Why Tennis Balls Are Sealed In Cans

Whether a game of tennis is played at a local park, or a Grand Slam event, every ball starts in a pressurized, airtight container. Almost always sold in threes, opening a can of tennis balls is very similar to popping open a canned beverage.

While most of us take it for granted that this is just how things work, why are tennis balls sealed? Are there any specific reasons behind it? That’s what we will go through in this article.

Why are tennis balls sealed? Tennis balls are sealed and pressurized in a can because it makes them perform better. There need to be a certain amount of pressure inside each tennis ball and the manufacturers seal the cans with that amount of pressure. Open tennis balls start to lose air right away.

The Science Behind Pressurized Tennis Balls

All competitive tennis balls come pressurized, but what goes into the process? Tennis is a unique sport in a lot of ways since it uses a ball filled with air differently than any other. Unlike sports such as football, basketball, and volleyball, there is no way to pump a tennis ball back up with air. This means as soon as a tennis ball is out of the can, it only has a limited time before it deflates too much and becomes dead.

Tennis balls have about 15 pounds of pressure inside of them. A sealed canister of tennis balls uses the same amount of pressure to create a local equilibrium. To put it in simpler terms, the canister stops air leaks out of each ball. Tennis balls that aren’t sealed will feel dead right out of the can.

On occasion, tennis balls are sealed, but the can itself is very squeezable. When that’s the case, it means that there was some type of leak. If that happens, don’t even bother opening up the can from the top. Instead, either pass up on buying them, or return them for another can or a full refund. Popping the top off will make the store unable to tell if they lost pressure before or after.

Every serve, groundstroke, and volley slowly but surely deflates each tennis ball. It also is on a timer right after opening, because air will slightly leak out even if they sit there and go unused. That is why it is always thoroughly recommended to not open a can of tennis balls until they are ready to be used. 

How Long Does a Sealed Can of Tennis Balls Last?

Cracking open a new can of balls means that most tennis players have a few hours of consistent play at most. The balls will start to be noticeably different and look and bounce after just one hour of heavy playing.

It is such a difference that at the pro level, matches switch balls every nine games. A combination of extremely hard-hitting and long rallies wear out the tennis balls a lot more than most people realize.

For recreational players, after that initial play, most will use leftover tennis balls for practice or casual hitting until they are completely dead. Even when tennis balls are dead and don’t bounce the way they should, they are still useable in many different ways off the tennis court. Dogs love tennis balls, and some people repurpose them for a way to slide chairs or even provide padding between a piece of furniture and a wall.

As far as the felt cover and color goes, the ball will normally lose pressure before it becomes unusable from that perspective. The neon yellow-green color can withstand some dirt, sweat, and anything else down its way without getting too dark right away.

Saving Money On Tennis Balls

Since tennis balls are one of the true necessities for tennis players, everyone is always looking for great deals out there. Unfortunately, cans of tennis balls rarely go on sale. That is partial because stores don’t make too much money on tennis balls as it is.

They are priced with very little profit margins for stores, and part of that is due to how bulky they are. It’s difficult to ship tennis balls and not pay a lot of money because of how much space they take up.

About the only legitimate way to save money on tennis balls, other than the random clearance sale, is to buy in bulk. Cases of tennis balls usually end up costing a little less. A 12- or 24-pack of cans, as long as they remain sealed, are going to be just fine sitting around and waiting to be used.

Pressureless Tennis Balls

The vast majority of tennis balls come sealed, but there are pressureless tennis ball options available. These are mostly used for either beginners or practice situations. No one uses these for actual matches, since the ball doesn’t feel the same as a normal tennis ball.

These tennis balls can get away with not being pressurized because they have a significantly thicker and harder rubber. This means that it doesn’t need the same type of pressure inside to bounce consistently. The downfall is that these balls feel a little harder, and never really have that lively bounce of a fresh can of tennis balls.

Getting The Most Out of Sealed Tennis Balls

Tennis balls might not cost that much to buy one can, but it can add up in a hurry for those people who play multiple times a week. To get the most out of each can of tennis balls, never open them up before it is time to play. That’s just going to reduce their life and make it frustrating for players in the beginning.

For practice purposes, think twice before cracking open a new can of balls. It’s always enjoyable to hit with lively balls, but most people will still find it just fine sitting around with used ones. Save the new cans for matches to cut down on cost a bit.

Other than that, there isn’t too much a person can do to reduce the risk of tennis balls losing their bounce. Instead of worrying about it, just enjoy playing tennis and hitting balls throughout the week.

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