Opening a pressurized can of brand-new tennis balls is a special experience. The “pop” sound, the smell, and the perfect yellow balls are enough to make any tennis player extremely excited to start playing. However, the initial excitement will soon fade as the balls start to wear down almost immediately. Made me wonder if there’s any way to make tennis balls last longer?
No product will make your tennis balls last indefinitely. Normal wear and tear are expected when constantly hitting a tennis ball. However, many tennis players believe that by using ball savers (pressurized holders), their tennis balls maintain a higher bounce level.
Tennis balls are expensive, and considering that they don’t tend to last very long, many players are always on the lookout for ways to make them last a little longer. A very popular product is ball savers (pressurized holders.) These products keep the air pressure inside and outside of the ball the same, ultimately not allowing for air pressure to escape from the ball.
How To Make Tennis Balls Last Longer?
I have often wondered if there’s a tennis ball conspiracy going down, where tennis ball manufacturers are sitting with a design where tennis balls can last for a much longer time.
They won’t shoot themselves in the proverbial foot by releasing these balls, negatively impacting their business model. The business model where we buy a new can of balls every couple of days or weeks, due to tennis balls not lasting a long time.
I may be wearing a tinfoil hat, but we are surely at a stage of innovative technology where we can manufacture tennis balls that last for months instead of days or hours (depending on how you play.)
With that off my chest, let’s discuss how to make your tennis balls last longer in the meantime.
Why Don’t Tennis Balls Last Long?
Normal tennis balls (pressurized tennis balls) are rubber balls with a high amount of air pressure inside them, covered with felt made from nylon or wool. The rubber is slightly porous, which results in a loss of air pressure when you start hitting the ball.
Playing on a hard court will lead to faster deterioration of both the bounce of the ball (loss of air pressure) and the fuzz on top of the ball (less spin) as these courts are abrasive. Tennis balls tend to last longer on grass and clay courts.
The more advanced your game, the shorter your tennis ball’s lifespan. The harder a tennis ball hits, the faster the compressed air will escape. Hitting the ball with regular heavy topspin will result in the ball’s felt layer losing its grip on the racket, becoming faster through the air with less control.
Use A Tennis Ball Saver
Many tennis players use some form of tennis ball saver. A tennis ball saver is a canister or holder, usually capable of holding three balls under the original pressure of 14 PSI.
This container prevents air from seeping out of your tennis balls, resulting in the balls being in the exact state (bounce) as when you used them last. A tennis ball saver won’t magically turn your “old” balls into “new” balls.
When you play with brand new balls, they lose air pressure with each shot played. The felt of the balls will also start to deteriorate as it makes constant contact with your racquet strings and the court surface.
What the tennis ball saver does is it stops the aging process between games. The saver will ensure that the ball is kept in the same condition as when you stopped playing regarding the bounce and air pressure inside the balls.
Tennis balls, out of their original pressurized holder, can lose the air pressure from the first shot, and simply storing them in a bag or tin won’t stop this leakage. Placing them in a pressurized holder stops the decay momentarily until you start hitting them again.
Some of the manufacturers of the tennis ball savers listed below claim that if you leave the balls in the saver for a couple of weeks, then old balls can be restored to the condition they were in when new, relating to the bounce.
The tennis ball saver does help to make a tennis ball last longer, even if it’s only for a couple of extra games. Some manufacturers claim that it will restore any old ball regarding bounce when following the directions completely. Here are some popular tennis ball savers that you can test out for yourself:
- Gexco Tennis Ball Saver
- Tourna Restore Tennis Ball Pressurizer
- Gamma Revive Tennis Pressurizer
- Pascal Box 4B
PressureBall is a tube system fitted with an inflation valve at one end (fitting most air pumps) and an easy-to-use clamp system on the other side. The design fits eight tennis balls, and after inserting eight or fewer balls, you clamp the one side shut.
You proceed to inflate the tube to 14 PSI, and voila, your balls won’t lose any air pressure as the pressure inside the tube is the same as the pressure inside the balls. The manufacturer claims it also “revives” older balls, reinstating them to their original bounce. Which it seems to do to if you look at this video.
Expose The Tennis Balls To Heat
While exploring how to make tennis balls last longer, I found a few interesting suggestions on popular tennis forums.
Most of the comments alluded to the fact that, besides using a tennis ball saver, which preserves the ball at its current state, there’s not much you can do to make a tennis ball last longer.
However, some recreational tennis players swear that exposing the balls to heat will make the balls bounce better. One user suggested that you place your tennis balls in the microwave and “nuke” them before playing.
The nuking resulted in his balls being bouncier for about half an hour when playing with them. He strongly advised his fellow readers not to put Prince balls in the microwave as it literally explodes!
Another user claims that he left his balls in a hot greenhouse or directly in the sun for a few hours before playing. He experienced a remarkable difference in the bounce level of the previously used balls. Heat seems to harden the rubber that restricts the outflow of the pressurized air inside.
According to some players, popping tennis balls inside a tumble dryer also seems to work.
Wash And Dry Tennis Balls To Fluff Them Up
Another way to make a tennis ball last longer (the felt part) is to chuck them in the washing machine and tumble dryer so that the felt becomes fluffy again.
Washing and drying them will do nothing for the ball’s bounce, but a fluffy felt will grip the strings, helping to create more spin.
A fluffy felt will also reduce the ball’s speed through the air, ensuring that the ball has a better chance of landing in the court instead of whizzing over the baseline as a ball with a worn-out felt tends to do.
I think your best bet for preserving your tennis balls is to place them in a pressurized container after playing with them. Once you remove a tennis ball from a pressurized can, the air pressure will leak from the ball as you hit it.
The process of air escaping the ball will not simply stop when you are finished hitting it. The porous rubber allows air to escape, and to counter that; a pressurized can would make the most sense. The longer you leave the old balls in them, the better the results.
I’m not against popping my balls into a microwave or tumble dryer. Any chance of getting more play out of this expensive equipment is worth a shot. I would suggest you start by purchasing a ball saver and see how it works for you before going drastic and “nuking” them in a microwave.
- Bring your Tennis Balls BACK TO LIFE | Testing Ball Pressurizers