10 Best Tennis Machines of 2021 - A Buyer's Guide

10 Best Tennis Machines of 2021 - A Buyer's Guide

Top 10 Best Tennis Ball Machines


If you are an experienced tennis player or new to the game, you will benefit from a tennis ball machine.  Tennis ball machines deliver tennis balls to you on the court, bouncing them in your direction replicating return shots hit by an opponent.  This is the perfect machine for those players that sometimes have to play alone, as well as those who simply want to elevate their game to the next level.  Furthermore, those who are new to the game will find it quite helpful to have one tennis ball after another delivered to them in an automated manner, replicating the same shots they will return in actual tennis matches.  

Buy a tennis ball machine and you will be able to practice your shot whenever you desire, even if a fellow tennis enthusiast is unavailable to play.  However, no two tennis ball machines are exactly the same.  Let’s take a look at the primary considerations when selecting a tennis ball machine and also provide the inside scoop on the top 10 machines on the market today. 


The Top 10 Tennis Ball Machines

1. Spinshot Player

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The Spinshot Player has garnered widespread acclaim as one of the best portable tennis ball machines.  Whether you are an advanced tennis player with a rating of 6-7 or a tennis newbie with a lower rating, you will find this machine is worth the money.  In short, the Spinshot Player has everything you could possible desire in a tennis ball machine:

  • Customize up to a dozen drills
  • 120+ tennis ball capacity
  • Feeds tennis balls from 20 mph to 68 mph
  • Feed frequency of 2-10 seconds
  • Both vertical and horizontal oscillation
  • Weighs only 46 pounds
  • Measures 21 inches in height, 20 inches in length and 14 inches in width

In fact, the Spinshot Player is advanced to the point that it functions with a mobile app.  Download the app from your phone, customize drills to shore up your game’s weaknesses and it won’t be long until you make meaningful progress.  All in all, you can make upwards of a dozen preset drills with a maximum of six shots for each drill.  Add in the fact that Spinshot provides fantastic manufacturer support along with the power to adjust tennis ball feed rate, trajectory, speed, direction and spin and you have even more reason to choose this machine.

2. Spinshot Pro

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Are you on the prowl for a tennis ball machine that provides a grueling workout yet doesn’t offer extensive customization that jacks up the price of more advanced machines?  If so, the Spinshot Pro is the ideal machine for you.  The machine feeds balls from one side to the other, providing a fantastic workout, setting the stage for you to execute a litany of shots.  Advanced, intermediate and beginner players agree this is a solid tennis ball machine.  

Aside from the lack of drill customization options,, the only other downside to the machine is the depth of the ball delivery must be determined at the panel.  Whether you want to switch from lobs to approach shots or any other type of shot, you simply have to alter the control panel settings.  

The machine’s features include:

  • Several spin and speed options
  • A compact size
  • Excellent battery life
  • 120+ ball capacity
  • Feed frequency of 2 to 10 seconds
  • Weighs 44 pounds
  • Delivers balls with both backspin and topspin
  • Speed between 19 mph and 68 mph
  • Rechargeable battery lasts upwards of three hours

3. Lobster Sports Elite 1

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The Lobster Elite 1 machine offers a solid baseline workout that empowers you to work on backhands, forehands, volleys and more.  Players love the machine’s random oscillation that delivers balls to each side of the court.  In short, you will be hard-pressed to find a better value than the Lobster Elite 1.  However, it must be noted the machine does not have a remote control and is bulkier than most other machines.  As long as you do not want to customize in-depth drills, you will likely be more than happy with this machine.  

Features and merits include:

  • 150 ball capacity
  • Feed frequency of two seconds to 12 seconds
  • Serve Speed of 10 mph to 80 mph
  • Spin options of topspin and slice
  • Controlled through a panel on the machine though a remote control is available at an extra cost
  • Weighs 42 pounds but collapses down to 21 inches (h) by 15.5 inches (w) and 29 inches (l)
  • Fast charging lasts between 4-9 hours
  • Maneuvers with ease thanks to the sizable wheels and handle

4. Wilson Portable

 

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Wilson is one of the top names in tennis.  The company’s Portable tennis ball machine is loaded with a litany of features yet is not priced egregiously high.  Whether you are a beginner or intermediate player, you will think highly of this machine.  The Wilson Portable features include:

