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The best athletes get up, get it done, and hone their craft. With tennis, a two-man sport, it’s not always that easy to practice.
It’s downright impossible. Even baseball players still need their own batting machines to be able to get better.
The best tennis ball machine is your tool to sharpen your tennis game and become envied by the pros.
Practice isn’t what makes perfect; you are what defines that. A tennis ball machine is basically the tool you’re using to get there.
We’ve not only covered the best tennis ball machines, but we’ve divulged everything that makes them tick, everything you should be looking for when deciding to purchase one, and even maintenance issues that you might run into.
Nobody said getting to the top was simple. It’s going to take skill, but you’ve already got that in full supply; not you just need something to refine it.
Let’s get you situated with a new tennis ball machine.
Our Reviews Of The Best Tennis Ball Machine
#1 Spinshot Tennis Ball Machine
As far as tennis ball machine reviews, people can get pretty picky.
There’s nothing but high praised for Spinshot and their legendary machine.
First and foremost, it’s programmable to a fault; you can program so many different types of drills into this that it’s insane.
Use your smartphone, the wide side panel, or simply strap the velcro button onto your wrist and tap it when you want the balls to stop coming.
It’s viable for over fifty feet of range, so you can get the most out of your practice experience without having to be too close to the net.
The only issue people have with this is the battery power. It’s a 12 V, and it gets the job done, but it could have a bit more juice to it.
You have to order this separately, although it does come free. The main power module is an additional $129 and has to be ordered separately, which is a bit of a pain.
Overall, it’s a compact and excellent unit that’s worth the cost, but has a few roadblocks in the way that prevent you from fully enjoying it straight out of the box.
Get that sorted, and you’ll never need another tennis ball machine.
#2 Spinshot Plus-2 Tennis Ball Machine
This is the slightly beefier version of the best tennis ball launcher that we just reviewed.
It faces a lot of similarities to the Spinshot standard model, such as the battery shipping separately and the wheels on the bottom for easy maneuverability and storage.
You still get all the great benefits of the controller, wrist button and the side panel for maximum usability.
There’s a ton of ways to apply this machine. Perhaps what’s most impressive is the battery life.
You can put this on max power for about two hours, and only then will the power in each shot start to wane a bit.
At that point, you can use the AC socket kit to plug into a cable if the club has one nearby, or just plug it in yourself for endless hours of usage.
It hosts the same 120 ball capacity as the smaller model, and every bit of durability that its predecessor model boasts.
#3 Wilson Portable Tennis Ball Machine
We all know Wilson makes some of the best rackets imaginable, but they’re also in the business of making tennis ball machines that help you test your skills.
This ultra portable unit only weighs 38 lbs, but it doesn’t have adequate wheels to bring it from court to court, so that’s something to consider.
There are these small casters on the back, but they’re difficult to maneuver with. Despite being so portable, it can still hold up to 110 tennis balls with ease.
Your battery life grants you about four hours on a full charge, but if you don’t put it at the maximum speed of 75 MPH shots, you can stretch about five or six out of it, which is more than you’re going to need for any solo training sessions.
Use the oscillator to deliver randomly placed shots across the court, and being to expect the unexpected.
Your opponents aren’t going to use predictable methods, and Wilson is here to help with that.
Using electronic measurement trajectory adjustments, you’ll get a series of groundstrokes to lobs and everything in between.
Your purchase for labor and parts is backed by a three-year warranty.
#4 Lobster Elite Two Tennis Ball Machine
Whether you’re training against backhands or forehands, this tennis ball throwing machine is your one-way ticket to stardom.
Designed with a triple oscillation method, you’re given random shots through sixty varying degrees to train you for the unexpected.
This lobster tennis ball machine may look small here, but it actually has one of the best ball capacities out there with 150 per load.
Big things come in small packages, which is why Lobster made this small unit more powerful than it looks.
Speeds of up to 80 MPH are matches with the total of an eight-hour battery runtime to give you more bang for your buck.
#5 Lobster Elite Liberty
Lobster might have just made the best tennis practice machine out there.
