Tennis ball machines are invaluable tools for practicing your tennis game. Whether you’re a seasoned pro, spending hours on the court every day, or just looking to practice your topspin for your weekend country club matches, we’ve got a list of the top tennis ball machines to help you improve your game.
A tennis ball machine isn’t a small investment, so doing due diligence to make sure you find the right one for you is of utmost importance. In addition to our thorough reviews below, you’ll also find a buyer’s guide that will help you navigate the sometimes-complicated world of tennis ball machines.
Why Buy A Tennis Ball Machine?
The first thing most people want to know (especially after they start shopping and see the price tags!) is why they should purchase a tennis ball machine. It’s a great question, and it helps to understand a little more about how the machines work.
Tennis ball machines are often called names such as “silent partner” and “practice partner” by the companies who make them, for the simple reason that that’s what they are--silent practice partners.
Most are relatively small machines that allow you to preload tennis balls. You can then move to the other side of the court, and the machine will send the balls down the court to you. You’re able to practice footwork, your backswing, and forehand shots, and get in a great workout, all without having to find a partner or coach to volley with you.
The Freedom To Practice On Your Terms
This creates tremendous flexibility and also helps you to focus on exactly what you need to focus on to get better. You can work on drills or specific shots that you’re struggling with, which can be incredibly valuable.
Further, the best machines have incredible features that simulate a real partner. You can switch up the locations they hit the ball to, whether they’re using topspin (and the degree of topspin), and so forth.
Ready to learn how to identify the best tennis ball machine? Here’s our buyer’s guide to help you sort through those features and decide what’s worth paying for (and what’s not):
Tennis ball machines range from being fairly simple to extremely complex (the price varies too). Here’s what you need to know:
Size And Weight
One of the first things you should consider is how large and heavy your potential tennis ball machine is. This is for several reasons. First, the larger the machine, generally, the more balls you’ll be able to preload. Having to frequently load tennis balls can be a real pain, especially if you’re in the middle of a drill.
On the other hand, a larger machine can be difficult to maneuver and lift in and out of your vehicle. Aids that can help with this include wheels and a telescoping luggage handle. Are these sturdy? Are the wheels rugged and do they pivot well?
Keep in mind that a machine that is too small can easily become off-center as it throws balls; it might even be pushed aside by a strong wind or its throwing motion. More often than not, we find a mid-weight machine to be the best combination of anchoring ability and transportability.
How Loud Will It Be?
Noise isn’t a huge concern for most people, but it’s undeniable that a quiet machine aids in the overall enjoyment of your time on the court. A loud or squeaky machine can be a real drag! This, however, tends to be one of the times where you get what you pay for. Often, with tennis ball machines, you’ll have to sacrifice quietness for affordability.
The best tennis ball machines have features that enable them to mimic real-life partners, and oscillation is one such feature. Ideally, your machine won’t just be able to vary the direction of the shot (right, left, or down the center), but it will be able to randomly change directions.
Topspin, Backspin, And Height Variability
In a tennis game, one of the things that make competing so challenging is the spin your opponent puts on the ball, whether it’s topspin or backspin (underspin). How can you overcome this challenge? Practice! One of the best ways to practice this is with a tennis ball machine that can create topspin and backspin and do so randomly.
Another variable your machine might be able to accommodate? Shot height. A machine that can replicate that hard, low shot your partner likes to send down the center of the court will make practice that much better.
When you combine random backspin with random oscillation, you start to create a real challenge for your tennis practice!
Most tennis ball machines utilize rechargeable batteries or are designed to be plugged into an outlet. Some even do both. Before you purchase, you should think about how long you’ll be on the court when you use your machine. If you want to keep it going all day; make sure your battery will last that long (or make sure there’s somewhere you can plug in your machine).
Remote And/Or App Connectivity
Nobody has time to job to the other side of the court in between shots to change up the drill, so make sure you tennis ball machine comes with a remote. Some even come with apps, which utilize wifi connectivity to connect to your phone. Typically, the more expensive the machine, the more robust the programmable options will be.
Warranty, Support, And Reviews
Finally, you want to check the warranty on your machine. Is there one? What are the terms? If you do have a problem, will customer support be easy to reach or will it be a challenge?
We always recommend checking the reviews (we’ve done that for you below) to uncover patterns. If one or two people, for example, make a complaint, there might be a problem, but if you get a large percentage of people complaining about the same thing, it’s almost definitely a problem.
How We Chose Our Ratings
A tennis ball machine is a substantial investment, and we want to make sure you feel confident about your purchase decision. The information we’ve included below has been gathered carefully and expertly; we’ve scoured the internet for the best information available, and sifted through the reviews to uncover the patterns and concerns you need to know about.
Top 5 Best Tennis Ball Machines:
- Any Type of Drill Can be Easily Programmed on the Tennis Ball Machine
- Only Tennis Ball Machine not Made of Plastics, Weight Only 19kg
- Free Phone App Provided to Program Speed, Spin, Height, Angle and Feed Rate to Make...
