Best Tennis Ball Machines: Reviews & Buyers Guide
Looking for a portable tennis ball machine that comes in, on (or under) budget, is portable enough to safely lift in and out of the car and comes with a reliable, consistent customer support isn’t an easy task – especially as there’s so many tennis ball machines on the market.
And while there are countless forums online that’ll you’ll be able to find some information on the workings of each machine – getting feedback from one person who has owned 3 or 4 machines in their lifetime is highly unlikely.
While that may seem like obstacle in the beginning – it really goes to show the durability and longevity of these machines – especially when tennis ball machines have been known to be kept for 30+ years.
Yep, the same machine with minimal care and replacement parts can last a long time, and for that reason it’s important to make the right decision from the start.[wpsm_titlebox title=”Tennis Ball Machines 2019″ style=”4″][wpsm_toplisth3][/wpsm_titlebox]
So, how have we gone about putting this tennis ball machine review together?
We could’ve gone out, picked out the most expensive ball machines and written a whole load information on the beautiful features each one can provide and leave it there.
But we thought that wouldn’t be much use. We’re human beings after all and each tennis coach or player is going to have their own individual needs and requirements.
Here’s how we’ve chosen our list;
All of the below models are portable in the fact you’ll be able to pick them up with relative ease and transport them using ‘standard’ sized vehicles. Some of course are more portable than others – but for the most part all of the below tennis ball machines are classed as ‘portable’.
The typical metrics and data we used for this were;
- Ease of transport
- Set up time
In comparison to other equipment such as rebound nets for example – ball machines a far more expensive investments. For this reason alone, it’s imperative that customer support is still provided long into the ownership of that machine.
Typical metrics and data we used for this were;
- Amazon responses to questions from customers and potential customers
- Product guarantees
- Other Customer Reviews
Price and Budget
As much as it’s pain sometimes, most of us need to work with some sort of restrictive budget. For this reason we’ve tried to include tennis ball machines that range from the cheap to the moderately expensive to try and ‘sit’ inside most budgets.
Typical metrics and data we used for this were;
- Pricing across multiple vendors and channels
Current level you’re playing at
Finally, we wanted to showcase quality machines that catered for both beginners and more advanced players.
Now it’s important to say, just because we chose the following machines as our ‘best list’, it’s not to say there aren’t other tennis machines that wouldn’t make our list based on other variables – there are.
Lots of them in fact, so much so we’ve added an ‘also recommended’ advert section at the end of this review for you to have a look.
But in an effort to try an give the broadest spectrum of choice while making it specific as possible to your training needs we’re pretty confident with the list we’ve put together, and at the very least we hope we have pointed you in the right direction to finding the best tennis ball machine for you.
Before we head into the nitty-gritty though, there’s a pretty important question we need to ask first…
‘What can a tennis ball machine do for me?’
If you’re looking to take your training and ultimately your game, or if you’re a coach/ trainer – your players game – to the next level in a short period of time there’s few options better than a beautifully crafted, durable tennis ball machine. Here’s just a few benefits you’ll enjoy;
- Far cheaper than purchasing additional lessons
- Portable : Great if you travel frequently
- Multiple-spins: To progress or regress your training
- No need for hitting partners: While it would be plain stupid to suggest you’ll never need another hitting partner again, there’s a huge benefit in the reduced reliance on one. You’ll be able pick up where you left off whenever you feel like it
- You’ve Got More Control: Over your training time, place and needs. Want to practice hitting 400+ forehands? Go for it – your tennis ball machine will have you covered longer than the patience of any hitting partner.
With that all said, let’s get into the meat of this guide…[wpsm_titlebox title=”Popular Tennis Ball Machine (#1)” style=”4″]
Sports Elite Liberty Tennis Ball Machine[wpsm_woobox id=”1227″]
When it comes to tennis ball machines, it’s safe to say Lobster have quite a few on the market. This model, the Sports Elite Liberty comes in as an entry to mid-level tennis ball machine, in the mid-price range with decent review rating from customers.
