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It’s natural to think any old tennis ball will work fine with your tennis ball machine, but there are actually quite a few considerations to think about.
After all, you will be putting over a hundred balls in this machine at a time, making it a significant financial investment, which indicates this decision needs to be made wisely.
The number of times in which you load the machine and the quality that is needed to practice adequately need to be balanced.
After investing in a tennis ball machine, it’s important to also invest in the right kind of balls to make your training most valuable.
But, you might be asking, “What are the most important considerations?” The right tennis balls for your ball machine will need to have a strong bounce and long span of life in them.
But we all know practice gear gets quite a bit of use. Just like in other sports, you have your practice gear and your game gear. This is because you know your practice gear will get worn down more quickly than what you would use in a game; the practice gear just gets used more often.
That’s why it’s important with your tennis balls for a machine, that they’re durable enough for not just the machine, but for lots of time at practice as well.
Sometimes tennis balls without much pressure may work well for ball machines. So what are the best pressureless tennis balls for ball machine use?
Signs you’ve chosen the wrong ball
If you select a ball that’s not meant for a tennis ball machine, a couple of things are likely to happen.
The first thing to show signs of wear and tear happens on the outside of the ball. The outside fuzz may start to wear down or peel off and the balls might start to look misshapen because of the power of the machine.
Hitting an oddly shaped ball isn’t a great way to practice for obvious reasons; you lose a lot of your control and you likely won’t hit quite right when you swing.
You might also notice that the balls go flat faster than you anticipate, causing a dull bounce. These malformations can cause backups in your ball machine and even jam the propulsion.
These are common signs you’ve chosen a tennis ball that’s not best suited for your machine.
What to look for in the right ball
First things first, you’re going to want to realize that this ball will be repeatedly launched out of a machine and hit by you.
Naturally, you’re going to want a ball that can hold up pretty well in spite of that; therefore, overall durability is important.
Though it might seem counter-intuitive, you’re looking for a ball that’s lower in overall quality (unlike something you would use in a match) but has higher durability.
This might not be a ball that feels quite the same as what would be used in a match, but serves a different purpose and generally costs less, too.
Considering the level of bounce for your tennis balls to be used in a machine is important.
You don’t want to load up your machine full of tennis balls that are likely to go dead or flat within a couple of uses; the bounce needs to be able to hold up against the power of the machine without getting too out of control.
You also need a ball that won’t go too soft within only a few uses.
If you plan on using the same kind of ball that you use in your matches, prepare to be disappointed. A tennis ball machine can be rough on tennis balls; ball launching isn’t exactly gentle.
These balls will be launched repeatedly out of your machine and used for your various training purposes.
Depending on how many tennis balls you order and how many balls can fit in your machine, you could cycle through them pretty quickly.
Look for tennis balls that offer a solid rubber core, interlocking fibers and durable seams to hold up for longer periods of time and harder use.
Why use pressureless tennis balls in ball machines?
Often coined the “forever ball”, a non-pressurized ball is a tennis ball that has the same pressure as the atmosphere, meaning these balls will not go flat as rapidly.
Unlike a pressurized tennis ball, their internal structure gives them their solid bounce as opposed to a hallow rubber core with compressed air.
The pressureless balls are made with rubber as well, but its core is harder and thicker than a pressurized ball.
This increases the overall durability and gives it a strong and lasting bounce that you wouldn’t get from a pressurized ball.
These tennis balls, while unable to mimic match play exactly, are the best balls for a tennis ball machine. They may not give the same feel as a pressurized ball, but they’re not supposed to.
Their goal is to give the longevity and bounce you’re not able to find in the standard ball.
The quality (in terms of likeness to a standard ball, not speaking of durability here) is also not likely to be as high as a pressurized ball, which means they’re more cost-effective to replace over time.
Because they’re not pressurized, they also don’t require storage in an airtight container like pressurized balls come in, so these balls can be easily transported in buckets or bags.
This means you don’t have to worry about them being left in the machine on a hot summer day when they’re not being used for the same reason.
