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Tennis Ball Vs Lacrosse Ball – 11 Key Differences

Tennis balls and lacrosse balls have very distinct qualities in terms of their size, weight, bounce, speed, construction materials, and usage. Here are 11 ways tennis and lacrosse balls differ:

  • Weight – Tennis balls are 57-59g, lacrosse balls are 110-140g.
  • Size – Tennis balls 6.5-6.7cm diameter, lacrosse 7.2-8.3cm.
  • Bounce – Tennis balls have a soft, fuzzy bounce. Lacrosse balls have a firm minimal bounce.
  • Materials – Tennis uses rubber and felt, lacrosse is solid rubber.
  • History – Tennis balls from the 1500s, lacrosse balls from the 1800s.
  • Speed – Tennis serves 160+ mph, lacrosse ball speeds around 70 mph.
  • Spin – Tennis balls can spin heavily, lacrosse balls don’t spin much.
  • Records – Fastest tennis serve 163.4 mph, no speed records kept for lacrosse.
  • Brands – Wilson, Penn dominate tennis; Maverik, STX big in lacrosse.
  • Storage – Tennis balls lose pressure over time, lacrosse balls durable.
  • Cost – Tennis balls inexpensive, lacrosse balls cost $5-$15 normally.

Below we’ll detail the differences between these two spherical balls to understand how their specialized designs, materials, construction, and physical qualities make them ideal for their respective sports. Game on!

Difference in Weight

Right away, the weight difference is apparent. Regulation lacrosse balls tip the scales between 110-140 grams depending on type. Tennis balls are featherlight at 57-59 grams.

The light tennis ball aids speed and bounce. The heavier lacrosse ball provides solid mass for passes, catches, and shots. The weight surprised me coming from tennis!

Difference in Size

Tennis balls have a diameter of 6.5-6.7 cm. Lacrosse balls are larger on average between 7.2-8.3 cm across.

Lacrosse’s extra size adds heft and a sturdy feel in the stick head. But tennis balls still generate great pace in spite of their compact footprint.

Difference in Bounce

Tennis balls have a soft, modular bounce thanks to their fuzzy felt coating absorbing impact. This creates consistent bounces perfect for racket strokes.

Lacrosse balls bounce much more stiffly off the field due to their hard rubber construction. They retain energy on contact rather than deforming.

I had to adjust my swing when switching between the two to account for the radically different bounce dynamics!

Difference in Materials

Tennis balls have a pressurized rubber core surrounded by a fuzzy felt exterior. The felt enables topspin and absorbs friction.

Lacrosse balls contain solid vulcanized rubber through the core with no coating. The pure rubber withstands high-force impacts from sticks.

So tennis ball materials favor control, while lacrosse balls prioritize hardness and durability on the field.

History of Both Ball Types

Tennis balls evolved from wood and leather to vulcanized rubber cores encased in felt over the past 500+ years as rubber technology advanced.

Lacrosse balls originated as handmade deerskin pouches stuffed with hair in Native American origins. Rubber lacrosse balls emerged in the late 1800s.

Each ball’s development aligns with the evolution of their sport over centuries.

Speed They Travel

Well-struck tennis serves can exceed 160 mph thanks to the racket’s leverage and light ball. The record is 163.4 mph.

Lacrosse balls top out around 70 mph due to their heavy rubber construction preventing faster airspeeds.

So lighter tennis balls achieve substantially faster maximum velocities.

How Fast is a Serve/Shot?

  • Tennis serves average between 115-145+ mph on the pro tours.
  • Lacrosse shot speeds peak around 90-100 mph among elite players.

The lacrosse ball’s weight limits speed vs the fast-launching tennis ball off the racket.

World Speed Records

  • Fastest tennis serve: 163.4 mph by John Isner
  • No official speed records kept for lacrosse shots

The tennis serve speed wars continue escalating. Lacrosse lacks data due to the ball weight.

Spin and Stroke Characteristics

The felt of a tennis ball grips the racket strings to impart heavy topspin on strokes. Lacrosse balls have minimal spin capabilities.

Tennis relies on spin-induced ball curvature. Lacrosse features straight speed paired with finesse handling.

Brands and Manufacturers

Wilson, Penn, and Dunlop lead tennis ball production. Maverik, STX, Brine, Warrior, and Champion dominate lacrosse ball manufacturing.

Both sports benefit from major brands investing in ball technology innovations.

Storage and Maintenance

Tennis balls lose pressure and bounce over time. Storing in pressurized tubes or frequent rotation helps.

Lacrosse balls retain their qualities for years with minimal deterioration if simply kept at room temperature.

So tennis balls require more active inflation maintenance.

Cost Considerations

Basic tennis balls for casual play start under $2 per ball. Even pro-level practice balls cost under $5 per can.

Lacrosse balls normally range between $5-$15 per ball at retail. So they cost a bit more but last longer before replacement.

In summary, tennis and lacrosse balls differ substantially in their specialized materials, bounce characteristics, speed potential, and ideal handling considerations to perfectly suit their respective sports. From fuzzy tennis to solid lacrosse, each ball fills a defined role!