Tennis balls and baseballs, used for the sports they’re named after, look quite similar at first glance.
However, not only do tennis and baseballs perform differently and have different uses, but they’re made differently, and they aren’t the same weight or size.
Learning about these two types of balls can give you a better feel for the sport and how the balls function.
What is a tennis ball made of?
Tennis balls are made of compressed rubber. In the middle of this rubber, there is a pocket of air.
It’s this air and rubber combination that gives the ball so much bounce, and this is what allows it to be hit with a racket or bounce over the net.
On the outside, tennis balls are covered in a layer of felt.
The felt on the ball isn’t solely decorative. It actually helps to reduce drag, which allows the ball to fly more easily through the air.
Regulation tennis balls must have either white or fluorescent yellow felt, but tennis balls made for casual play can be any color.
Tennis balls used in professional play, and any professional-grade balls used in casual play, are pressurized inside their can so that they retain the correct internal air pressure and therefore remain as bouncy as possible.
As soon as a tennis ball is taken out of the can, it begins to lose pressure and therefore loses bounce.
Old tennis balls will need to be replaced periodically when they no longer bounce like they used to.
In professional play, tennis balls are tested for bounce before they’re used in a match.
How big is a tennis ball?
Not all tennis balls are exactly the same size.
This is largely due to how the tennis balls are made and how much wear they have.
However, in order to be entered into play in the International Tennis Federation, tennis balls must fall in between certain sizes.
The diameter of the ball needs to be between 2.57 and 2.7 inches or 6.54 to 6.86 centimeters.
How much does a tennis ball weigh?
Tennis balls don’t all have to be exactly the same size, and their weight doesn’t have to be the same either.
The International Tennis Federation has decided that any balls between 1.98 and 2.1 ounces or 56 and 59.4 grams are acceptable.
Tennis balls must be within an exact size and weight so that they behave as expected when they’re struck with the racket.
Professional players know exactly how to strike the ball so that it flies or bounces as they need it to.
Great technique with the racket and a good feel for how the ball will move often helps players win their matches.
What is a baseball made of?
Instead of a compressed air center like a tennis ball has, baseballs have either a cork or rubber center.
The center is wrapped tightly in yarn, which is then wrapped in leather.
The leather is usually applied in two pieces, with each piece shaped like a large number 8 or a peanut.
This leather is stitched onto the ball, and the shaping and stitching give the baseball its iconic look.
Most baseballs, including those used in professional play, have white leather and bright red stitching.
The logo of the maker or any other special information about the game the ball was used in is printed on one side.
Baseballs used in casual play, however, can be any color.
Because of how they’re made, baseballs are quite durable.
However, when they’re used frequently, especially when they’re used in fast-pitching, hard-hitting Major League Baseball, they can begin to come apart quickly at the stitching.
Pitchers will often carefully examine a baseball before using it, and if they feel the ball has too much wear on it, they can ask to change it for a new one.
How big is a baseball?
Like a tennis ball, baseballs can fluctuate a little bit in size.
However, any regulation baseball must be between 9 and 9.25 inches or 22.9 and 23.5 centimeters in circumference, with a diameter of between 2.86 and 2.94 inches or 7.26 and 7.5 centimeters, making a baseball just slightly larger than a tennis ball.
How much does a baseball weigh?
Baseballs are allowed to weigh between 5 and 5.25 ounces or 141.7 and 148.8 grams in professional play.
The size and weight of a baseball are crucial to the sport.
Pitchers can get a feel for the ball, and they can then hold their hands or fingers differently in order to throw various types of pitches.
A fastball, for example, usually comes straight at the batter, but it flies at exceptionally fast speeds.
A sinker appears to come straight to the batter, but it drops abruptly just over the plate.
This helps the pitcher challenge the batter, and a good pitcher with great skills can often mean the difference between winning or losing a game.