You’ve got your racket. Check.
You’ve got your trainers. Check.
You’ve got your tennis balls. Check.
You’ve even got your specially purchased Roger Federer bandana. Check.
You’re all set to go and you are certifiably excited. You can’t wait. You’ve built this moment up in your head and now it’s finally here! You’re going to get to go and play tennis and nothing, NOTHING, in the world can put a stop to it! YAY!…
You’ve got no friends.
Don’t worry, we can relate here at Mind the Racket. We’re all a bunch of loners at heart. And because of that, we are experts at coming up with solutions for all your tennis playing needs, even those embarrassing friendless needs.
Dry your lonely teary eyes, blow your noses and toss your tissues in the bin, you don’t want those falling all over the court as you play! Oh, yes, we’re still going to get you out there!
But first, we’re going to go in search of the best tennis ball machine currently available!
Tennis Ball Machine Feature Comparison
|Rating||Name||Ball Capacity||Speed||Oscillation||Battery||Custom Drills||Price|
Spin Shot Player
Horizontal & Vertical
Spin Shot Plus 2
Horizontal & Vertical
Spin Shot Pro
Horizontal & Vertical
Spin Shot Plus
Horizontal & Vertical
Spin Shot Lite
Up to 60kph
1.) Spinshot Player Tennis Ball Machine - EDITORS CHOICE
Ball Capacity: 120 balls
This is another big green Lego brick of a machine!
Branded as the most advanced ball machine in the world, the Spinshot Player allows for extensive customization when it comes to programming where you want the balls to go on the court. Of course, it comes with built-in go-to power levels but if you want to tailor it to your requirements, the option is there for you to tinker with it.
The line-to-line oscillation feature is fantastic and means that you can settle into an easy court back-and-forth hit to find your rhythm before going in-depth and making things slightly more difficult for yourself with the advanced settings.
Like the Plus, the Player has a metal shell and doesn’t use plastics, meaning your rocket forehands aren’t going to damage or dent it… unless you’re CRUSHING your shots particularly hard that day!
A control pad on the front of the Player allows you to select your hitting plan before stepping foot on the court but alternatively, that free app we mentioned with the Plus is also available here. There’s also an optional Remote Watch that’ll offer you a quick, accessible, and easy way to change settings while remaining on your side of the court.
The battery here allows you to power the Player up before you take to the courts for around 2 and a half hours of hitting. That should be more than enough to get a lengthy rallying session and with ball speeds going from a casual 10km/h up the 110km/h, you can start easy and work your way up.
The two wheels on the bottom will allow you to suitcase the entire 19kg unit behind you as you saunter onto the court with your new robotic hitting partner.
Of course, you’re also able to control the machine using an app on your smartphone device.
This is another pretty expensive bit of tennis tech but if you can afford it and play regularly, the optional customizable settings make this a worthwhile purchase.
2. Spinshot Plus 2 Tennis Ball Machine - Best for Intermediate & Advanced Players
Ball Capacity: 120 balls
Ah, the sequel to the brilliant original! There’s no way it’ll be as good as the first one… Or will it?
Well, for starters, it’s worth looking at the specific areas that the Plus 2 looks to improve on the Plus. A lot of the focus has actually been made on developing further features for the player’s drill app to allow for further in-depth customization options.
The designers have also focused some time on making sure that the control panel is easier to use, installing an OLED screen for a clearer and quicker set-up experience so you don’t need to spend 10 minutes trying to work out what button to press.
On top of this, there’s now higher-spin rotation levels available! This is because the Plus 2 will utilize powered motors. It is no longer the case that you need to decide between spin and a full level of power. The Plus 2 will be firing balls at you with pace AND a lot of rotations per minute to send you scarpering around the court.
As if the higher spin-power rate isn’t fearsome enough, the oscillation line-to-line setting is here and it still provides that nice and easy, back-and-forth warm-up hit rhythm needed for longer hits.
