Finding yourself alone when needing a good tennis practice session?
Life can get in the way and sometimes your friend or better half can’t make it to practice. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid practice altogether.
One of the best ways to practice your tennis game is with a tennis ball machine.
Using a ball machine can take some getting used to, but don’t worry we’ll cover many reasons why it might be the best tool in your arsenal. We’ll also review the best practice drills to build confidence and consistency in your skills.
You can hit against a backboard if you want, but a tennis ball machine has clear advantages and proves to be the best way to practice alone.
- 1 5 Benefits of Tennis Ball Machines
- 2 7 Drills for Practicing with a Tennis Ball Machine
- 3 Solo Training for the Big Day
5 Benefits of Tennis Ball Machines
Tennis ball machines aren’t cheap so being hesitant about buying one makes sense.
Do your research and decide if it’s the best option for you. However, know that there are so many advantages to using one.
Tennis ball machines can help you train better than ever with the following benefits.
On the tennis court, consistency is key. You always hear the phrase “make them hit one more ball.”
Being a consistent player with groundstrokes and volleys you can count on allows you to stay in points and give yourself more opportunities for success.
Tennis ball machines help you to achieve consistency because you can get the same feed over and over again and just swing away at the ball. (It can get very boring to hit the same ball over and over again. Ball machines have many settings so you don’t HAVE to hit the same ball over and over, but you could.)
With all the different modes that you can set the machine to, there’s no shortage of different speeds and different modes to try out.
When playing with a partner, there’s a good chance that every 3-5 shots, one of you will make a mistake.
Ball machines don’t make mistakes — they just feed balls to you until the hopper is empty.
Hitting ball after ball will allow you to hone your strokes and achieve the consistency level desired.
#2 Endurance Training
Tennis ball machines are just that — machines.
As long as there’s power (battery or plugged in), they can go and go and go.
It’s very likely that you’ll tire out before the machine will.
Having a ball machine to feed ball after ball will certainly increase your endurance level to simulate long matches.
A tennis ball machine aids you in endurance training by just relentlessly firing ball after ball at you.
Your job is to keep up by continuing to hit away!
#3 Repetition Helps With Skill Mastery
Repetition is how you become a master in something.
Your innate skill is only going to get you so far.
Putting in the hours to train your muscles and groove your groundstrokes will pay dividends in match play.
There’s no way around it — you just have to put in the work.
Tennis ball machines excel at repetition. They’ll fire balls at you for hours allowing you to hit shot after shot after shot.
Repeating the same thing over and over again allows you to learn it to a tee.
Sure, your opponents aren’t going to hit balls the way that a machine does, but if you’re confident in your groundstrokes during practice, you’ll be confident in matches as well.
#4 Playing Solo Anytime You Want
Your buddy’s got to work this weekend and your other usual tennis partners are out of town.
If you don’t have a tennis ball machine, you might have to sit this weekend out.
With a tennis ball machine, you aren’t limited by anyone else’s availability and can hit for as long as your body holds out.
#5 Save on Club Costs
Tennis clubs can be pricey. Even if you’re a member of one you still have to have someone to play with.
You could pay for a hitting lesson.
At $50 or $60 an hour, that’s an investment as well.
Many clubs ball machines that you can rent, but there’s a fee for the machine on top of your regular monthly/annual fees.
If you have one of your own, you pay once and use it as often as you’d like without additional fees.
7 Drills for Practicing with a Tennis Ball Machine
Now it’s time to put this new machine to good use.
You need to put in the hours if you want to be the greatest, or at the very least improve your game for the club circuit.
These are the 7 best drills you can do with tennis ball machines to make that happen.
#1 Consistent King
This drill is essentially the very best thing you can do with a tennis ball machine, and it works for a mixture of skill levels from newcomers to experts.
You want the ball in an alley of the court (narrow rectangles on either side of your half of the court).
From there you want to keep it on about half power, or at least between 40-60%. Let it start firing down the alley, with you standing all the way on the other side.
Simply hit the ball back, and repeat the process.
Try to angle it slightly towards the net so you don’t crack one of these back towards the tennis ball machine, but hey, if you do that just means your precision is getting stronger.
