• Are tennis balls too dangerous for kids’ eyes?


    Question:

    I am an elementary school nurse. I have been concerned about students playing a game called “wall ball” with tennis balls at recess. I am wondering if there is a significant risk of blunt eye injury because the game involves throwing the ball at high speed at a wall. There have been occasions when students were struck in the eye area by a tennis ball thrown directly or after a bounce. Should I request a ban on use of the tennis balls and replace with larger playground balls?


    Answer:

    Injuries can happen while playing any sport and it is important to minimize these risks where reasonable. There is a delicate balance between implementing safety precautions versus being too restrictive to prevent the participation of various activities. You should have a discussion in conjunction with your school administrators on a case-by-case basis to determine which activities are safe for the kids in the school. Activities that place students at significant risk should be modified, put under sufficient supervision, or curtailed to reduce the risk of injury. Sports such as squash require eye protection at all times. Others such as baseball require helmets but not separate eye protection. If there is risk for a tennis ball to make a high velocity impact to a child's eye in a game like wall ball, your school may decide to ban this game since significant ocular damage can occur. However, other activities that require a tennis ball (such as throwing the ball to each other) may not be banned since they are lower risk for high-impact injuries.


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