Like the others on this list, the Plus 2 is battery powered and should give you enough charge for a solid run-around on the court before fading away on you. When it does eventually come time to pack up and head for home, the wheels will make for an easy way to card this machine off the courts. It’s actually fairly heavy as well, weighing in at a beefy 25.22kg!
The quick-save and customisable programme features make this Plus 2 model a worthwhile successor to the Plus. If you don’t already have a ball machine and have that bit of extra money available, this is a pick-up that should be on your radar.
3. Spinshot Pro Tennis Ball Machine - Best for Beginners
Ball capacity: 120 balls
Surprisingly, this is actually the best tennis ball machine for beginners on this list. I suppose Spinshot Beginner doesn’t really have the same ring to it though…
In any case, this is a nice little design, simplified all over for easy, accessible usage and can be operated by just about anyone, even younger children… Although don’t blame us if they aim the machine at you by accident… Or even on purpose!
The speed that this machine operates at can be controlled by way of the spin variation option. You can tailor ball speeds all the way down to around 30km/h for beginners and all the way up to 110km/h, which should provide enough challenge for beginners through to intermediates.
The actual spin control variation itself is pretty nifty and will allow you to set it up to deliver top spin and backspin while sending you crisscrossing the court with the line-to-line oscillation feature. You can also adjust the height of ball delivery to suit what you’re working on, be it lobs, volleys, or even the dreaded drop-volley…
There’s no fancy screen or app control here. The entire unit is operated by way of a selection of cool-looking buttons and gears cluttering around the central panel. We all love actual buttons here at Mind the Racket and hate to see touch screen controls becoming the norm so this has us childishly excited!
With wheels on the bottom to maneuver is about and a battery that lasts for a 3-hour stint on the courts, this machine manages to retain a lot of elements of the more technologically advanced ball machines. At a weight of 20kg for a standard battery model (there’s also an AC model too!), it should be easy enough to drag out and lift into your car for your drive to your local club.
To summarise, this Spinshot Pro is a basic model that will suit all the needs of players from beginner to intermediate. It fills that gap in the market for a more reasonable price than the ones we’ve already covered on this list! For that reason, this is the best cheap tennis ball machine.
4. Spinshot Plus Tennis Ball Machine
Ball Capacity: 120 balls
This is a big chunky green box. That’s really the only way to describe it. It’s certainly an eye-catching enough look!
It’s also pretty well armored in preparation for you firing your forehands across the net at it repeatedly. This is one of the only tennis ball machines not made of plastics, which means its metal shell is sturdy and ready for you.
The nifty thing about the Spinshot is that it has a special court parameter customization program installed, meaning that you can randomize where the balls will be going so that you’ll have no idea what to expect when you’re practicing. This is match replication at its finest!
Alternatively, a selection of levels are available for you to pick, so if you’re not looking at going all-out on the court today, you can go for a light-hitting option instead. Ball speeds go from a lowly 20km/h all the way up to the rather scary speeds of 120km/h.
A front control panel allows you to set up the Spinshot from up close. However, when you’re over the other side of the net, you don’t necessarily want to trudge around to the other side of the court every time you want to type in a command. Fortunately, you don’t need to as a free phone application allows you to remotely control it from a distance.
The entire device is powered by a battery sitting inside the outer cage and can be plugged into any regular socket. Just make sure you’ve changed it before dragging it to the courts, otherwise, you’ll be sitting on your baseline with an odd bit of stationary modern art sitting across the net…
Two wheels on the bottom of this machine make for easy transfer to the court and at a weight of 18kg, you’re unlikely to find that lifting this into your car is all too challenging, unless, like us here at Mind the Racket, you have no muscles whatsoever.
In conclusion, the Spinshot Plus is a fantastic ball machine, which covers all your primary requirements and needs with a little bit of technological help. If you’re an intermediate player looking for a way to continue playing in the absence of hitting partners, this is one of the best options out there.
5. Spinshot Lite – Best Tennis Ball Machine Under $1000
Ball capacity: 40 balls
A… a cheap ball machine?! What?! What is this, Christmas?!
