Tennis Balls To Aid Coaching – Red, Orange & Green

When watching tennis on the television or live at an event, you will be used to seeing a high visibility yellow tennis ball being used which is actually now a symbol of the game. However, in reality new comers to tennis, particularly younger players need to develop their ability and confidence and to do so will require coaching equipment and training aids.

To support the sport and ensure all coaches are training players in the same way and using the same coaching equipment, the International Tennis Federation introduced a 3 step system known as the play & stay campaign which allows a player to progress onto the full game and yellow balls. The steps are marked by a colour, step 1 is red, step 2 is orange and step 3 is green which the actual balls colour coded for easy identification.

At each step the ball behaves differently. The red ball in step 1 is 75% slower than a standard yellow ball and is aimed at players aged 5-8. Players of this age are restricted by average size so the bounce of the ball is reduced to 85-105cm and the court reduced to 10.97-12.8mtr x 4.88-6.1mtr. Due to these changes from the full game, the younger players will have a much greater chance of returning the ball which will increase a players ability and confidence so are much more likely to enjoy themselves and want to continue to progress to the next level.

The next step for players is the orange stage. The orange ball is 50% slower than a standard yellow ball and is aimed at players aged 8-10. Players of this age are still restricted by average size so the bounce of the ball is reduced to 105-120cm and the court reduced to 17.98-18.29mtr x 6.4-8.23mtr. The speed is now increased slightly compared to the red ball and court size slightly increased as a player develops positional skills and is able to return quicker balls.

The final step before moving to the full game is the green stage. The green ball is 25% slower than a standard yellow ball and is aimed at players aged 9-10. Players of this age are still restricted by average size so the bounce of the ball is reduced to 120-135cm but the court is now full size. The idea here is that players can now navigate a full court but still need a slightly slower ball to develop playing skills.

By working through the coloured stages, players will likely be much more able to play the full game with the yellow balls to a much higher standard. Logic suggests that a new player who starts at the top level will not be able to perform, will lose confidence, and ultimately lose interest in the sport. But if coached correctly using the right training aids, can develop their skills and potentially play tennis at the highest levels.

The below chart is our visual aid to further explain the above text passage.

Tennis balls to aid coaching

*information reference the ITF.