6 Best Tennis Ball Machines For Practicing Your Game

A graphic of a tennis ball machine

Getting into the game of tennis can be a steep learning curve for many people.

You need to learn to serve which is easy to practice on your own but you also need to perfect your returns which can be difficult to practice if you are on your own!

There are many different ways that you can learn how to hit the ball better in tennis from practicing to taking coaching lessons to watching videos on Youtube.

But the best way of practicing and getting better at the game if you don’t always have a partner available is using a tennis ball machine.

Here we have put together our 6 best tennis ball machine reviews to help you choose one.

In our opinion, they are an essential investment as they allow you to practice anytime without the need for a human opponent. This can give you an edge and that is highly important if you are serious about your tennis game

Our Top Picks

ImageNameBuyBall CapacityWeight
Lobster Sports Elite 1 15042 lbs
Spinshot Player12019 kg
Lobster Sports Elite 215044 lbs
Lobster Sports Elite Freedom15035 lbs
Spinshot Pro12020kg
Lobster Elite Grand 515044lbs

6 Tennis Ball Machines Review (2019 Updated List)

Below, we have compiled our list of the best tennis ball machines for 2019.

Lobster Sports Elite 1 Ball Machine

[Great all rounder]

If getting better at tennis is your ultimate goal then the Lobster Sports Elite 1 battery operated portable tennis ball machine by Lobster could be the solution that you have been looking for.

The machine provides a full corner to corner horizontal random oscillation that can help you perfect your forehands and backhands.

The onboard hopper can be inverted to use as the basket to hold an increased amount of balls and the maximum capacity for the hopper is 150 balls.

The Elite 1 is battery-operated, but can also be powered through an AC mains outlet and you should be able to use the Elite 1 for up to 8 hours of ongoing use.

It is very light in comparison to other machines making it very portable and easy to move from one court to the next.

The only drawback to the machine is that it can be a little noisy during extended periods of use, which can be distracting but it’s no big deal really.

Other than that this is one quality product and is without a doubt our number 1 all-round choice.

Specs

  • Oscillation: random horizontal
  • Speed: 10 to 80 mph
  • Feed rate: 2-12 seconds
  • Elevation: 0-60 degrees
  • Spin: top & back
  • Ball capacity: 150
  • Power: battery or a/c
  • Use time: 4-8 hours
  • Weight: 42 lbs

Pros

  • Light & portable
  • 60-degree lob program
  • Battery-powered
  • Corner to corner random oscillation

Cons

  • Slightly noisy when in operation
  • Battery life not very long

 

 

Spinshot Player

[Most Advanced]

This is an excellent piece of kit to help you work on your returns and improve your game. One really cool feature is the ability to operate the machine with a phone remote using an app on your smartphone, or even using a smartwatch, what will they think of next eh?!

As the name hints at the strong point of the Spinshot Player is its ability to replicate shots with a large amount of spin on them which gives an added element of realism and allows you to return a wider array of shots.

You can also program other details such as the height, direction, and speed for the shots and save the settings for the future.

Overall it is probably the most advanced tennis ball machine on the market and definitely one of the best.

Specs

  • Oscillation: any
  • Speed: 30 – 110 kmph
  • Feed rate: 2-10 seconds
  • Elevation: Adjustable
  • Ball capacity: 120
  • Power: battery or a/c
  • Use time: 2-3 hours
  • Weight: 19kg

Pros

  • Remote control using a smartphone
  • Program oscillation, speed and height for custom drills
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Doesn’t support all mobile operating systems (Android and iOS only)
  • Max speed slightly lower than other models

 

 

Lobster Sports Elite 2

[Best Tennis Ball Machine For Intermediate to Advanced Players]

The Lobster Sports Elite 2 machine offers everything that the first generation has, but comes with an advanced triple oscillation option which combines horizontal and vertical oscillation meaning a greater range of possible shots.

This machine is best suited towards intermediate and advanced players that want to bring their game to the next level. The Elite 2 is slightly more expensive than the Lobster Sports Elite.

One key advantage of Elite 2 machine is that it features many options and settings that cannot be found on other machines in its price range.

The optional accessories available consist of a two-function wireless remote control, a fast charger, and a premium fast charger. The weight of the device is 42 lbs and its large wheels make for easy transport.