  • Ball speed between 10 mph and 75 mph
  • Staggered delivery between 1.5 seconds and 10 seconds
  • 110 ball capacity
  • Eight unique spin levels
  • Choose between four unique backspin options and four separate topspin options along with a flat shot setting
  • Select your desired tennis ball trajectory ranging from lobs to groundstrokes
  • Rechargeable battery lasts four hours
  • Smart battery charger that shuts off after a full charge is achieved

5. Lobster Elite Grand Four

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Lobster is quickly becoming one of the top names in the tennis industry.  The company’s Elite Grand Four machine provides extensive options for players of all skill levels.  This machine is particularly popular amongst tennis newbies as it is affordable and reliable.  As long as you do not want customized drills, you will likely be quite satisfied with this tennis ball machine.  

Its features include:

  • 150 ball capacity
  • Weights only 44 lbs
  • Tennis ball speed of 35 mph to 80 mph
  • Both topspin and backspin
  • Battery power lasts between four hours and eight hours
  • The machine has half a dozen unique drills pre-loaded
  • Small size facilitates portability

Though this machine is considered an entry-level model, it is solid in all regards.  This is an affordable, durable and easily portable tennis ball machine sure to please new tennis players as well as those in the intermediate range.

6. Tennis Tutor ProLite

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Are you looking for a tennis ball machine that costs triple digits or less?  Look no further than this portable, lightweight machine.  Though the machine does not empower you to create your own drills and lacks adjustments for backspin and topspin, it certainly deserves praise for its horizontal oscillation and additional features.  

The Tennis Tutor ProLite’s specifications and merits are as follows:

  • Light weight of 29 pounds
  • Suitable for tennis players of all skill levels
  • Adjust the ball feed rate all the way down to 1.5 seconds if desired
  • Elevation can be manually adjusted to practice shots of all different types
  • Delivers balls at a speed upwards of 60 mph or as low as 10 mph
  • 125 ball capacity
  • Feed frequency between 1.5 seconds and 10 seconds
  • Remote is available for purchase
  • Rechargeable battery lasts upwards of three hours
  • Measures 12 inches in height, 18 inches in width and 19.5 inches in length
  • 3-year manufacturer warranty

7. Match Mate Tennis iSam Extend

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Though this tennis ball machine certainly has an odd name, it is affordable and functions without flaw.  Opt for this tennis ball machine and you will be empowered to control tennis ball speed, feed rate and oscillation straight from the control panel.  However, if you want to alter the tennis ball elevation, you will have to make a manual adjustment.  Furthermore, some players have complained that transportation is challenging as wheels are not included.  

However, if you are an amateur player and do not require a wide ranging functionality, you will likely be perfectly content with the Match Mate Tennis iSam Extend.  The machine has plenty of strong selling points including:

  • Capacity of 300 tennis balls (double that of many other machines)
  • Lengthy battery life that provides a runtime between five and seven hours
  • Very affordable price point

8. Spinshot Plus – 2

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This is the sequel to the original Spinshot Plus model.  The Plus-2 model has all the features of the original along with several advanced features, most of which are offered on the Player model.  The Plus-2’s highlights include the Player model’s drill maker App that empowers players to fully program the machine’s drills and settings.  Furthermore, the Plus-2 model’s OLED screen is significantly easier to read than that of the Player model.  

Additional features of the Spinshot Plus -2 include:

  • Easily configurable oscillation settings on the control panel
  • Use the Drillmaker phone app to alter settings with ease
  • Supports Remote Watch for enhanced control
  • High Spin model provides tennis balls 20% faster 
  • 5 unique oscillation modes ranging from vertical oscillation to random horizontal oscillation and 2-line horizontal oscillation

9. Spinshot Lite Tennis

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If you‘re on the market for an entry-level tennis ball machine and want the cream of the crop, the Spinshot Lite machine is the answer.  Featuring multi-function ball feed rate and speed control for varied shot delivery, this machine delivers a steady stream of balls exactly as desired.  Furthermore, the machine is portable, empowering users to transport it to tennis courts with ease.  However, one of the drawbacks of the Spinshot Lite Tennis ball machine is it is limited to holding around 40 tennis balls.  