Disclaimer: To be clear, these are balls that are best for practice use only, not for an actual match.
While these balls are great for practice, most people avoid using these balls during a match because of their “stiff” or “woody” feel and the additional force required of your body to hit these balls.
When training with these balls, it’s important to be aware of your body’s limits so as to not overexert or cause an injury.
Even though we all love the light feeling of a standard tennis ball that’s used in a match, the speed of these pressureless balls can really help your reaction time in a match.
With non-pressurized balls, after long periods of use, they start to lose their fuzz and become bouncier. It’s also important to note that when you do use these balls with your tennis ball machine, you should incorporate pressurized balls into your training when not using your machine.
This is help to prevent you acclimating to a ball you won’t be using on game day. Keep this in mind to improve your overall control when practicing.
If you’re curious about what’s inside a pressureless tennis ball and what it looks like, click here.
Best Pressureless Tennis Balls for Ball Machine
There are a number of pressureless tennis ball options for use in a ball machine. The following products may work well for your training needs.
Tourna Pressureless Tennis Ball (Pack of 60)
Let’s start off with some quick characteristics of these pressureless tennis balls:
- Premium-felt tennis balls that never go flat
- Ideal for practice or ball throwing machines
- Bounce is true and always the same
- Durable and long lasting
If you’re looking for a pressureless ball that won’t quit, this is the right ball for you.
Since these balls aren’t pressurized, their bounce will stay true even after multiple uses, even becoming slightly bouncier as time goes on.
This means these balls are able to endure multiple lengthy training sessions while maintaining the same bounce the first day they were purchased.
They match regulation size to be as similar to the standard tennis ball as possible and make training more similar to an actual game.
Be aware that they are a little heavier so you might need to account for a slight adjustment if this is your first time training with a non-pressurized ball.
Some players (and trainers) really like that these balls are heavier as it helps to strengthen their arms and swing, which leads to more control with the standard tennis ball.
The harder core means there’s a harder bounce, which helps you to focus on control and spin. Trainers say they alternate these non-pressurized balls with pressurized balls to keep from adjusting too much to one ball or other.
If done correctly, when you switch back to a pressurized ball and you maintain the same level of control you used with the non-pressurized ball, you’ll see great improvements to your foundational skills over time.
These balls are also easy to transport, as they come in a mesh bag for your convenience.
View at Amazon for more information on how these balls might work for you.
GAMMA Pressureless Tennis Ball Bucket| Case w/48 Practice Balls| Sturdy/Reusable/Portable Bucket to Replace Less Durable Tennis Mesh Bags| Ideal For All Court Types| Gamma Premium Tennis Accessories
These tennis balls are highly recommended because they are:
- Ideal for all types of courts (indoor courts, outdoor courts, soft courts, hard courts)
- Consistent with internal pressure – you won’t have to worry about these balls going soft too soon and they gain a little bounce over time
- Suitable for all types of practice – even beyond use in a tennis machine
- Extra durable – these balls are long-lasting, equipped with heavy-duty woven felt construction
- Long-lasting – their ultra-durable pressure-free rubber core allows balls to never lose their bounce
- Packaged with a reusable bucket for easy toting
Coaches and players alike champion this brand and its longevity. Many say it lasts longer than any other brand they’ve used.
Its strong rubber core keeps the ball intact and keeps it more than ready to withstand long periods of use.
No matter what kinds of courts you find yourself playing on, these tennis balls can keep up. They offer plenty of flexibility in any court condition.
When it comes to machine durability, it withstands the machine’s force well and works alongside it. Like the Tourna balls, they may be the same size as the regulation ball, but they’re still heavier (as most pressureless balls are).
The hard rubber core takes the place of pressurized air. But, while the weight can be something that takes a few swings to get used to, it really does have benefits with training, power and control.
These balls also come in a handy reusable bucket, which make them easy to tote to and from practice or if you’re training regularly in multiple locations.
View at Amazon to learn more on how these tennis balls could work for your training needs.
Featured image credit: DepositPhotos.com @microgen