Updated: December 2017
Tennis Ball Machine Reviews:Tennis is a great way to get exercise and the sport itself helps build eye-hand coordination and solid footwork that translate into being better in other sports as well. Playing tennis doesn't require a lot, but you do need a partner to hit the ball back and forth to. It's not always easy to find a hitting partner, especially if you are just a beginner and need help developing your game. A tennis ball machine is the best solution for any beginner or intermediate player if they want consistent shots to hit. One of the reasons some people never get better is because their hitting partner doesn't get enough balls back into their court and the rallies last only a few shots. With a quality tennis ball machine, you can have it feed you 150+ balls in a row in the exact same spot or to different areas on the court giving you the most thorough workout available. The older machines that I grew up with didn't always oscillate so you got bored real fast with the same backhand or forehand shot. That has all changed as the modern ball machines have a horizontal oscillator and they can give you shots with different spins and trajectories so it's like playing a real opponent.
Consistency is the key to tennis and finding a groove on your strokes is what will pay off when you start playing matches. Paying for tennis instructions is one thing, but getting in the practice of hitting tennis balls for an hour or 2 is what a ball machine is for. Tennis lessons are not cheap and most pros charge something like $40 for 30 minutes. I say, take a lesson a few times a week or every other week and then substitute in a ball machine on the other days to get in hitting drills and practice. It's amazing how fast you can improve in tennis if you have balls fed to you. Some tennis ball machines have an arm that sticks out and shoots the balls over the net to you while others are more like a baseball pitching machine without an extended arm. They fire the ball out at you by forcing the ball through 2 spinning wheels. On the best tennis ball machines you can control the direction of the ball, the pace of the ball, the spins, and how often the balls are released. It's important to keep the balls coming back to you as if it were a real match. Don't make it so you are struggling to get to the balls, you want to have time to setup and hit the ball, then recover to the middle of the court, and then move to the next ball.
After some time using your new ball machine you should be able to program it to a speed level that works for you. The machines are either electric or battery powered. Some public courts offer electrical outlets, but not all are convenient. Before you decide to buy a tennis ball machine, think about where you will be using it mostly and if battery or electric is your best choice. Battery powered machines last from 2 to 3 hours so that should give you plenty of time at any one hitting session. Go with a machine that oscillates horizontally so you can move the ball around the court and get yourself moving like in a real rally. The good news is that you will probably never outgrow your tennis ball machine. Even advanced players can use a machine to work on their slice backhands or topspin forehands. Ideally you have a tennis court in your yard or in the neighborhood you live in so it's convenient to use the ball machine. Sometimes a tennis club uses ball machines so you could always ask the head pro what they suggest in terms of brand and model. I've been subscribing to Tennis Magazine for over a decade and consider myself to be a 5.0 player in the rating system. I still go to my local court and use the machine, especially in the off season to keep my shot groved and eyes and hands working together. As for the best brands, consider a Lobster, Silent Partner, Sports Tutor, and Playmate. The cost of the tennis ball machines is not cheap, so certainly don't consider buying one for yourself unless you are using it at a club for classes or programs as a pro or you have a tennis court at home and need lots of practice. The cheapest Lobster starts at $549 and the most expensive Elite Grandslam IV sells for $1899. You can buy tennis ball machines online at sites like Atssports.com and Holabirdsports.com. RECOMMENDED - We suggest shopping online at Amazon.com since they carry all the leading brand names and often have the lowest prices on the Internet. Browse their top rated tennis ball machines here.