Lightweight and versatile, you can pull this on the easy pull handle and just leave it where you need it.
Flip the switch on to get up to 70 MPH per shot, and let the 150 ball capacity test your endurance.
There’s a spin control function on here to bring out some of the most wild shots that a machine can throw your way.
The point of these machines is to throw shots at you that you could see your opponent using, and keeping that element of surprise alive and well.
This does just that with alternating shots between fifty different lateral degrees of motion. The battery life isn’t the best, but there’s the option to plug it straight into an adapter.
The charger takes about eight to twelve hours to charge the small 12 V battery in the housing, and even then, it’s going to last for 3-4 hours at most on a medium setting.
Definitely worth it, but slightly less capability than we’ve seen in other Lobster models.
Tennis Ball Machine FAQ
What to Look for When Buying a Tennis Ball Machine
This is for training, not just for leisure. You’re training to be the best of the best, so a good spin on those shots is going to mimic a worthy opponent.
When there’s decent spin on the shot, it will have increased power and feel like you’re playing against someone who knows what they’re doing. That’s how you get better at tennis.
How many different shot types does it have, and can it select them for you?
The last thing you want is for your tennis game to be tedious.
You want variety so that it feels like you’re up against another opponent, or at least as close to that as you can be while knowing it’s a machine.
These variable modes are excellent additions to your training regimen.
When isn’t price going to be a factor?
The thing with these is that there’s no real budget-friendly option, there are just cheaper tennis ball machines.
You’re looking at around a thousand dollars for a decent one, and then there’s the Spinshot.
With anything, especially mechanical items, you get what you pay for; pay well and receive good products with good warranties, and higher end expectations of each attribute on this list.
Just about every tennis ball machine has wheels on the bottom; portability is extremely important.
If you find a model that you can’t move on your own, then it’s not going to really work well for what you need.
If you look at the Spinshot on the top of our list, it’s just north of 45 lbs, and has convenient wheels on one end for easy maneuverability.
Consider picking it up from the bed of a truck or the backseat of a car and putting it back in, don’t just focus on how you would roll it around. Compact designs also help with portability.
This is something you usually find out in the comments or user reviews whenever you go to buy a tennis ball machine.
Durability comes down to the exterior materials, the quality of the mechanics, and may sometimes even include how much it costs to do a DIY repair.
This is an investment, and it’s not cheap. It’s not like buying a racket or new tennis shoes; you should expect it to have great durability and longevity, so you can use it for years to come.
Take to the court of public opinion on this one and see what others are saying.
When we purchase and test tennis ball machines, it’s a short-term testing phase, so it’s also good to get a second opinion from users who have owned them for years on end.
How high it can lob the ball, and how fast it can go.
You’re going to want a variety of different shots coming through, and for that, you need a variable speed and height setting.
The goal is to have your tennis ball machine mimic the movements and shot speed of an opponent, so you’ll be better prepared for when you actually go up against someone.
You don’t need a wide range here, but you at least need more than one speed and height/direction.
What happens when it breaks down on you?
These things have warranties for a reason, because you’re not a manufacturer and you’re likely not a mechanic; it’s up to them to fix these.
With the investment you’re sinking into this tennis ball machine, you’d better expect to have a fulfilling warranty that will cover just about everything.
Most warranties are bound to cover six months to one year worth of manufacturer defects; after that point it’s impossible to prove what is your own doing and what was wrong with the machine.
Within those first six months, you’re likely to see if there are any issues that would have been from production.
Look out for fees and shipping costs for returns as well in the warranty details.
Remote Control/Smartphone Control
This one is big.
If you’re not using it remotely, then what are you doing?
It’s so much easier to enjoy your tennis ball machine when you can just flick a button and have it send a shot your way.
Bonus points if it’s also using a variable shot selector setting so you don’t have to go into the app.
Personally, we’re fans of good ole controllers instead of smartphones. If you drop a controller, it’s going to get a scratch on the plastic backing.
Drop your phone?
