Best Tennis Ball Machines

Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for best tennis ball machines

Whether you’re a new tennis player or someone who’s been playing for years, the only trick to improving is practice, practice, practice. That can be difficult if you don’t have a coach or hitting partner around to do drills with you — unless you invest in a tennis ball machine.

A tennis ball machine is a device that you load with tennis balls so it can launch them at you the way a hitting partner might. You can change the speed and timing of the balls, allowing you to tailor it to your favorite practice drills. Some machines allow you to adjust the angle and depth of the shots too, which means you can perfect all of your shots for greater success on the court. And unlike a coach or hitting partner, a tennis ball machine never gets tired, so you can practice as long as you like.

Our buying guide can help you figure out which tennis ball machine is best for your needs. It includes information about power sources, propulsion types, sizes, and other features. We’ve included some specific product recommendations too, so you can start your shopping right away.

tennis ball machines
During average competition, a tennis player hits about 300 shots an hour. With a tennis ball machine, you can hit about 900 shots an hour.

Key considerations

Power source

Tennis ball machines are available with two power options: AC power or battery power.

AC: These tennis ball machines must be plugged into an outlet. That limits where you can use the machine, but you never have to worry about it running out of power and stopping in the middle of a practice session.

Battery: These tennis ball machines use a rechargeable battery for power, so you can practice almost anywhere. However, the machine could run out of power in the middle of your practice and require recharging.

Propulsion type

Tennis ball machines use two main types of propulsion to throw the balls: spinning wheel or pneumatic air pressure.

Spinning wheel tennis ball machines are the most common option on the market. They have two spinning wheels that run in counter-rotation to send the balls flying, similar to the mechanism used in baseball pitching machines. The speed of the wheels is adjustable, so you can get topspin, no spin, or backspin on the ball’s delivery.

Pneumatic air pressure tennis ball machines use an older technology to throw the balls, forcing them through a tube using air pressure. They can require a great deal of power, so there aren’t many battery-powered machines using pneumatic air pressure. A special attachment is required to give the balls spin. These machines are typically more affordable than spinning wheel models.

Size

Tennis ball machines vary in size, so it’s important to find one that can work in the space where you plan to use it. If you want a portable machine, look for one that’s lightweight and compact enough to fit in the trunk of your car.

To get the most from your tennis ball machine, try to practice with it at least once or twice per week.

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Features

Capacity

The number of balls that a tennis ball machine can hold is an essential feature to consider because it affects how often you’ll have to stop and refill it. Most machines hold between 50 and 300 balls.

If you’re only using the machine by yourself, a smaller machine is usually fine. However, if you train with others or work as a coach, you’ll appreciate having a high-capacity machine. Just keep in mind that you’ll have a lot more balls to pick up.

Controls

Oscillation: A tennis ball machine that oscillates can better simulate real gameplay. Some machines can only feed balls in a single direction. High-end machines can feed them to both the forehand and backhand sides. Most machines can oscillate side to side, shooting balls to alternate sides of the court.

You can also find machines that oscillate vertically. Changing the height of the ball lets you work on overhead shots, low volleys, and high lobs.

Most tennis ball machines deliver the balls randomly, but some allow you to set a program to customize your drills.

Feed rate: The feed rate is the amount of time that passes between the delivery of each ball. If you’re an experienced tennis player, you likely want a machine with a faster feed rate. For novice tennis players, a slower feed rate is better because you need more time to prepare for each ball.

Speed and spin: Tennis ball machines vary in how fast they can deliver the balls. Most machines offer speeds ranging from 10 to 95 miles per hour. Beginners don’t need a machine that operates at high speed, but more advanced players require higher speeds to practice in game-like conditions.

You also want to consider the spin on the ball. Some machines don’t offer any spin, but most players benefit from a model that can deliver balls with backspin and topspin.

