Are you tired of dealing with your human practice buddies or are there just always nobody to practice with you? Cheer up, because a tennis ball machine may just be what you need! It never complains, never gets late, never gets tired, and will do whatever you want it to.
However, when buying a tennis ball machine, you need to do your research. Aside from the fact that there are so many models and brands to choose from, a tennis ball machine is also not a cheap investment.
In this article, I listed down the things you should consider and some tennis ball machine reviews to help you decide. Scroll down to get started!
How A Tennis Ball Machine Can Improve Your Game
Once you have chosen the best tennis racquet, the next thing you’ll need is a tennis ball machine. Undoubtedly, a tennis ball machine is the ultimate practice companion designed to level up your skills and your game.
Whether it be a low-end budget model or a premium expensive brand, it can offer a particular challenge that a human player cannot consistently give for hours on end.
Here are the different ways of how one can improve your game:
- It can help beginners, and intermediate tennis players get used to receiving and returning consistent ball throws with corresponding ball spin and speed.
- A machine will not get exhausted as a person would be.
- The latest and most advanced machines can challenge you just as much or even more than a human opponent. Some can lob balls to different directions or different heights, throw balls near the baseline or the net, and deliver spins.
- You can adjust the ball speed and feed rate to reinforce your learned skills and amp up your drills.
- It can help improve reaction time, coordination, footwork, hand movements, cardiovascular health, and endurance.
How To Choose The Best Tennis Ball Machine
These are the things I consider (and I suggest that you do as well) in choosing a tennis ball machine:
Your budget and the cost of the product are primary considerations in any purchase. For a tennis ball machine, prices range from $500 to $5000 dollars. The wide variety of prices has a lot to do with the quality, durability, and features of the product.
Usually, the more expensive a machine is, the better its quality is and the more features and add-ons come with it. However, budget machines are typically more portable.
Whatever you choose, just make sure it is within your budget and is worth what you pay for it. Do not buy something with so many features that you will not really need or plan to use either.
Speaking of portable, many players also prefer something that is easy to carry and move around. Heavier machines, although more durable and stable, can be tough to maneuver. That is why sturdy transport wheels and handles are a significant plus.
3. Machine Capacity
This feature refers to the number of balls a machine can hold at a time. Of course, the bigger capacity, the better. To give you an idea, a machine with a medium capacity can hold about 100 to 150 balls, which is enough for a single player.
However, if you plan to practice with other people, a 200 to 300 ball capacity is recommended.
4. Feed Rate And Ball Speed
Another feature you should consider is the time it takes the machine to feed or shoot balls. A faster rate will be beneficial in improving the reaction time, power, and focus of pro players while a slower pace can help beginners and intermediate players.
Some machines can be programmed to have a fast or slow feed rate. The same is true for ball speed.
5. Durability And Construction
As with any other machine, you have to make sure that a tennis practice machine is constructed to survive long hours and consistent use over the years. Since you will most likely use it outside where it is exposed to moisture, wind, sunlight, dust, and other elements, you want something made of heavy duty materials like thick plastic or rust-resistant metal.
This will not only ensure the machine’s longevity but will also keep the controls well-protected for the machine to work correctly.
6. Power Source
A tennis ball machine may either require AC input power or batteries. Of course, battery-operated machines are more lightweight, smaller, and have minimal features. Heavy-duty machines that need to be plugged in are generally heavier with high-end technologies and features and also are more expensive.
This next feature refers to a tennis ball machine’s ability to hit the ball in random directions to cover every area of the court. Oscillation can either be horizontal, vertical, or both.
Vertical oscillation changes the height of the shots (recommended for intermediate and advanced players) while horizontal oscillation changes the direction (suited for beginners).
Choose something that can be programmed to shoot with and without oscillation so you will be able to use it continuously as your footwork and techniques develop and improve.
Preferably, a tennis ball machine should be able to give a ball both topspin and backspin. This way, you will get better at returning these hard and tricky shots in a real game.
Again, a tennis ball machine is an expensive investment. So, you have to make sure that it will be worth the money you pay for and that it will keep working as long as possible.
A company that offers a good warranty is confident of its product’s durability. This will give you peace of mind and the chance to get back your money if you get something defective or malfunctioning.
10. Other Features And Accessories
Because we all like something extra such as premium fast chargers, a waterproof cover, and remote control capability.
Tennis Ball Machine Reviews
Best Tennis Ball Machine
1. Lobster Sports Elite Liberty Tennis Ball Machine
For under $1000, the Lobster Sports Elite Liberty is the cheapest one on this list. Weighing only 35 pounds, it features an ergonomic and lightweight design. This unit is ideal for both beginners and intermediate players.
With this model, you can control the ball spin and ball speed. The ball spin can be adjusted to topspin, backspin, or both in various levels while ball speed can range from 20 to 80 mph. You can also enjoy a corner-to-corner horizontal and random oscillation.
Elevation can be manually adjusted between 0° to 50° as well. This battery-operated machine can offer as long as 2 hours of court time.
Thanks to the oversized transport wheels and lightweight frame, you can effortlessly move and carry this machine around even when it is filled with up to 150 balls.
The package comes with a basic charger, a 1-Amp fast charger, a premium 3-Amp charger, a 2-function remote control, and external AC power supply, and a protective cover.
