Why Are Tennis Balls Used On Walkers? Are They Effective? (Bonus – Recommendations on pre-cut tennis balls and glide skis)
Have you noticed that some people have tennis balls at the bottom of their walkers? There is a good reason for that.
Many people find that having attaching tennis balls makes walkers easy to use. Tennis balls provide better traction and stability for the walker. It allows people to slide the walker rather than lift them. They also have more surface area than the rubber tips that come with the walkers.
Tennis balls also make the walker quieter and helps avoid squeaky noises as you walk around. In addition, putting tennis balls on walkers protects the floor.
Why do people put balls at the bottom of the walker?
Walkers usually come with rubber tips at the bottom – where the walker meets the walking surface. But the tips tend to be narrow and slippery. They don’t provide a lot of stability.
Putting tennis balls at the bottom of the walkers allows users to glide the walker instead of lifting them, and provides better traction and stability.
But if you put tennis balls at the bottom of the walkers, there is more surface area compared to the rubber tips. This provides more surface area, and hence more stability compared to rubber tips.
More effective on uniform surfaces
Tennis balls work best on uniform surfaces – for example, cement and tile. These surfaces can be indoor or outdoor but as long as they are uniform and smooth, it works well. But it does not work well on uneven surfaces.
Tennis balls are inexpensive and can be replaced easily. Replacing rubber tips means you have to find the right size. The rubber tips are not stable.
Disadvantages of using tennis balls
Tennis balls attract dirt and germs. This is especially true if you walk outdoors. As time goes on, balls become brown as tennis balls quickly pick up dirt due to their texture.
They also tend to wear unevenly based on use. So you have to replace them periodically. If you don’t have tennis balls, ask your friends. Tennis balls are inexpensive, you can buy them at the store.
How to attach tennis balls to walkers
- Get two tennis balls. The balls go on the two back legs of the walker.
- Hold the ball in a vice or your hand so that it doesn’t move.
- Make a small cut on the tennis ball with a knife. When you cut, move the ball away from you and not towards you for safety.
- If cutting with a knife is too hard, make a small hole on the tennis ball with a nail and hammer, and then use the knife.
- Expand the cut to make an “X” about 2 inches in length. You will now have four openings on the tennis ball.
- Open up the flaps and push the tennis ball up (and the walker’s legs down) into the ball. If the hole is the right size, the ball will stay in place on its own. I have seen people use tape or glue but it is usually not necessary.
Buy pre-cut tennis balls
If you are unable or do not prefer to cut the tennis balls, you can buy pre-cut tennis balls.
Balls are available in multiple colors. You can just slide them and you are ready to go.
Alternatives to tennis balls
While tennis balls are great, there are other options you can consider as well. The ski glides go in the bottom of the walker just like the tennis balls but have a much lower profile and don’t stand out like tennis balls. These work great in carpeted areas and hardwood floors.