Tennis ball machines


#1

Anyone ever own one? I’m really thinking about getting one.

This is the one I’m leaning towards:

It’s $699 but they have a demo unit on eBay for $550. It’s a lot but I’m really enjoying getting back into tennis after not really playing much over the last 20 years, and these things can give you a good workout. They can oscillate and spray the ball around either in a pattern or randomly. It says it can shoot out the balls at speeds up to 95 MPH. I really don’t know what that means on the court but it sounds pretty fast. You can even set it so it throws up lobs so you can work on your smash.


#2

Have you considered playing against bots instead?


#3

I have a Tennis Tutor (the cheapest one).

It worked fine, but schlepping it to and from the court, plus picking up the ball, got to be a bit of a drag. I haven’t used it in years.


#4

How long did you use it? I need to work on my backhand and I need work on my volleys and overheads. I miss more than I should, and switching from a one-hander to a two-hander on the backhand side requires a lot of repetition.

Beyond that, I would like to think that the oscillating feed would give me a good workout. I don’t want to go to the gym but I do need daily exercise. I’ve been hitting against a backboard twice a day (before and after work) for the last five weeks and that’s enjoyable, but it’s not easy to get a sense for whether some of my shots would be in or out. Playing on a court hitting feeds from a ball machine would help me see how viable my shots are.

So that’s why my interest in something like this is piqued. I see it helping to lift my game a bit but also being a good physical workout.


#5

I think I used it for a few months. I never got dissatisfied with it per se; just my life flowed in another direction so to speak. Now it sits in the back of the closet dormant.

When I played tennis later I focused more on finding people to hit with. I think that’s always better – more unpredictable and a better workout (assuming you can find partners of sufficient skill to keep the ball in play). But when my partners dried up I pretty much stopped playing. And good tennis partners can be tough to come by, more in certain locales than others of course.

Ball machines do what you expect them to. If you want to run around chasing a bunch of consistently paced/placed balls, and get the aerobics out of that, and don’t mind the cleanup/schlepping, it’ll work. Just a matter of taste in the end.


#6

I’ve been hitting against the wall every day so a ball machine would be a step up. I will never find practice partners ready to hit every day or even available to hit when I like to hit. I do want to play other players, but that will be more like a once or twice a week thing. But what player is going to feed me 50 straight lobs so I can practice my overhead?

And it really is as much about the exercise as it is about improving my game. I don’t like going to the gym. Tennis is helping me get back into shape again. Practicing every day has kicked my metabolism into a higher gear and started to tone up my muscles. For awhile the muscle soreness was making me do my 80 year old man imitation and walk with small steps and a stiff lower back I had trouble straightening, but the last few days that has faded away.

So to me it’s an investment in my health. I’ve got a bid in on one on eBay. Fourteen minutes to go and I have high bid, but I know some autobid will pop in the last 30 seconds. I’m not expecting to win it.


#7

The concern is that it’s a big thing you have to lug around and set up constantly, therefore it won’t get used in the long term.

It’s a very valid concern, since anything that gets in the way of exercise (effort to get there, effort to get set up, etc) will slow you down, perhaps eventually stop you. Tons of research and data on this. It’s the rip in the screen door you see every day which goes unfixed that contributes the most to your stress and un-well-being, not the random rare car accident.


#8

Hey since it’s all a bunch of rich old guys in here, maybe you can tell me which polish is best to use for my monocle?


#9

Why should he know that? Don’t you have a manservant that takes care of such plebian matters?


#10

Perhaps it will. And then I’ll have a tennis ball machine I can sell. These things don’t have to be that expensive, you know. The one I’m looking at is $700 new and the manufacturer sells demo units with less than 10 hours of use for under $600 on eBay. It can put topspin or slice on the ball, oscillate to move the balls around the court, and throw them out at up to 95 MPH. It’s versatile.

What does a gym membership cost over a year? What does a nice bike cost? What does a nice elliptical machine cost? Heck, what does an Occulus setup cost? I don’t really spend money on myself. This is a reasonable investment for an activity I enjoy that also promotes health. There’s not a lot of downside.


