Do Tennis Balls Float? Quick & Detailed Answers

do tennis balls float

When most people think of things that float, they think of boats and other large objects. But what about smaller items like tennis balls? Do tennis balls float or sink? In today’s blog post, we’ll take a closer look at this question and find out the answer! Stay tuned to learn more.

A scientific mind often revolves around several questions. You are watching tennis on the screen of your television, but your mind is captured somewhere in the mid of the question: do tennis balls float?

The Answer

Does it sink or float? Tennis balls float on water because they have a thin layer of rubber that is denser than water. The buyout force is caused by pressure from the surface, which pulls up into an air cavity inside the ball stronger than gravity pulling down with its weight as well.

A more detailed answer is given below.

Are rubber tennis balls floating?

Perform an Experiment by Your Own Self

In order to get the answer, there are a number of possible ways. The first and easiest one is to perform the experiment by sub-merging the tennis ball in a tub of water by your own and observe by your own eyes whether it floats or sinks. This is such a low budget and less time taking task. As it just need a tub of water and the tennis ball which is already present in your hand. The task is hardly done in less than ten minutes and any question that clicks your mind gets answered in a satisfactory way when you witness the answer by your own eyes. This is the best way to solve your confusion regarding the above question.

Understand the Basic Physiology of Tennis Ball

The second option is to understand the basic features and structure of a tennis ball in order to come to a conclusion and a single answer of the above question considering that your favorite tennis ball possesses the ability to float on water surface. Because you will not like your tennis ball to sink in the nearby pool or river when you are totally obsessed playing it with your friend or family. You will not like to get your clothes wet by diving in the pool or lake and then picking up the ball to resume the play.

Let us quickly discuss some features of a tennis ball that may drag us close to our hypothesis: TENNIS BALLS FLOAT IN WATER.

Positive and Negative Buoyancy

The fluid exerts some pressure on the object which is sub-merged in it. The buoyant forces are always acted upwards on the opposite side of gravitational forces. According to the concept of buoyant forces in Physics, any item denser than water will sink and the one lighter than water will float. The tennis ball unlike golf balls, are much lighter than water and therefore it floats on the surface of water possessing a positive buoyancy.

The Lighter Structure of Tennis Ball

Consider the structure of tennis ball. The ball is hollow inside and is filled with air which makes it quite lighter in weight. The ball is then covered outside by a thin layer of rubber which is also not denser than water. Rubber balls are less dense than water and they tend to float on water. The outside as well as inside structure of the tennis ball makes it much lighter as compared to water and therefore the tennis ball floats on the surface of water when it is immersed in it.

Filled with Air

As most of the tennis balls sold in market are pressurized and filled with air. This filled air lowers the overall density of the tennis ball: that is mass per unit volume possess by the ball. Therefore, they are able to float on water. But if somewhat this air manages to escape from the tennis ball due to any damage to the ball, then the tennis ball will sink into the water because on dipping it in the water, the water will enter inside the ball making it denser and heavier than water.

The Thin Rubber Layer Outside the Tennis Ball

Moreover, the layer of rubber surrounding the tennis ball is very thin and is quite lighter than water. The outer rubber layer is designed in the way to make a shell around the ball keeping the entrapped air inside. Moreover, it’s lighter weight makes the play easy and convenient. Due to the thin and light rubber layer outside the tennis ball, it floats and here comes another reason for floatation of your tennis ball.

Better Flight Properties

The balls are especially designed to have better flight properties because they are filled with air from inside and felt-covered rubber compound which is uniform all around the surface. This is the reason behind the mighty shots played by Novak. Djokovic and Daniil. Medvedev you love to watch. As the tennis ball possesses better flight properties, they are much lighter in weight and therefore floats on water.

What if The Rubber Damages?

But if somehow the rubber on your tennis ball damages then there is a huge chance of escaping of inside trapped air that will definitely effect the floatation of the ball. Therefore, due to any reason, if the rubber or surface of tennis ball is damaged and air starts escaping, the tennis ball will sink into the water.

