A while back, tennis ball machines were only reserved for pros, clubs, and individuals with fat wallets. However, things have since changed, and in recent years, anyone can access them, thanks to their ease of use, reduced prices, and technological advances.
Regardless of skill level or age, a tennis ball machine is a wise investment for tennis buffs who wish to up their game. And it also makes an excellent exercise companion for the sport. In other words, it enables you to play wherever you want, whenever you want, and also do drills without a hitting partner or a coach.
Most tennis ball machines, however, aren’t cheap. Thus, it pays to gather enough information, compare models and identify the shades that isolate the good ones from the average.
Fortunately, we’ve done some legwork for you and created this simplified guide to determine the best tennis ball machine that fits your needs and budget best. We’ve reviewed a few notable brands, provided a breakdown of the essential features to consider, and included more information to help you pick out the best pick.
So, without further ado, let’s kick things off. Shall we?
Why Should you Buy a Tennis Ball Machine?
As we’ve mentioned earlier, the best tennis ball machine is a fantastic investment. It could leave you between a few hundred and thousands of pounds lighter. But, with a strong reason for buying one, you are more likely to get the most out of it.
That being said, here are a few common reasons that could support an excellent case for buying yourself or your family a tennis ball machine.
1. Target practice
Regardless of what you are learning, practice is a vital aspect of the growth process. And, tennis is no exception. Though it’s advisable for players first to follow instructions and learn the suitable technique, it is their responsibility to pick what they’ve learned and apply it through practice to improve their skill.
As an excellent tool, a tennis ball machine allows you to practice a specific shot with several repetitions. This helps improve your confidence and build muscle memory, translating to better technique.
If target practice is your main reason for purchasing a tennis ball machine, you’d be better advised to lease one, if possible, before making your purchase. This is because you may find the repetition tedious or utterly dull. Therefore, it would be helpful to the first experiment and understand how the experience of striking 100 or 50 forehands repeatedly feels like.
Target practice requires hitting a lot of balls in a row. For this reason, you must pick a tennis ball machine that facilitates sufficient repetition. In other words, it should have a reasonable capacity to hold enough balls to avoid having to frequently pick up of the balls.
2. Fun Form of Exercise
Some people value exercise but can’t get themselves hitting the gym, going for a run, or riding a bike. Having a tennis ball machine can also be a fun and practical way to stay active while enjoying something you love.
Consider convenience and portability as essential factors for you to retain the habit. Buying a heavy machine without an easily accessible tennis court could lead to a quick disinterest in the routine.
3. Extra Lessons
You could also buy a tennis ball machine as a supplement to private or group lessons. And even though classes are vastly helpful, much of them involve doing drills with colleagues or the instructor.
Group lessons, in particular, involve students doing drills in rotation with the instructor feeding the balls. In such a case, you may lack the chance to hit as many balls as you would like, probably due to the big class size. And this is where a tennis ball machine comes in handy.
4. A Tool for Teaching
A tennis ball machine is also a steal for tennis instructors and could prove to be an excellent teaching tool. It comes in handy when an instructor wishes to demonstrate a particular pattern, movement, or shot and lacks someone to feed them the ball.
It may not be necessary equipment for teaching tennis, but it’s undoubtedly a helpful piece of equipment to have around for those lessons. Moreover, being as a teaching tool or a rental, the machine returns your initial investment over time.
5. Lack of Playing Partners
Living in an low populated area with could mean fewer people to practise and play tennis with. This could be because of less popularity of the sport near you or scarcity of players with the same skill set as you.
This kind of situation can frustrate many players, so purchasing a tennis ball machine seems like the best logical alternative. You should, however, identify how important the social aspect of the game is to you. If you value the social interaction of the game, then a tennis ball machine won’t do you good.
Buyers Guide and Important Factors to Consider
It’s so much easier if you had a few factors in mind to help you evaluate the best options. These include:
The capacity of a tennis ball machine is simply the number of balls it can comfortably hold and fire before another refill. And like most features you’ll consider, this capacity is also a matter of personal preference. However, we recommend a tennis ball machine holding at least 50 balls, which is vital for two reasons.One, having to pick up the balls frequently will kill the fun factor of playing quite quickly. Two, when perfecting a shot, you wish to establish a rhythm that you could repeat regularly, and a machine holding 50 balls is sufficient to achieve such an objective.