Well, before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s still fairly expensive generally speaking and this is a ball machine especially designed for junior or beginner players. But still, it absolutely fits a target demographic and does its job well.
The big selling point of the Lite model is its portability and Spinshot pushes this primarily as the best portable tennis ball machine. With wheels and a weight of only 10kg, this can almost be thrown about with ease… We wouldn’t recommend it though as the sleek metal outer shell might hurt if it clonks you one. But hey, at least the kids won’t come running to you for assistance with dragging it around!
Speeds are way down here. Firing tennis balls at only 50km/h, the Lite should make for easy practice for juniors looking to get their first experience hitting consistently and in rhythm.
With an adjustable ball height, there’s also room for mixing things up a little and getting some smash and volley practice. There’s only a topspin mode available but that’s OK for players just starting out in their career pathways.
This is a nice little machine and a lot cheaper than the regular models. The only real issue is that, as you get better and progress up the ranks, this won’t really satisfy your needs anymore. But until you’re well on your way to Wimbledon glory, this probably the best tennis ball machine under $1000.
6.) Scifanta Tennis Ball Feeder - Best Tennis Ball Machine Under $500
Ball Capacity: 30 balls
Let’s start this off by saying what this is not. This is not a top-quality tennis ball machine like the rest of the options on our list.
It is, however, a good way of feeding balls to yourself without needing a coach or a training partner to do this for you.
Unlike a lot of other tennis ball machines, which you place on the opposite side of the court, you place the feeder fairly close to you. This will then shoot out balls which you can then hit using whichever type of shot you’re looking to practice.
The ball speed isn’t great, but at the end of the day, this is a feeder, not a full-fledged ball machine, so it’s not the end of the world.
Although it doesn’t have a particularly fast feed rate (1 ball every four seconds), it does deliver balls consistently, allowing you to get into the rhythm of whichever drills you’re doing.
One drawback to this tennis ball machine, in particular, is the ball capacity. Unfortunately, this can only handle 30 balls at a time, meaning you’ll need to do a pick-up run every 2-minutes – I’d recommend using a hopper for this.
While this is by no means a piece of revolutionary technology, it’s definitely a great training aid that will allow you to practice tennis on your own. Plus, it’s significantly cheaper than all the other options out there.
7. Lobster Sports Elite Two
Ball Capacity: 150 Balls
Up next is another great option in the form of the Lobster Sports Elite Two. I did contemplate adding the Lobster Elite One to this list, however for a small addition in price, you get a lot more for your money with the Elite Two.
For example, the Elite two comes with both horizontal and vertical oscillation. This essentially means that the ball can be shot in any direction at random, both up and down, and left to right. When compared to a lot of other ball machines, this is incredible as the vast majority can only shoot balls at the same trajectory.
I find that the 80mh ball speed, whilst somewhat insane, does allow for a wide range of skill-level players to make use of the Elite Two. If you’re a beginner, you can tone the speed down a bit, and if you’re an advanced player, crank it up and simulate real shots from other advanced players.
Ok, so what do I NOT like about this? Well, it’s ugly, and I mean really ugly. That said, despite its unsightly aesthetic, the Lobster Elite is practical and. It can hold a ton of balls, has wheels and a handle, and is very portable.
Of course, as you would expect with a ball machine of this standard, you’re able to connect your smartphone or watch, which can act as a remote control. From the app interface, you’re able to set up your machine and ball delivery as required. The app itself is simple to use and easy to navigate.
The app allows you to control the feed speed, speed of the ball, trajectory, and the type of spin. You can also select the option to randomize both the vertical and horizontal oscillation, which is fantastic for simulating real tennis matches.
While expensive, this is a great option for anyone looking for a top-quality tennis ball machine.
8. Lobster Sports Elite Grand Five LE
Ball Capacity: 150 Balls
Let’s cut right to the chase here. This costs much, much more than the Lobster Sports Elite Two that we just discussed, and for good reason.
First of all, you’re able to create your own custom drills using the wireless controller that comes alongside the ball machine. I find this extremely useful if you’ve got a weak area of your game that you’d like to repeatedly work on.
