How To Choose Tennis Balls – The Ultimate Guide

If you’re looking to purchase the best tennis balls for your needs, you have come to the right place. I need to admit that even though I’ve played tennis my whole life, I didn’t always know the difference between each tennis ball, and I now realize that most times I was not using the right ones. 

If you think about the fact that you’re hitting hundreds (if not thousands) of balls every practice, you should realize how important using the right tennis balls is. If you’re playing with the wrong balls, you’re forming habits that may be difficult to change later on – so it’s better to start off right. 

So how can one go about choosing tennis balls? You need to first assess what your tennis needs are and then choose the balls that match those needs. If you’re buying tennis balls for your kids, you should buy slower balls. If you’re playing on hard courts, you should choose extra duty balls so they last longer. If you live in a high-altitude place, you should choose pressureless balls in order to get the most out of your game. 

If choosing the right tennis balls seems like an overwhelming task, you should find the answers to your questions below. We have broken down the major aspects you should consider when purchasing them, and what you should look for depending on your level, age, and court surface. Lastly, we have selected a list of the best tennis balls for each specific situation. 

Tennis Balls Pressurized vs Pressureless

One of the greatest differences you will find between tennis balls is the fact that some of them are pressurized while others are pressureless. Pressurized tennis balls are made through a process that adds internal air pressure to the balls, which causes them to bounce quite high. Pressurized tennis balls are the most common balls you can find, and they are the official balls of all major tennis tournaments.

Pressureless tennis balls, on the other hand, do not have compressed air inside of them. Because of that, they do not bounce nearly as high as pressurized balls, which also means that they are considered “slower” balls.

Since the standard is for tennis balls to be pressurized, you will usually find some indication in the package that should say the balls are pressureless. However, if you are still in doubt, it is safe to assume that if the balls come inside a package that you need to “pop” (vacuum-sealed), they are pressurized balls. If they are packaged with a box or mesh, they are usually pressureless. 

Tennis Balls Regular Duty vs Extra Duty

One other significant difference you will find in tennis balls is between regular duty and extra duty balls. While the difference in feel will not be nearly as noticeable as the difference between pressurized vs pressureless, the main difference will be regarding how long the balls will last. 

Extra duty tennis balls are made with more nylon than wool, while regular duty ones are made with more wool than nylon. Extra duty balls will feel fluffier than regular ones, which means that they will move a little slower and will last longer on hard courts. 

Regular duty balls are less fluffy and move a little faster, which makes them a good fit for softer surfaces like clay or grass, which do not wear out tennis balls as fast as hard courts do. 

Professional vs Championship Tennis Balls

Finally, the last important distinction between tennis balls that you should be aware of is between professional vs championship tennis balls. Professional balls usually give the player a better feel, but they are more expensive and will not last as long. For those reasons, they are usually the choice for professional tournaments. 

Championship tennis balls are more affordable and durable, and they are the ones you can find in most stores. These balls are still great in quality and they are the percet choice if you’re looking for tennis balls to use for practice or club matches. 

Now that you have a better understanding of the differences between tennis balls, we will go over how to decide which tennis balls you should choose. The first question you need to consider is ‘who will be using the balls?’

Who Are The Tennis Balls For?

Before you purchase tennis balls, it is extremely important to consider who will be using them. A 5-year old kid will have very different needs than a 180-pound professional tennis player, so you need to choose the appropriate equipment. The great news is that tennis ball manufacturers are aware of those different needs, and they make different kinds of balls that are targeted to different players. 


If you are looking for tennis balls for young kids or kids who are just starting to play tennis, it is important to choose balls that will both facilitate the learning process and keep them away from injuries. Thankfully, you can find tennis balls that are specifically made for kids of different ages. 

First, you can find foam tennis balls, which are larger than regular balls and significantly slower, which means that they are the easiest balls to make contact with and the least demanding ones. They are perfect for beginners and kids under 8 years old. 

Second, you can find red felt tennis balls that are specifically made for kids between 6 and 8 years of age. These balls are about 75% slower than regular ones, and they are slightly larger. 

The next step would be orange felt tennis balls, which are the same size as regular tennis balls but are about 50% slower. Orange felt balls are a great fit for kids aged between 9 and 10. 