Level of skill
A beginner is more likely to enjoy a wide variety of tennis ball machines than a pro player who may be sensitive to specific demands and features from a device they wish to buy. Below are a handful of features that repeatedly come into the picture regarding skill level:
- Ball capacity: A tennis ball machine with the capacity to hold 40 balls is undoubtedly more than enough for rookies who tend to tire quickly. On the contrary, advanced players may opt for an option with higher capacity.
- Ball Speed: An advanced player may long for a machine topping out at roughly 129 kph. However, a player that’s not used to the game will appreciate a device with a much lesser speed of about 64kph.
- Drills: This aspect may not necessarily be a significant concern for amateurs due to the high level of complexity. Nonetheless, exercises can be handy when you long for more variety or wish to simulate a live playing setting.
- Oscillation: This is the equipment’s ability to move shallow and deep or back and forth and may not be essential for beginners. It’s, however, a welcome addition among advanced and intermediate players.
- Spin: Some machines feed balls and add varying backspin or topspin levels, while others don’t offer spin. Once more, an elite-level player is likely to appreciate the spin feature for a more realistic playing experience.
Price and Budget
Looking at the vast array of tennis ball machines out there, the prices range roughly between £200 and £7,000. And most options have an average price of about £1,500. Therefore, for a quality tennis ball machine and tennis balls to accompany it, expect to spend anywhere between £400 and £2,000.
With this in mind, it’s essential to set a budget that won’t bite your pocket, which also goes a long way to help narrow down your options.
Convenience and Portability
If you don’t have quick access to a tennis court, portability should be a primary concern. And it’s essential to have the following two aspects in mind.
The smaller the tennis ball machine, the easier it will be when moving it around and vice versa. Also, a small size would ensure more convenience when tossing it in your car.
Other models include collapsible components, which facilitate size reduction for traveling.
A tennis ball machine that doesn’t exceed 23 kg is generally categorized as portable. Of course, the last thing any player wants is to overwork their muscles trying to load or unload this equipment.
Some battery-operated options feature either external or internal battery power. You’ll shed roughly 5 to 6 kgs through lifting if you pick the external option.
Even so, a very light machine also has its downsides. For instance, such models can be unstable when firing balls at higher speeds as they tend to move around. You need to strike a sweet spot balance by considering a tennis ball machine that weighs between 16 and 20 kg.
How much noise your tennis ball machine makes is an underrated factor that deserves consideration. Unless you have access to a solo court or own a private court, pick a machine that’s relatively quiet to avoid disturbing close-by players.
Ball machines are either powered through direct electricity via an outlet, a battery, or sometimes both. So, if you are after a portable tennis ball machine, a battery-powered one suits your needs best.
Machine options that feature large batteries offer about 2 to 8 hours of playtime. And there are a few characteristics that determine the length of play. They include:
- The speed at which the machine fires the balls
- The consistency of running the machine
- How actively you use oscillation features, if present
From observation, the playtime offered by most battery-powered machines is usually enough for one person. However, it could prove to be insufficient in case several players use the device daily.
Besides the playtime, also consider how appealing your machine’s fast charging is. A standard tennis ball machine charger typically takes 8 to 12 hours to charge the battery to full capacity. On the contrary, a fast charger can significantly reduce the charging time to about 3 or 4 hours, depending on the battery size.
Some models also boast intelligent charging features, such as automatically turning off the charging at full charge to protect the equipment’s battery. Some time back, this feature was a competitive advantage, but almost all models now incorporate it. Like in every other battery-powered device, the battery to a tennis ball machine will also need replacement. But that is after offering service for roughly 3 or 4 years since purchase.
Ease of Use
There is a learning curve with most tennis ball machines since you will need to be familiar with the settings. Some models demand more manual adjustments, often a pain to set each time you wish to strike a different shot.
Other options boast memory components that remember your settings to save you the trouble of having to adjust them every time you wish to hit the tennis court. Others have remote functions that save you the energy and time from repeatedly heading back to the equipment to make adjustments. The easier your tennis ball machine is to use, the more likely you are to use it in the long term, and therefore, it’s a notable aspect.
When talking about reliability, we mean how accurate the machine’s ball placement is. Also, does the machine occasionally stop working or malfunction? You certainly don’t want a tennis ball machine that stops functioning midway through your practice session and requires you to reset or fix it.
Here are the top 5 best tennis ball machines we recommend (in no particular order):
Reviewing the Best Tennis Ball Machines
The machine then incorporates a strong motor that guarantees powerful and steady ball serves and a 16AH large capacity lithium battery that provides 6 and 8 hours of practice sessions. As a result, you’ll spend sufficient time at the court before the next charge.
