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Purchasing a portable tennis ball machine is an investment. It’s an investment that more than pays for itself in value, but it’s an investment nonetheless.
That’s why it’s so important to find the best portable tennis ball machine specific to your needs.
It can be a lot to consider a ball machine that is not only portable, but fits in your car, can easily be transported, has the features or settings you’re looking for and performs to your standards.
When doing your own research, it is highly unlikely you come across someone who has owned more than one or two of these machines in their lifetime. This can seem unhelpful initially as you’re looking for a fair comparison, but it does show the longevity of one of these machines.
No matter which brand you go with (though we won’t leave you hanging and will definitely recommend a few below), this machine should last you quite awhile. We want you to be equipped with the right information so you can make the best decision for your training needs.
If you choose a tennis ball machine that isn’t right for you, you’re not only out quite a bit of cash, but you’re also likely to end up frustrated with your training progress as well – and that’s the opposite of what you’re looking to do when investing in training equipment.
Benefits of a portable tennis ball machine
The most obvious benefit of a tennis ball machine is that you’re no longer required to rely on a partner for training. So whether your original tennis partner was a friend, a teammate or a trainer, you’re now free to train on your terms as opposed to figuring out a training schedule with partners.
If the majority of your training was with a coach or trainer, it’s safe to say a tennis ball machine will be much less expensive than paying for lessons or time with a coach.
To be fair, a tennis ball machine is much more of an upfront investment, but over time you’re likely to save much more by cutting back a bit on hourly lessons and using your machine instead.
Another benefit is that these kinds of tennis balls are portable, which means the average person should be able to lift, roll or tote this machines from place to place without much difficulty.
These machines are also reported as likely to fit in most “standard” cars.
These machines also have great settings and features that make it enjoyable to train with. Whether you’re looking for multiple spins or special drills, there’s likely a machine out there for you.
It’s also great for those who are looking to improve on one specific skill set; if you want to practice your backhand swing until the break of dawn (though not recommended), you can!
Limitations of tennis ball machines
While these tennis ball machines offer a lot of flexibility and control with your training, this machine can’t replace a coach or the value of a good tennis partner.
Yes, you’re able to train on your own and on your own terms, but your training is only as good as your form.
So if you’re a relatively new player, you might save this investment for a later time after you’ve improved upon basic form first.
If you’re someone who has been playing for awhile and is simply looking to hone a few skills or practice consistency, then you should be fine to supplement this into your training.
That’s the important thing to note here – a tennis ball machine, while valuable, can never replace true training or coaching. It’s only meant to be a supplement outside of your coaching or lessons.
The other downfall of a tennis ball machine is that generally you use pressureless tennis balls to fill it. This is because a standard pressurized tennis ball wouldn’t last long at all in one of those machines.
They are initially packaged in airtight cans to keep their internal pressure intact.
Once the can is opened, it’s only a matter of time until the tennis balls lose their pop. You can imagine how much shorter the lifespan would be in a machine – especially if stored in warm temperatures.
That’s why pressureless tennis balls are used instead. These keep their bounce regardless of pressure because of their hard rubber core.
These balls are generally still the same size as a standard ball, but have a heavier weight to them that takes some getting used to. Most players can make this adjustment fairly easily, but it does take some time.
Just know that you’ll likely be training with a pressureless ball if you choose to train with your machine. Again, this is why it’s so important to only supplement your training with a machine rather than to focus your training time solely on the machine.
What to look for in the right tennis ball machine
When looking for your personal, portable tennis ball machine, there are a few key characteristics to keep in mind.
Only you know your limits, skill level and training use so be sure to weigh these factors as you read.
Every person has his or her own definition of the word portable. For some, a fifty pound machine may be fine to transport.
For others, thirty pounds may be their max.
It’s important to consider how much you feel comfortable moving around, especially if you’re someone who trains a lot and trains multiple places.
Most models do come with wheels to help with their level of portability, but it’s important to be honest with yourself about what you can handle without wearing yourself out before you even get to practice!
Skill Level and Training
As mentioned above, training with a ball machine is only as good as your form. So if you’re a true beginner, the ball machine might not be quite right for you yet.
For others who have an idea of good form or are intermediate players, this would most certainly be a worthwhile investment.
