Why Are Tennis Ball Cans Pressurized

Why Are Tennis Ball Cans Pressurized
  • Extend Their Shelf Life
  • Ensure Optimum Performance Once Opened
  • Balance the Pressure Inside the Ball

   Your Guide

Gavin Davison   Gavin Davison

Let’s be honest – we all love that ‘POP’ when opening a tennis ball can.

Perhaps the only thing better is the scent of brand new tennis balls, although that’s a matter of personal preference!

But have you ever stopped and wondered why these cans are pressurized in the first place?

I have to admit, I’d never given it much thought before addressing this piece.

But as you can see above, cans are pressurized for 3 main reasons.

This involves extending the shelf life of the balls, to guarantee optimum performance, and to balance the pressure with the balls themselves.

And believe it or not, such pressure is required if tennis balls are to be used in professional competitions.

This is dictated by the International Tennis Federation, which is a pretty interesting read if you get the chance.

But coming back to the main point of this piece now, I’d like to highlight in more detail why cans are pressurized.

Of course, this won’t change the way you play the game in any way, shape, or form.

However, it will give you some insider knowledge which I think is pretty cool.

So, let’s get on with it!

Main Reasons Explained in Detail

I didn’t want to just give you the three main reasons and leave it there.

Instead, I wanted to ensure that everyone reading this receives an in-depth explanation for each of the main points.

This is outlined in the information presented below.

1) Shelf Life Extension

I found this to be one of the most interesting factors of them all.

But if you think about it, it REALLY DOES NOT MAKE SENSE.

After all, tennis balls, like other products, don’t have some kind of guarantee that they will be bought by a certain date.

So what better way to keep them as fresh as possible, for as long as possible by selling them in a pressurized can?

When this is done to a high quality, a can of tennis balls can sit there on the shelf for as long as two years before the pressure is NO LONGER ADEQUATE.  

And the only reason that the shelf life doesn’t go beyond this is due to micro leaks in the packaging, which is unavoidable according to the experts.

With that said, you cannot open the can and then play with the tennis balls TWO YEARS LATER and expect the same result.

Once they are opened, the pressure of the tennis balls decreases FAR MORE RAPIDLY.

2) Optimum Performance

We’ve all been there – playing with duff tennis balls during a practice session with friends.

Of course, if the balls aren’t bouncing as desired, you’re going to have a hard time rallying and above all, HAVING FUN!

But if the cans are pressurized correctly, the balls will bounce well straight out of the tin, and they will be lively on the court.

After all, that’s what you want when purchasing a brand new tin of balls.

And in all honesty, as long as you get that popping sound after opening the tin, this alone shows that the balls are in good condition.

The better the pop, the better the balls will perform, in my humble opinion.

And if you’re looking for some of the liveliest balls of all, I’d recommend checking out Wilson, Dunlop, or Babolat tennis balls.

In my experience, these balls tend to perform much better than other brands out there today. 

3) Pressure Balance

Tennis balls are always manufactured to a certain INTERNAL PRESSURE.

This is a requirement if the balls are to be used in professional events, as previously stated.

However, the fact that the can itself is pressurized is actually directly linked with the pressure of the balls.

Since the balls are pressurized to a higher level than air pressure, in order to get the desired bounce, the air inside the cans has to match.

This is done so that the balls DON’T LOSE PRESSURE for one, and also so that they don’t lose their shape while sitting on the shelf.

It’s actually a very intricate process of manufacturing and packaging tennis balls in their cans.

And if you’ve got a few minutes spare, I recommend checking out this video:

Bonus – How to Test the Tennis Balls Straight Out of the Tin

Although prestigious brands like Wilson and Babolat RARELY miss the mark in terms of quality, the same cannot be said for other brands.

And for that reason, I suggest a quick quality check after opening the tin to ensure that the balls will perform as expected.

This can be done by running through the following:

(a) Squeeze the Tennis Balls

You can easily check whether the pressure of a ball is expected by squeezing it.

Normally, you should find it pretty difficult to squash the ball all the way down to the middle.

In fact, you shouldn’t be able to squeeze it ALL THE WAY!

If you can, it’s likely that you’ve purchased some duds and you might want to consider returning them.

I suggest that you squeeze each tennis ball from the can for a quick pressure check.

(b) Drop Them From Shoulder Height and Check the Bounce

Squeezing the tennis balls is the first thing you can do.

But in addition to this, you can perform a quick bounce check by dropping them from shoulder height.

A tennis ball that is pressurized correctly should bounce back to an adequate height.

Depending on the surface, the bare minimum is that the ball should BOUNCE HIGHER THAN YOUR KNEES.

Of course, this can vary somewhat depending on which surface and which ball you are using. 

But as a general rule of thumb, this will give you a good idea of whether the ball is going to perform as expected.

Did you enjoy this piece? Do you have anything you’d like to add? Share your thoughts in the comments if so!

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