- Lightweight: Easy enough to transport around multiple venues and re-position on-court when training.
- 20-80mph Ball Speed: Easily adjustable to progress and regress drills
- 150 Ball Capacity: So you can approach training smoothly and efficiently with minimal time wasted
- Random Horizontal Oscillation: Full corner-to-corner oscillation to mimic real-game scenario’s
- Spin Features: Top Spin and Back Spin
- Battery Powered
One of the more popular tennis ball machines, the Lobster Elite Liberty is a pretty darn effective machine that can create realism in your training.
Let’s start with its oscillation feature. The Lobster Sports Elite offer a random oscillation the spans from corner-to-corner. This is great for mimicking real-game situations forcing players to think about the same exact things they would need to when facing an opponent.
Footwork, decision making, awareness, shot selection and anticipation are all skills this handy little feature can add to a players overall game.
Then there’s the ball control. Progressing and (equally as important) regressing drills is vital for long-term development. With a flick of a few switches and a turn of a few knobs you can have the Lobster working at a different speed with different types of shots at different heights.
The speed range comes in at 20-80 mph, you’ve got the option of having either a backspin or a top spin and you’ve also got control of up to 50 degrees in the shot elevation.
Finally, with a 2-10 second range on the ball feed, the Lobster Sports Elite gives you semi-control on when to feed the ball. This frees up some time (albeit minimal) to make quick adjustments your players technique between shots.
There have been issues with wet balls getting jammed. A quick check on your playing surface beforehand will greatly reduce the risk of any balls getting jammed. Using it indoor – you should have no problem. Another tip is to purchase a set of pressureless tennis balls.
Best Suited For;
Not quite top of the range but not at the bottom either. A decent machine at a good price in comparison to others on the market – best suited for; Beginners to intermediate players.[/wpsm_titlebox] [wpsm_titlebox title=”Top Selling Tennis Ball Machine (#2)” style=”4″]
Spinshot-Player with Phone Remote[wpsm_video schema=”yes” title =”Spinshot Player” description =””]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pReQ4fUmKPE[/wpsm_video] [wpsm_woobox id=”1230″]
Here we’ve got the Spinshot-Player Tennis Ball Machine. With a different design, an additional accessory and extra features to the Lobster Sports Elite, this machine is more of a mid to high level tennis ball machine.
- Super Durable: NOT Made from plastic
- Phone Based Remote Control: Through Mobile App that increases usability and allows remote adjustments of features
- Pre-Programmed Drills: That can be adjusted to your to training needs
- Create Your Own Drills: And save them for easy recall at a later training session
- 30-110mph Ball Speed: That can be easily adjusted to match training needs
- Spin Features: Top and Back Spin
- Horizontal & Vertical Oscillation: So you can work the whole court
- 120 Ball Capacity: Smaller than the Lobster Sports Elite but still more than enough to minimize amount of ‘dead’ time in your training sessions.
Like our previous tennis ball machine, the Spinshot Player comes with all the standard features you’d expect from a quality ball machine.
The foldable ball hopper holds up to 120 balls, and while this is a smaller capacity than the Lobster, it’s still enough to limit the amount of ‘dead’ time in sessions and keep your training flowing smoothly. Again, you’ve also got a good range in speed variation maxing out at 110 mph – which comes in a full 30 mph faster than the Lobster.
While top and back spin are the choice of shots, with the Spinshot Player you do have more control over the different degrees of each shot which can be electronically adjusted.
Now onto the extended benefits the Spinshot Player can bring to your training…
Along with the it’s horizontal oscillation, the this Spinshot model also provide some extra versatility through vertical oscillation. This is made even better by the fact you can program different variables such as the; spin, speed and shots in both oscillation modes.
This is great if you’re looking to add more variety to your drills, progress the challenge a little or completely customize your own drills from scratch.
