Balls

While the word “ball” doesn’t make its first appearance in the English language until 1205, it is thought that a round (or round-ish) shaped object has been around since the beginning of human beings. Some form of game with a ball is found portrayed on Egyptian monuments, and is played among aboriginal tribes today. The ancient Greeks and Romans used balls in various games. In the Americas, balls were used even before the Greeks. One such game is thought to have penalized the losers with human sacrifice. Now that was extreme competition!

Balls

While the word “ball” doesn’t make its first appearance in the English language until 1205, it is thought that a round (or round-ish) shaped object has been around since the beginning of human beings. Some form of game with a ball is found portrayed on Egyptian monuments, and is played among aboriginal tribes today. The ancient Greeks and Romans used balls in various games. In the Americas, balls were used even before the Greeks. One such game is thought to have penalized the losers with human sacrifice. Now that was extreme competition!

Early History -  Balls for Racquet Sports

Substances used in early tennis balls included leather, wool-wrapped animal stomachs, putty mixed with human hair, pine wood, and various animal parts including intestines, fur and muscles. Sometimes string and rope were part of the construction. The use of rubber began in Europe only after Columbus’ return from his voyages to the Americas. The 1870’s saw rubber balls exported to Britain from Germany for use in lawn tennis. By 1882, rubber covered with wool ushered in the modern construction of tennis balls.

Tennis Balls

Millions are produced annually all over the world. Felt covers a rubber compound core. There are two broad categories:

  • Pressurized: air in the core creates uniform bounces. But the pressure gradually leakes out making them useless after a few hours of use. Pressurized cans preserve balls for later use.

  • Pressureless: a thicker rubber core creates long lasting bounce. Slightly heavier, these are typically used for practice with current research trying to produce better competition versions.

  • Major manufacturers include PennWilson, and Dunlop.

  • Packaging formerly was in pressurized metal cans. Now plastic is used. 

Squash Balls

Made of two pieces of rubber fused together, different balls are used depending on playing ability and conditions. Dunlop, for instance, labels balls by player ability level. Some manufacturers use a colored dot system to differentiate:


Dot Color

Speed (of Play)

Bounce

Player Level

Double yellow

Extra Slow

Very low

Experienced

Yellow

Slow

Low

Advanced

Red

Medium

High

Medium

Blue

Fast

Very high

Beginner/Junior


Major manufacturers include Dunlop, Technifibre, and Black Knight.

Pickleball balls

Made of plastic compounds, two broad categories exist:

  • Outdoor balls: designed to last under the harsher conditions found outside, the holes are smaller and the plastic harder. They should last longer and play faster.

  • Indoor balls: softer with texture, these are easier to spin and can be used outdoors. They typically do not last as long.

  • There are many manufacturers including Franklin, Penn, and Dura.

Racquetball balls

Different colors signify different speeds.

Color

Speed

Black

Slower

Blue

Average

Green

Average

Purple

Faster

Red

Fastest

The biggest manufacturers are Penn, Ektelon, and Wilson.


If you are playing a racquet sport using the right ball can make the difference between having fun or not. Between winning or not. Between improving or not. Don’t know what to buy? Check out our Learning Center for Buying Guides and other valuable tips and hints. Got questions? Call us for help. Tennisracquets.com is your best source for balls, racquets, clothing, shoes and everything you need to get out there and play.