To increase the skill level, move closer to the machine by about three feet at a time until it feels a bit faster.
#2 The Cross-Courter
Standing far back on your side of the court, you’re going to knock these balls in a criss-cross pattern.
On the other side of the net, the tennis ball machine will fire at about 70% power right over the net.
Lean to the right and knock the ball so it crisscrosses over the net and goes on the opposite side of the tennis ball machine.
For the next ball, lean left and knock it to the appropriate side of the machine. This trains your arm radius pretty well, while also focusing on hand-eye coordination.
During this exercise, you’ll find out what your dominant leg feels like while it’s in the throws of consistent training.
Focus on your dominant side and strengthen it. For an added challenge, increase the power from the machine.
#3 The Sequencer
This is a fun one.
While standing on the opposite side of the court, have the ball machine center, but angled slightly by a degree or two so it’s not aimed perfectly straight at you.
This helps out because, in an actual tennis match, your opponent isn’t going to shoot perfectly straight—that would be too easy for you.
When you lean in to hit the ball, you want to aim at four different positions.
The first ball should go to the side of the machine, the next on the other side closer to the net, and the last two behind the machine on either side.
This can get a bit tricky, but the point is to repeat this same pattern again so you get used to the different ways that your opponent may fling the ball towards you.
#4 The Depth Demon
You’re going for depth here, but that should come as no surprise.
Depth in tennis hits is best measured in how much of a curve you can hit your ball at, so for example, you’ll be hitting the ball and having it curve around the edge of the net.
Stand straight, hit to the side, and have the ball curve around. The point of this drill is to understand how the ball reacts to certain hits.
While the aim is to curve it to the side and have it land behind the net in a legal move, your hit isn’t going to be the same every time.
This is an excellent primer for matches against other players.
#5 The Approacher
Straight shots, curved hit.
This is like a lesser version of the Depth Demon, but you don’t have to make it meet the same point of contact on the other side of the net.
Instead, your goal is to position the tennis ball machine on the halfway point of the adjacent court and take up a mirrored position on your side. Kick it on at about 60% power.
Now you’ll just hit the ball so that it curves slightly to the left, then slightly to the right.
Instead of the cross-courter, where you’re heavily leaning into this, you don’t have to move your entire body with the approacher.
If you positioned everything correctly, you can remain stationary while the machine lobs the balls towards you.
#6 Deep Driller
This one’s a fun drill because you’re going to use it to test out your power and quick reflexes.
Positioning the ball machine in the center point of the opponent side court, you’re going to stand against the backboard of your own court and let the machine hit at 100% power.
These will be fastballs, but that’s what you want. Alternate between right and left, and absolutely pound these.
You’ll try to get the left and right side of the ball machine, but there’s a twist: pick one side to hit with a curve, and another to hit straight.
Either way, the ball should go against the backboard at the other end of the opponent court and fizzle out. Hit these with power as your championship depended on it.
#7 The Volley-Baller
You’re going to win this with fancy footwork.
You need to keep your feet planted and steady, and then shift slowly when you go to hit these balls.
Set the machine at the back end of the court near the backboard, and on your side, stand close to the net.
The second these come over the net, you want to hit them in an alternating pattern. You want to swing about 45° to the left so that it goes back in a similar angle to the backboard.
Alternatively, you want to repeat the same thing on the right side, alternating between them at a rapid pace.
The point is that you can’t move your feet to a different spot; you have to work with the stance and positioning that you have.
From there you need to hit these as quickly as possible, so if you have the option, set your tennis ball machine to a faster speed.
Solo Training for the Big Day
Ready to hit the ground running?
We’ve covered the best tennis ball machines for singular person use, as well as the best drills to get you going.
All that’s left to do is put in the time and effort to improve your skill to the best of your abilities. You’ve got this.
Practice the drills we’ve outlined, and you’ll see massive improvements in a short amount of time.
Tennis isn’t the most difficult sport to learn, but it does require some of the most diligent practice out there to remain on top.
Your steps, stance, and swings all have to be precise; a tennis ball machine is how you get that done.