Features and merits of the Spinshot Lite Tennis ball machine include:

  • Ball feed rate can be set between two seconds and 10 seconds
  • Ball speed upwards of 38 mph with topspin
  • Option of automatic horizontal oscillation for random delivery
  • Machine can start/stop by long pressing the watch remote
  • The machine’s battery supports upwards of 7 play hours
  • Power cage’s intelligent design facilitates battery installation or even an AC power upgrade
  • Light in weight, allowing for superior portability
  • Retractable handle
  • Towing wheels

10. Match Mate Rookie

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Built right here in the good old United States of America, the Rookie tennis ball machine made by MatchMate is sure to please beginning tennis players.  In fact, the machine was specifically designed for beginner players.  Whether you are an adult who is new to tennis or if you have a youngster in your home looking to expand his or her skillset, this machine will exceed your expectations.  However, it must be noted that the machine does not feature oscillation.  Instead of running from one side of the court to the other, this machine zeroes in on the basics of tennis. 

The MatchMate Rookie relies on a wheel-driven system to deliver tennis balls to players every 10 seconds.  Players love the machine’s transport handle that facilitates moving the unit to and from the court.  The machine can be loaded into vehicles of every size, be it a sports car, sedan or diminutive truck.  

The MatchMate Rookie features include:

  • Battery life of five to seven hours
  • Can be plugged in for power in the event the battery runs out of juice
  • Overcharging does not occur thanks to the new smart technology
  • Ball delay option
  • Elevation options
  • Ball speed range between 10 mph and 27 mph
  • Heavy topspin setting sure to challenge even the most experienced tennis player
  • 10 second feed delay upon startup guarantees you do not waste a single ball and have ample time to get into the proper position
  • Intuitive controls
  • Outer shell made of durable high-grade aluminum
  • Young tennis players love the soft toss delivery at the low ball speed setting

How to Choose the Right Tennis Ball Machine: Skill Level and Machine Features

Some tennis ball machines are highly complex, providing myriad features that primarily appeal to experienced players.  Other tennis ball machines are comparably simple with minimal features.  

Your unique skill level and desire for specific features will play important roles when choosing a tennis ball machine.  Check out a couple tennis ball machines to get a sense of the extent of their features and determine whether you want to use such features. There is no reason to feel bad if you prefer a comparably simple machine.  

While expert tennis players with a tennis rating of 5-7 will likely gravitate toward tennis ball machines with an extensive number of features, those who are newbies or lower on the rating scale (1-3) might prefer more of a basic machine without an abundance of features.  

However, it is a mistake to assume you will be perfectly content with a basic tennis ball machine that delivers one-hoppers to you without functional diversity.  Your desire for additional features will be that much stronger as your tennis game improves so it is best to err on the side of buying a machine with more features than you desire at the current moment.

Tennis ball machines with an abundance of features are likely to cost that much more than tennis ball machines with comparably few features.  Check out the prices of machines before forking over your hard-earned money so you get a sense of what they cost.  Once you have a general sense of the cost of tennis ball machines, you will be able to establish a budget and proceed to shop for the perfect new machine that is in your price range and provides the bells and whistles you covet.

Ball Capacity

Though ball capacity is not the most important component of tennis ball machines, a particularly low ball capacity has the potential to be a deal-breaker.  

Furthermore, some players simply do not mind the process of gathering tennis balls and reloading the machine while others dread this process.  The greater the machine’s ball capacity, the less often it will have to be refilled.  The bottom line is if you don’t want to interrupt your training sessions to refill the machine, you should buy one with a high capacity.  As an example, the Lobster Elite Grand Four has a 150 ball capacity.   Most tennis ball machines have a ball capacity around 100 though some capacities are as low as 40 and others are as high as several hundred.

Feed Rate

The feed rate dictates the length of time the tennis ball machine delays before sending out the next tennis ball.  Tennis ball machine feed rates are gauged in terms of seconds.  The shorter the wait, the faster the machine will send the balls your way. In general, tennis ball machine feed rates are typically between a couple seconds and 10 seconds.  

As an example, the Spinshot Lite Tennis ball machine provides players with the option of setting a feed rate between two seconds and ten seconds.  Beginners favor a longer feed rate as it gives them a chance to reset and position their feet along with the rest of their body in the proper position.  Furthermore, players with less endurance might desire a lengthier wait in between balls as it gives them a chance to catch their breath.  However, more experienced players will desire a shorter feed rate as it requires them to react that much quicker, ultimately sharpening their reflexes.

