The common look of a tennis ball is so ingrained in the minds of players that they can’t envision anything else. While most people just refer to it as “tennis ball yellow” for the color, is there an official name for tennis ball colors?
What exactly is the color of a tennis ball, and how did it come to be in the first place? We answer these questions and more by taking a look at the history of tennis ball colors.
What color is a tennis ball? The official name of the tennis ball color is optic yellow. It is a fluorescent yellow or electric lime, which is why so many people are confused about whether it is part of the yellows or the greens.
Why Are Tennis Balls This Color?
Relatively young players, and those new to the game, might automatically think that tennis balls have always been this color. That’s not entirely true, as the game has evolved quite a bit over the years. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that people played tennis with white balls, but it’s been a switch in direction that is universally approved.
The optic yellow color is much easier for players to see in all different types of conditions. It does a better job of still standing out even when there is dirt and grime on the ball, which is crucial for players competing for millions and millions in prize money.
It also performs better in twilight situations, which is good news for recreational players who might not have lights at their facility. Being able to play a little bit longer while still doing everything safely helps out.
This color also stands out much better on television. Tennis didn’t really have to worry too much about the ball’s color on television when it was black and white, since light colors would show up as relatively the same.
It wasn’t until sports, and television in general, switched over to being recorded in color. The white ball would sometimes be challenging to follow, and a more vibrant color allows viewers to see where the ball is going, and how fast it is going.
Do Any Other Colors For Tennis Balls Exist?
To this day, tennis balls can still be white in ATP events. The ITF officially approves them, but they are extremely rare. Tournaments do not want to mess with the ball too much, or players would potentially refuse to play. Players have fully adopted optic yellow, and they don’t want to go back at this point.
There are some other colors for tennis balls, but they are used for a variety of other reasons. For example, there are different color tennis balls for training, especially at a younger age. Orange tennis balls are becoming a standard color for starter tennis options to make it very easy to differentiate between the two.
For extremely recreational use, such as hitting around with a beginner or even playing with a pet, there are multi-color options just to make them easier to identify. They can be pretty much any color, but they are not recommended for actual tennis play.
Why Do Some People Believe That Tennis Balls Are Green?
A lot of times, people will misidentify a tennis ball as being green in color. While it might not seem like it makes a big deal at the end of the day, it is important to know why this ends up being the case.
The first thing to keep in mind is that there are different shades of yellow and green. Yellow, by itself, is pretty easy to identify, but it’s hard sometimes to make that distinction when next to each other.
Another thing that makes color identification a little different is the current lighting conditions. In the daytime, a color can look much different than at night. It is not a color people are going to see in the outside world, so some might think that it is a little different.
Finally, some people perceive colors a little bit differently, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Whether it is tennis ball yellow or tennis ball green, most people know what others are referring to.
What Do The Different Colors For Lettering Mean?
It’s already been discussed that there are different colors for younger players in the game of tennis. However, there is different color lettering on tennis balls on occasion, and people might be thrown off by that. What does this actually mean? It usually has to do with the type of court that it is meant to be played on.
Balls that have black lettering are designed for hard courts. They are a little more durable when going up against such a rough surface, and they do a good job of adding playability on hard. These balls can be used on any type of surface, but they are going to perform best on that particular option.
Clay court balls will sometimes have red lettering on them to signify that they are meant for that surface. Even though not all clay is red, that’s the traditional color of the surface. It is a ball that has felt designed to absorb a little more moisture and not fluff up as much on clay courts. It can sometimes be difficult to have a ball withstand all the wear and tear on it when used on a different surface.
Most of these balls are labeled appropriately so that there is no confusion. However, once they are open, it can be a little more confusing when many balls are mixed together. This is a way to differentiate them a bit and allow people to spot which ones are their own quickly.
Of course, along with different coloring are different numbers that help to differentiate balls as well. These numbers are usually the same color for every type of ball, but chances are, they won’t be the same exact number as the balls on the court right next to it. These different identifiers are nothing too complicated, but it just helps to ease the amount of time it takes to get everything situated right.
Will The Color of a Tennis Ball Ever Change Again?
A lot of research went into developing a brand new color for a tennis ball when it was first released decades ago. This was an evolution from white tennis balls, and it’s been pretty much universally loved ever since.
It would take a lot of research and a lot of changes to switch up how the ball looks down the road. Although no one should ever say never, tennis players and fans seem to love the optic yellow. In many ways, it is the color that people associate with the sport more than any other.