The Spinshot Player also comes with a mobile phone remote used through a handy little app. The Spinshot Mobile App, which can be installed on both Apple and Android devices can be used to;
- Select different drill modes
- Edit Parameters
- Sync or Download drills to the machine
- Adjust; spin, height, speed and feed rate
- Control different values and variables
Where the added weight of the Spinshot Player takes away a small portability factor in comparison to the Lobster for example, it more than makes up for this, in the ability to control the machine remotely.
Of course, this is another huge factor in limiting any ‘dead’ time in your training which means you can play for longer, more efficiently and ultimately accelerate learning for long-term gains.
While we’re on the topic of weight – it comes in at 19kg, and while this is heavier than some tennis ball machines it actually comes in lighter than most other machines with similar functions and features.
Finally, unlike many of it’s competitors the Spinshot comes in super-durable casing which can be easily wheeled about, and will last most training sessions with a 2-3 hour battery life.
Overall, a very good machine with an incredible customer rating.
Due to Amazon policies the battery is shipped separately.
Best Suited For;
More of an intermediate to advanced players tennis ball machine.
Suitable for players playing at 4.0 or above.[/wpsm_titlebox] [wpsm_titlebox title=”Cheap Portable Tennis Ball Machine (#3)” style=”4″]
Match Mate Rookie Tennis Ball Machine[wpsm_video schema=”yes” title =”Match Mate Rookie” description =””]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBg8ibPs74A[/wpsm_video] [/wpsm_video] [wpsm_woobox id=”1240″]
If budget is your main issue, then the Match Mate Rookie might be the answer you’re looking for. Not only does it come in as the cheapest tennis ball machine in our top list, but it’s also a pretty good ‘match’ for beginners and youth players with a rating of 1.5/2.0 right through to 3.5/4.0.
- Cheap Tennis Ball Machine: Great if you’re working with a budget
- 30 mph Top Speed: Great for beginners and youth players
- Maximum Distance Approx: 50ft, with the ability to adjust distance
- 22lbs: For added portability
- Rechargeable Battery: With 5 hour training time
- Aluminium Casing: For added durability
- 10 Second Ball Feed Delay: Enough time to prepare between shots
- Battery Powered
The Match Mate Rookie is the perfect alternative tennis ball machine for beginners, youth players and potentially wheelchair users too (that’s not to say an experienced wheelchair player wouldn’t be able to another machine however).
With a 30 mph top speed it’s not the fastest machine in our list. But, this does come with it’s own unique benefit.
By getting the fundamentals right in the early stages of learning you can lay the proper foundations for more complex and advanced tennis skills later down the line. So, by having the ball fed at a slower pace, beginners can focus more on refining the technique of their strokes.
To aid further with this, the Match Mate also comes with a maximum 10 second ball feed delay. This will allow enough time to process the last hit, get in position and be ready for the next ball.
Finally, the Match Mate comes in at 22lbs, has a 5 hour playing time and comes complete in a aluminium casing for added durability.
While you won’t have all the features of say the Spinshot-Player, the Match Mate Rookie does provide excellent value for money.
Not really for advanced players looking to improve their game – although it could be used for simple warms up drills before games.
Best Suited For:
Beginners and young players.[/wpsm_titlebox] [wpsm_titlebox title=”Lobster Portable Tennis Ball Machine (#4)” style=”4″]
Lobster Sports Elite 2 Portable Tennis Ball Machine (21x14x 20- Inch)[wpsm_video schema=”yes” title =”Spinshot Player” description =””]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6klZNc5Ilcw[/wpsm_video] [wpsm_woobox id=”1246″] A slight heavier and more feature packed alternative to the Lobster Sports Elite Liberty, the Lobster Sports Elite 2 is an impressive piece of kit.
- 150 Ball Capacity
- 4-8 Hour Battery Life: Depending on features used in training
- Random Triple Oscillation: Horizontal AND Vertical
- 2-10 Second Ball Feed Rate: Easily adjusted to progress challenge
- 20-80mph Ball Speed
- Top Spin and Back Spin
- Comes With Optional Accessories
- Battery Powered
The Lobster Elite 2 is an upgraded model to the Elite 1.
