A tennis ball machine can help you seriously up your tennis game. In the absence of a professional coach, the best tennis ball machines can help you independently become a well-rounded, agile, and consistent tennis player (Source).
Tennis ball machines sometimes referred to as tennis ball launchers are motorized devices that automatically launch tennis balls to practice.
Most tennis ball machines use counter-rotating wheels. From a basket, or “tank,” balls are fed into a tube by a motor-powered hopper. The tennis ball machine then uses air pressure to release the balls in the desired direction (Source).
Tennis ball machines often come with pre-set drills, and some even give you the ability to program your own. With the ability to randomize launches and create spin, the best tennis ball machines are the ones that closely replicate a real opponent.
A tennis ball machine can help you get the repetitive practice you need to improve your power and consistency. It can also help you save money on lessons in the long run. If you’re a novice tennis player without a coach or an opponent, this is a great way to get better.
Prior to purchasing a tennis ball machine, you’ll want to consider its tank space, which dictates how many balls it can hold. You’ll also need to consider its preloaded drills, and if the drills are customizable. Finally, you’ll want to think about its maximum speed.
Take your tennis game to the next level with these top-rated tennis ball machines.
What is a Tennis Ball Machine?
Tennis players don’t always have a buddy that they can hit the courts with to practice. When situations like this arise, a tennis ball machine will automatically shoot balls at you to help you practice your strokes. This way, you can still get lots of good practice by yourself.
Are Tennis Ball Machines Worth It?
While tennis ball machines are expensive, they are invaluable in helping you improve your game. While you may have to shell out $2,000 or more for a reliable machine, you’ll be able to perform any type of drill, hone your game, and improve your footwork.
How Do Tennis Ball Machines Work?
Tennis ball machines use a counter-rotating wheel mechanism. By using an electric fan, outside air is drawn and pushed into the canister. Then, an electric hopper sends balls into the launch area. The balls are squeezed by a wheel that puts pressure on them and forces them into a circular tube with a small opening (called the detent).
Finally, the ball is lodged to the detent which makes an airtight seal at the tube’s end. At the same time, a plastic flap falls over the entrance and causes pressure to build up. Finally, the air pressure makes the tennis ball shoot out of the barrel.
After the pressure returns to normal, the entrance area is released and another ball enters the tube. The process repeats until all balls are finished.
Comparing The Best Tennis Ball Machines
|Spinshot-Player Tennis Ball Machine with Phone Remote Supported|
|Lobster Sports Elite Grand Five Tennis Ball Machine|
|Match Mate Rookie by Match Mate Tennis Ball Machine|
|Lobster Sports Elite Liberty Tennis Ball Machine|
|Isam Value Tennis Ball Machine|
1. Spinshot-Player Tennis Ball Machine with Phone Remote Supported — The Best Tennis Ball Machine
Notably, you can always keep tweaking the personalized drill with time to increase complexity and improve your skills. Additionally, you can combine vertical oscillation with horizontal oscillation or pretty much any oscillation mode you want to play with for advanced practice routines as well.
However, this unit is ideal for both beginners and tennis pros; it has an easy to understand and easy to use user interface. As a result, even the youngest players can operate it.
Furthermore, this machine allows you to program its settings using your phone and then save them remotely. Thus, all you have to do is press the drill-x button when you use it next.
Lastly, it is also very compact and lightweight: Its dimensions are 50cm in height, 45cm in length, 30cm in width, and 19 kilograms in weight. On the other hand, you would have to separately purchase its 12V and 12Amp battery alongside an eSmart battery charger.
- Wide array of oscillations
- Remote programming of drills via the phone
- Remote control app is free
- Sturdy and not made from plastic
- Affordable compared to most machines
- Extra cost for the main power module
2. Lobster Sports Elite Grand Five Tennis Ball Machine — Most High-End Tennis Ball Machine
Additionally, it also boasts a folding handle and inverting hopper and can fit in both the trunk and the car seat. Likewise, it essential to also realize that when folded up, the machine only measures 29x21x15.5 inches.
Now, regarding functionality, this unit comes preloaded with drills that tennis pros have helped develop. However, you can also customize then save your practices according to your preferences.
Besides that, this machine offers an expanded oscillation function complete with three positional settings: narrow, medium, and wide. These oscillations sharpen both your forehand and backhand groundstrokes alongside your footwork.
Lastly, included in the package is a fast charger that reduces the charging time by 3-6 hours. Although the unit does not come with the remote, you can use your iPhone, iPad, or iPod as a remote control. Alternatively, assuming you lack an Apple device, you can purchase the remote separately.
- High quality
- Wide array of oscillations from three settings
- Pre-loaded drills are like pro drills
- Made from plastic
- Less durable
3. Match Mate Rookie by Match Mate Tennis Ball Machine — Best Inexpensive
Its main feature is a 10-second ball feed delay option on startup that allows one to get into position. Next to that is its triple threat elevation and ball speed of 10mph to 27mph. The speed range helps in gradual skill and defense development.
Additionally, the Rookie weighs only 22 pounds with its aluminum outer shell, urethane pitching wheel, and either aluminum or steel internal components.
Moreover, it boasts user-friendly controls with soft toss at its low speed option to make it suitable for children. It is also easy to set-up because all you need to do is position it on the tennis court and turn it on.