Of course, you don’t have to create your drills if you don’t want to. The Grand Five LE comes with a total of 12 drills that are ready to go out of the box. While these are good, they don’t combine– which is where the whole “create your own” drill comes in.
You can mix in some baseline, drop shot, and down-the-line shots into one drill, which is amazing at creating a tennis match-like training session.
For me though, this just costs too much for your average tennis player. Yes, it comes with a ton of bells and whistles, but unless you’re a coach or advanced player, I’d recommend one of the cheaper models on our list.
That said, if you’re intent on getting the best possible tennis ball machine, then this is a great option. Just be prepared to spend a lot.
Benefits of Using a Tennis Ball Machine
Aside from having no friends and still being able to play, there are actually plenty of other benefits of using a tennis ball machine for a tennis player of any level.
They allow you to continually practice hitting without disruption. Finding a rhythm when you’re playing tennis is something you need to work on finding quickly in match situations. Nothing will ever be able to replicate match stipulations 100% but this does a good job of providing you with consistent balls coming over the net.
Basically, these are an ideal way for you to work on your technique without worrying about what your opponent is wanting to do. Plus, they’re great for a tennis coach who may not want to feed their 1000th ball of the day.
How to Choose a Tennis Ball Machine
The skill level of the tennis player using the tennis machine is an important factor to take into consideration. A beginner tennis player will likely want completely different functionality to a more advanced player.
If You’re a Beginner Tennis Player…
You’ll likely need a fairly simple machine, capable of delivering shots regularly at a fairly soft speed. It’s unlikely you’ll want to be on the receiving end high speed, top-spin heavy shots firring at you every second. With that in mind, tennis ball machines for beginners will likely be a bit cheaper, as you wont require many advanced features.
If You’re an Intermediate or Advanced Tennis Player…
It’s likely that intermediate and advanced tennis players will want to use similar, if not the same tennis ball machines. This is due to the fact that an intermediate tennis player will want to continue to improve their game. This is often done by pushing themselves and undertaking difficult training routines.
Advanced players, on the other hand, will require advanced features such as high-speed tennis ball velocity, tennis ball spin, and make use of the tennis ball machines’ custom drill making functions.
With that in mind, tennis ball machines for advanced and intermediate players tend to cost more, due to the fact that more functionality and overall higher quality is not only expected but required.
Unless you are Hercules himself, you do not want to be lugging a beefy metal behemoth down to your local courts every time you want to go for a workout with your tennis ball machine.
Fortunately, the vast majority of designers try to help you with this problem by attaching wheels to the bottom of their machines so that you can cart it around with you with ease.
Something else to keep in mind is the weight. If you’re buying a machine for a young child and you don’t want to be called for assistance every time they’re heading to the courts, make sure they’re able to maneuver it on their own without help from you.
Otherwise, it’s going to come back to haunt you…
It’s pretty important to assess the tennis ball machine’s ball capacity for making a purchase. The more balls a machine is able to handle, the less time you’ll spend going around and picking them all back up again.
It also allows you to get more into the rhythm of your training, as each session with the tennis ball machine will last longer.
A lot of tennis ball machines are only able to change the ball trajectory, not their horizontal delivery. This means you’re limited to returning lobs, drop shots, and regular shots and always from the same spot on the court.
The top-end models however are able to deliver tennis balls randomly both in terms of height and direction. These do tend to cost a pretty penny more, however offer a far more realistic training environment.
Most ball machines are built to last and rightfully so, with the price tag they come with!
No, but seriously, you don’t want these breaking down on you. There’s nothing worse than dragging a deadbeat ball machine down to your local scrap heap because it’s faulty after a year of use…
So yeah, make sure to feel around the outside of the unit itself to see if the inner-working are protected. This is especially important if buying for juniors as well. Kids can barely take care of themselves and you’re going to trust them with a few hundred pounds worth of ball machine?
Better be built PROPERLY then.
This is how hard you want your ball machine to be blasting tennis balls at you!
