How Long Do Tennis Balls Last?

Do tennis balls expire? A look at the lifespan of tennis balls and how to determine when they need to be replaced.

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The tennis ball is an indispensable element of tennis. If its performance declines, so does your performance as a player. As such, you should know how long do tennis balls last, whether you are a beginner or an experienced tennis player. 

Various factors affect a tennis ball’s lifespan, resulting in a slower, less bouncy, and flatter-looking ball. Once it ends up in these conditions, it is time to substitute your old ball for a new, fresh one.

In this article, you will find more details on tennis balls’ duration, the reasons why they wear out, how to tell if yours needs a replacement, and recommendations on durable tennis balls. Continue reading below for more information on the topic.

How Long Do Tennis Balls Last?

Tennis balls last between 2-9 days for recreational-level players and around 1 hour for professional players. Pressureless tennis balls, on the other hand,  may last even longer than a year!

mario holding dead tennis ball and new tennis ball

Pressurized vs Pressureless Tennis Balls

The longevity of your tennis balls is associated closely with whether they are pressurized or pressureless. But what are the differences between these two types?

  • Pressurized balls, as the name suggests, are made of rubber. They have a hollow space in the middle filled with pressurized gas. Pressureless tennis balls are made of a thicker type of rubber and require no internal air pressure.
  • The air pressure inside a pressurized ball and its composition make it bouncier and easier to handle, whereas pressureless tennis balls feel heavier when you hit them with a racket. I remember my first few times playing tennis; hitting pressureless tennis balls put an immense strain on my arms!
  • Pressurized tennis balls wear out quickly as hitting them makes the air escape from its core through microtears. On the other side, pressureless tennis balls are more durable due to their thick, rubbery composition and lack of internal pressure. I still have a couple of pressureless tennis balls from a few years back, which I can use just fine.
  • Pressurized tennis balls are the most common type; professionals use them in competitive matches. On the other hand, pressureless tennis balls are the go-to choice of instructors during practice.

Do Unopened Tennis Balls Expire?

Knowing why tennis balls are pressurized is important, but even with that information, some of you may be wondering, how long do tennis balls last unopened? Contrary to what might seem like the logical answer, they certainly do not last forever!

Even if they remain inside airtight sealed cans untouched, they will slowly lose pressure. 

Although these cans are isolated carefully to prevent air leaks, they still have what we call “microtears,” from which air leaks. These microtears are so small that any pressure loss is minuscule and does not affect the tennis balls in the short run.

In the long run, the pressure loss will damage the tennis balls. After more than two years since being manufactured, they will have lost enough pressure to make them less bouncy than newly-manufactured ones.

Mario holding tennis balls why do tennis balls go bad

Why Do Tennis Balls Go Bad?

The determining factors on how long do tennis balls last are the type of surface you play on and your level of play.

 Type of surface

Not all tennis courts are the same, and their composition may affect the longevity of your tennis balls. There are four main types of tennis courts: 

  • Clay courts
  • Grass courts
  • Artificial grass courts
  • Hard (acrylic) courts. 

Some other types include concrete, asphalt, and carpet tennis courts. Tennis courts made of grass, artificial grass, and clay courts wear tennis balls down slower than courts made of asphalt, concrete, or hard courts. The abrasiveness of the surfaces in the latter types is much higher, and the friction causes tennis balls to lose air faster and damages their outer layer.

Level of play 

Being a beginner, intermediate, or professional player has a significant impact on the lifespan of a tennis ball. To get a good hit as a professional tennis player, you will need to strike the tennis ball with a considerable amount of force and spin.

However, the harder you strike, the more air or gas leaks out of the ball, causing it to stiffen sooner. Tennis balls last longer for beginners because they strike them with less force.

how to tell when a tennis ball is dead

How to Tell When a Tennis Ball Is Dead?

If you suspect that you may be dealing with a case of dead tennis balls, here are three methods to tell if that is the case:

  1. Decrease in bounce. Does it seem like your tennis ball bounces less than it did in the beginning? Take a new tennis ball, hold your old one and the new one each in one hand, and throw them from the same height. If your old tennis ball bounces significantly less than the new ball, it is your cue for a change.
    mario testing bounce in tennis balls
  2. The sound. As a tennis player, the sound that a tennis ball makes when you strike it should be deeply rooted in your head. If that sound changes and the tennis ball sounds hollow, it may be a sign to replace your ball.
    Mario hearing the sound on tennis balls
  3. A squeeze. Another way to determine if your tennis ball is dead is to squeeze it. Generally, a tennis ball is tough to squeeze; however, with time, it becomes softer. So, if you try to squeeze your tennis ball and you can do so effortlessly, it is most likely dead.
    mario squeezing two tennis balls

Most Long-Lasting Tennis Balls

As a tennis player, you should know the necessity of replacing your old tennis balls. They may wear out, may become stiffer, flatter, and less bouncy, lowering the overall quality of your game.

If you play a lot, chances are you need to change your tennis balls quite often. Frequent replacements will require a substantial amount of money. So, it is crucial to get high-quality, long-lasting tennis balls. 

If you want to step up your game and invest in some durable, new tennis balls, I’ve got the right choice for you! These are the Penn Championship Tennis Balls – Extra Duty Felt. Here are some details about them:

  • They have a thicker felt than regular-duty tennis balls and are approved by ITF and USTA.
  • Their thicker felt makes them less prone to the typical fuzzy-looking appearance tennis balls usually have after a couple of matches. 
  • These tennis balls have a natural rubber body to absorb shock and elastic seams to prevent cracks. 
  • They are well-suited for any surface you may play on and quite long-lasting due to their composition.

I started using Penn Championship tennis balls a couple of years ago. And I can tell you — I noticed a significant difference between their quality and lifespan and that of my old tennis balls. 

Mario holding most long lasting tennis balls

To further testify to their greatness, you should note that Penn Championship has the best tennis balls in America. Not only that, but they are also the standard for all other tennis balls.

At such a low price, it’s no surprise that you get a lot for what you pay.  You may consider purchasing a can containing three of these game-changing tennis balls to try them out, or save some buckets and get 12, or 15 cans. Give them a try, see the difference, and relish the experience!

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I am Mario, a professional tennis player and a USPTA certificated tennis instructor.

Here at TennisRacketBall, we differentiate ourselves from other review sites by actually purchasing and using products. We do not allow ourselves to be bribed! We are 100% honest with our reviews even when manufacturers do not like it.

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