The influence of the ball in junior tennis

In 2012, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) made only the fifth change to the game’s rulebook in over a century. The rule change mandated that low compression balls be used in authorised 10 and under competitions held by the ITF’s member associations. The ITF were publicly criticised for this decision, with many claiming that the softer ball would impeded skill development.

What does the evidence suggest?

A recent study with the best 10 year old tennis players in Australia showed that the use of lower compression “green” balls , as opposed to the standard “yellow” balls, resulted in:

  • Faster rallies
  • More shots played at the net
  • More shots where the ball was struck at a good height (i.e., between the upper leg and shoulder). It was evident that the standard yellow ball often bounced too high
g-v-y-rally-speed

Extracted from Kachel, Buszard and Reid (2015)

 

NOTE: The lower compression “green” balls have 25% less compression than the standard yellow ball.

Ultimately, when the lower compression ball was used, the matches were more resembling of the tactics and speed of play that is seen when watching professional adults play. The next step in this line of research is to assess the influence of ball compression on skill acquisition over an extended period of time.

 

Reference

Kachel, K., Buszard, T., & Reid, M. (2015). The effect of ball compression on the match-play characteristics of elite junior tennis players. Journal of sports sciences, 33(3), 320-326.

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: