One of the most crucial training equipment in a tennis player’s arsenal is undoubtedly the tennis ball machine. Basic tennis training regimens are all well and good, but if you wish to truly hit the next level – investing in a tennis ball machine is a must. The benefits of this machine towards improving a tennis player’s skill is undeniable as pros can attest to that. Having this type of tennis training equipment will allow you to take your skills a step or two above your current level.
In this article, we will be taking a look at tennis ball machines - specifically, what factors you should look for if you are indeed in the market to buy one. After we have given you some pointers on how to choose and buy one, we will then give you a list of our most recommended and best tennis ball machines available. Let us begin.
Tennis Ball Machine Buying Guide
Choosing the best tennis ball machine will require you to consider several key factors. Taking these elements into account should help you land on the best possible option. As this will be quite an investment, it is best to take into account all factors which will help you make an informed decision as to which tennis ball machine is best suited for you.
#1. Go with Recognizable Brands
One of the best first step you should take here is to research the best tennis ball machine manufacturers. While generally expensive, some prominent brands provide tennis ball machines that cover a wide budget range. As you would expect, the more affordable units tend to lean on over to beginners and provide rudimentary features.
While high-end models incorporate a slew of functionalities that advanced players and professionals will truly appreciate. As for the brands, the top names in this market are Wilson, Lobster, and Tennis Tutor.
#2. consider the Price
As you would expect, a tennis ball machine can be quite a steep purchase. However, for the benefits that it can deliver – I would say that this is worthwhile investment for tennis players looking to sharpen their skills even further. Whether you buy one or simply use a rental will depend on how often you plan on using the machine for training.
A rental tennis ball machine can be quite expensive once it racks up the cost after a couple of months. In fact, you might be able to afford one for yourself within three months if you plan on renting a $50 per session tennis ball machine twice a week. So, first order of business is that you need to determine how often you will be using the machine for training.
Also, you might want to consider bringing in your tennis doubles partner (if you have one) to shoulder the cost with you. Both of you will be able to benefit from this machine, so why not share the cost 50/50? At the very least, this will dampen the blow to your wallet considerably.
#3. Machine Power Source
There are two types of power supplies utilized by tennis ball machines: A/C and battery operated. There are key differences between the two that should help you determine which type suits your needs the best. Obviously, an A/C powered machine will be able to deliver optimum power at all times – as long as you have a power outlet nearby, that is.
If you are looking for a more versatile and portable tennis ball machine, models that use rechargeable batteries are the way to go. However, these units need to be recharged after every session and may not be readily available for use at the drop of a dime.
#4. Machine Propulsion Technology
As with the power source, tennis ball machines also use two types of propulsions: these are the counter rotating wheels and the pneumatic pressure. The counter rotating wheel or spinning wheel tennis ball machine is the most common type and most popular in the market.
It uses two counter-rotating wheels that will eject the tennis ball outwards at varying speeds. The spinning wheel tennis ball machine is also quite versatile and will allow users to choose whether the balls that are ejected will have a forward spin or backspin.
As for the pneumatic pressure tennis ball machine, this is an old model type of propulsion technology which uses intense air pressure to throw the ball. Due to this machine requiring more power, you won’t likely find a rechargeable batter operated unit anytime soon.
Pneumatic propulsion tennis ball machines can still deliver different spins but you will need to attach extra accessories to do so. This type is also considerably more affordable than the spinning wheel version, but the latter does offer more convenience overall.
#5. Machine Oscillation Functionality
If you want to take full advantage of your tennis ball machine, then I highly recommend you choose one with an oscillation feature. This functionality will help simulate an actual game by having the machine throw the tennis ball at various angles and directions.
Most of the tennis ball machines that you will encounter in the market will typically feature the horizontal oscillation feature. For the maximum training experience, we recommend you get the ones that have both horizontal and vertical oscillation to further improve its ability to simulate an actual opponent.
For an added challenge, there are also machines that have a random pattern feature on how it throws the ball. However, these are mostly found in high-end models only. If you are a professional though, a tennis ball machine with this feature will be a great investment.
