using worn-out balls to practice serves. Good idea or bad?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by DonDiego, Aug 28, 2014.

  1. DonDiego

    DonDiego Hall of Fame

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    I have these hundreds of balls that are just too worn-out to play matches with (they're not completely flat but they lost too much pressure).

    I see two benefits of using them for practicing serves: zero cost, and they will be better for my arm, since I've had issues with golfer elbow, and practicing serves too much (with improper technique while being too tense), contributed to that. On the other hand, I'm wondering if it would be a bad thing since these balls do not replicate exactly the sensation of new balls that I will be using for matches.

    What do you think? If I practice too much with these balls, will it hurt my serve more than helping it? Thanks.
     
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  2. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Flat balls have more jarring on your racket. So imo it worse for your arm. And yes if they are flat it will make you compensate for the ball which makes you less consistent with real balls on serve.
     
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  3. DonDiego

    DonDiego Hall of Fame

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    What I thought. Thanks!
     
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  4. Captain Ron

    Captain Ron Semi-Pro

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    Use good/new balls for practicing serve. I just buy 5 cans of cheap balls at one of the box stores every now and then for practicing serves.
     
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  5. taurussable

    taurussable Professional

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    depending on how old the balls are.

    A new can of ball for a match, into the 2nd or 3rd set already loses a lot of pop.
     
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  6. Tight Lines

    Tight Lines Semi-Pro

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    Really?? Intuitively, I would think it's just the opposite. How would softer balls be worse for your arm?

    Harry
     
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  7. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    If you're gonna play tennis matches with good tennis balls, you need to practice with good tennis balls.
    A real fast serve is a fast motion with very little effort. With flat balls, more and more effort is needed to move that ball quickly over the net, ruining your motion for hitting fast serves.
     
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  8. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Easy to test. Take a flat ball. Hit a serve. Take a new ball. Hit it. You feel the jarring and weight of the ball much more with a flat ball. Flat balls feel harder. You need the ttw science crowd to tell you why. I'm not sure why.
     
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  9. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Possibly, longer dwell time without the rebound quickness to release from your strings. While the flat ball has less nap, it also usually carries a certain amount of dirt on it, so it's not any lighter in weight.
    In the end, most players swing faster to hit a flat ball slower, so they swing even faster, beyond a solid consistent range, hurting the arm, increasing impact.
    Bud and I hit in the pouring rain with new Dunlop balls once. Heck of a workout, hitting that heavy wet ball, after just 30 minutes. Both our arms were sore.
     
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  10. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    There is a threshold. I have come across old soft balls which feel like those red or orange balls or whatever they call them which feel like you are getting a massage, and then I have come across old balls which feel like rocks. I think there is some kind of physics going on which involves both the softer feel due to fall in pressure as well as the loss of relative elasticity of the rubber skin with decrease in size which gives it a harder feel.
     
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  11. DonDiego

    DonDiego Hall of Fame

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    I just feel bad about throwing all those balls away, they're still in decent shape (like they were used for 4-5 sets). I'll try to find a place to donate them, I know lots of kids at the park play with balls in much worse condition than these.
     
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  12. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I usually use old bad balls with players whose playing level sucks. With better players, I provide new balls to keep them happy. I choose my balls depending on the respect I have for the player.
     
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  13. Booger

    Booger Rookie

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    All of mine end up at the local dog park. They never go to waste.
     
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  14. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    I'm going to defend the cheapskate position that there's nothing wrong having a hopper full of mostly flat balls for serve practice.

    Yes, flat balls will come off the racket slightly differently than new balls, and in general won't serve as fast. But for the majority of us, I don't think that it makes much difference for everyday practice. Especially if we hit some practice serves with fresh balls before a match.

    Flat balls are a pain when practicing ground strokes, because the bounce is all off. During serve practice, flat balls toss in the air the same as fresh balls and the rebound angle is only slightly different. It simply isn't worth the money to buy fresh balls every time you want to practice serve.
     
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  15. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    Probably do more harm practicing "hundreds" of serves, regardless of the balls used. Many people just go hit baskets of serves - no warm up, no thought to technique (other than that they think its good), no arm/shoulder strength/flexibility routine (something I think anyone who plays tennis should have), and just hitting too many serves in a row leading to fatigue.

    Be smart about how you practice serves. Don't over do it as there is a point of diminishing returns, both for improvement and for possible injury. Space it out throughout your practice. Do 25-50 at a time. Play practice points (IMO, the best serve practice). Film yourself. Work with a coach or partner. Learn about and include arm health as part of your fitness routine. You'll be better for it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2014
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  16. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Hall of Fame

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    old balls have longer dwell time because they compress more against the stringbed at contact. new balls have more pressure so they come off the stringbed quicker at contact.

    whether old balls are harder on your joints vs new balls? the answer is "it depends." i find that some ball such as wilson harden after a few sets of play while other balls such as slazenger wimbledon balls remain soft and comfortable until they have to be thrown away when they finally split. the quality of std penn ball isn't consistent. some play well for a long time and soften with time as they lose pressure while others actually harden and start feeling like rocks as they lose pressure. you can even hear the difference in sound when you strike the ball.

    can you practice serves with flatter balls? sure. i find that i actually generate more spin with less pace practicing my serves w/ older balls even though the felt covers are worn down because the ball stays on the stringbed longer while new balls will bounce higher and travel faster due to greater pressure but with less spin because it's coming off the stringbed quicker.

    i don't find that practicing serves with old balls to be detrimental. when i switch to fresh balls for a match, it takes but a few serves to adjust.

    my 0.02
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2014
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  17. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Hall of Fame

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    +1...these are the same as my observations
     
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  18. DonDiego

    DonDiego Hall of Fame

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    Wise words.
     
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  19. Shroud

    Shroud Hall of Fame

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    I just bought a new case of ATP Penn's to fill my hopper. They are the ball I normally use...
     
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