Why Are Tennis Balls Used On Walkers?

Walk around long enough, and chances are you will see a person using tennis balls on the bottom of their walker. It might seem strange at first, but there is a very practical reason why so many people do this. So, why are tennis balls used on walkers?

Tennis balls are used on walkers to create a little more stability and traction when moving around. The regular rubber tips that are on the bottom of walkers can be a little too fragile and slippery at times. Tennis balls provide a cheap solution that is easily replaceable when they start to show too much wear and tear. They are larger than the tips, which means more surface area and increased traction.

Why You Should Use Tennis Balls On Walkers

Tennis balls on a walker make a lot of sense for people of all ages. The main reason why so many people like this setup better come down to the ability to slide around instead of holding part of the walker up. It can be a very frustrating experience, especially for older people who might not be able to move well at all.

Tennis balls don’t have quite the same amount of grip, but most don’t need superior grip when they are walking around. Instead, they want something that has a little more surface area so that it is easier to pick up a place down. They also want something that has some stability but can also glide on certain surfaces.

More Effective Indoor

It is worth noting that tennis balls will be a lot more useful on indoor tile and certain types of cement with coating on it. Tennis balls will not slide on untreated cement or pavement, and it’s pretty hard to do it on certain types of carpet as well.

If you use the walker for sliding at all, tennis balls are worth looking into. While the rubber tips can slide a little bit, they also wear out if treated that way. It can cost $20 or more to replace those tips, whereas tennis balls can cost about one dollar each brand new.

Of course, there are plenty of ways to get used to tennis balls for even cheaper. Since they are going to directly go to the ground, they don’t need to be brand new to serve their purpose. Ask around for donations, and most find the right amount of supplies needed.

Is It Safe To Use Tennis Balls On Walkers?

Most people who end up using tennis balls on the bottom of their walkers are doing so to increase safety. Maybe they had a poor experience in the past with the tips of their walker, or they do a lot of sliding instead of picking up.

Whatever the case is, tennis balls offer a more surface area, and the felt on the tennis ball keeps everything in place. If a person were to use another round object, it likely would not have the right amount of support and ability to glide.

There is always a chance of a rip or tear with the tennis balls, but they are pretty durable. These issues only really occur when a person is trying to slide on a surface that is a bit too rough. The sliding aspect should only be used on specific surfaces.

Argument Against Using Balls On Walker

In the last few years, there have been some people who are actually against using tennis balls on the walker, because there are now alternatives that help with sliding more. Attaching a pair of tennis balls to the bottom of a walker might help stability in the beginning, but if one wears down before the other, it can be a bit uneven.

There are also people against tennis balls on the bottom because of the way they collect so many different germs. This is something to consider, but at the same time, tips and wheels can get dirty really quickly as well.

Just make sure to replace them frequently and everything should be fine on that front. Clean the walker as much as possible if germs are a major issue because there isn’t a solution available yet that doesn’t collect germs.

Tennis balls can be purchased brand new for a cheap price, or found in bulk from a local tennis center. Most of the time, they are throwing balls out that are dead anyway, so they will provide a lot of tennis balls for free. This gives a person no excuse to not replace them frequently.

Who Should Use Tennis Balls On Walkers?

Not just for older people

Older people who have decently strong legs might find it more useful to slide around on their walker instead of using it more traditionally. It comes down to a matter of preference, and some people like the idea of sliding. It takes slightly less effort if the walker is moving smoothly, which is always a good thing during a long day of going places.

They are also very useful for younger children, as it allows them to be a bit more active with their walker. It can still be used traditionally, but the glide factor definitely plays a role as well. Kids don’t want to feel like they are restricted in any way with their walkers. This feels a bit more natural to them overall.

Younger kids also like making their walkers a bit sportier with this finishing touch. The walker moves around easier, and it allows them to even participate in sports. It might not seem like much, but adding a little bit of color to a walker is a cool way to make it unique.

How To Attach Tennis Balls On Walkers

The process might seem a little complicated at first, but once a person gets the hang of it, it only takes a few seconds to prepare a new set of tennis balls to attach to a walker. A ball can be cut properly with just a knife, but some people also use a device for added stability, or a hammer and nail to poke the initial hole.

Below are the full instructions to make a tennis ball ready for walker use. There are some slight variations out there to try if this doesn’t work for a particular walker.

5 Steps for attaching tennis balls to a walker

1. Stabilize the tennis ball so that it does not move around. Those who are used to doing it can just use their hand, but it’s recommended to use a vice or another person in the beginning.

2. Use the knife for an initial hole put into the ball, or the hammer and nail. This is just going to be a starting point for where the actual cuts need to be made.

3. Now that there is a starting hole, it’s time to make an X with the knife. The size of the X should be about 2 inches in length with each cut to fit a standard walker. This will leave four different openings on the tennis ball, which makes attaching it to a walker much easier.

Make sure to cut away from the body when doing this. Most people don’t realize just how tough and durable tennis balls are. That’s great news when it is on the bottom of a walker, but a knife might be hard to use at first. Go with something that is pretty sharp, and be prepared to experience a little bit of a struggle in the beginning.

4. Open up the flaps just enough to put the leg of the walker into the ball. Push all the flaps up so that it has a secure fit. Some people might opt for additional tape or even glue for a more secure fit, but this setup alone should be just fine.

Final Tip: There are certain tennis balls that are easier to attach than others, I listed some of the best tennis balls for walkers in this post.

Things To Remember

Since people attach these to the bottom of the walker, they should stay on fine thanks to gravity for the most part. If they slip off, they are easy to put back on. If they consistently slip off, try to make the opening a little smaller the next time by cutting smaller lines on the X.

It might be tempting to use some type of adhesive that makes the tennis balls more permanent, but that usually does not work out for the best. They need to come on and off, not only to replace them but for certain conditions. For example, if the day includes a lot of walking around on cement, the rubber ends might be better for that surface. There will not be a lot of sliding around.

Final Thoughts

Anyone who is looking to add a bit more flexibility to their current setup should give tennis balls on the bottom a try. If they don’t feel like something that is useful, pop them off and never use them again. Those people who like the idea of having a little bit of color and uniqueness added to their walker will also benefit from this type of setup.

Just remember that if you do find a source for use of tennis balls, collect as many as possible right then and there. Having a good backup supply is a good habit to get into because you should replace them before there is a lot of hair, gum, dirt, and other debris from the ground on them.

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