In this article I list and review a number of tennis ball machines to make it easy for you to pick the best tennis ball machine for your needs.
This should go without saying but if you want to improve your tennis game you need to practice and run drills regularly.Did you know? According to the study published by the scientists of the University of Oxford: regularly taking part in sports such as badminton or tennis reduces your risk of death at any given age by almost 50%, with swimming and aerobics also proving protective.
Benefits of using a tennis ball machine
- You’re no longer dependent on others when scheduling your practice
- Great for grooving in your stroke mechanics
- Feeds you balls the way you want for hours (you won’t find a partner that does that unless you pay them)
- Really good for practicing your volleys
- Adjust the pace of the practice to your own liking (hit leisurely or really crank up the intensity)
- Great workout: improves your footwork and overall fitness
Tips for using your tennis ball machine
- Make sure you don’t groove in bad technique. Get regular feedback from your coach and then use the tennis ball machine to condition your technique.
- Use a video camera to record yourself and analyze your technique later. If you’re using an action sports camera or your smartphone, make sure it’s close enough (you don’t need the whole court in shot, just yourself).
Why get a tennis ball machine?
The best way to improve your tennis game is to hire a good coach, the next best would be to play against a variety of players. Players that are better than you.
Professional tennis coaches are expensive and partners can be hard to find. Even if that’s not an issue for you, there’s the hassle of scheduling a time that meets your and your partner’s needs.
This is where tennis ball machines can be of excellent help. A tennis ball machine is always there to improve your game or run drills, even if you only have an odd hour or 30 minutes here and there.
Best tennis ball machines
Best tennis ball machines under $1000
These are all battery-powered machines. Great for beginners and as your first ball machine if you’re unsure if the investment is worth it.
Lobster Sports Elite Liberty Tennis Ball Machine
Isam Extend Tennis Ball Machine
|Lobster Sports Elite Freedom Portable Tennis Ball Machine (21x14x 20- Inch)||839.99||3.4||32|
Best cheap tennis ball machines under $500
There’s only one tennis ball machine available for under $500 that’s worth mentioning and it’s the Match Mate Rookie. You can read more about the particular model below the table.
|Match Mate Rookie by Match Mate Tennis Ball Machine||449.00||4.6||3|
Best budget tennis ball machine: Match Mate Rookie
Price: $449 Buy now
Rookie is a USA-manufactured battery-powered tennis ball machine designed for beginner tennis players and kids. Allows for variable speeds from a slow 10-foot toss to 30 mph.
The outer shell is made of aluminum, making it durable and lightweight (just 22 lbs). Rechargeable battery allows quite a remarkable court-time of up to 5 hours.
Finding the best tennis ball machine: 5 crucial things to consider
1. Portability. How often do you need to move your tennis ball machine
How far do you have to take it? Does it fit in your car? Most tennis ball machines have wheels and are pretty easy to drag around but depending on the size of your car, not all models might fit. Also, if the court doesn’t have power you might want to go with a battery-powered version. See next point for more info on power sources.
2. Power source.
Two choices: AC/DC or battery-powered. The AC/DC does not need recharging but comes with the hassle of finding a power source and messing about with extension cords. You might want to check if that’s a problem on the court you’re planning to use.
Battery-powered machines are fully standalone and depending on the model and battery give you court time of 2-8 hours on a single charge. Recharge time depends on the type of battery and charger you get. Standard chargers can take up to 16 hours to fully charge the battery and fast chargers can cut recharge time down to 3 hours.
3. Drills and Features.
The basic models throw balls at you but might lack features like spin, oscillation and drills. Depending on the area of game you want to improve most, you should make sure the tennis ball machine you’re considering comes with the features you need, or might want in the near future. You can learn more about tennis ball machine features here.