Just be thinking about how you’ll use this machine. Will you be using it mostly for drills or perfecting form? Will you be working on consistency or practicing various swings?
Also, how fast do you need the machine to go? If you’re working on form or consistency, slower might be better. If you’re mimicking a match, faster will be necessary to keep you on your toes.
You might also consider oscillation features. If you’re looking to mimic a match or training with a partner, varying oscillation options are key.
Be sure to look for random horizontal oscillation at minimum and if you want a more advanced approach then be sure to consider a random horizontal and random vertical oscillation feature.
Keep these questions in mind as you consider the settings and features of various models.
This question is mostly centered on location (where you’ll be using the machine). If you’re planning on using it indoors, most machines should work just fine for you.
They come equipped with either rechargeable batteries or an outlet. If you play outdoors more, you might require a battery operated machine as opposed to the outlet option.
You might also consider your playing conditions. Does it rain much in your area?
If so, you might look for key notes on how your machine can hold up with wet balls. Some machines can become easily jammed.
As you know now, these machines are built to last for quite awhile. As such, customer support for these machines is crucial.
You’ll be dealing with this company for years if you need new parts or have questions. Find a partnership with a brand you love.
Features to avoid
Like most products, there are a few features to avoid when considering the machine that’s best for you. The most important is how much the machine weighs.
While you want something light enough to carry, a machine that’s twenty pounds or less is likely to be stable and hold up against the force it’s using to propel the ball.
Other than weight, it’s really just important to be honest about what you need to develop certain aspects of your game and not compromise.
Best Portable Tennis Ball Machine
There are a number of options that could work well if you’re looking for a tennis ball machine that is portable. You should always consult an industry professional before using any new product or equipment.
The following products may work well for your tennis training needs.
Lobster Sports – Elite Liberty Tennis Ball Machine – Smaller Battery Operated – Lightweight – Full-Featured Tennis Ball Hopper – Random Oscillation – Battery Charger Included – Optional Accessories
This ball machine was designed with beginner and intermediate players in mind. Some quick features include:
- Weighs in at thirty-five pounds which is heavy enough to ensure stability while still being light enough to carry
- Easy to transport with its three over-sized wheels and sturdy handle to roll it around over all types of terrain
- Big enough to train with and small enough to fit in your standard-sized car
- Ball speed settings range from 20-80 mph
- Can load up to 150 balls at a time
- Random Horizontal Oscillation
- Spin Features: Top Spin and Back Spin
- Battery Powered
This machine is a mid-range model that offers just enough to keep you on your toes, but not so much that it would overwhelm a beginner.
The horizontal oscillation spans from corner to corner and is great for encouraging realism while training.
It offers a 2-10 second range on the ball feed which gives just enough time to make some quick changes between shots.
If you want to improve your ball control, your footwork, anticipation or shot selection, this is a great machine for you.
The only downside we’re aware of is the likelihood of jamming with wet tennis balls; if you’re someone who needs a machine that can endure a wet climate, this machine might not be the best for you.
View at Amazon to learn more about how this product could work for your tennis training needs.
Spinshot-Player Tennis Ball Machine
This machine is meant to be a mid to high level tennis ball machine, designed with intermediate players to more advanced players in mind.
That’s why you’ll see a larger array of features with this model, including:
- Durable, not made from plastic like the model above
- Weighs in at forty-five pounds which means it’s a bigger and sturdier machine but can also be slightly more difficult to transport
- Two average-sized wheels and a sturdy black handle to make transporting more doable
- Dimensions are 18”x12”x20” which should fit in most trunks.
- Phone-Based Remote Control that lets you adjust your machine’s settings from your phone and download drills to the machine
- Pre-programmed drills that can be adjusted based on your individual needs
- Create Your Own Drills Feature that allows you to save them for later use
- 30-110mph Ball Speed
- Spin Features: Top and Back Spin
- Horizontal and Vertical Oscillation so you can mimic a match and cover the whole court
- 120 Ball Capacity (not as many as previous model, but still enough balls to minimize downtime between training sessions)
- Lasts 2-3 hours for training sessions
- Battery Powered (but battery is shipped separately)
If you’re an intermediate to advanced player looking for more control over your solo training, this portable tennis ball machine is perfect for you.
View at Amazon for more information on how this product might work for your training.
Featured image credit: DepositPhotos.com @sportlibrary