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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Tennis ball machines

    Is there anyone out there who has an opinion on what is the best tennis ball machine to buy for individual play? I've tried to get opinions from some of our local pros, but they have not been much help so far. Browsing the Internet has also led to much confusion. PLEASE HELP! Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006

    a wall

    Train against a wall. Priceless and consistant + feeds you with great diversity of balls. Since getting in a good position (distance and consistancy) is the first contributor to hit with quality and therefore power and control, it should be your aim.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Quote Originally Posted by Abby View Post
    Is there anyone out there who has an opinion on what is the best tennis ball machine to buy for individual play? I've tried to get opinions from some of our local pros, but they have not been much help so far. Browsing the Internet has also led to much confusion. PLEASE HELP! Thanks.
    Unless you have a court in your backyard, I would give considerable thought to buying a ball machine:

    Here is the problem: Typically, the trouble of loading the machine into your car along with a hopper of balls, unloading, setting it up, bringing an extension cord, (or worse, finding out you forgot to charge your batter-opperated one after you set it all up on the court!), dumping the balls in, picking them up with your hopper, packing it all up and unloading it back at home gets old very fast! Most people who I know that have purchased ball machines don't use them after the first month, and most have sold them at a fraction at what they paid for them. Buying balls every couple month (since even if you don't use it that much, the balls will go dead in time!), gets a little costly too.

    This is not to say that a ball machine doesn't provide significant service to a player. However, there are other options:

    Check with your local tennis club on prices to rent their ball machine. Most places charge between $8 and $15 a half-hour. They usually set it up for you and have decent balls in theirs. In addition, most clubs have a ball mower that helps speed up the picking up time. Finally, most clubs have expensive ball machines that feed with a variety of programs, speeds, and spins, and they tend to feed more accurately than the more inexpensive personal ball machines.

    One last point: Remember that a wall or ball machine can be just as bad as it can be good. The point is, the repititious of such devices can groove bad habits as much as good ones. Thus, you will do yourself a great service by taking lessons, reading books, video taping yourself, etc., to a) know what you are supposed to be working on, and b) make sure you are executing that which you know you are to be working on!
    Dave Smith
    Senior Editor,
    Dunlop Master Professional
    USPTA P-1
    Former Board Member USPTA Intermountain
    Owner, St. George Tennis Academy
    Co-Author, HIDDEN MICKEY (A Walt Disney Mystery)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Vacaville, CA


    I think 10s1 made some good points. The wall idea of danquest I have to disagree with though. I spent many hours hitting against a wall but the problem is you can't actually tell if the balls you are hitting would land inside or outside of the baseline! In addition, the ball comes back too fast, no matter how far away from the wall you are, so you will actually damage your follow thru. It will work your quickness and ball placement but to the detrement of your follow thru and depth control. Even if you have your own court, the problem of the number of balls needed and going flat would be a problem. You could set up a "catcher" where the balls will fall into and roll back into the machine. We had lanes at the tennis center I worked at long ago that did that, made for a lot less picking up balls and filling the machine! Overall the renting option seems the best. Good luck.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Vacaville, CA


    Tennisshop09 has some machines listed in the thread title "Great tennis machines"

  6. #6

    "Free Ball Machine"

    Budget is a big factor in choosing a ball machine - I personally pay an annual fee for my club's Playmate ball machine and I use it at least once a week - the club charges $10 per hour or $150.00 for the year so it works out OK for me. A ball machine is rather like a tuxedo - if you rent it enough times you may as well have just bought one of your own...A ball machine is great if you have a ball mower as well. It does get tedious picking up balls and reloading, however. I have some great drill patterns I use with the ball machine to keep motivated and get the most out of my practice sessions. If you like I'd be happy to share some of my ball machine drills with you. Meanwhile, you can always use the wall as a "free ball machine" without the hassle of ball pickup, and a piece of board propped up against that wall (volley board) for a top notch workout, and the price is right!
    Last edited by Tennis Angel; 10-14-2008 at 11:04 PM.
    How good can your game get? You too can play like the Pros with The Wegner Method.
    Discuss The Wegner Method here at TW in the MTM forum or visit for more info.

  7. #7
    I have an old ball machine with one speed.
    Are there any drills that would be good to use with it?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    New England
    Quote Originally Posted by energizer bunny View Post
    I have an old ball machine with one speed.
    Are there any drills that would be good to use with it?
    Hi EB ~ Which brand do you own? It's funny but I read these great questions posted years ago knowing the original Poster is most likely gone however I firmly disagree with the concept that Ball Machines are a waste of time & money.

    Depending on one's budget, which I will not assume, they can be pricey in a range between $2,000 + down to one I know for $75.00. And all of this depends on the features you feel you need to have in order of it to benefit your game.

    Ok, you own a Ball Machine, well in order to answer what types of drills you can do, truly depends on the machine you own however I can answer it in this way, many Ball Feeders can produce a ball very similar to the way a person will hit it to you. There are Machines that can produce Spin, Drop Shots, Lobs and speeds up to 100mph. Of course you can make an argument that the Wall can feed balls to you for free, it does require your ability to generate your own speed & placement. You can actually use the Wall in a variety of ways such as hitting the Ball so it strikes the ground first then up against the Wall and subsequently into the air simulating a Lob or Overhead. I used the Wall for hours upon end to work on my return of serve by standing in the spot I considered approx. where I would be awaiting the serve to come.