Ideally, most ball machines will come with a range of speeds to choose from to allow you to find what works best for you. Try and find something that covers a slow-warm up pace and at least a medium-to-high speed to most accurately resembles hitting with an actual player.
This will of course come down to your level as a player and what speeds you think you can work with to improve personally.
We just always recommend looking for something with at least a few options to choose from…
Hitting balls consistently is great but if you really want to improve as a player, you’re going to need to practice other shots.
That’s why it’s important to have a look to see if the machine you’re about to buy comes with a height adjuster. If you want to practice lobs, volleys, drop-volleys, etc, this will be difficult if the machine doesn’t offer you help with this.
The modern game of tennis is so topspin heavy, that it is sometimes difficult to remember that other spin types do exist!
Take a look to see if your ball machine gives you the option to mix things up with backspin and slice deliveries. Your technique returning shots like this matter and you will need a machine that allows you to practice properly to improve in the areas that you may not be as comfortable in.
Remote Control Via Mobile Device
If you don’t want to be dragging your feet around to the other side of the net every time you need to change the slightest thing on the settings of your ball machine, you’ll want some kind of remote control technology option.
This is becoming a much more common thing for ball machines to come with but still, you’ll want to make sure. Some devices also come with their own branded smartwatches that allow you to keep control of the machine accessible at all times, even while you’re in the middle of a rally.
Last thing you want to happen is for your phone to fly out your pocket as you’re lunging about the court.
Typical ball machines come with a pre-programmed set of drills for you to select from when you step on the court. But sometimes, that’s just not enough.
More recent units allow you to create your own pattern and rally sequences to help you work on the areas of your game that need the most work. If that’s every shot to your forehand side, you can make it so that every shot coming at you is to your forehand!
Many companies allow you to come up with your own drills through apps that are readily available with every machine purchase but this is definitely not a standard thing yet! You’ll want to check the product description if this is something you’re interested in.
This only applies if you’re a coach or planning on training for the majority of the day. Still, though, it’s important to check that the battery life of the machine is long enough for your needs.
You are also able to attach external batteries to some ball machines, which is always an option if you’re needing a longer battery life than the machine itself can provide.
Time for some honesty.
Tennis ball machines are EXPENSIVE!
Yes, even the supposedly “budget” ones! They’re a long-term investment that you’ll want to be using for at least a good few years.
If you have the cash handy and you’re willing to go for it, fantastic.
If not, see about possibly getting help from your local club and check if a fundraiser would be something you could do together as part of your community to get a ball machine that everyone could make use of.
Right, this is a big one.
If your machine kicks the bucket a few months down the line, you do NOT want to be left out of pocket. As previously mentioned, ball machines are not cheap, and so you’ll want to go about making sure that you have all the protocols in place should things go wrong.
Ideally, they won’t… But you can never be sure!
So check and see what kind of warranty is being offered for the product you’re investing in. Most machines will come with at least a 6 month guarantee of quality and you want to be in on that!
Tennis Ball Machine Drills
Why are Tennis Ball Machines so Expensive?
As you’ve probably noticed from our list, tennis ball machines don’t come cheap. So, you may be wondering why are these tennis ball machines so expensive?
Well, first, they’re not exactly easy to make. A lot of labor, material, planning and engineering is required to get these machines user ready. Not only that, they need to have a ton of functionality built in to make them worth while to more advanced players.
Secondly, they need to be built to a very high standard. No one will want to spend $1000+ on a machine that’s only going to work a handful of times.
All of this added up makes for a rather costly investment.
Tennis ball machines are tricky!
There’s a lot going on with them and you want to be able to say that you made the right decision in parting ways with your hard earned money to get one.
So take your time. There’s no rush. Read through this article again if need be.
Do not dive in and get the first one you see just because you like the look of it. You may well be buying a model specifically designed for beginners when you’re hovering around at least intermediate/Wimbledon champ level!
And then, when you’ve weighed up all your options, read the reviews, taken it all in and made doubly sure that none of your friends want to play with you, buy the one that best suits what you’re looking for.