Picking the best tennis ball machine is getting harder as they come in a number of varieties and sold under a number of names.
To help you navigate through all the extra choices, I have piled up my list of the best models, along with my reviews. Some of the information is from my own experience. Some I gather from my fellow players.
If you are in doubt of weather to buy a tennis ball machine, this article will give you a thorough guideline so that you can boost your skills in no time.
Top 5 Best Tennis Ball Machines 2018 - 2019 Comparison Chart
Lobster Sports Phenom II
Spinshot-Player with Phone Remote
Lobster Sports Elite Liberty
Beginner and intermediate level
Top-rated 5 Tennis Ball Machines Reviews
1. Lobster Sports Phenom II Club Series Machine
This model is equipped with “Lexan” control panel that replaces dials with touch buttons. This feature allows greater access to the machine setting and options.
The Lobster Sports Phenom II is user-friendly so you do not have to worry about getting familiar with all the functions. This tennis ball machine is programmed with three unique drills. They are the grinder drill, the power baseliner drill, and the all-courter drill. All of them help you master some difficult shots to improve your skills.
The drills can also be mixed up and added speed, spin, and trajectory to keep you challenged. The Lobster Sports Phenom II Club Series Machine is equipped with one of the most extensive 3 line function.
To have a closer look at the machine. You might want to watch this video:
2. Best for Beginner: Spinshot-Player with Phone Remote
I find my experience with this machine quite satisfying. This model from SpinShot is small enough to fit in any trunk.
In fact, this is the machine I am using right now. I have been sticking with it for years and it still serves me well. Here are what make it special.
Firstly, it is equipped with 12 drills, which can be customized to suit players’ needs and skill levels. The next cool feature of the Spinshot-Player tennis ball machine is that it allows you to design your own drills and save them for later use. Another special feature is the 2-line drill. You can set it at any height and width you want.
That is not all.
Users can even mix up horizontal and vertical oscillation as you wish. The remote control option is of great help and is a highlight. I have used the Apple Watch to control the machine and it works well. It will come in handy when you notice something that needs to be coached. When you do, stop the machine, work on the technique and pick up where you left off. As simple as that.
For all the good features, this is the best tennis ball machine in my opinion.
3. Best Under $1000: Lobster Sports Elite
The Elite Liberty comes with a random oscillation option that allows it to feed balls at unpredictable directions.
Although you cannot determine how far left or right the ball will land, this feature can cover the whole court and give you a challenging practice session. The machine weighs 35 pounds and has the dimensions of 21 x 14 x 21 inches. This size and weight make the Elite Liberty a highly portable model and can be fit into small space.
The Elite Liberty’s maximum capacity is 150 balls. This many is more than enough for most people’s training session so you do not have to bother with refilling. The machine’s large wheels and handle ensure its mobility so you can easily move it around the court.
The speed can reach up to 80 mph. However, beginners might want to lower the speed. However, the Elite Liberty is not without drawbacks. As the manual states, if you feed damp balls into the machine, it will probably be jammed. To fix this issue, you will have to put your hand inside the machine.
4. Best Under $500: Match Mate
An ideal tennis ball machine for beginners, the Match Mate Rookie is great to work on your stroke sets. The machine is able to feed balls at the speed of 30 mph, an impressive feature in a machine for beginners.
If you want to start slowly and gradually build up speed, the Match Mate Rookie comes with a user-friendly control panel that will allow you to do so. The maximum shooting distance is 50 feet so the machine can cover the whole court. This distance can be adjusted via the control panel.
The match Mate Rookie also stands out for being one of the most lightweight tennis ball machines on the market. With the weight of only 22 Lbs, it is highly portable and can be lifted with ease. The machine is coated with a heavy grade aluminum shell so it is not only light but also durable. This feature somehow makes up for the fact that it does not have wheels so you will have to lift it up to move it.
The 10-second ball feed delay is another advantage of this model.
Finally, the battery life is up to 5 hours, which can last until the end of an average training session. The recharging time is fast, which cuts a lot of hassle with maintaining the machine.
5. Isam Extend Tennis Ball Machine
Although the Isam Extend is an affordable model, it is highly durable and portable. The machine has a large bucket on top that allows it to store lots of balls at one time. Its shooting speed is between 15 to 65 mph so you do not have to worry that the machine does not provide enough challenge. The speed can be adjusted via the control panel.
The Isam Extend is suitable for both playing for fun and practicing to boost your skills. Its interval range is from 2 seconds to 10 seconds and can be changed with the control panel. The capacity of storing 300 balls at a time is pretty impressive in comparison with its small design.
The Isam Extend’s battery life is another highlight. The machine can operate up to 7 hours without running out of power. It also has a pretty short recharging time.
How to choose the best Tennis Ball Machine
To land the best tennis ball machine, take these factors into consideration:
These machines come in a wide price range so you need to have a budget limit. Of course, the more costly them ore features the machine has.
Tennis ball machines also come in different sizes. Decide where you will store it and you will know whether to buy a portable or a large one.
How do you plan to use the machine? Will you practice alone or with someone else?
The number of balls a machine can carry and launch is between 50 and 300. If you will not share the machine, it is best not to buy the one with a large ball capacity.
A tennis ball machine will need to be carried around so remember to think about the weight.
What type of power source is available at where you will practice? Remember, a machine runs on batteries will have limited functions and a shorter time of use at one time.
Many tennis ball machines can channel balls in various directions and the term oscillation is used to describe this function.
You can either choose to have balls launched randomly or program the machine to channel balls to certain directions.
