QuickStart Tennis: Balls Designed for Kids
For kids age 10 and under, the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) offers developmental stages for learning the game, including age-appropriate balls, rackets, and court sizes. This program is called QuickStart Tennis and helps make tennis fun and simple to learn for younger children. There are three ball sizes and colors: red, orange, and green. Hopefully, with appropriately sized and paced tennis balls, children will be able to learn skills more quickly and avoid losing interest.
The Standard Tennis Ball
The standard tennis ball is approximately 6.7 cm in diameter and weighs between 56 and 59.4 grams. Yellow and white are the only colors that are approved by the USTA. Most tennis balls are a fluorescent yellow known as “optic yellow.” These balls are designed for adults and children 11 years of age or older. They move at a greater speed than the following types of tennis balls, which are designed for youngsters.
Red stage tennis balls are designed for tennis players ages 5 to 8. These red stage tennis balls are 75 percent slower than a regular optic yellow tennis ball and are often made of foam. The bounce is also significantly lower to adjust to the height of a younger player. With this slower-moving ball, the skill of rallying is achieved more quickly, and more skills can be introduced.
Once students have gained skills from the red stage tennis ball, they can be introduced to the orange stage tennis ball. This ball has been designed for students age 10 and under. This middle-level ball is 50 percent slower than the yellow ball but is made from felt like a normal tennis ball. At this stage, students are able to implement more advanced techniques and tactics while still having the advantage of the ball moving at a significantly reduced speed.
The green stage tennis ball is the closest to the optic yellow ball. Its speed has only been reduced by 25 percent. Like the orange stage tennis ball, this one is also designed for students age 10 and younger, and it still bounces lower than a yellow ball to adjust for the height difference of children. This transition ball helps players continue to develop techniques and movements, and implement advanced tactics at a slower rate of practice.
In conclusion, having different speeds, colors, and bounce heights of tennis balls is of great advantage for young and inexperienced players. It allows them to slow down and focus on techniques, thereby improving their game. Just like when learning a musical instrument, it is important to start slow, then gradually speed up the pace of play. These technological advancements in tennis balls and equipment are a great tool for coaches and students of the sport!