The Player from Spinshot is the company’s top-of-the-line, and it’s our top of the list, as well. While it’s priced in the mid-range, we feel it’s got features that rival more expensive machines. It’s battery operated (though you have the option to purchase it with AC power).
The modes and ease of programming are what make this machine stand out. You’re able to customize height, direction, spin, and speed and save these to personalized drills. You’re able to utilize vertical oscillation modes, horizontal oscillation modes, or even combine the two. The best part? You don’t even need a remote; just download the free app available from Spinshot, and you can control everything from your smartphone!
Reviewers report that the app is intuitive and easy to use, even considering how complex the variables are. Plus, almost 90% of its reviews are four-star or higher, giving us even more confidence in recommending it to most people.
At its heaviest, the Player from Spinshot weighs 46lbs. and has a handy telescoping handle and sturdy wheels so you shouldn’t have problems moving it.
Our only con? Some reviewers report the machine drilling to the left but claim this is easily fixed by moving the machine to the left.
- ADVANCED FEATURES AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE: The Lobster Sports elite one tennis ball...
- CORNER-TO-CORNER FULL SWEEP: This tennis ball machine features a full...
- FOUR TO EIGHT HOURS OF BATTERY LIFE: Lobster Sports has designed the elite one with a...
We chose the Lobster Sports Elite 1 as our second choice because it strikes a terrific balance between affordability, customer service, and features. The Elite 1 can create topspin and has an elevation of 0-60 degrees (this is electronic). You may purchase optional accessories with it, including a wireless remote control, a 1-amp fast charger, and a 3-amp premium fast charger.
The tennis ball machine weighs only 42lbs., which makes it easy to move around, especially when you consider its oversized wheels and smooth, ergonomic design. Lobster reports that the battery can be expected to last 4-8 hours before needing a recharge.
This machine from Lobster can send balls flying at a whopping 80mph, and it has a 150 ball feed rate, which is excellent (keep in mind that you won’t be able to roll the machine with 150 balls in, as you’ll lose some on the way). The feed rate is a solid 2-10 seconds.
Here’s the bottom line for us: while the Lobster Sports Elite 1 doesn’t have all the bells and whistles you might like (such as remote not included and no app support), it is a solid machine that lives up well to its mid-range price tag.
We also appreciate Lobster’s strong reputation for customer service and two-year warranty support. This machine is a winner across the board.
- CUSTOM DRILLS: Program & save your own custom drills. The elite grand five le...
- 12 PLAYER-STYLE DRILLS: The elite grand five le includes 12 pre-loaded drills that...
- FULLY RANDOM OSCILLATION: Revolutionary fully random oscillation mixes up ball...
Lobster is known for prioritizing customer support; in fact, the company famously states on its website that “If your new machine has tennis ball fuzz inside, then you know Lobster tested it properly.”
That’s a big part of the reason we feel confident recommending Lobster products to you; we know they’ll hold up. In the case of the Elite Grand 5 LE, that’s a good thing, since this is no small investment! Give the price of this tennis ball machine, it won’t be for everyone, but it will be perfect for some people.
Here’s what we love:
- Only Tennis Ball Machine not Made of Plastics
- Tennis Ball Machine with All Features Knob Controlable and Easy to Use Even for...
- Tennis Ball Machine with Flexible Power Options Available
At just 44lbs., the Spinshot Pro is one of our lightest picks. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but at just over $1000, it’s a great mid- to low-range pick. The Pro provides the ability to control speed, spin (provides topspin and backspin), as well as vertical and horizontal oscillation.
It can also lob balls at almost 70mph, making it unsuitable for the most rigorous trainer, but great for most people. You can also control the feed rate, which reviewers report loving. Overall, a solid little machine at a solid price!
The reason we dock this machine a star is that it’s a direct competitor with the Spinshot Player, but almost a thousand dollars more! It’s a great machine that reviewers have been extremely happy with; we just don’t think it’s worth the extra price tag when you can find the same thing for less.
- ENHANCED FEATURES AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE: Lobster Sports has designed the elite...
- SPIN-CONTROL FEATURE INCLUDED: The elite liberty ball machine also offers unequalled...
- LIGHTWEIGHT AND DURABLE: Designed for maximum durability, this tennis ball machine...
The Lobster Elite Liberty is our lowest priced machine on the list, but don’t let that fool you into thinking you’re getting something subpar. It’s only 35lbs., which makes it extremely portable (great for people who will be lifting it in and out of a vehicle).
You can control oscillation (you can also randomize it), and you’ll get about two hours of battery time during each use. This isn’t fantastic, but it will be more than enough for most people. Optional accessories include two different chargers, a storage cover, and remote control.
We’re just docking this machine because we’d like these features to be included.
One Last Word
We’ve uncovered five terrific tennis ball machine picks; the only thing left is to decide is which one is the best for you!