If you’ve never used a tennis ball machine before then it’s difficult to know which brand you can trust. Do your research. Read the reviews of previous machine owners; see what they say about the machines. Be wary of user reviews that only praise and never criticize a product. Find out how the tennis ball machine brand treats their customers, especially when unexpected problems arise. Click here to learn more about top tennis ball machine brands.
Quite self-explanatory but often missed by people who are buying their first tennis ball machine. There is no industry standard as of yet but I’ll give you some examples. Lobster offers a 2-year warranty on the ball machine and a 6-month warranty for the battery and parts. Spinshot Sports machines also come with a 2-year warranty, and a 6-month warranty on the battery. Match Mate Tennis provides 2 years warranty on the machines, and 1-year warranty on the battery.
Some manufacturers also offer you to buy an extended warranty on their select tennis ball machine models for up to an extra 3 years.
Tennis ball machine features explained
Random horizontal oscillation – this is a feature provided by most tennis ball machines out there, even the cheap models. With horizontal oscillation the machine tosses tennis balls randomly from left side of the court to the right side of the court.
Random vertical oscillation – a feature common on most intermediate to advanced tennis ball machines. Vertical oscillation means that balls will be shot randomly on the Y-axis or up-and-down the court while maintaining the flight line of the ball horizontally.
Horizontal & Vertical oscillation – combines the two directions, left-right and up-down so the ball can be shot to any location on the court.
Fully random oscillation – combines horizontal and vertical oscillation plus ball speed, ball spin and feed rate. With this option, you’ll basically never know what’s coming 🙂
2-line oscillation – two-line oscillation is a feature where the machine will shoot one ball to the left, then one ball to the right, then again one to the left, one to the right, back and forth. Some machines allow for up to three widths for the setting (narrow, medium, wide) which means you can choose the distance.
Ball speed – most machines will let you configure the speed at which the ball is shot out. The speeds can start as low as 20 mph and go up to 85 mph for the more expensive models.
Feed rate – usually 2-10 seconds. This is the delay between two shots. All machines allow you to set this and the more expensive models come with a random setting.
Spin – backspin and topspin. Not all machines come with the feature. Cheap models come with no option, intermediate have only topspin and advanced come with both top- and backspin.
Elevation – measured in degrees, for example 0-50 degrees. You can set the elevation to practice overhead shots. Cheaper models allow to set the elevation manually while more expensive models allow you do it from the panel or via the remote control.
Ball capacity – how many balls does the hopper hold e.g. how often do you have to refill it. This can be as low as 70 or as high as 300+ tennis balls.
Power – you can either get a battery-powered machine or an electric one. However, most battery tennis ball machines come with an optional AC kit (for extra cost).
Court time – how much court time do you get with a single charge. Usually 2-8 hours.
Remote control – Start/stop the machine remotely when you’re ready and change the settings without walking over to the machine panel. Remotes are optional for most machines and cost extra but most manufacturers also provide smartphone apps for your iPhone or Android device.
Best tennis ball machine manufacturers and brands
Lobster Sports offer 8 different battery-powered tennis ball machines that they call Elite Series. Prices for the Elite series machines range from $839 to $2599. They also offer two electric tennis ball machines (Phenom series). Prices for the two Phenom models are $3149 and $3595. Lobster battery machines weigh 35-44 lbs (16-20 kg) and the electric machines 99 lbs (45 kg).
Spinshot Sports offer 5 different models. Prices start at $599 for the Lite model and go up to $1799 for the most advanced Spinshot Player model. All machines come battery-powered and 2-3 hours of court time. If you want more court time, for $99 you can get an AC kit or for $49 you get an extra external battery kit. Spinshot tennis ball machines weigh 10 to 19kg (22-42 lbs).
Match Mate Tennis offers two types of machines, a Match Mate Rookie – $449 tennis ball machine for beginners and SAM tennis ball machines ($759-3999) for more advanced players. All Match Mate tennis ball machines are manufactured in the US.
More on improving your tennis game
You should also read about different tips and tricks like the ones taught in this document.