Best Tennis Ball Machine (Reviews)

After over 3 weeks of exhaustive testing and countless hours of tennis practice with 9 of the most popular tennis ball machines, we've narrowed down the top choices. We judged each machine based on features, ease of use, and value for money. One thing was very clear in the research; when it comes to tennis machines - Spinshot and Lobster are the two companies that you can absolutely bank on!

Without further ado, here are our top picks:

Best High End

Spinshot Plus-2 Tennis Ball Machine

Best Overall

Spinshot-Player Tennis Ball Machine

Best Inexpensive

Spinshot Lite Tennis Training Machine

Last Updated: 13th Feb, 2020

You really want to up your tennis game. There's a bunch of pro tools out there that can help you work on your serve, your returns, and much more. You're tired of having to chase balls after your serve, and you don't want to have to rely on having a trainer or a friend serving balls for you to hit.

It sounds like what you need is a tennis ball machine! With adjustable angles, speeds, and spin, ball machines can help you take your tennis game to the next level, whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran.


Perfecting your shots and techniques takes countless hours of practice, blood, sweat, and tears. And this is where a tennis ball machine can come handy. It can not only help you practice alone but also practice more effectively and efficiently.

But the problem is, you don't know much about the differences between these machines. They can cost you a pretty penny, so you want to be sure you get the machine that best suits your needs. So how do you decide? What should you be looking for?

Look no further. This handy guide to tennis ball machines will list five picks, suitable for different needs. It will also explain to you what you should be looking for in a ball machine. We'll give you our final recommendation at the end of the article. So let's get right into it!

Best Tennis Ball Machines of 2020

  1. Spinshot-Player Tennis Ball MachineBest Overall (Only controllable via App)
  2. Spinshot Plus-2 Tennis Ball Machine Best for convenience (Manual + APP control)
  3. Spinshot Lite Tennis Training Machine Basic Model Best for Beginners/Juniors
  4. LOBSTER Sports Elite Two Pro quality yet portable
  5. Match Mate Rookie - Bargain Pick

1. Spinshot-Player Tennis Ball Machine: Best Overall


Specifications:

  • Control: Android/iOS, Apple watch, remote watch
  • Pre-Programmed drills: 12
  • Programming: Ability to make 2-line drills with varying width, speed, spin & elevation; Max: 12 shots/drills
  • Speed: 110-30 Km/h
  • Feed rate: 2 to 10 seconds
  • Spin: Top/Back/No spin (Flat)
  • Ball Capacity: 120
  • Battery Backup: 2-3 hours
  • Dimension: 50 (L) x 25 (W) x 50 (H)
  • Power: Battery/AC supply
  • Weight: 21 Kg with battery; 19 KG with AC supply
  • Warranty: 2 years
Spinshot-Player Tennis Ball Machine

For our top pick, we've chosen the Spinshot-Player Tennis Ball Machine due to its versatility, innovative design, and durable tank-like build quality. But don't take just our word for it. As per the manufacturer's claim, the Spinshot-player happens to be the world's top-selling tennis ball machines, and we don't doubt it! This machine is also highly rated on Amazon and other major online retailers with hundreds of stellar reviews to its name.

The machine is designed for players of all skill levels, be it a beginner or an advanced player. The ability to program custom drills and random oscillation mode allow beginners to practice by repetitions as well as advanced players to practice particular strokes or sequences of strokes. Every aspect of the machine can be controllable via the app (Android or iOS) - Speed, Spin, Placement, and Elevation. Also, the machine is compatible with all generations of Apple watches.

Boasting a 120 maximum ball capacity while weighing 46 pounds with the battery, this is about as good as it gets. Although the machine is heavier than the rest due to the all-metal construction (which also makes it durable), the extra-large wheels with carrying handles make it easy to carry to and fro the court. A single charge of battery lasts 2 to 3 hours and you also have the option to power the machine with AC supply (needs to be purchased separately) or use an external battery pack.

Using the DrillMaker app that comes with the machine, you can control all aspects, from the feed rate to the topspin/backspin, to horizontal placement. It comes with 12 programmable drills in which you can control all of these aspects and more, such as verticality and oscillation. You can even go so far as to program the machine to hit a certain spot on the court, if you're trying to perfect a specific shot.