Specs

  • Oscillation: random horizontal, random vertical
  • Speed: 10 to 80 mph
  • Feed rate: 2-12 seconds
  • Elevation: 0-60 degrees
  • Ball capacity: 150
  • Power: battery
  • Use time: 4-8 hours
  • Weight: 42 lbs

Pros

  • Triple oscillation
  • Up to 80mph shots
  • Easy to transport
  • Greater simulation of match play tennis

Cons

  • Remote control not included
  • No preset drills

 

 

Lobster Sports Elite Freedom Ball Machine

[Most Affordable]

This ball machine features some of the best technology available for those who want to become better at tennis. The Lobster Sports Elite Freedom features a 150 ball capacity. You just need to press one button in order to get started, and it features multiple settings for speed, angle, and the rate of fire.

The machine’s mix of power and its relatively cheap price means that it is a great option for both beginners and advanced players to get better at their game, and at around 35 oz it is extremely portable. If you’re on a tight budget, then this is definitely for you but we must admit it is not up to the same standard as the other 2 so if you can afford a little extra go for one of those.

Specs

  • Oscillation: random horizontal
  • Speed: 35 to 65 mph
  • Feed rate: 2-10 seconds
  • Elevation: 0-50 degrees
  • Ball capacity: 150
  • Power: battery
  • Use time: 2-4 hours
  • Weight: 35 lbs

Pros

  • More affordable than other machines
  • Very portable

Cons

  • Only horizontal oscillation
  • Lower battery life

 

 

Spinshot Pro

[Best Portable Tennis Ball Machine]

The Spinshot Pro is super lightweight and portable making it a good choice if you are on the move a lot to different courts and want to take your machine with you.

It offers top and backspin as well as vertical and horizontal oscillation. As with the Spinshot Player it offers a high maximum ball firing speed of up to 110km, you need to be speedy to return those, my friend!

Keeping this from being higher up our list is it doesn’t quite have the same level of advanced features some others do and the fact it doesn’t come with a digital remote (though you can control it with your Android or Apple iPhone smartphone so it doesn’t matter too much if you have one of those).

Other than that it’s an excellent choice.

Specs

  • Oscillation: random
  • Speed: 30 to 110 mph
  • Feed rate: 2-10 seconds
  • Elevation: adjustable
  • Ball capacity: 120
  • Power: battery or AC
  • Use time: 2-3 hours
  • Weight: 18-20 kg

Pros

  • Multi-function speed control
  • Horizontal and vertical oscillation
  • Topspin and backspin
  • More affordable than the Spinshot Player

Cons

  • No custom drills
  • Can’t be used with remote control

 

 

Lobster Elite Grand 5

[Most programmability]

The Lobster Elite Grand 5 is a great machine in almost every way.

It has some great advanced features such as the pre-programmed drills that you can use for practice, the ability to program a different speed, spin rate and trajectory for every ball, fully random oscillation and the option to program up to 6 of your own custom drills.

It is a little pricer than some machines but it is worth the extra investment if you are looking for features and programmability that can accurately emulate a real game of tennis when you get on the court.

Specs

  • Oscillation: fully random
  • Speed: 35 to 80 mph
  • Feed rate: 2-9 seconds
  • Elevation: 0-60 degrees
  • Ball capacity: 150
  • Power: battery
  • Use time: 4-8 hours
  • Weight: 44 lbs

Pros

  • 12 pre-programmed drills
  • Program up to 6 custom drills
  • Full oscillation options
  • Fast charge

Cons

  • More expensive than other models

 

 

ONE TO AVOID: Lobster Elite Liberty

This is part of the Lobster range which is very good as evident from having 3 appearances on this list. The Lobster Elite Liberty tennis ball machine, however, has had quite a few bad reviews so if you are investing the amount of money you have to for one of these machines, we would go with one of the other options.

There have been some concerns with reliability, ball speed and the battery life massively reducing over time which of course are all big concerns.

Specs:

  • Oscillation: random horizontal
  • Speed: 10 to 80 mph
  • Feed rate: 2-12 seconds
  • Elevation: 0-50 degrees
  • Ball capacity: 150
  • Power: battery
  • Use time: 2-4 hours
  • Weight: 35 lbs

About the Brands

The two brands featured in our list are:

Lobster Sports – https://www.lobstersports.com/

Spinshot – http://www.spinshot.co.uk

What is a Tennis Ball Machine?

A tennis ball machine basically fires out a tennis ball at you to mimic a shot from an opposing player allowing you to practice return shots without needing anyone else.