Even more impressive, is the fact that the TS-08 also features a mobile app called TenniSmash Remote which you can use to operate it. A simple click allows you to make adjustments on serving speed, mode, and frequency. As for the modes, there are five options available that support 27 types of ball routes.
- It weighs only 18 kg for easy transportation
- 16AH lithium battery for up to 8-hour long practice sessions
- Five mode options with 27 ball routes
- ABS Shell for durability
- Premium polymer composites to lessen ball wear and tear
This tennis ball machine weighs only 18 kg. As such, the TS-08 is highly lightweight, making the transportation of the unit a breeze. It also includes an extension-type handle and two 15 cm wheels which further facilitate mobility over curbs and grass to the court. It’s hopper is large enough for a 150-ball capacity and is detachable as well for convenient storage.
The most remarkable feature of the machine is its internal oscillation which is most common in high-end models. It only weighs 24 kg, and its design is innovative, allowing a 200-ball capacity hopper without compromising its compact nature for portability and storage. If necessary, it’s possible to reverse the hopper to make it act like a cover for storage and protection.
The Pro 2 also delivers adjustable ball speeds ranging roughly between 30 and 130 kph with variable topspin. Its feed frequency can be set to lie between 2 and 15 seconds, depending on your preference.
Moreover, the machine showcases a futuristic control panel and also includes a backlit LCD menu. This comes in handy whenever you need to adjust ball elevation, interval, speed, and spin. Its easy-to-use membrane touch panel not only proves to be overly convenient but also delivers a striking aesthetic appeal.
- It weighs only 24 kg; hence portable
- Battery life of 2 to 5 hours
- 200-ball capacity for continuous practice
- Feed interval ranging between 2 and 15 seconds
- Ball speeds of between 30 and 130 kph
- Straightforward membrane touch panel for convenience
Notably, the Spinfire Pro 2 includes a battery and also supports a direct AC power connection. On a full charge, the battery delivers a continuous running time of between 2 and 5 hours, and also accompanying the machine is a 4amp smart charger.
It comes with a 120-ball capacity and can feed balls at speeds ranging between 30 and 110 kph. Besides, the machine includes program drills that move you to both sides of the court and offer spin. It has a feed frequency ranging between 2 and 10 seconds and includes programs that support practice for fast-paced volleys.
The best part of the Spinshot Player ball machine is its mobile app. It is easily downloadable and allows you to customize drills, especially on game techniques you wish to focus on. The app will also enable you to create a maximum of 12 pre-set routines, with each supporting up to 6 shots.
- 120-ball capacity for uninterrupted practice
- Ball speeds ranging between 30 and 110 kph
- Spin and court movement drills
- Feed frequency of between 2 and 10 seconds
- Mobile app for custom drills
The machine’s accuracy is unmatched and, for some, proves to be effective than coached lessons. Instead of costly tennis lessons, you can make the Spinshot your coach, and renting it at standard rates could return your initial investment by roughly, 25 sessions.
This tennis ball machine from SKYEGLE boasts an intelligent technology design for anyone who wishes to perfect their technique and enhance their reaction time. It includes simple features and is programmed to set up ball spin, speed, distance, and feed rate for a realistic tennis challenge. This makes it an ideal tennis trainer for both intermediate and beginner levels.
It comes with a 150-ball hopper capacity and enables you to keep track of the remaining ball capacity. And with such a high ball capacity, it’s efficient in making your tennis training sessions super effective.
The machine weighs 22 kg and has large towing wheels. This translates to less effort for moving it around and is thus very portable for people without a private court. It also incorporates a retractable handle that facilitates its transportation and storage as well.
- Large towing wheels for easy movement
- 22 kg to facilitate easy lifting
- 150-ball hopper capacity to enhance practicality
- Retractable handle for convenience in storage and transportation
It’s also widely applicable and suits crowds, juniors, children, and even pro players can use it for practice.
If you wish to enhance your game skillset, tennis ball machines are the real deal. They don’t get tired, are highly reliable, and they hardly fail or miss. Unlike years back, tennis ball machines are currently accessible and highly available for personal use. Even without a human training partner, having the best tennis ball machine is an excellent alternative to assist you in practicing independently.
Finding the best tennis ball machine, as we’ve seen, can be pretty strenuous. So, with the above information and a handful of recommendations, there has to be at least one machine that checks out most, if not all, of your boxes.