Tennis Ball Machines
Over the years, technology has played a greater role in the sports industry, enabling athletes to work on their craft even without the assistance of coaches or teammates. A tennis ball machine, in particular, is a high-tech instrument that helps players become better through a great variety of drills. Read on to learn more about tennis ball machines and what factors to consider before purchasing one.
What Are Tennis Ball Machines Used For?
The purpose of a tennis ball machine is to prepare amateurs and professionals for almost every in-game situation. They are capable of serving tennis balls up to 80 miles per hour, removing the need for another player to serve. Thanks to the sophistication of its technology, this instrument can rotate automatically to feed players in every spot on the court. Most of these machines also allow players to pick from a list of drills or even create their own.
Despite price tags that can reach up to $3,500, tennis ball machines represent a great investment for players looking to stand out from the competition or just want to stay in shape. The battery life, with up to eight hours in most and unlimited for a/c powered ones, and the ability to store up to two hundred fifty balls at once make this equipment perfect for long individual practices. Players can use tennis ball machines to master their stroke and to improve footwork, coordination, and reaction time while also acquiring great physical endurance, which is crucial for prolonged tennis matches. Repetition leads to improvement in sports, so the tennis ball machine is a necessity for any serious tennis player.
Things to Consider
When looking for a tennis ball machine, you'll want to consider the following:
- What type of tennis ball machine are you looking for?
- How many tennis balls do you need the machine to hold?
- How much money do you have to spend on a tennis ball machine?
- Do you need the tennis ball machine to be portable?
- How often will you be using the tennis ball machine?
What Are You Looking For in a Tennis Ball Machine?
- Maximum capacity
- Easy to transport
- High-speed shots
- Ability to put spin on the ball
The propulsion type, spinning wheel, and air pressure represent the main differences between the two types of tennis ball machines. These features make the two types of machinery extremely different in terms of technology and availability of drills, which is also reflected by their price gap.
Spinning Wheel Machine
Spinning wheel machines are among the most sophisticated training equipment in all of sports. This propulsion type involves two spinning wheels that launch the tennis balls at a speed that can be adjusted on the screen on the back of the machine. The main features of these machines are oscillation and the variety of drills offered, which allow players to work on every aspect of their game. The price tag ranges from $600 to $3,000, but it is worth the investment for such a complete type of tennis training equipment.
- Allows oscillation
- Offers preset and custom drills
- Can reach up to 80 mph in ball speed
- Heavy to carry around
- Electric ones require a/c power
- Price is not affordable for many players
Air Pressure Machine
The first tennis balls machines were powered by air pressure that launched the fired balls out of a tube. This type of technology is now outdated, making air pressure machines a cheaper alternative to spinning wheel machines. Air pressure machines are available for as little as around $300 but do not offer oscillation and require an attachment to change the spin of the ball. The lack of oscillation means that the machine does not move around, meaning the player can only practice in a single spot of the court at once.
- Cheaper than spinning wheel machines
- Easy to transport
- Unlimited battery life
- Allows a limited variety of drills
- Low capacity
- No oscillation
Tennis ball machines are mainly produced by either brands that are solely specialized in this type of tennis training machine, such as Lobster and SpinShot, or by Wilson, which is one of the world leaders in gear and racket production.
Lobster was the first brand to develop the air pressure tennis ball machine. Over the years, this brand has been able to develop more sophisticated technologies, producing both battery and electric machines with prices that go from $2,099 to $3,879. Lobster products are a great investment, providing players with the best equipment to practice every stroke while acquiring good endurance by covering the whole court during drills.
This brand offers a good variety of products with delivery in less than a week worldwide. SpinShot tennis ball machines are contained in price, as the most expensive one reaches $1,899 while also being extremely high-tech. These tennis ball machines can be paired with any smartphone through an app that allows players to customize their drills and keep track of their practice sessions.
Wilson Sporting Goods products are known worldwide, with their rackets being sported by tennis legend Roger Federer. Their spinning wheel machine is priced at $1,295, which represents a great price for a product whose main features are portability and oscillation. This model is battery-powered with a smart charger that prevents overcharging.
When were tennis ball machines invented?
Rene Lacoste developed the first-ever tennis ball machine in the early 1920s. The first models featured a hand crank that required someone operating the machine to launch tennis balls. These machines were then replaced by Bob McLure’s air pressure machines, which went on to be produced by Lobster. Now, a century after the first model was created, tennis ball machines are almost entirely propelled by a spinning wheel and can even be paired with smartphones and watches to improve the quality of the practice session.
Can tennis ball machines put spin on the ball?
Both air pressure and spinning wheel machines allow you to change the spin on the ball. However, the former models require an extra attachment to put a spin on the ball, while the latter ones already offer this feature. Spinning wheel machines included both topspin and backspin, with some of the electric ones being able to match the spin on the ball to the oscillation. This is a great component since it provides players with a wider variety of drills.
How much do tennis ball machines cost?
Tennis ball machine prices vary from around $200 to thousands of dollars, with more expensive tags matching more sophisticated levels of technology. Air pressure machines represent the most affordable models, which are also easier to transport and have unlimited battery life. Spinning wheel machine prices start at over $1,000 from Wilson Sporting Goods and reach higher prices from SpinShot and Lobster.