Oscillation

Oscillation is a tennis ball machine feature that empowers players to randomize the delivery direction of tennis balls.  Low-cost machines typically permit only horizontal oscillation that requires the player move from one side to the other to hit the tennis ball.  Tennis ball machines with horizontal oscillation mandate a manual adjustment of the elevation rather than the height being controlled through any sort of electronic.  This means only the machine can alter the delivery direction of horizontal balls.  

Alternatively, more expensive tennis ball machines are designed to randomize the horizontal as well as the vertical tennis ball direction.  Vertical oscillation requires that the player move back and forth to play balls and also requires a wide range of techniques for proper ball striking.  Some of the upper-level tennis ball machines even have random oscillation that randomizes the direction of the balls as well as their spin, feed rate and speed.  If you value oscillation, be sure to check out the Spinshot Plus – 2 that provides five unique oscillation modes.

Ball Speed, Direction and Spin

Tennis ball machines of every type provide the option of adjusting ball speed.  The extent to which ball speed changes differs from one machine to the next.  Certain machines permit adjustments of 20 mph to 65 mph while others permit adjustment of 10 mph to 80 mph.  The more experienced you are, the more likely you are to benefit from a comparably extensive speed range as it allows you to train in a more versatile manner.  Furthermore, some players simply have a specific ball speed need or desire so they will require a machine that allows for such enhanced control.

In terms of spin, tennis ball machines allow for the alteration of both top spin and back spin.  However, some machines also permit adjusting tennis ball spin intensity to boot.  The extent to which you can alter ball spin depends on the machine in question.  Modern day tennis ball machines permit adjustments from side to side and also in terms of elevation.  However, some machines don’t offer much flexibility in terms of ball direction.  

Low-cost tennis ball machines typically permit between five and ten incremental positions to adjust ball direction while comparably expensive machines permit adjustments in the range of 0-60 degrees.  Furthermore, it must be noted that inexpensive tennis ball machines often require that the elevation angle be adjusted manually while more expensive models allow for such adjustment to be made electronically by merely pushing a button.

Custom Drills

Tennis ball machines have advanced to the point that they can generate customized drills specifically tailored to your game and rating level.  In other words, these custom drills are somewhat of an automated coach.  As an example, the Spinshot Player makes it easy to load up your own customized drills.  This is your opportunity to program the machine to deliver tennis balls exactly as you desire in any sequence you have in mind, be it a backhand volley at the net followed by an overhead smash or any other shot you have in mind.

Size, Weight, Portability

Take a moment to think about whether you want to lug a heavy tennis ball machine out to the court.  Perhaps you don’t have a large vehicle, making it that much more challenging to accommodate a particularly sizable tennis ball machine.  Furthermore, some tennis ball machines are more portable than others.  As an example the MatchMate Rookie features a convenient handle that makes it easy to lift and move the machine wherever desired. 

Battery Life

The majority of tennis ball machines operate with the use of a battery.  This means battery runtime is a potential concern.  

Most tennis ball machine batteries last between two hours and eight hours.  As an example, the Lobster Elite Grand Four’s battery life lasts between four and eight hours.  

Furthermore, the type of charger that the machine features also matters.  The charge time and potential overcharge protection are particularly important.  Furthermore, some tennis ball machines have simple chargers that can be exchanged with a superior unit as time progresses.

Remote Control

You need a reliable remote control when operating your tennis ball machine.  The alternative is to alter the machine by walking up to it and making changes as necessary.  Choose a machine with an intuitive remote control and you will be empowered to alter its features from the other side of the court in quite the efficient manner.  Some machines such as the Lobster Sports Elite 1 offer an optional remote control while others lack remote control support altogether.

Warranty

The vast majority of tennis ball machines come with a warranty.  However, some machines have lengthy warranties while others are comparably short.  In general, a three-year warranty such as that included with the purchase of the Tennis Tutor ProLite machine is acceptable.  Keep in mind, this is a fairly expensive piece of equipment.  You need a good warranty for peace of mind.

Final Words

Take your time when sorting through the many different tennis ball machines on the market.  Think of your new tennis ball machine as an automated playing partner with the potential to help your game reach its true potential.  Choose the right machine and your game will blossom.  

Whittle down the options to the cream of the crop, carefully research the tennis ball machine models that stand out from the rest and buy the one most suitable for your unique tennis rating and goals.  Be sure to bookmark and/or print out this tennis ball machine guide for reference as you conduct research.  Perform your due diligence and you will feel confident spending a couple thousand dollars on a tennis ball machine that takes your game to the next level.

 


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