The final stage for kids before reaching the traditional tennis balls is the green felt. These are the same size as regular tennis balls but travel about 25% slower. They are great for kids aged between 11 and 13. 


Beginner tennis players (whether teenagers or adults), should try to stick to softer tennis balls in order to minimize the risks of injury. There are tennis balls that are made specifically for learning; they feel and play the same as a traditional ball but they are better for your arm. 


Junior players who are playing at a competitive level should consider alternating between softer tennis balls during practice, and switching to championship or professional balls as they approach a competition. This will help them to stay injury-free but still prepare well for tournaments. 

Recreational Players

If you are a tennis player who likes to just come out and play a few times a month, you should consider choosing tennis balls that are very durable. This will limit the amount of times you will need to go out to buy new balls, which will be one less excuse not to play.


Professional tennis players should choose the same balls that will be used in the tournaments they will compete in. 

Players with Injuries

Similarly to beginners, players with injuries should choose tennis balls that will help them not aggravate any injuries. Specially if you struggle with tennis elbow, choosing tennis balls wisely can help minimize the pain.

Your Playing Conditions

After considering the type of player you are choosing tennis balls for, it is important to consider a few other factors that affect your playing conditions. Choosing balls that are appropriate to your playing conditions can ensure that your playing experience will feel much better. 

High Altitude

If you live in a place that is significantly above sea level, you should consider purchasing pressureless tennis balls. Since high-altitude places have significantly higher natural air pressure, tennis balls will automatically travel much faster than if you were playing at sea-level. In some places, it becomes too difficult to play with pressurized tennis balls, and for that reason pressureless balls are the smarter choice. 

I’ve had the opportunity to play in high-altitude places like Bogota, Colombia and Provo, Utah, and in both of these places the tournament organization chose to use pressureless balls. 

Dry vs Humid Weather

If you live in a place that is either quite humid or quite dry, you may want to take that into consideration when deciding which tennis balls to choose.

The general belief is that tennis balls tend to absorb moisture in humid weather, which causes the ball to become fluffier and heavier. If you have injuries or if you struggle generating power in your shots, fluffy and heavy balls may make your life even more difficult.

On the other hand, if you live in a place with dry weather, you can choose to go with softer and heavier balls.

Surface Type

Last but not least, one of the major factors that will influence which balls you should choose is the type of court surface you usually play on. Clay courts are more gentle on tennis balls, which means that they don’t wear out so fast. Hard courts, on the other hand, can make balls go dead fairly quick. So if you don’t want to stop at the tennis shop every week, you want to purchase balls that will last you a little longer.

Our Top Choices

After going over the major factors that should influence your decision-making when it comes to purchasing tennis balls, we came up with a list of our top tennis balls for each different scenario.

Keep in mind that there are several quality brands out there, but the ones below are our favorites.

Best Tennis Balls

  • For kids aged 6 or less: Wilson Starter 36′ Red Foam
  • For kids aged 6 to 8: Penn QuickStart Tennis 36′ Red Felt
  • For kids aged 9 to 10: Penn QuickStart Tennis 60′ Orange Felt
  • For kids aged 11 to 13: Penn Control Plus Green Dot
  • For junior players: Wilson US Open RD
  • For beginners: Pro Penn Marathon Regular Duty
  • For professional players: Dunlop Australian Open
  • For players with injuries: Pro Penn Marathon Extra Duty
  • For altitude play: Dunlop ATP High Altitude
  • For clay courts: Pro Penn Marathon Regular Duty
  • For hard courts: Penn Championship XD
  • Grass courts: Slazenger Wimbledon
  • For dry & cold weather: Pro Penn Marathon Regular Duty
  • For hot & humid weather: Wilson Championship XD

Gui Hadlich

I got a chance to play junior and professional tournaments across the world, and in 2015 I began playing as the #1 player for Pepperdine University, a great division 1 school. I’ve had the chance to play against great names of the new generation, like Christian Garin, Cameron Norrie, and Kyle Edmund. I’m extremely passionate about the mental and technical part of the game. Oh, and I had lunch with Brad Gilbert once.

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