9 Best Tennis Ball Machines: Amateur to Pro
Like many of us who picked up tennis as a new hobby during lockdown, now is the time to really crack down and advance our skillset from lockdown novice to seasonal pro! And what better way to do this than with the help of a tennis ball machine? If you’re still relatively new to the world of tennis, you may not know where to look, and we don’t blame you. Luckily, we have searched high and low to bring you the 9 best tennis ball machines to help you up your tennis game. Let’s get hitting!
Table of contents
- What to Look for in a Tennis Ball Machine
- How to Choose the Best Tennis Ball Machine
- The Best Tennis Ball Machines
- General FAQS
What to Look for in a Tennis Ball Machine
Oscillation is essential when it comes to tennis ball machines, as the greater the variation in oscillation a tennis ball machine can create, the better it will be. Most machines incorporate horizontal oscillation, which will release balls across a plane parallel to the baseline, making the player move from left to right to hit the balls. Some tennis ball machines have a vertical oscillation feature that allows the machine to shoot balls at different depths, making the player move forwards and backwards and left and right. Machines with both types of oscillation are more advanced and perfect for those really looking to challenge their skillset!
Capacity refers to the ball capacity the tennis ball shooter holds, which differs depending on the machine. It is a good idea to aim for a machine with a capacity of 100+ balls as a ballpark amount, but bigger machines will have greater capacity. The higher the capacity, the more balls to hit before refilling the machine. Higher capacity is usually better, although it does mean more balls will need to be picked up!
Speed and Feed Rate
The speed and feed rate of the tennis balls is another important feature of a tennis ball machine. Look out for machines that offer the option to adjust the speed, to create a play as close to the real thing as possible. Most machines provide this control function.
Ball Speed and Spin
Most tennis ball machines can shoot balls at different speeds and spin. This is an important feature to look for in tennis ball machines as it’s vital to practise shooting fast and slow balls with different spin types. If you think you’re on pro-level, make sure you get a machine that can handle some seriously fast speeds.
Tennis ball machines offer a drills function- so it’s just like it would be if you were training with a coach! Drills allow the player to practice a varied sequence of shots to master different play points. Advanced machines even allow you to design your own drills!
How to Choose the Best Tennis Ball Machine
What Skill Level Are You?
You may think you’re a pro when in actual fact, you’re still a novice! No worries though, a tennis ball machine will have you playing like a pro in no time. Here’s what to look out for to identify your skill level.
If you are fairly new to the game of tennis, it’s most likely you are in the low skillset category. Perhaps you can hit the ball but lack power and aim, and struggle with agility moving about the court. If this sounds like you, don’t fret, we all have to start somewhere! Any machine will be a good starting point for you, as long as it has all the necessary features to get you hitting as many balls as possible!
You’ve been playing tennis for a while now and, along with some natural talent, are starting to pick up a pretty impressive skill set. Your power, agility and aim are moderate, and with a little more practice, you may be looking at taking your skills to an advanced level. You will best suit an advanced machine with adjustable features to match your developing skillset.
You’re an avid tennis player with a skillset to match. You have been playing for a while and practice most days, which shows in the power of your shots, impressive aim and unrivalled agility across the court. You need an advanced tennis ball machine to test your skills!
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How Often Will You Use the Machine?
We all know how expensive a new hobby can be, and there’s nothing worse than going all out buying the necessary bits and bobs in the first few months, only to see them go to waste. SO, before you go crazy, think about how often you will be using the machine. If you’re 100 per cent sure you will be using it regularly, this justifies investing in a more advanced tennis ball machine. If you are being honest with yourself and know that you won’t be using the machine that often, there is no need to go all out.
Tennis ball machines range in cost depending on several factors. Think about your needs and what you’re looking for in a tennis ball machine, and align this with your budget. With so many tennis ball machines out there, you’re bound to find the right one for you that’s also within your budget.