Chemistry of Water

Apart from the structure of tennis ball, the ability of an item to float on water also depends on the type and chemistry of water. Addition of certain elements have great impact on density of water. Pure water has a perfect density of 1 whereas seawater as it contains a large number of salts and therefore the density of seawater is more than normal. So, many heavy objects are kept afloat on seawater.

Keep in mind the basic principle: Anything lighter than the water will float so all the items which have density less than seawater will float. So, you can bring your tennis ball when visiting seashore and beach as if it goes into the water, you will not have to dive deeper for questing the ball. You will find your favorite ball floating on the surface of seawater as soon as it is not snatched away from you by the mighty sea waves away from the shore.

Pressureless Tennis Balls

On the other hand, tennis balls which are pressureless are getting popular nowadays. They are not filled with air and possess negative buoyancy and therefore they sink into the water. These balls are not meant for normal use. They are used for general practice and quite fit for tennis lessons. They are usually found in your coach bags. Tennis coaches use pressureless tennis balls as they are more durable than normal tennis balls. They are guaranteed for never losing their bounce maintaining their solid core preventing to be flatten like normal tennis balls. This is the only category of tennis balls that will sink due to its heavy weight and being denser than water.

Puncturing the Tennis Ball

If you are willing to play underwater, then it is desirable to puncture your tennis ball. Because when you are puncturing your tennis ball, it is crystal clear that the air inside will move out and space that was empty due to loss of air will be occupied by the water making the ball denser. In this way, the tennis ball will not float on the surface and can sink in the water. In this way, you can easily play with the ball underwater. The ability to sink in to the water will be due to negative buoyancy which is only seen in a punctured or damaged tennis ball due to its higher density than water. Else, normal tennis balls due to their lighter weight and less density than water will float on the surface of water.

Do balls in general float in water?

Yes. All types of balls float in water and so do the tennis balls. But if they get punctured or damaged then they will be denser than water and sink into the water due to negative buoyancy.

Losing pressure inside or damaging the shell of the ball  will definitely affect the buoyancy of a tennis ball. The water will infiltrate the inside through the damaged area and it will prevent it from floating on the surface.

Tennis balls used for our daily play have a certain amount of pressure inside which if lost due to any reason they sink into the water even though they are normal.

Are tennis balls full of air?

Pressurized tennis balls are filled with air  which is lighter than water. So, when the balls are dropped in the water they float on the surface because of their light weight due to air inside and lower density than water or it’s molecular structure.

But there are also pressureless type of tennis balls which are just a chunk of rubber without air in it.  They are denser than water and they can sink into the water due to their higher density.

Are rubber tennis balls floating?

No,  rubber tennis balls are not floating. They are denser than water and they sink into the water because of their higher density, and lack of air inside  them to make them float. Under normal conditions, tennis balls are floating on water because of their less density and higher air content inside which makes them lighter than water.

Does water hurt tennis balls?

By experience I can tell that a tennis ball which has been exposed to rain or water, will bounce in a different way afterwards. Water does ruin the bounce of the ball and  deadens the speed after it dries and the pressure inside is restored to its normal pace.

In general, water does not harm tennis balls as they are made of rubber. In fact if you will use a pressureless type of ball as the one discussed above as they are not meant for normal play as they sink into the water due to being denser than the water and lack of air inside them.

Final Thoughts

The answer to this question is a resounding, “Yes!” Some people may have been told that tennis balls sink because they are filled with air. In truth, the presence of gas inside a ball does not make it more or less buoyant – all else being equal. A golf ball and an inflated balloon both float in water.

Typically you can tell if something will float by looking at its density relative to the surrounding fluid. If your object has a lower density than what surrounds it (such as helium) then it will be buoyant enough to rise up out of the liquid. A submarine for examples has dense water tanks inside it that are released and fill air spaces in it, making it float, and they turn fluid while the submarine want to sink into the ocean. That’s physics.

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