#11

I don’t disagree but the earlier replies seem to indicate it is a hassle to lug it around, set it up, etc.


#12

I don’t think the setup is too hard. Lugging it could be a pain but it has handles and wheels and it’s either 34 or 46 pounds depending on the model.

Picking up the balls is probably the worst part. I have a tennis hopper so I don’t need to bend over at least, but I’m sure it’s a bit tedious. What will help is playing on courts where there are only two courts, or even only a single court. That will keep the balls from rolling away too far. There’s a two court location about two minutes from our house and it’s in a nice park with trees all around. No one plays tennis anymore so it’s almost always empty.


#13

Ha! What are you going to spend on your next smartphone? $600? That’s the price of a tennis ball machine! You must be a rich young guy!


#14

Ball machine sounds awesome, but be careful if you’re using it on public courts; some cities don’t like 'em.


#15

Really? I never heard of that. What is the rationale for that?


#16

My only experience along these lines (L.A. public courts) is that sometimes there are postings saying no more than 6 balls can be in use, per court, at the same time. Nobody ‘official’ ever took me to task for this (I used to take a basket of balls out to hit serves all the time), but there was one dude who sometimes would hit on an adjacent court, who took it upon himself give me shit for it. Kinda pissed me off.


#17

I got my Silent Partner tennis ball machine last night, charged it, and got up at 6 am to try it out. It’s great.

It has wheels and a handle that comes out like the way luggage works, so it’s very easy to move around. It weighs 34 pounds and has lifting handles so it’s easy to get in the car.

Setup is just a matter of putting it at the opposing baseline, center, and then firing out a few balls to get the speed, depth, and spin desired. You can adjust height, speed, spin (both underspin or topspin or no spin), frequency, and oscillation or no oscillation. It can fire the balls out at up to 95 MPH (didn’t try that) but from what I read you need to have it on severe topspin and move it back a bit.

I set it for moderate topspin and moderate speed so that I could stand a foot or two behind the baseline and take most shots waist-high. No oscillation so it was feeding to appox. the same spot.

At first I had the frequency too fast. It was like I was feeding volleys to someone at net and they were coming right back at me. Then I adjusted and had it too slow. Finally got it right. I’d move left or right to hit forehands or backhands. I worked on both my one-handed and my new two-handed backhand and then some forehands. It was great. I could hit down the line or cross-court. I moved to the net and hit some volleys too. I had about 60 balls in it. It can hold up to 200. I have an unopened case of 20 cans of Penns ($39 at Costco) I will add to it next session to get a bit more out of it.

Then I turned on oscillation. That was a real workout. It randomly spreads the ball around across the court, same depth, but it can land it near the doubles alley, so depending on the frequency setting you can find yourself racing back and forth at full speed just to get a racket on the ball. I finally had to wave at some as they went by. It wore me down and I couldn’t get to them. Next time I’ll increase the frequence to give me time to get back to the center of the court before it launches the next ball.

There’s also a way to set it to throw me lobs so I can work on my overhead. You can use the oscillation feature to move the lobs around.

All in all, I’m very pleased with it so far. It’s a demo I got from the manufacturer for $650. New it would be $850. It comes with a one-year warranty and 30-day money back guarantee, so I will be using it a lot in this first 30 days to see how it holds up.


#18

Glad you’re enjoying it!


#19

Awesome! Almost makes me want to get back into tennis again…


#20

I played so much tennis back in the day that I burned out on it and really haven’t played much over the last 25 years, which makes me sound ancient. Then I watched Fed beat Nadal in Miami and saw him hit backhands like I’ve never really seen him hit, just taking the ball early and ripping it, and it inspired me to play again. And I have really enjoyed playing again, even if 95% of what I’ve done has been solo practice hitting against a wall. Just hitting and really putting in the time to practice has felt really good.

So I don’t mind spending the money on the ball machine. I need to exercise, and if this helps, it’s a good investment. I’d rather hit hundreds of balls than go to the gym and do whatever. Hitting the balls is a lot more fun.