Starting with the basics across most Lobster tennis ball machines; you’ve got a 150 ball capacity which as we’ve already discussed can keep your training smooth and consistent. You’ve also got a maximum ball speed of 80 mph and a 2-10 second ball feed rate which can all be easily adjusted. Finally, like the previous model we went into above, there’s also the option of top and back spin.
Now onto the additional features…
The Elite 2 brings an added dimension to your training by not only feeding balls from left to right but also by oscillating vertically as well. This added oscillation is perfect for players that need to work on a wider variety of returns both short and deep.
Of course, you’ve still got the option of having the Elite 2 oscillate horizontally only or, vertically only.
While most other machines on the market tend to work solely on improving both forehand and backhand strokes, the Elite 2 does a fantastic job at working your other strokes including overheads.
With all these additional features, it’s well worth noting that it will take some finer adjustments to be able to get the Elite 2 to perform and function exactly how you want – that’ll come with playing time.
Finally, you’ve also got some optional accessories;
- Wireless Remote: To save time between shots
- 1 Amp & 3 Amp Fast Chargers
- Storage Cover: To keep it clean and free from any wear and tear
- External Battery Pack: If you intend to use it across multiple venues and for longer periods of time
You might find the speeds of shots will vary quite a lot due to the different types of shots the Elite 2 ‘throws’ out. If you think about it, hitting multiple horizontal and vertical backspin shots for example will slow the ball down slightly – to solves this, notch up the speed a little and you should be all good.
Best Suited for:
Intermediate to Advanced Players (rating 4.5+)[/wpsm_titlebox]
Tennis Ball Machine FAQ’s
Why are tennis ball machines so expensive?!
They are expensive – there’s no two ways about. The cheapest tennis ball machine will cost upwards of $500. If you look at it this way, there a few ways in which you can work round not having one;
- Firstly you can book the court and play tennis with a partner.
Here you only have the cost of the court to factor in. It’s a completely viable option that most people take. The big problem with this however is not everyone has a partner every time they want to get some practice time in. Also, the chances of you finding a partner that can give good solid feedback about different areas in your game is even harder. So while this is definitely a good option to take whenever you can take it – it is some what limited.
- The second option you have it to pay a coach.
Here you’re out of pocket by paying for the coaches time and maybe depending on the circumstance, the cost of the court (although this is usually worked into the initial price of hiring a coach). This is also a good option.
You now not only have a partner, but an experienced one at that. They’ll be able to give you good feedback and you’ll hopefully be playing and getting coached by someone who’s at a higher level than you.
The problem? Well a good coach, with experience behind them can cost upwards of $100 in some areas. If we take a round figure of $1000 for a ball machine with ‘medium’ features. You’ve roughly got 10 sessions with your coach – a tennis ball machine all of a sudden looks like a worthwhile investment.
And the companies who sell these machines know this. If you’re serious about developing your game you will see the benefit of paying a one off price for a ball machine compared to paying the continuous fee to a coach.
Of course, this isn’t the only reason, you’ve got the intricate workings of a machine such as oscillation, additional features such as being remote controlled and other time saving and game-enhancing features to factor in as well.
So while they are definitely not cheap pieces of technology, they should be viewed as investments. An investment in your tennis game.
Side note: To get a better idea of whether a machine is the right investment, factor in what it can help you with vs what a coach can help you with.
Should I buy a tennis ball machine?
Taking what I’ve gone into above, you really have to weigh up the cost vs usage factors. Are you going to use this machine to be able to get more than enough value out of it? Try researching the cost of local trainers in your area.. Then ask yourself are you going to get a good amount of usage out of the machine long into the future or will it sit in your house collecting dust? Once you’ve got the answers to both those questions you’ll be in a better shape to make a decision.
What type of machine should I buy?
What parts of your game do you want to develop? You need to work out what features are going to benefit you most and make a decision from there. Side note: As a general rule of thumb you should expect to pay more for a machine that has ‘upgraded’ features. The less you pay the less features you get.
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