The Best Tennis Ball Machines
1. Tennis Tutor Plus Ball Machine
For one of the best tennis ball machines on the market right now, the Tennis Tutor Plus is the top domestic model offered by Tennis Tutor. This machine goes a step beyond the original Tennis Tudor by adding a spin feature, a counter-rotating wheel operation and an electronic control panel that gives you fingertip control of ball speed, spin level, trajectory, and ball feed rate. It is portable, extremely powerful and used by the pros.
2. Lobster Sports Elite 4
One of the newer models, coming out in 2019, the Lobster Sports Elite 4 is known for its incredible oscillation capabilities. The machine features three versatile positional settings, narrow, medium and wide, and completely random oscillation – balls are tossed throughout the entire singles court, mixing up ball speed, spin, trajectory and oscillation. The machine is also equipped with 6 pre-loaded, 6-shot drills that are bound to test even the most skilled players. Due to the advanced features, this machine does come at a higher price point than most- but it’s worth it!
3. Spinfire Pro 2 Lithium Ball Machine
For one of the best all-rounder tennis ball machines, try the Spinfire Pro 2. This machine has several improvements over the original version, such as internal movement, an easy-to-use control panel and remote control, and 150-ball capacity. Its design is super compact, stylish and sleek with large wheels, making it easy to maneuver- so there are no excuses not to drag this machine out of the garage and get practising!
4. Spinshot Player
If you’re looking for something on the more affordable side, the Spinshot Player is the way to go. One of the best features about the machine is pre-programmed drills setting and added capabilities to customise your own drills. It also features vertical and horizontal oscillation and is easy to use with control settings accessed via your smartphone or Apple watch using an easy to use app. Delivering balls at a speed of up to 110km and holding 120 balls, this machine is everything you need it to be.
5. Tennis Tutor Cube
Like it says in the name, Tennis Tutor Cube is a compact cube design tennis ball machine. Designed for beginner and moderate skillsets, it is practical yet straightforward and extremely easy to use and move around; it only weighs 11kg! The no-thrills machine does what tennis ball machines are meant to do- throw balls, with features to change the intervals at which the ball is thrown as well as a random oscillator feature that’s perfect for when you’re looking for that extra test.
6. Playmate iSmash
If you’re looking for the top of the range, look no further than the Playmate iSmash. The iSmash features state of the art direction patterns, which you can choose from the preset options, or you can create your own, as well as variable topspin and backspin and electronic height. The best bit- this machine works with your iPhone so you can create personalised drills & track your workouts.
7. Spinshot Pro
The more affordable Spinshot Pro doesn’t compromise when it comes to quality, providing speed control, horizontal oscillation, trajectory control, topspin, and backspin. The speed control delivers balls up to 90km per hour, controlling the ball feed rate from 2 to 10 seconds. It is extremely portable and easy to use, it is perfect for players new to tennis who are looking to dive deeper into the beautiful game.
8. Lobster Sports Elite Liberty
Another one from lobster to make the list, it’s no secret these guys are pros when it comes to tennis ball machines. Their Sports Elite Liberty model is no different- capable of challenging beginners and seasoned players with plenty of adjustable features. Some of its features include speeds up to 110 kph, adjustable heavy topspin and backspin, full corner-to-corner horizontal oscillation and up to 50-degree lobs to practise your overheads for up hours on end.
9. Match Mate Rookie
If you’ve been blown away at the price of the tennis ball machines to make the list, perhaps the Match Mate Rookie is more your cup of tea. With no added thrills, this machine is perfect for beginners looking to get some practice or children. It is straightforward and features both heavy topspin at higher ball speed settings challenges advanced players and a soft toss feature at low ball speed settings suitable for beginners.
The best tennis ball machine for home is the Tennis Tutor Cube.
Lobster make the best commercial tennis ball machines.
The tennis ball machine with the highest capacity is the Playmate iSmash with a capacity of 300 balls.