Finally, the unit meets all the US Safety Standards and has a heavy-duty battery complete with a 5-hour battery life.
- Lightweight and long-lasting
- Has a 10-second startup delay
- Perfect for beginners and children
- Too slow for advanced players
4. Lobster Sports Elite Liberty Tennis Ball Machine — The Best Tennis Ball Machine under $1000
To start, this specific model is easy to move around. Second, it has 8-inch all-terrain wheels and folding handle and the inverting hopper alongside 29” by 21” by 15.5” dimensions when all folded up.
Third, it boasts a spin control feature that you can adjust for both topspin and backspin at different levels. Likewise, it offers manual oscillation and ball speeds of 20mph to 70mph alongside an elevation of 0 to 50 degrees to facilitate versatility.
Meanwhile, the unit itself is simply 35 pounds. Its battery is small and lightweight, too, yet able to last up to four hours when fully charged. Consequently, it comes with a fast charger that reduces the charging time by 3-6 hours.
Finally, you can purchase accessories separately if you wish. An external battery pack that extends playing time by four to eight hours and an external AC power source that converts your machine to AC for unlimited runtime are optional.
- 150-balls capacity
- 70mph maximum speed
- Easy to handle ergonomic design
- Provides for the addition of helpful accessories
- Random oscillation to improve ball speed control
- Manual elevation.
- Battery can last just 2 hours if used intensively
5. Isam Value Tennis Ball Machine — Most Versatile Tennis Ball Machine
This unit has a maximum spin option. However, it does not offer control over it. On the other hand, it is still random enough to offer complex drills that ensure you improve your skills.
Additionally, this machine weighs only 29 pounds or 25 pounds for its electric option. That makes it lightweight enough to facilitate easy movement and easy transport.
Moreover, its speed range is 15mph to 70mph. The low-speed option is great for beginners while the high-speed option can cater to semi-pros and intermediate players. It also has an incredible ball capacity of 250 tennis balls with a feed rate is 2 to7 balls per second.
- Easy to use
- Easy to set up
- Advanced players need more of a challenge
Most Common Issues People Have with Tennis Ball Machines
- Too Predictable: When you start using your new tennis ball machine, certain people simply want to work on their stroke. There are others who want a more realistic experience. If you fall into the latter, you are best off getting a tennis ball machine which randomizes things like position, height, spin, and speed of delivery.
- Poor Battery Life: If you are a serious tennis player, you probably also find yourself working on your strokes for hours at a time. People like this can very easily be turned off by tennis ball machines with limited battery life.
- Not Portable: A nice tennis ball machine shouldn’t take too much effort to use. It is common for people to purchase a nice tennis ball machine only to avoid using it because it isn’t portable enough. It shouldn’t be a burden for you to set up your tennis ball machine for practice.
Features of the Best Tennis Ball Machines
To get the best tennis ball machine, you will need to put in a little work. As we have explored, it is common for people to get a tennis ball machine only to encounter problems and frustrations. To help you get one of the best tennis ball machines, here is what you need to look for.
Plenty of Tank Space
Using a tennis ball machine means that you will need to have lots of extra tennis balls at your disposal. In order to spend the most possible time practicing your stroke between fill-ups, find a model that can hold a lot of tennis balls.
Lots of tank space means that you can spend longer periods of time practicing. You will always have to pick up the balls after you are finished. Since you are already in a cage, it is about as easy to clean up 50 balls as it would be to pick up over 100.
Random Ball Speed, Height, & Placement
Unless you plan on playing tennis with predictable players, or ones who only want to work on their volley scores, having a tennis ball machine which can randomize the speed, height, and position should be preferred.
This helps you mimic the experience of playing with a real player. It will force you to run back and forth across the court as you would in a normal game, and get the most authentic experience possible without another player.
Ability to Add Spin
The speed, height, and placement of the ball are features which should ideally be randomized for tennis players of all skill levels. Adding some spin to the ball, though, is a feature that will help you to practice reacting to the strokes of experienced players who can do this.
There is a potential downside to this feature, though. Many tennis players learn to recognize spins by observing how the player strikes the ball. With a machine, you will need to pay more attention to the ball itself.
Convenient Power Source & Life
Any of the best tennis machines will typically be powered by batteries, electrical outlets, or both. Determine which power source will be most convenient for you first.
Although many people will prefer to use a power outlet, it also forces you to bring extension cords. Batteries, on the other hand, are great for portability but also can be a lot less convenient in terms of their total power life.
Lightweight, Portable, & Reasonably-Priced
Unless you have your own home tennis court with on-site storage space, you will constantly need to move your tennis ball machine around. Make sure that the one you purchase won’t end up becoming a burden for you.
Many models come with wheels and handle to make them easier to move. If this feature isn’t present, then you should make sure that the size and weight won’t be an issue. Most importantly, you shouldn’t have to stretch your budget just to get one of the best tennis ball machines.
Ready To Buy The Best Tennis Ball Machines?
This guide has enumerated the best tennis ball machines for players with varying skill levels. Now, all you need to do is take the considerations into account when getting yourself a tennis ball launcher. Then, you will be ready to pick the machine that tallies with your skill level.
We also reviewed some of the best tennis overgrips, so you might want to check that out. Also, here’s a guide that will teach you how to hold a tennis racket properly.
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