Are Tennis Ball Machines Worth It & 10 Step Buyer’s Guide
When you consider buying a tennis ball machine, you must research and see whether it is worth buying it due to its usually high cost. In this article, I will walk you through every step of the way and help you determine if a tennis ball machine is worth it for you and how to choose one.
Before diving into the buyer’s guide, let’s see whether a tennis ball machine is worth it, to begin with.
A tennis ball machine is worth buying if you want to train tennis more often than you have a partner to train with. Also, tennis machines enable you to train various drills and target a specific stroke. Finally, you can use it as help when you teach because it is like having an extra teacher.
That being said, there are many things why you should get a tennis machine. However, if you need to jeopardize your finances to get one, don’t have the means to transport it, or just don’t have the use for it, it might not be a good investment.
Be that as it may, stick with me when I explain in-depth all the pros and cons a tennis ball machine has so you can decide whether one is worthwhile for you.
- Advantages of tennis ball machines
- Disadvantages of tennis ball machines
- What should I look for in a tennis ball machine? (Buyer’s Guide)
- Do tennis ball machines improve your game?
Advantages of tennis ball machines
Let us begin with the advantages. There are 4 main advantages that a tennis ball machine haves. I’ll start with my favorite.
1. You can practice tennis alone at any time
The best thing about tennis ball machines is that you can train even when you don’t have a partner! As you know, tennis requires two players, and it is a miracle if you can always find one to play with. Whether you have the ball machine in your backyard, in a nearby court, or just in a field somewhere, you can always train tennis!
This makes your progress never-ending if you only have the energy to train. There is no need to fall behind on your improvement or fun because you don’t have somebody to train with. This is what I love about tennis ball machines.
2. Select various drills & target specific strokes
When you play with another person or strike to the wall over and over again, you really can’t accurately and consistently get that ball back to you. However, with a tennis ball machine, you can select the feed rate, ball speed, and direction really accurately so you can train exactly what you want and need maximizing your improvement.
Also, this makes it really great to really focus on the form, which really isn’t possible when you run for a ball smashed by your opponent. Everything will go better when you have the right form, which makes tennis ball machines so great. They drive you toward that target!
3. Implement into your teaching sessions
Are you teaching tennis to someone or even a group? The more people you are teaching, the more you will need a tennis ball machine.
Think about it, when there are many people to teach with a different skill set, you can feel overwhelmed. However, with a tennis ball machine, you can teach one-half of the group while one-half trains strike, receiving, and you name it with the machine. It’s like having another teacher covering your back!
This frees a bit of your time on the lessons and makes you focus better. And when you focus better, you teach better, and the people taking your lessons get the maximum benefit to their cash, and it won’t get unnoticed.
When people are happy about the quality increase on your lessons, it will certainly drive even more customers, which would pay back your tennis ball machine.
Oh, and finally, you won’t need to constantly go to the machine and switch options and drills because nearly all of them are controlled via a smartphone app or a remote controller, which gives you flexibility on the court.
Disadvantages of tennis ball machines
In all things, tennis ball machines aren’t saved from cons, so let’s learn about them next.
1. Tennis ball machines are expensive
The biggest disadvantage about tennis ball machines is that they are quite expensive. Yes, you can find tennis ball machines that cost around $250-$500, but those are for total beginners and kids and should not be considered for serious tennis training.
If you want a good tennis ball machine, you should look at the $1000-$1500 price gap, and if you want one with great perks and tweaks for advanced training, you should look at machines above the $2500 price gap. These numbers are high, and they can get as high as +$5000, so they aren’t something to buy on your way home.
You can look at tennis ball machines that are used from various marketplaces, and even a slightly used machine often drops its price by %20, and you can find ones with even a greater ”discount”.
2. Logistics isn’t easy
Tennis ball machines are bulky and heavy, especially when you get to the expensive models because they have more features, durability, and quality; they need to be bigger and heavier.
Tennis ball machines aren’t that hard to move around in the ground, but when you have to move it from your home to a tennis court, etc., it can get quite awkward so before buying a tennis ball machine, make sure that you have the proper means for transportation.
If you don’t have a car and need to move it a long way, this is a serious disadvantage.
3. Ball picking is your new normal
As fun as it is to train with a tennis ball machine and strike the balls, you should remember that you need to pick them up as well.
Most tennis ball machines have a capacity of 50-300 balls, and depending on the personal preference about how often you want to reload; you need to pick the balls from time to time.
This is a time-consuming chore and without any equipment meant for that, it is a pain, trust me. However, luckily there is a tennis ball hopper that I highly recommend; in fact, in my opinion, it is mandatory to make the ball picking process enjoyable. So that is something you should have if you decide on a tennis ball machine.
What should I look for in a tennis ball machine? (Buyer’s Guide)
If you decide that a tennis ball machine is worth it for your situation, I highly encourage you not to skip these steps below so you can be informed and confident when looking for a machine of your own.
Below, you can find all the things you should consider before deciding on a machine because they drastically impact how the machine will work, what you can do with it, and how satisfied you will be.
Without a further due, let’s start the buyer’s guide!
1. Price & Intended Use
The first thing to consider is the price and intended use. What is your budget? Tennis ball machines go anywhere from $250-$5000 and above, so the quality differences are astronomical. Determine how much money you have to spend, and then you can take intended use into account and locate the perfect gap for your machine, narrowing down the choices considerably.
The higher the price, the better the machine and capabilities for advanced and ever pro training for the intended use. Where do you need your machine? Is it just for yourself, or are you training a serious group of tennis athletes?
