Top 4 Best Tennis Ball Machines 2017 – 2018: Reviews, Buying Guide & Drills
When you have no human opponent to play against and practice your tennis drills, that’s when a tennis ball machine comes handy.
This equipment will assist you in sharpening your footwork, ball placement, get control over Ball speed/spins and build stamina. Best Tennis Ball machine is the one that is durable, provides various oscillations and is easy to carry around.
Even Tennis Pros use Advanced Ball machines that are as challenging as human opponents, shooting balls randomly with different spins, speeds, and heights.
Following Tennis Ball Machine reviews will provide better understanding regarding their functional aspects.
Top 4 Best Tennis Ball Machine 2017 on the Market
Best Under $1000
Best OVERALL but High-end Model
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In-depth 4 Best Tennis Ball Machine Reviews:
Ergonomically designed with just 35 pounds of weight, the Lobster Sports Elite Liberty is an extremely lightweight and durable Tennis Ball Machine. Even if the hopper is full with about 150 balls, you can still maneuver this unit around easily with the help of its oversized wheels provided.
An ideal purchase for beginners as well as intermediary tennis players, Elite Liberty helps to sharpen your skills to control ball speed and ball spin capably. It provides complete corner-to-corner random oscillation offeedsin horizontal direction with ball speed ranging from 20 to 80 mph. Thus, beginners and moderate tennis players can equally from this tennis ball machine.
This unit demands battery charging and has maximum court time of about 2 hours. You can easily elevate the machine manually from 0° to 50°. Lobster Sports Elite Liberty allows ball spin adjustment to both, topspin as well as backspin and at various levels.
The product comes all-included with a basic battery charger, remote control with 2-functions, Fast Charger of 1 Amps, Premium Fast Charger of 3-Amps, a cover to protect the machine while storage and an External AC power supply.
- Oversized wheels and extended handle makes portability of the unit stress-free
- Random oscillation of feeds helps you to gain control over ball speed
- Great value for money
- It provides 0° to 50° lobs, you can efficiently perform overheads drills
- Hopper has the capacity of 150 balls
- Maximum ball speed goes up to 80 mph
- Extremely lightweight design, weighs just 35 pounds
- Comes with remarkable extra accessories for suitable use
- Elevation adjustment has to be done manually
- Does not allow vertical oscillation
- Battery capacity is only up to 2 hours of court time
- Damp balls might cause machine to be jammed
Spinshot introduces their version of Advanced Tennis Ball Machine that works on battery.
Innovatively designed machine allows you to customize the program of height, ball spin, ball speed, feed rate and its direction, all for every 6 consecutive shots. And so, even Tennis Pros can practice different tennis drills proficiently.
All of these settings will be saved into your customized tennis drill. User-interface of the machine is very easy-to-understand; you can create 2-line drill set up at any height/width. You can also combine vertical oscillation along with horizontal oscillation for advanced practice routines. This unit is phone-remote supported, so, you can make all these settings easily on your phone and it will be saved into the unit. For your next practice session, you will just have to select the drill-x button and the machine will start with your personalised drill.
Spinshot-Player weighs about 19 kilograms, which is fairly lightweight to carry around on the court. For easy and quick portability, it comes included with the towing wheels. The product comes included with aSmart battery charger for your suitability.
- Allows Randomoscillation- Both Vertical and horizontal
- Phone-remote supported; You can program each and every shot on your Phone
- Remote control feature does not demand additional charges
- You can customise your Tennis drills by inputting programs
- Sturdy and durable tennis ball machine; Not made from plastic
- Comparatively affordable
- Battery is not included with the product
- Unit looks pretty bulky
- Some users might find it difficult to customize the programs
From its ergonomically designed structure to its oversized transportation wheels, Lobster Sports Elite 2 is a great Tennis Ball machine formoderate and advanced players. The hopper has the capacity of 150 balls and the battery can stay active for about 4-8 hours of court time.
Elite 2’s Random Triple Oscillation lobs in Horizontal as well as Vertical direction with ball speed ranging from 20 mph to 80 mph. Meaning, these shots are randomly lobbed in left, right, short as well as deep directions. You can even set the Random Oscillations in Vertical/Horizontal combinations. The unit weighs about 44 pounds and measures 21” x 14” x 20”.
The feed rate of the tennis ball ranges from 2 to 10 seconds. The product comes all-included with a battery charger. Not just forehand or backhand, the Elite 2 can enhance all of your strokes and also help to speed up your reaction time. With 50 degrees of electronic elevation, you can sharpen your overhead drills as well. Ball spin can be adjusted to both, topspin as well as backspin.