It’s not going to bode well. Split screens on a thousand-dollar iPhone is enough to ruin anybody’s day.
How Does a Tennis Ball Machine Work?
Using a hopper, a tennis ball machine will feed one ball at a time into the designated chute.
A hopper (the spot on top where you put the balls) usually has a cone-like shape to the bottom, so that it only feeds one ball in at a time.
The edges of the hopper are usually slick so the balls will just roll towards the center, and you won’t endure any jamming.
Your portable tennis ball machine will then use sensors to signify that the ball has reached its designated location.
At that point, the motor kicks in and sends the ball through a chute that hurls it out of the machine. These are more complicated now than they used to be though.
Now you have onboard computers that either communicate with your phone, a wireless receiver or remote, and rely on electronics to move the chute in various angles to achieve multiple hit patterns.
They’re better for training, but most problems that happen with newer tennis ball machines are program-related or electric, which can spike the costs up when you go to look for a repair.
How to Set up Tennis Ball Machine?
It all depends on what tennis ball machine you get.
If you look at our top pick, the Spinshot, you have to connect the inclusive battery pack to the right wires and download an app.
Pair it with the machine, and program exactly what you want it to do. There’s pre-configured drills, and a panel on the side to manually configure it if you’d like.
That being said, on average you’ll have to connect the power source and configure the shot settings.
On other models, you can preconfigure how many shots it’s going to send off, since they don’t always come with apps or wrist buttons that you can tap to shut it off.
This way, you know after you hit forty balls, it’s going to stop.
You can walk over and unplug the power source or do whatever you have to do without worrying about a stray ball hitting a passer by.
A tennis ball pitching machine is a specialized piece of equipment, so it’s going to come with specialized instructions depending on who the manufacturer is.
Follow them to a tee, and you’ll be good to go. Aim the machine towards you according to the preconfigured mode and how it will shoot, and just get ready to practice.
Can You Practice a Slice Shot with Tennis Ball Machine?
If you get the best tennis ball machine for intermediate to advanced players, you can practice anything you want on it.
There are multiple types of slice shots, so first you need to figure out which one you want to learn.
Is it the forehand slice, or the backhand slice? Figure this out first and foremost before you dive into it.
With a tennis ball machine, you can angle them to fire off just about any shot, and line yourself up to serve or spike them back onto the opponent’s side of the net like a true champion.
There is relatively no serve or shot type that you cannot achieve with a tennis ball machine.
Used Tennis Ball Machine vs New One
Tennis ball machines have a lot of working parts, and you can never really know what they had gone through before you purchased it.
It’s no secret that tennis ball machines are an investment, but how much of it is an investment versus a purchase is up to you.
What use are you going to get out of it? How often are you going to use it?
There’s a lot of variables you have to account for when deciding to get a pre-owned tennis ball machine.
It may work fine on the outside, but like with anything else in our modern manufacturing world, everything can be bought cheaper than most replacement parts end up costing (plus labor).
So are you really saving money by purchasing a used tennis ball machine, or are you just inevitably wasting money when something breaks?
A tennis ball machine is very specific; it’s not a new pair of shoes or a TV that someone just sells because they need quick cash.
There’s two ways to look at this.
Either they’re no longer into tennis (which is unlikely), or they’re selling you something that currently has a band-aid solution and will fail after a short amount of time.
In most states, a verbal contract or agreement is not valid unless the amount declared is over $500, so if they’re selling you something that was $1,200 brand new, and now it’s conspicuously below $500, then it’s either a scam or it’s just broken enough that they know they aren’t going to get much for it.
Get an Advantage Over the Competition
Now that you’ve got an idea of the best tennis ball machine for your personal needs, it’s time to take the plunge and invest.
You don’t know where your current skills are going to take you, but there’s only one way to find out.
Regardless of your age or current skill level, you can still hit the pro circuit with enough due diligence and hardcore practice.
Are you ready to get in the game?
Because these tennis ball machines are here to help you train more than the pros, longer than your friends, and show those blowhards at the club who’s boss.
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