    Of course I had to do two functions, one was to serve then receive. This again is only providing the Wall has some accurate markings that indicate the correct height of the Net. Often I had to draw my own Net line compensating for the lower area in the Center of the Net.

    In conclusion, if I had the money to purchase a Machine, I would do so without doubt.

    If your Machine can simulate top spin and/or Flat shots then work on your groundstrokes. both forehand (FH) & BH) sides. If you can adjust so that the machine can lob, work on your over-head shots.

    If you can adjust the speed of the Ball, try standing in as close as possible to drill your Net Volleys which is strike the ball before it contacts the Court. Lastly, if you can Lob, adjust it so that the Ball will hit the ground right around the Service line and bounce upwards, then work on taking the ball on the Rise before it declines again. The possibilities are endless depending on how fast, how straight, how high you can get the ball to project.

    I like them and I think if you own one, hold onto it.

    As for picking up balls, I believe Tennis Angel provided a necessary solution unless you dont' mind walking all over the Court bending over.
    The only acceptable loss is when your opponent was better than you on that given day.
    It is never acceptable to lose when your opponent was not.

  9. #9

    Ball Machine Drills

    Here are some drills I enjoy doing on a regular basis:



    Set machine to feed balls to forehand and backhand with medium pace, height, topspin, depth and frequency in a random pattern, not a sequence. Practice hitting cross court ground strokes from both sides, emphasizing the finish over the shoulder and keeping your racquet out in front of you to "stalk" the ball. Take your time and be relaxed with a smooth rhythm until the balls run out. Any balls that don't make it over the net pick up and serve back to the other side of the court.


    This drill helps you transition from ground stroke to half-volley to volley and back, approaching the net and retreating smoothly. Start at the baseline and hit a few ground strokes (with same machine settings as above), then slowly walk forward hitting a 1/2 volley and advancing to the net to volley. Practice some volleys at the net, then casually walk backwards facing the net and reverse the drill. Do this several times until the balls run out then serve netted balls back.

    #3 - INTO THE NET

    Do drill #1 or #2 but this time when you hit a ball into the net, go get it and either tap it back over the net or hold onto it and tap back over the net between feeds. This drill helps you with sprinting, running diagonally and estimating how much court you can cover on the run between shots. The goal is to have 0 balls on your side of the net when the machine runs out.

    #4 - CAN DRILL

    This drill is to work on "recovery step" (aka pivoting - turning quickly while leaning to go in one direction, then turning and leaning to go in the opposite direction). Place a can of balls in the center of the court between the service line and the baseline and stand in front of it. With the ball machine set to feed the ball to your right a few feet from you, move toward the incoming ball, always walking or running forward, not sideways or backward. Reach and hit the ball emphasizing the finish of your stroke by leaving the racquet on your shoulder for a few steps as you head back to the center of the court, passing behind the can and looping back to your right. Always go around the can from behind and don't turn your back toward the net. End up back at your original position in front of the can, turning to your right for the next ball. Reverse direction and hit your backhand strokes, again emphasizing the finish over the shoulder for 2HBH or across and up for 1HBH. Be sure to keep the racquet out in front of you, "stalking" the ball as you approach it. Practice until your motions are smooth and easy, or you collapse (ha ha).

    #5 - COUNT TO 5

    This drill helps you with timing and accuracy. On forehand and backhand ground strokes count "one" at the bounce, then "two, three, four" and "five" upon contact. By waiting for the bounce you will avoid swinging prematurely and discover how much time you have to react. Since the ball decelerates up to 60% from baseline to baseline, the longer you wait the more time you have to judge the incoming ball accurately. Counting to 5 is also helpful when you get nervous or lose focus during a match.

    #6 - TARGET PRACTICE (1 or 2 players)

    Put a plastic patio chair on the service line 1/3 of the way in from the deuce singles sideline, and another one in the same position on the ad side. These are your targets. The object is to hit the chairs as many times as possible. Each player hits three consecutive balls, and the player with the highest score in one round of the ball machine wins; or try to top you previous score if practicing solo. Deduct 1 point for every ball hit into the net, win 2 points if you call out "ball machine" and aim up the center and hit the machine. You can advance to the net and hit volleys or move the chairs around to practice hitting other spots on the court.

    If you are familiar with Modern Tennis Methodology you will recognize some of these drills. Oscar made up the target practice drill one day when we were hitting the ball machine together; it is great practice for directional control and good for some laughs as well! You might also like to take a boom box out onto the court and hit to your favorite tunes. Make up your own drills, be creative and most of all, have fun!
    How good can your game get? You too can play like the Pros with The Wegner Method.
    Discuss The Wegner Method here at TW in the MTM forum or visit for more info.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    The Noog, TN
    Those are some great drills TA. Here's one I like:

    Set the ball machine to feed right down the middle of the court with very little time between feeds and use a fairly deep and fast setting. Start in either the deuce or ad court, just beyond the baseline (your pref) and proceed to alternate between run around forehands and backhands. For an even better workout have the ball alternatively land just inside the deuce and ad courts and proceed to really run around your forehands and backhands. Seriously, if you can do this for more than one 300 ball load, consider yourself "in shape"!

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