Designed to simulate the serves of a professional, amateur or beginner player, a tennis ball machine is usually a fairly simple construction that is made up of a large tray or container, filled with a number of tennis balls and a motor or series of fans which can often be adjusted to change the speed and intensity of the output.

There is usually a tube or barrel-shaped attachment that can be aimed to varying degrees of accuracy and some models include features such as random, oscillate and high power.

Prices can vary considerably depending on whether you are looking for a simple beginner model that will allow you to put in a little practice outside of your regular lessons, or something with a little more power that will build stamina and endurance.

So what do you do if you are in the market for an awesome tennis ball machine? The good news is that we have compiled some of the best information available for those people who want to own their machines, as well as the top three products that you should look out for.

Uses of a Tennis Ball Machine

A Lobster tennis ball machineTennis ball throwers have dropped in price over the last few years, which has made them a cheap one-time investment, especially in comparison to what you could be pay in terms of lessons and trainers fees. Here we’ll go over some of the most common uses of tennis ball machines.

The tennis ball launcher can provide the user with an immense number of benefits. First of all, ball machines can be used continuously for hours, without the reduction in accuracy, so you can practice your game for as long as you want to.

They can support a variety of strokes, serves, and other tennis techniques. The best ball machines can fire in multiple directions, speeds, and angles. You can also set the machine to fire continuously in a single straight line for endurance practice. One can set the machine according to their own preferences and play style.

Most tennis ball machines can hold between 50 and 300 balls, which means you can easily practice your game at your own pace. The majority of machines are also transportable and chargeable if they come with onboard batteries.

You can program tennis ball machines with different schedules that suit different play styles and whatever kind of mood you happen to find yourself in. Ball machines are also great for building muscle memory. and they are great for working on your footwork due to the pace that they can fire balls at you.

In short, tennis ball machines can help to improve your game immensely.

How to Choose a Tennis Ball Launcher

Like other products on the market today, there is no lack of variety when it comes to tennis ball machines. You can get machines that are top of the line options costing thousands of dollars and are the best on the market, or you can simply opt for the more simple and basic route. What you choose is up to your budget, expectations, and what you are really looking for.

There are a variety of brands and tech that is available in tennis ball launchers. Generally speaking, it is best to choose a ball machine based on what works for you.

Choosing the Type of Machine:

There are different kinds of tennis ball machines that can use either compressed air or rotating wheel, with each ball machine offering their own pros and cons.

Compressed Air:
  • + Compressed air isn’t as hard on the tennis balls during use.
  • + A less expensive option than the rotating wheel.
  • Compressed air tennis ball machines can be noisy.
  • Not accurate when using different types of balls.
Rotating Wheel:
  • + More consistent compared to the compressed air models.
  • + Doesn’t make as much noise.
  • The tennis balls will wear out sooner with a rotating wheel.
  • More expensive than other options.

Types of Spin Offered

On offer are different topspin and backspin features. They are a good addition if you require them, as you can learn to get better at different kinds of swings and swerves.

Different Oscillations

Some tennis ball machines let you shoot directly at yourself; while other machines will shoot the ball from side to side.

Speed

A woman making a tennis shot

Being able to set the speed the ball is fired at is important as it allows you to practice different types of shots, from baseline returns to shots close to the net. Being able to program different speeds also means you can create a drill that will be as close to real play as possible.

The functionality of the Machine

Some ball machines encourage the user to get a workout in between the shots, which is done by dodging side to side. There are other workout settings that can be programmed in the shooter’s onboard computer, which could be helpful during long workout sessions.

Remote Control

It can be hard to control the function of your ball machine when you are on the other side of the court, which is why some of the premium models come with their own remote controls, so you can adjust the setting without having to walk over to it.

Portability of the Machine

A smaller machine can be easier to transport between locations, which is especially important if you plan on taking it to multiple locations.

Which Ball Firing Option Is Better?

Like all products on the market, different tennis ball machines have their strengths and weaknesses and it all really depends on what you are looking for and how much you are willing to pay.

High-speed tennis ball machines required more power to use as is the case with pneumatic machines. These types of machines cannot be operated on batteries alone, which could be seen as a significant disadvantage as you will need access to an external AC power oulet if you want to use a pneumatic machine.

The strengths of a pneumatic machine, however, is that they do not wear the balls out as fast as the counter-rotating wheel option, so they could be a cheaper option overall.

FAQ

Which is the fastest tennis machine?

The top speed machines are any of the Lobster range as these all have a max speed of 80mph.