This means the height at which the machine can feed balls. If you want some dynamic shots, go for the one that has the widest range. Some machines can also feed lobs, which you might want to take into consideration.
This term refers to the speed at which the machine can launch balls. The faster it feeds balls, the more your reaction can improve.
Remote control brings more convenience to players practicing on their own.
This is also of great help for coaches who need tennis tutor ball machines to demonstrate the techniques during lessons without moving back and forth the control the machine.
The tennis ball machine warranty is another thing to check. These machines are usually a big investment for most people. With the amount of money you have to pay to get them, be sure that the manufacturer covers them well.
2 Accessories should buy with Tennis Ball Machine
1. Pressureless Tennis Balls
While pressurized tennis balls have many advantages over the pressureless ones. The latter is actually more suitable to use with a tennis ball machine.
Pressureless tennis balls do not lose their bounce over time, which makes them perfect candidates to accompany a machine.
Over the years of using many types of tennis balls for both competing and practicing, I find Penn Pressureless tennis balls are the best.
I have been using them for years and some of my balls from Penn last over 2 years. They are also cheaper than some other brands so you have a great bang for your buck.
2. Tennis Ball Hopper
Tennis is not an easy sport especially if you are not a natural athlete. However, you can make each training session easier by invest in a tennis ball hopper.
This item is basically a basket that you can adjust the height to help you pick up balls. It can also serve as a bag to carry tennis balls around.
The tennis ball hopper that I recommend here is the Gamma Sports Premium Tennis Teaching and Travel Baskets. I am using one myself.
Top 5 Tennis Ball Machine Drills
Here are 5 suggested drills to practice with your tennis ball machine. They cover a wide array of postures and require different levels of stroke’s accuracy.
I recommend practicing all 5 drills in a training session to fully develop your skills.
Double alley drill
Program the machine to feed balls at the double alley area.
You can either stand behind or in front of the baseline and try to return all the shots and get them to land on the other side’s double alley.
If you are a beginner, 5 successful shots are good enough. For people of intermediate level, 10 shots are fantastic. For the advanced level, you should aim for 15 accurate shots.
To put a bit of pressure on your opponent, you can try to get the balls to land as close to the baseline as possible. The backcourt drill will help you practice this.
So set up the machine right in front of the baseline on the other side. You should try to hit as many shots as possible but still make sure the balls hit the ground at a spot that is close to the baseline.
In this exercise, do not expect to have perfect shots every time if you are a beginner.
This drill will help you adjust your trajectory.
Set up the machine on the other side and make sure it stands right opposite you.
Firstly, try to hit the ball between the net and 4 ft above the net. Then bump it up to between 5 ft and 10 ft above the net.
Every time the ball lands in the court, you can count that a point.
Footwork across court drill
This drill is for practicing both footwork and across court hitting.
Divide the backcourt into a little box at its corner. Each side of the box is about halfway across the backcourt or halfway widthwise.
Practice both forehand and backhand and alternate back and forth within each shot.
Ball machine buster drill
This drill is great for accuracy.
Set up the machine across the court and try to return the shots so that the balls hit the machine.
For beginners, aim for 5 shots. Intermediate players can handle 10 shots and advanced ones should aim for 15 shots.
Facts about Tennis Ball Machine
Does Tennis Ball Machine improve games?
It depends on your situation.
If you are unable to have a coach by your side but still need to practice the basics, a machine will be of great benefits. It can give you as many shots as you need without bothering another person.
I have seen people use a tennis ball machine with a camera to record their technique. Many of them make a big progress without further professional assistance. So if you want to practice regularly on your own, a tennis ball machine is worth it.
Of course, this can only happen if you are serious about practicing and have self-discipline.
How to use a Tennis Ball Machine?
A tennis ball machine is the most useful when you know exactly what your weakest shots are.
So make a list of those shots and set up the machine accordingly.
You should start slowly and focus on mastering the techniques. Then you can increase the pace and practice with different angles.
The top tip to use the machine is to go through all the shots and find a balance. Overuse injury may happen if you repeat the same posture for the same shot over and over again.
It might take weeks or even months to see improvement so be patient. You cannot be an expert overnight.
And one more note. It is best to have someone watch you practicing, either a coach or a partner so that he or she can make sure that you get the right techniques.
How does a Tennis Ball Machine work?
Most of the tennis ball machines use counter-rotating wheels.
Firstly, an electric fan inside the machine creates currents of air, which are channeled into the canister.
Next, a hopper will launch the balls into the air.
You can adjust the angles, depth, height, and how the balls spin to suit your needs. This can be done by changing the wheel’s rotation speed.
How much does a Tennis Ball Machine cost?
There is no fixed price for a tennis ball machine.
Expect to pay about $500 for a machine for beginner. The rule here is quite straightforward. The more features it has, the more expensive it is
Where to buy a Tennis Ball Machine?
Tennis ball machines are growing in popularity so you can purchase them at any sports stores.
Even though I love the idea of seeing and touching the machine I plan to buy in real life, I find shopping online quite beneficial.
Firstly, sites like Amazon, eBay or Walmart offer the chance to compare prices quickly. This feature will probably come in handy if you want the cheapest option possible.
These sites also have customers’ reviews section where you can read other’s experience with the machine and decide for yourself whether you want to buy it.
Which Best Tennis Ball Machine should I buy?
Which the best Tennis Ball Machine is depends largely on your level and budget. However, I find that the Spinshot-Player Tennis Ball Machine with Phone Remote Supported offers great value for money. It is suitable for all levels and comes at an affordable price.