- Lightweight design
- Pretty quiet
- Remote technology
- Adjustable 0° to 50° elevation
- Maximum capacity of 150 balls
- Consistent feeds
- Long battery life
- Topspin and backspin capable
- Easy to set up
- No vertical oscillation
- Damp or wet balls can jam up the machine and takes a while to unjam it
- Manual elevation adjustment
- The machine does not automatically return to the middle position after using the side-to-side action
2. Spinshot-Player Tennis Ball Machine
Next up is the Spinshot-Player Tennis Ball machine, another well-constructed and impressively designed hopper. It is also fully customizable and among the only few ball thrower machines that feature a sturdy metal base instead of the usual flimsy plastic base.
As it is fully customizable, you can adjust and program the ball speed, ball spin, direction, height, and feed rate. This is very useful for pro players who need to practice their drills and techniques. However, each customization only lasts for six consecutive shots.
The machine also allows for both horizontal and vertical as well as random oscillation.
Another thing I love about this machine is how I can customize drills and adjust its settings using a phone remote control app, free of charge! It can also hold up to 120 tennis balls at a time.
At 42 pounds, the aluminum construction and metal base added extra weight and reduced the machine’s portability. However, it’s worth it for the longevity, balance, durability, and stability it offers. It also comes with towing wheels anyway.
You can also choose between two power options: battery and AC power. When unplugged, you can use the machine for up to 3 hours on battery. The unit comes with a smart battery charger.
- Great durable and sturdy design
- Wide oscillation range
- Phone-remote supported
- Customizable programs
- Heavier but still portable
- Reasonably priced
- Wheels could be bigger
- You cannot load too many balls at a time because of flimsy flaps
- Pretty bulky
- Customizing the programs can be tricky for some
- The package does not include the battery
3. Lobster Sports Elite 2 Tennis Ball Machine
Another unit from Lobster Sports, the Elite 2 is very similar to the Elite Liberty. Both models are lightweight at 35 pounds, making them easy to maneuver and move. The two units can also accommodate up to 150 balls and deliver balls with speeds ranging from 20 to 80 mph.
The Elite 2 is also capable of various ball speeds and can perform a full-court oscillation to help you improve your techniques and skills.
I like how it is designed to be easily operated and used by beginners, intermediate players, or experts. It is also suitable for any age. I enjoy using it with my whole family.
Unlike the Elite Liberty, the Elite 2 is recommended for intermediate and advanced players. Instead of 2 hours, it can also last from 4 to 8 hours in the court. It also weighs slightly heavier at 44 pounds.
Elite 2 also offers random triple oscillation lobs that allow it to throw balls in all sorts of directions. The oscillations can also be set to vertical, horizontal, or a combination of both. There are also backspin and topspin options.
The elevation can be digitally adjusted (not manually like the Elite Liberty) from 0° to 50°.
- Electronically adjustable elevation
- Random triple oscillation options
- Up to 80 mph ball speed
- Topspin and backspin capable
- Longer battery capacity
- Oversized transport wheels and handle for enhanced portability
- Comes with two-year warranty
- Easy-to-use controls
- Battery needs to be charged after not using the machine for a while
- Wet or damp tennis balls can jam the machine
- Does not come with a remote control
- Takes time to charge
- Flimsy folding handle
- Overcharging using the included charger can cause permanent damage, and the premium fast charger is sold separately
4. Lobster Sports Phenom II Club Series Machine
Yes, I know, this is the third tennis ball machine model from Lobster Sports, which is enough to say that this brand is one of the best. The Lobster Sports Phenom II Club Series is the most expensive in this list, and for many reasons at that.
It is the richest and most innovative concerning programmability. You can fully customize it to your personal needs and preferences, allowing you to make your own drills and adjust to your skill level accordingly.
It offers a fully random oscillation feature that sets balls flying in any direction, covering the entire court. This will help you practice your footwork and makes for an effective cardio workout.
The Phenom II also allows the customization of the ball speed, feed rate, and ball spin in 18 different shot locations. Ball speed can range between 35 to 85 mph and ball spin can either be topspin or backspin. Feed rates vary from 2 to 9 seconds.
This unit also has a 250 balls maximum capacity with adjustable elevation from 0° to 50°. Aside from vertical and horizontal oscillations, you can also choose among narrow, medium, and wide 2-line oscillations.
Unfortunately, the three pre-programmed drills that simulate the most common modes of play only apply for six consecutive shots. These drills include the forehand plus drill, an attack drill, and a defend drill, allowing you to enhance your forehand and backhand shots.
- Premium features with multiple technologies
- Customizable and programmable
- Cheaper than high-end models from other brands
- Covers the entire court area
- Comes with pre-programmed drills
- Large control pad
- Backed with a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Not very portable and heavy at around 99 pounds
- The package does not include the remote control
- Exclusively uses an AC power source
Overall, these tennis ball machine reviews point at the Lobster Sports Phenom Club Series Machine to be the best. Although it is more expensive than all the other models in this list, it is relatively cheaper than similar models from other brands.
If you are looking for a more affordable alternative, the Lobster Sports Elite 2 is another good choice. Both models provide useful features for your convenience and can help improve your game.
Do you need other tennis gear and equipment? If yes, click here to get access to some of the best buying guides that we have!