Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: High Altitude Tennis

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
I need to know the difference between low altitude tennis balls and high altitude tennis balls. Thank you
- Andrew Oliver (age 13)
Challenger Middle School, co,colorado springs,USA
A:
Andrew -

'High altitude' tennis balls have diameters that are about 6% larger than 'low altitude' tennis balls. The reason for this is because at high altitudes, the air pressure is lower. When the tennis ball flies through the air, the air pushes against it and slows it down (this is called air resistance). How much air resistance there is depends on the air pressure and the surface area of the ball. Since less air pressure would mean less air resistance, they compensate by making the balls bigger. This way there is about the same amount of air resistance on a 'high altitude' ball at high altitudes as on a 'low altitude' ball at low altitudes. So the game should play the same way.

For a detailed description of the different kinds of tennis balls, click .

-Tamara and Tim

(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-up on this answer.