Beginner tennis players can range in age from 4-year-olds to adults. The type of tennis ball to buy beginners depends on their age, coordination and mobility. Junior players typically start to learn tennis on a shorter tennis court. Tennis ball manufacturers, including Penn, Gamma and Wilson, have designed a series of balls to accommodate the court size and the different ages. Adult beginners may also find that learning tennis is easier using balls designed for juniors.
Age 4 to 6
For beginners at this age, it is best to buy foam tennis balls made with high-density foam. These balls are very light weight, slightly larger than a regular tennis ball and travel at 75 percent the speed of a regular ball. Foam balls have a slower bounce, allowing children plenty of time to react to the balls. Because the balls are soft, there is no jarring of the arm when balls are hit. Foam balls can also be used indoors without the fear of damaging the furnishings.
Low-compression balls, those that are pressurized at 25 percent of regular tennis balls, are also a good choice to buy beginners at this age level. They have the look of a real felt tennis ball; however, they are lower bouncing.
Age 6 to 8
Buy low-compression balls that are pressurized at 50 percent of regular tennis balls for beginners at this age level. The balls feel like regular felt tennis balls; however, they are softer and are easier on the racket and arm. Children in this age bracket find controlling these balls easier and tend to stay focused on their technique. The balls have a modified bounce; the height of the bounce is lower, which gives the player more chance of keeping the ball in play. One benefit to low-compression balls is that they are long-lasting and do not go flat like regular pressurized balls.
Age 10 and Above
Children in this age bracket are starting to play on a full-size court but are still learning control and technique. Buy low-compression starter balls. These are pressurized at 75 percent of regular tennis balls. With a slightly slower speed and a more controlled bounce, beginners start to be more consistent while grooving their strokes. These balls ease beginners into playing with regulation tennis balls.
Although adults are strong enough to hit regular tennis balls, sometimes learning comes a lot easier with low-compression balls. Buy those that are pressurized at 75 percent of regular tennis balls. The lack of pressure slows the ball down just enough to allow beginners to concentrate on the stroke mechanics and to start gaining consistency and control. Once adults become more consistent and skilled, any brand of regular tennis balls can be used.
Buy practice balls for beginner adults who may spend a lot of time practicing with a ball machine. These balls have no pressure and are made with an ultra-durable rubber core and heavy-duty felt. The benefit to these balls is that they are very durable and do not go flat. Pressureless practice balls typically are two-toned, which visually aids beginners who are learning to hit the ball with spin.
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