Remote control

If you’re training by yourself with a tennis ball machine, you need to position it at the other end of the court from you. It’s inconvenient to have to go to the machine every time you want to change the settings, so it’s a good idea to opt for a model that comes with a remote control. That way, you can adjust the machine’s setting from across the court and spend more time practicing.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Before you use your tennis ball machine for the first time, read the instruction manual carefully. You should understand all the machine’s features before you turn it on.
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Accessories

Tennis racket: Head Graphene 360 Speed MP
You need a high-quality racket to do drills with your tennis ball machine. We love this one from Head because its lightweight design is ideal for beginners and intermediate players. The Graphene 360 technology delivers plenty of power and control.

Tennis balls: Penn Championship Tennis Balls
Penn tennis balls are top rated for a reason. They’re durable and deliver consistent bounce. They are also the official tennis balls of the USTA Leagues.

Tennis ball hopper: Tourna Ballport Tennis Ball Hopper
A tennis ball hopper makes it much easier to pick up dozens of tennis balls after your drills. Resting on the legs, it puts the balls at a convenient height for practicing serves. This hopper is lightweight too (only 4 pounds) and can hold 80 balls.

Tennis ball machine prices

Tennis ball machines vary in price based on power source, oscillation, capacity, and other features. Most machines cost between $245 and $4,600.

Inexpensive: The most affordable tennis ball machines are typically models that use AC power and require an outlet. They have a capacity of 50 to 100 balls and don’t allow much control over how the ball is served. You’ll pay between $245 and $450 for these machines.

Mid-range: These tennis ball machines use AC power, a lower-end battery, or a combination of AC and battery power. They typically have a capacity of 75 to 125 balls and allow you to adjust some of the settings that determine how the ball is served. Many come with a remote too. You’ll generally pay between $450 and $1,100 for these machines.

Expensive: The most expensive tennis ball machines have high-end batteries with an extremely long life. These machines usually have a capacity of at least 150 balls, but many can hold as many as 300. You can also adjust nearly all of the machine’s settings to fully customize how the ball is served. Almost all models come with a remote as well. You’ll typically pay between $1,100 and $4,600 for these machines.

Tennis ball machines that use pneumatic air pressure are noisier than those with a rotating wheel system.

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Tips

  • Focus on one type of shot at a time. When you’re practicing with a tennis ball machine, it helps to focus on one type of shot and repeat it until you can confidently hit it several times. For example, you might focus on your forehand for the first part of your practice and then the backhand once you feel good about your forehand shots.
  • Aim at target areas. It also helps to choose where you want to hit the balls. The target areas should be spacious enough that you can reasonably hit them with the ball but challenging enough that you steadily improve your game.
  • Speed it up. If you want to increase your speed on the court, turn up the speed on your tennis ball machine. It forces you to move more quickly to improve your overall speed.
  • Go for endurance. Being able to hit more balls accurately in a row than your opponent can give your game a boost. You can improve your shot tolerance with a tennis ball machine by increasing the number of balls you hit in a row. For example, if you can easily hit 10 balls in a row, try for 15.
  • Practice your footwork. Practicing with a tennis ball machine isn’t only about improving your stroke. It can also help improve your footwork. Use the random oscillation setting to send the balls to all parts of the court so you can practice your footwork.
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You might be tempted to push yourself when training with a tennis ball machine since you can practice as long you like, but make sure to take breaks and stay hydrated. If you start to feel any strain in your forearm, stop for the day.

FAQ

Q. Will a tennis ball machine improve my overall game?

A. You’ll definitely notice an overall improvement in your tennis game if you practice with a machine. Unless you have a partner who’s free to practice whenever you want, a tennis ball machine is an invaluable training tool. You can perfect your stroke, return specific types of shots, improve your footwork, and develop better positioning on the court by using the machine. And a ball machine never gets tired, so you can practice as long as you want.

Q. Is a tennis ball machine only for experienced tennis players?

A. Not at all. Tennis ball machines can help a player of any skill level with their training. That’s because the machine usually has various settings that enable you to customize its performance to fit your skills. Beginners can use the machine at a slower speed and a slower feed rate to improve their skills and build confidence, while more advanced players can increase the speed and feed rate to challenge themselves.

Q. Do tennis ball machines come with a warranty?

A. Many tennis ball machines are pretty costly, so manufacturers often provide warranty coverage to protect your investment. Most offer a year of warranty protection for issues that arise due to any defects in the workmanship or materials.

 

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