Can a Tennis Ball Kill You?

It is Possible for a Tennis Ball to Kill You

Getting hit by a tennis ball can be very unconfortable, but is tennis ball hit enough to make a person die?

How Unlucky Do You Have to Get?

On a normal game where you are NOT playing against someone like Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer, a tennis hit is very unlikely to kill you.

But let’s be as pessimist as possible and imagine that you are walking down the street and one of them is practicing their serve and they hit you on a delicate part of your neck or head.

The fastest recorded serve is around 260 km/h, at that speed I believe there is a real possibility of death by being struck with the tennis bal.

The Ball Was Made to Be Safe

As much as we enjoying seeing chaos, the tennis ball was actually designed to not hurt people and have elastic properties to transfer impact.

The Fuzzy Part of the Tennis Ball

Do you know why they add the fuzz part of the tennis ball?

It is made to limit its speed. The fuzz part of the ball also makes the impact more bearable because the surface is fluffier.

Low Mass and Elastic Properties of the Tennis Ball

Also, a ball has low mass, many of you already know that the momentum is mass * velocity. Because a tennis ball has low mass, its momentum is also reduced.

Someone Already Did Die as a Result of Being Hit by a Tennis Ball

There is a documented case of a person that died as a result of being hit by a tennis ball, but not directly because of the ball impact.

Richard Wertheim Died as a Result of Being Hit by a Tennis Ball

Richard Wertheim was a linesman that suffered a fatal injury as a result of being hit by a tennis ball.

Edberg was a linesman, at that time the linesman used to sit at a high chair. It all happened when he famous player Stephan Edberg sent an errant serve on Wertheim’s groin, unfortunately the blow knocked Edberg backwards and he fell out of the chair hitting his head. He died on the hospital

Several Factors Contributed to His Death

He was sitting in a high chair and that is what enabled the fall in the first place, that practice was banned by the International Tennis Federation after his death.

Also, Richard Wertheim had severe cardiovascular problems before that happened, which likely further contributed to his death.

You Can Get Permanent Injuries and Not Die When Being Hit by a Tennis Ball

Even though dying is extremely unlikely, you can still suffer from some injuries when playing tennis, just like in any other sport.

Detached Retina Injuries When Hit by a Tennis Ball

If the ball catches your eye, that can prove to be a big problem, because forceful impacts can detach your retina and cause eye problems that would even require surgery to fix.

A Tennis Ball Could Break Some Fingers  

A tennis ball is strong enough to dislocate a finger if you are not careful, that can hurt a lot and demands some time to fully heal.

Math Will Uncover the Truth

Math is the great equalizer, math does not respect or disrepect anyone, it simply is. Let the power of mathematics unveil the truth on wheter or not a tennis ball hit can kill a person.

Energy Density in a Tennis Ball of a Top Pro Serve

Well, a normal tennis ball has a mass of 56 grams. If Sam Groth can serve a ball at 263 km/h (73 m/s). The Kinetic energy of the ball becomes 150J. When we ignore how much the bow slows down after the hit. With this data we can arrive at a density of energy of about 40J/cm² on the impact.

Some papers say that narrow objects like ruber bullets needs between 10 and 50 J/cm² to penetrate a human and cause injury, but a tennis ball is much less pointy and not designed to do that, so a tennis ball will not do nearly as much damage.

Likelyhood of the Tennis Ball Being Lethal

It is extremely unlikely that a tennis ball will kill you, the most probable cause is if the ball causes a concussion or hit your trachea in a very specific way.

Tennis Ball Murdering Potential Conclusions

Play your tennis without a worry in the world, because anything could kill you, stop sweating the small stuff and go live.

There a Small Chance that Anything Could Kill You (Including a Tennis Ball)

An airplane could catch on fire right now and land on your room, you could be diagnosed with terminal cancer, literally anything could happen, and that is why we must make this day count.

It’s Extremely Unlikely that You Will Die by Being Hit from a Tennis Ball

Go play tennis, it is a wonderful sport, this is one of the things you absolutely should not worry about, it can happen, but like I already said, if you keep sweating every little thing in life, you will not have a life to begin with.

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