#6. Ball Ejection Speed
One of the most crucial features in terms of performance of a tennis ball machine is speed. Depending on your skill level, you will need to consider the option to have various ball speeds available in your tennis ball machine. Beginners will require something more manageable and slower while advanced players will benefit greatly from a machine that can throw balls at blistering speeds. Tennis ball machine speeds can range between 10 to 95 mph.
#7. Ball Capacity
Tennis ball machines will have a limited number of balls in its chamber. The fewest capacity would be around 50 with portable units while A/C powered machines can have around 300 tennis balls at the ready. You should determine the best capacity of balls that you will likely use during training.
Top 4 Best Tennis Ball Machines On The Market
Now, that we have gone through our buying guide, I think we should be the first to apply those guidelines to the dozens tennis ball machines that are currently available in the market today. We have included in this list out top four most recommended units. Check them out down below:
#1. Spinshot-Player Tennis Ball Machine
Simple with a traditional aesthetic, the Spinshot-Player provides excellent flexibility in improving your return shots and sharpen your overall tennis game. This is a portable unit that packs an outstanding batter life and full-court oscillation feature. This machine also delivers some on-point spin shots, which makes sense given its moniker. If you have ever played tennis, then you know returning a spin shot is easier said than done.
With the Spinshot-Player, you can sharpen your spin ball return skills and iron out any kinks in your game. I do want to point out how the control layout of the Spinshot-Player makes it a bit difficult to program during practice as it is located on the lower side of the machine. Not a dealbreaker, but a little nitpick on my side. As for the capacity, this machine can hold up to 120 tennis balls and fire it between 19 to 68 mph.
#2. Tennis Tutor Prolite Tennis Ball Machine
The Tennis Tutor Prolite is an entry-level version of the best-selling Tennis Tutor Pro Machines. This particular model focuses on convenience and allowing beginners to sharpen their game at a relatively comfortable pace. It features a random oscillator that fires shots on different areas of the court for those who want a good challenge.
This is also a portable and lightweight tennis ball machine that comes with a rechargeable battery that can operate for up to three hours on a single charge. The unit also automatically shuts off once it is fully charged which should help improve longevity.
As for features, it can fire balls at speeds of 10 to 60 mph. It also comes with a 125-ball capacity chamber and can fire at a rate of a ball per 1 ½ to 10 seconds. Operating the machine is pretty rudimentary and is handled by a control knob for added simplicity. In addition, you can also operate this machine via wireless remote control which is sold separately.
#3. Sports Tutor Tennis Cube
If you are looking for the most compact tennis ball machine, then Sports Tutor Tennis Cube might just be the one you are looking for. Due to its highly portable design, don’t expect it to fire high speed tennis balls as it is limited from 10 to 50 mph only.
Fortunately, the Sports Tutor Tennis Cube manages to balance its weaker power with a random oscillator. Ball fire rate is adjustable from one every 2 seconds to one every 10 seconds. The chamber can also contain up to 70 tennis balls, more than enough to work up a sweat.
As for the controls, it uses an easy-to-use knob which is pretty straightforward to operate. The rechargeable batter can operate at full capacity for 2 hours straight. It also features a Smart Battery Charger technology which automatically stops charging once the battery is full.
#4. Wilson Portable Tennis Ball Machine
Wilson is one of the most trusted brands in Tennis and is basically synonymous with the sport which gives you an idea of what to expect with their tennis ball machine. The Wilson Portable Tennis Ball Machine stays true to its name with its 22 x 14 x 20-inches dimension and 38 lbs. weight.
Despite its miniature build, this portable tennis ball machine can pack a surprising wallop with its 10 to 70 mph propulsion speed. It can also fire balls with an interval of 1 to 10 seconds and can even fire top and backspin shots. It also comes with a two-line oscillator with a random setting that is a great way to challenge beginners and keep veterans on their toes. The chamber can also hold up to 110 balls which is quite impressive given its size.
A Few Final Words
For tennis players, investing on a tennis ball machine is a smart move – especially if you don’t have access to a tennis training court with these machines nearby. If you are ready to purchase one of this excellent tennis training equipment for yourself, remember our guideline above to point you towards the right direction. You can also check our top four most recommended tennis ball machines to further narrow down your options.