Do any of the models deliver serves?

None of these emulate serves, if you want that try the Ace Attack.

Tennis Ball Machine Power Types

Battery

Tennis ball machines that are operated by batteries are generally smaller, as well as being easier to move around. The drawback to battery-operated tennis ball machines is that they often lack some of the essential features of their AC powered variants.

Battery life for machines can be between two and eight hours depending on the model. The portable models use lead-acid batteries.

A typical charge for a battery-powered ball machine should last between 10 and 12 hours. You just need to plug the battery-operated machine into an AC outlet to charge, which should take you anywhere between three and nine hours.

AC Power

AC powered machines you typically see used at a sports center have their own AC outlets. They offer more features than a battery-operated tennis ball machine and come without the difficulties of recharging.

AC powered machines are generally larger and heavier in nature, and as such, they cannot be easily relocated.

AC powered machines can only use outlet powers and do not support batteries. The key advantage to an AC powered machine is that the user can use for them for as long as they want without fears of running out of charge. You do not need to buy batteries with these models.

Choosing Tennis Balls For Your Machine

Tennis balls in a bucket

Now you have had the lowdown on the most awesome tennis ball machines you can check out our reviews of tennis balls here: Best Tennis Balls Guide [2019]

Tennis has evolved into a global industry since its humble beginnings and for those who want to improve their game without having to rely on a partner, Tennis Ball Machines can be a fantastic option. Now widely available to suit players of all ability levels and playing styles, this simple but effective training tool has transformed the games of everybody from occasional players to Wimbledon world champions. They may be a little expensive but are totally worth the investment if you are serious about your game.

How do they work?

This type of equipment is actually quite simple in principle. Tennis Balls are loaded into the container section of the device before a training session. The machine must then be plugged into a power source which is usually electric. The tennis balls are fed into a tube fitted with a device that only allows them in one at a time. Fans will then suck air into the container, creating enough pressure to force the ball out at a similar speed to that of a human hitting it with a racket. Once the tube is empty, another ball will be fed in from the main container and the machine will continue to serve or fire tennis balls towards the player until it is empty.

More advanced models often include settings that can be adjusted to change the speed and intensity of the machines, some devices also feature adjustable height functions so they can be used by players of all body types and ability. Read the full technical explanation of how tennis ball machines work here.

Who uses them?

Everybody from professional athletes to beginners can benefit from using a tennis ball machine. Though many premium models are available, it is possible to find a budget device that will do everything you need without having to spend a huge amount of money.

Some enthusiasts who are particularly adept at making things have been known to create their own using household appliances and leftover materials, though this is certainly not recommended unless you have a great deal of technical knowledge and skill.

Schools and sports centers often invest in several tennis ball machines for use in classes and training sessions. Being able to return a number of powerful serves in a short space of time is great practice for improving reaction time, distance judgment and technique.

Advantages of using a good tennis ball machine

Illustration of a Lobster tennis ball machine

There are quite a few different ways to benefit from using a tennis ball machine, depending on the skill or technique you are trying to learn.

Tennis coaches and those who provide instruction to younger or inexperienced players will usually know of several practice sequences or drills that can be employed to work on particular areas of a person’s game. The best machines will have the following advantages:

+ Improving consistency

For newer players and even some more experienced ones, striking the ball consistently can be a challenge. Setting up a tennis ball machine to target exactly the same position on the court each time means that players can practice any shot over and over again until it becomes second nature.

+ Test your reactions

Settings that involve shots being fired towards different areas of the court at different speeds can provide the kind of challenge players who are looking to improve their reaction times will benefit from. Many tennis ball machines can be set so that they shoot tennis balls with different spin ratings, directions and heights, meaning anybody using it must react quickly to the unpredictable combination of shots coming their way.

+ Alternate between shot styles

Though some budget models and homemade devices will not have this kind of setting, for intermediate and professional players, setting a tennis ball machine to fire tennis balls that need to be served either forehand or backhand, for example, will mean that you can practice combinations of shot styles, just like you would need to employ in a match against a real opponent.

+ Improve movement and agility

Using a setting that allows the tennis ball machine to osculate means that you can serve tennis balls to different areas of the court relatively quickly.

This means players will need to factor in their movements between balls, so for example, if a ball is served to the back of the court, they will need to move quickly to get to the right spot before playing their shot. For anybody who wants a good cardio workout while also improving their tennis game, this setting can be a fun and intense way to work up a sweat.