- Elevation can be adjusted from 0° to 50° electronically
- Backed with 2 years of warranty period
- Random Triple Oscillations: Horizontal, Vertical, Horizontal + Vertical
- Maximum ball speed can go up to 80 mph
- Offers topspin as well as backspin
- 4 to 8 hours of battery capacity
- Comes with Oversized Transportation wheels
- Battery recharging process take too much time
- Folding handle seems to be made from poor-quality material
- Overcharging the battery with provided charger can damage it permanently; Premium fast charger needs to be purchased separately
Crafted with high-end features and an exceptional functionality, the Lobster Phenom II Sports Machine is one of the first-class Tennis Ball machines available.
Thel eading-edge Digital technology of this unit offers you a fully programmable machine that lets you personalize drills to 18 shot locations by customizing balls speed, ball spin, and feed rate.
It also comes with 3 predetermined court drills with 6 shots each, for ease of use. Ball speed can range from 35 mph to about 85 mph. The ball spin can be delivered in topspin as well as backspin, whereas the ball feed rate ranges from 2 to 9 seconds.
The hopper has the capacity to accommodate about 250 balls and the elevation can be adjusted electronically from 0° to 50°. Phenom II comprises of unique features like random oscillations in both, horizontal and vertical directions. It also allows random 2-line oscillations that can be narrow, wide &medium.
Best thing about Phenom II is that it has the ability to provide Completely Random Oscillations, with random ball speed, random ball spin and random feed rate. All these features, qualify this unit to be an impeccable choice for advanced tennis players. But, this unit demands an AC Power Source.
- High-end features and integrated with innovative technology
- Fully Programmable machine allows customization of drills
- Backed with 2 years of warranty
- Fully Random Oscillations lobs balls across whole spectrum of the court
- As compared to other high-end models, Phenom II is affordable
- Comprises of pre-programmed drills for improving your skills
- Oversized Control Pad with large-sized readouts
- Weighs about 99 pounds, might be hard to maneuver around
- Remote control is not included with the product
How does a Tennis Ball Machine Work?
Functioning of a Tennis Ball machine depends what mechanism is integrated inside. Generally such machines are incorporated with 2 types of mechanisms.
Most of the Tennis ball machines available in the market comprise of counter-rotating wheels. Whenever the machine gets started, outside air is sucked inside by an electric fan and further pushed into the canister.
This air is passed from a strip of foam and a screen barrier, so that the fan motor does not get affected by outer debris or dirt. Electrically-powered hopper will now pass the tennis balls into the launching area.
There is a gap between Counter-rotating wheels where the speed of the ball will be intensely pressurized, causing them to channel through a circular tube. This rubbery circular section is known to be a ‘detent’, which finally finds a way to a small opening.
When the ball is channeling through the detent, an airtight seal is created at the end opening.
Now, the Tennis Ball is being pressured by air and simultaneously the detent offers resistance to this pressure. When the air pressure defeats the resistance offered by detent, the ball will be lobbed from the tube towards the court.
After this, the flap located at the entry opening gets free and the next ball enters the detent.
Counter-rotating wheels are also deliberately used to customize the tennis shot. Angle, ball spin, ball speed of the shot are adjusted by changing the rotating speed of these wheels.
When one wheel rotates way faster than the other wheel, then that is how the types of ball spins are created.
Use of Pneumatic Pressure
Formerly, using Pneumatic Pressure for launching tennis balls was one of the simplest and most common mechanisms found in the tennis ball machines. Air pressure is a major powering factor used in such mechanisms. A motor will pressurize the ball and cause it lodge into a tube.
This tube comprises of a collar whose diameter is somewhat smaller than the diameter of the ball. Which is why, the pressure gets build and the ball is then lobbed onto the court.
Machines that use Pneumatic pressure as their key mechanism generally tends to make noise while launching. Ball spin on such machines is also not very precise. They are comparatively inexpensive than the machines that use counter-rotated wheels.
Does Tennis Ball Machine really Improve Game?
And the answer to that question is, yes. Even though, low-end and intermediate models might not be as challenging as playing opposite a human player. However, using a Tennis Ball machine can really help beginners and intermediate players to get used to the consistent throws, ball speed and ball spin. These machines do not get exhausted from throwing balls, as a human would be!
Some advanced machines are as good as a human opponent; they are capable lobbing balls near to the net and near the baseline with different heights and spins to immensely challenge you.
By increasing the feed rate and ball speed, you can intensify your drills and enhance your reaction time towards the lob. A Tennis ball machine is a perfect equipment to be used right after you have had your training session with a Professional Human Mentor. That way, you can learn the tactics better, constantly practice the learned shot and improve your game for the next training session.
With high-end models, the ball can be lobbed in various random directions all across the court. This way, your physical activity is highly stimulated, focusing power is improved, footwork and handwork develops and you can attain a great cardio workout.
How to use Tennis Ball Machine?
Consistent practice sessions and tennis drills will help you gain dominating control over the ball speed, ball spin and your ball placement. Tennis ball machine is one of the best sports gears with which you can master your shots and practice different tactics.
If you are beginner, you can start with 2 filled hoppers and practice different drills, while taking breaks whenever needed. For more advanced users, you can use a fully filled hopper to perform just one drill without taking a break.
