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Tennis is one sport that does not require very much equipment at all. All you need is a racket, some tennis balls, and a court to play on to get started.
While this is a small list, you will find that one of these items needs to be replaced fairly often: the tennis balls.
Tennis balls wear out fairly quickly and also could potentially get lost.
As a result, you will likely find yourself buying backup and replacement tennis balls frequently, especially if you play often.
Since this can get expensive, you want to make sure that you are doing everything you can to make your equipment last longer.
One thing you can do to maximize the longevity of your equipment if to properly take care of it and store it when it is not in use.
In this article we will go over some tips on how to store tennis balls to ensure that you are maximizing their use and avoiding the expense of replacing flattened balls.
Types of Tennis Balls
There are two types of tennis balls: pressurized and pressureless.
Pressurized tennis balls are used in tournaments and by professionals, and they are the more popular type overall.
Pressurized tennis balls have an internal air pressure that is greater than the atmospheric air pressure.
In order to keep the internal pressure, these tennis balls are packaged in a pressurized container.
Because the middle is full of air, this type of tennis ball is very lightweight.
The air pressure also allows the ball to have more bounce and spin right out of the container.
The downside to pressurized tennis balls is that they begin to slowly leak air as soon as they are removed from their container.
As a result, pressurized balls only last a maximum of two weeks before losing their bounce, and some can go flat after a single match if they are hit harder.
Pressureless tennis balls are more commonly used for practice or for recreational play because they last much longer than pressurized balls.
Pressureless tennis balls do not utilize air pressure but instead have a solid rubber core.
Because of this, this type of tennis ball is heavier and feels more “dead” right out of the box.
Unlike pressurized balls, preassureless tennis balls actually improve as they are played with.
As the felt begins to wear down on the outside of the ball, the ball gains more bounce and speed because there is less friction.
Because they do not involve air pressure, pressureless balls last much longer and can be used for several years before needing to be replaced.
As a result, pressureless tennis balls are ideal for using in tennis ball machines because they will not need to be replaced very often, saving you money in the long run.
Since pressureless balls have more longevity and are generally more durable, they do not require as specific conditions when being stored.
Therefore, most of the advice offered in this article will pertain more to pressurized tennis balls than pressureless.
Why do tennis balls wear out?
Tennis balls wear out because they start to lose their internal air pressure.
Once the tennis balls are removed from their canisters, the internal air pressure is greater than the external air pressure.
The air begins to leak out of the rubber and felt which causes the ball to start slowly going flat.
This loss of pressure is further increased with use because the ball is being repeatedly hit and bounced; this recurring impact weakens the felt and rubber which causes the air to leak out more.
The harder and more often a tennis ball is hit, the faster it tends to lose pressure and become unusable.
While tennis balls are bound to wear out from use, the way that you store them when not in use can help them last a little longer.
How to store tennis balls
If you have ever left your tennis gear in the car in the middle of the summer or on a cold morning, you may have learned that the outside temperature can affect the tennis balls.
Tennis balls are sensitive to extreme temperatures.
If exposed to colder temperatures, the air molecules in pressurized tennis balls slow down, reducing the pressure inside the ball.
This causes the ball to lose some of its bounce, and it will not perform as well, even right out of the pressurized container.
On the other extreme, if tennis balls are exposed to hotter temperatures, the air molecules move faster; this increases the air pressure inside the ball which leads to an increased speed and level of bounce.
Because of this, your ball will be more likely to go out of bounds because it is bouncing further than usual.
Both extremes can lead to frustration when playing because you will have to adapt to these changes in your equipment.
While this can make your game frustrating, the bigger issue is the lasting impact that extreme temperatures can have on tennis balls.
If they often go through temperature fluctuations, they can lose their elasticity and wear out faster.
Many players choose to keep their tennis equipment in their car, especially if they use the equipment every day.
However, since tennis balls are so easily affected by temperature, it is most ideal to keep them in a temperature-controlled environment.
Storing them in your house will be much better than storing them in your car because most people keep their houses at a comfortable temperature year-round.
Also be careful about storing equipment in your garage; garages typically get colder in the winter and hotter in the summer than the rest of the house because they are not heated/air conditioned liked the house.
As a result, issues can arise in this environment as well.
Additionally, it is also better to store your equipment away from direct sunlight, so any closet or cabinet would suffice.
Keeping it away from direct sunlight will ensure that it is not heating up too much.
Keep them pressurized
The best way to keep tennis balls pressurized is to store them unopened.
As already discussed, pressurized tennis balls contain internal air pressure that is higher than the atmospheric pressure outside.
When you purchase a tube of tennis balls, they are in a pressurized container where the air pressure of the container matches the internal air pressure of the tennis balls.
As a result, the ball does not go flat because the air cannot leak out.
Unopened tennis balls can last between 2 and 4 years as long as there are no major leaks and the balls are stored in a temperature-controlled location.
Once the tennis balls are removed from the pressurized container, they start to lose air pressure because it slowly leaks through the rubber and felt.
If possible, it is best to store opened tennis balls in a pressurized storage container.
A tennis ball pressurizer is a can that usually fits three tennis balls. Once you twist the lid on the container, you can increase the pressure inside the can.
The container creates a pressurized environment of up to 14 psi, which is the same internal air pressure of a brand new tennis ball.
This device will not help put air back into the tennis ball or make it seem brand new again. It will, however, slow the process of the tennis ball going flat.
There are also specialized plastic tubes that work similarly but can hold more tennis balls.
This style tube can hold up to 10 balls depending on which model you purchase.
The tube works similarly to the pressurized container, but it uses a valve to increase the pressure inside the tube.
To see an example of a pressurized tube, you can view this video.
There are also several tutorial videos online that give instructions on how to go about building your own pressurized container or tube at home.
Here is one such example:
As you can see, there are various options for trying to extend the life of your tennis balls.
These pressurized containers will help save you money because you will not have to purchase new tennis balls as often.
They also help reduce the amount of waste from having to continuously throw away tennis balls when they go flat.
These containers also do not take up very much space, so you can store them anywhere in your house or even keep them in a bag with your other equipment that you take with you to practice.
You can also use a tennis ball pressure tester to gauge the pressure of your tennis ball.