point and would rather play with that ball than choose another. An example is the famous tennis player Goran Ivanisevic; he agrees that his choice of the ideal ball is purely superstitious as he will usually ask for the same ball after making an ace.
They may even use the opportunity to say a prayer or two, so that they can be favored during the course of the match.
Final Words on Why Tennis Stars Select From Multiple Balls?
The bottom line is balls can be favored because they are new and can travel faster since they are less heavy, they may also be selected on a purely superstitious hunch, while others may just observe the ritual of choosing because every other player does the same.
Whatever the reason may be why players choose their balls carefully, that is best known to them, but this is a practice that has been around for a long time now and may not go away anytime soon.
Tell us whether you are fussy about which ball you use while playing the game of tennis.