Try to enhance your deep corner and deep centre shots. This way you can build up a strategy and get your opponent to move farther away, all while increasing the speed. Hence, the opponent will be fatigued soon. Additionally, work on your volley shots and groundstrokes as well.
Perform all of the drills for about total 2 hours, few times a week and you will notice that your game has improved skilfully.
4 types of drills you can practice with Tennis Ball machines:
Set up the ball machine at the cross-court so it can lob the shotsto your forehand cross-court.You need to return the shots and try to hit the machine as much as you can. For advanced users, you need to hit the machine for about 15 to 20 times. Next, you can switch the cross-court to the backhand and repeat the process. Backhand shots are much difficult, as they tend to be weak than our forehand shots.
Practicing Forehand cross-court shot will help you to understand how your muscle power will be used, so you can return the shot more powerfully and baffle the opponent who is expecting an easy volley shot.
Also, try to hit for stamina. Practice placing your shots to the corner repeatedly to exhaust the opponent. Always try to improve your footwork during this stationary drill.
After stationary backhand/forehand cross-court drills, now you can switch to running drills. This endurance drill will help you to work on your reaction time, accuracy of shots and improve cardio health.
All you need to do is run from side to side and interchange between forehand and backhand shots. Try to return the shot precisely at a particular spot and repeat the process until you get satisfactory results.
Doubles alley drill
Set up the ball machine at the front so it can throw the balls towards your side of doubles alley. All you need to do is return shots accurately, so it lands and stays within the doubles alley of opposite side. You do not need to stand farther away from the baseline.
Make sure to turn sideways of your chest and hips as you are hitting the ball, so you can be consistent and accurate.
The more you can get the returned shot to stay inside the doubles alley, the better.
There are situations when the ball hits into the net or is too far above the net causing it to land out of the court, this is where you need to work on the ball placement and its trajectory.
Low trajectory shot should have a distance of about 4 inches between the net and ball. High trajectory shot must be 5 to 9 inches above the net.
Switch between the low trajectory and high trajectory shots for more precision. Hold your racket in a way that low trajectory shot lobs the ball at 20° to 30° towards the net, whereas the high trajectory shots must have more wide angles.
How to choose the Best Tennis Ball machine?
Let’s have a look at what aspects and functionality you should consider before buying a Tennis Ball Machine.
The hopper capacity of the tennis ball machine is an important factor to consider before purchasing any. If you are planning to utilize the unit all by yourself, then a medium-capacity of hopper that can hold about 100-150 balls is ample.
However, if multiple users are going to practice with the machine at a time, then it is recommended to pick a hopper that has capacity to hold balls ranging from 200 to 300.
Extremely heavyweight machine will be too problematic to maneuver around. Many users neglect this aspect and end up getting stuck with a heavier tennis ball machine. Make sure the weight of the machine is manageable by you and is easy to carry around.
Also, make sure to check whether the transportation wheels provided are large and sturdy enough to handle the weight of the unit.
Tennis Ball Machine can be either battery-operated or needs an AC input Power source. Equipment that runs on batteries are generally smaller, light weighted and carry average features.
Machines that demand an AC power source are generally used for heavy-duty tennis drills, have high-end features and are comparatively more expensive.
Tennis ball machine that can shoot balls in different directions, either random or programmed is a very important feature to have. This can help you improve your footwork, handwork, reaction time, precision of shots.
Beginners can opt for machines that have only horizontal oscillations. Whereas, intermediate and advanced users must invest in a unit that offers horizontal, vertical and horizontal+ Vertical combinations of oscillations.
Faster feed rates will help Tennis pros to master your drills by improving your focus power and reaction time. On the other hand, low feed rate will help beginners to get used to the lobbed shots.
See whether the machine is run by Pneumatic force or by counter-rotating wheels. If you want high ball speeds and accurate ball spins, you must opt for a machine that propels through counter-rotating wheels mechanism.
Also make sure whether the unit offers both, topspin as well as backspin.
Additional accessories provided with the machine always come handy like Remote control, premium fast chargers, a cover, etc.
Which Tennis Ball Machine should I Buy?
Lobster Elite Liberty might prove to be optimum purchase for users looking for an affordable Tennis ball machine that is equally feature-packed, delivers fine performance and is durable.
As regards to Beginner Tennis players, Spinshot-Player is a great machine that allows you to customise your drills and save into the unit. It provides vertical and horizontal oscillations for your expediency. The best feature of Spinshot is that it is phone-remote supported.
For those of you who are willing to spend a bit more and get a high-end model, Lobster Phenom II is Best Tennis Ball machine amongst all the above mentioned Tennis Ball machine reviews, boasting advanced technology, high performance and power-packed features.
Besides Tennis Ball Machine, you should find more detail about Tennis Stringing Machine if you play tennis with high intensity!