Below are some rough price estimates for different target groups:
- $250-$500: Newbies, kids, & just for fun.
- $500-$1000: Beginners
- $1000-$2000: Intermediate
- $2000-$5000: Advanced & Experts
Take notice that all the things below affect the level of the machine and price so remember, these numbers are just rough, and you can find good deals from many price ranges.
Task: Find a good balance between your budget and target group so that you don’t lack the features you need and don’t break your bank completely.
There are two kinds of tennis ball machines: A/C powered and battery-powered.
- A/C powered means that you need to have a power source through a power cord which is great because you never need to worry about it running out of power. However, the portability isn’t as great because you always need that power source with a cord that can reach it.
- Battery-powered machines, on the other hand, are great because you can move them around without the need to worry about an external power source. However, you need to worry about its internal power source, and it’s running out of juice.
Task: Do you have a set location for your machine, or do you need to move it from place to place? Choose accordingly.
3. Machine type
Machine type other known as propulsion, is in two categories: spinning wheel and air pressure ball feed types.
- Spinning wheel machines are the more expensive, feature-rich, and popular models. This type of machine works by having wheels inside the machine that feed the tennis balls. The wheels offer more features than an air pressure machine, and you can often select the speed, feed rate, spin, and target in a more easy and precise way.
- Air pressure machines use high air pressure to shoot the balls from the machine. They are often cheaper because they use A/C power instead of a battery. After all, the power requirement for such air pressure is so high. Air pressure machines are often lesser in features and quality than spinning wheel machines in other areas than the price.
Task: Do you need more features at a higher price, or is an A/C-powered machine with fewer features at a lower price a better option? Write it down!
If you are an intermediate player or above with your skills, then this is an essential part to look at for you.
The faster the machine can shoot the balls at you, the more difficult it is to hit it and the better skills you will need. Also, you can increase the difficulty in training by amping up the speed, so if you have options to choose a higher speed for the ball, you have more options and variations in training different drills and strikes.
Task: Determine whether you need a high speed on your machine or are you satisfied with a lower amount of speed. This is often reflected in the price.
5. Feed rate
Feed rate means that how frequently the machine can shoot the balls. Again, this is a big part of who the machine is for. Beginners don’t need as high a feed rate as advanced players do.
Generally, tennis ball machines can shoot the ball between 1.5-10 seconds, so the difference is quite big. Again, spinning wheel machines can often shoot the balls more often than air pressure ones, which is reflected in the price.
Tas: Think about the feed rate that would be enough for you. Also, think about your improvement, so don’t just decide based on your current skill set.
Oscillation means that in what direction and height the machine can shoot at the balls. This is important if you want to add some real feel to the training by setting the direction and height to random or creating a specific training dill. There are two kinds of oscillations that you should keep an eye out for.
Horizontal oscillation means the ability to shoot the balls from side to side. This is more commonly found in most ball machines.
Vertical oscillation means the ability to choose the ball height. This is a rarer feature than horizontal oscillation, and it enables you to train close to the baseline or net.
Obviously, a machine with horizontal and vertical oscillation is the most complex, thus the priciest.
Task: Do you need complex options in terms of direction and height, or is a simple machine fit for you? Take potential drill options and your future with the machine into consideration.
7. Size & Weight
When talking about a bulky product like a tennis ball machine. You need to think about how you will handle it, its weight, and its size.
Depending on the complexity and quality of the machine, the size and weight can be quite easy to handle, or it can be big and bulky, which would be hard to move from point A to point B.
Task: Where are you using your machine, do you need to move it often, do you need a car for transportation, where are you storing it? Think about these aspects and look at the machine you are thinking about and the weight and size specs. That should give you an idea of your future with the machine.
8. Ball capacity
Do you want to reload your machine constantly, or do you want to have the means for a long training session without the need to pick up the balls? However, you need to pick the same amount of balls at the end of the training, no matter what ball capacity the machine haves.
Generally, most tennis ball machines have a capacity of between 50 and 300 balls. This means how many balls the machine can be loaded. Remember to get a tennis ball hopper for easy pick-ups!
Task: Are you an individual player, tennis instructor, or owner of a big tennis ball club? Think about what ball capacity is enough for you and go with what feels right.
9. Control method
There are three kinds of control methods for tennis ball machines:
- Phone app
- Remote controller
Most tennis ball machines come with a remote control method, which is either a smartphone app or a remote controller. There are also machines that you need to control directly from the machine’s panel. My absolute favorite is a remote controller because it is a separate thing with the easiest way to control the features.
Task: Do you need a remote control, or are you comfortable with a cheaper panel control type? If you decide on a remote control machine, are you comfortable controlling it from your phone, or do you want a separate remote controller? Determine what is best for you!
Last but definitely not least, warranty. You need to make sure that the manufacturer offers a warranty for your machine because, in most cases, the machine will cost you +$1000, which is no small amount of money for most people.
Luckily nearly all machines come with a 1-5 year warranty, as do most appliances but make sure that it is included. Also, if you purchase one from an individual, check that the machine still has some warranty left.
Do tennis ball machines improve your game?
A tennis ball machine will improve your game using its many features. Depending on the machine, you benefit from the tailored drills you can create and target a specific strike with various spin and training options. You can also play at any time without relying on anybody, which will improve your game even more.
My favorite ball machine: Spinshot-player is a great tennis ball machine for nearly every use. It is a battery-used machine with both vertical and horizontal oscillations, which makes the drill options limitless. Another thing that I like about it is that it’s effortless to transport with big wheels and a handle. It’s also phone app-controlled and has a 120-ball capacity, so you don’t need to run between the court and the machine at all times.