You can store an unlimited number of 12-drill sequences with the ability to precisely select the placement, speed, spin, and elevation. Another helpful aspect of this customization via the app is that it is very easy to update. Another helpful aspect of this customization via the app is that it is very easy to update. When the app is updated with new features, the machine responds immediately.

Finally backed by a 2-year warranty, you can rest assured knowing this machine is built to last.

Final Note: The Spinshot-Player is one of the most advanced and top-of-the-line tennis ball machines currently available. The ability to custom program the drills and host of connectivity options makes it a solid choice for serious players. Priced about $1600 understandably, this isn't cheap, but if you're committed to the sport, it would be a great investment.

2. ​Spinshot Plus-2 Tennis Ball Machine: Best for convenience (Manual + APP controllable)


Specifications:

  • Control: ​Manually via the side panel, App (Android/iOS) or Apple Watch

The rest of the specs are exactly the same as the Spin-shot player machine (above).

Spinshot Plus-2 Tennis Ball Machine

Spinshot Plus 2 is technically 100% similar to the Spinshot-Player, except it also comes with manual control options to set the oscillation. You can use the buttons on the side panel to set random horizontal/vertical oscillation and two-line drill. There is also an OLCD display showing the chosen mode and battery charge left.

So you may wonder, do you really need manual controls, and is it worth the extra dollars?

Imagine a scenario: You are at the court, setting the Spinshot player machine only to realize your phone is low on battery or completely drained out. And as the Player model is completely controlled via the phone, you can't really do much.

This is where the Spinshot Plus 2 comes handy. You can control the machine both via the app or using manual controls. Moreover, the Spinshot drill maker app has a good amount of learning curve involved. A player who just wants to flex some muscle and practice would find the manual presets very helpful.

Final note: 

Technically the Plus 2 and player models are exactly the same. With Plus 2, you just get an added convenience to operate the machine manually and set different oscillation modes for practicing.

3. Spinshot Lite Tennis Training Machine: Best for Beginners/Juniors


Specifications:

  • Control: Manually using the side dials or remote watch
  • Oscillation: N/A
  • Programming: N/A
  • Speed: up to 60 Km/h
  • Feed rate: 2 to 10 seconds
  • Spin: Topspin by default
  • Ball Capacity: 50
  • Battery Backup: up to 7 hours
  • Dimension: 25 (L) x 25 (W) x 40 (H) cm
  • Power: Battery/AC supply
  • Weight: 10 Kg with battery; 9 KG with AC supply
  • Warranty: 2 years
Spinshot Lite Tennis Training Machine

If you're an amateur just starting to break into higher-level tennis, this is the tennis ball machine for you. With a 50 ball capacity and weighing about 30 pounds, it is portable and easy to use. It won't blow you away with features or specs, but it gets the job done. Consistent and reliable, you'll get about seven hours of constant feeding from the machine off a full charge of its rechargeable battery.

Features include adjustable ball height, speed control, and feed interval. It also includes a bit of topspin with each serve. In terms of feed, it serves at a maximum speed of 36 miles an hour (60 kph). It's a perfect machine for beginners or junior players who're still getting the hang of firing balls back across the court, and for practicing fundamentals.

One could argue that a drawback of this model is its lack of features. It doesn't offer things such as oscillation, remote-controlled serving, or any customization whatsoever, but that simply is not what this model is intended for. It doesn't have features of a higher-end machine, and it doesn't need them. For what it does do, there aren't many better options, and sitting at a price of under $700, it's relatively cheap as well. This is a product to graduate from once you have put in the time and effort to get to the next level. Until then, this product will work like a charm for you.

Pros: Easy to use, Great for learning, Relatively Inexpensive
Cons: Lack of features, Low maximum speed

Final Note:

The Spinshot Elite 2 is an affordable, compact, and easy to transport tennis ball machine ideal for any beginner and junior level players. The machine offers just enough features for new players to effectively practice and work on their technique, form, and strokes.

4. ​LOBSTER Sports Elite Two: Pro quality yet portable


Specifications:

  • Control: Android/iOS, Apple watch, remote watch
  • Oscillation: Random horizontal and elevation
  • Pre-Programmed drills: N/A
  • Programming: N/A
  • Speed: 15-120 Km/h
  • Feed rate: 2 to 12 seconds
  • Spin: Top/Back/No spin (Flat)
  • Ball Capacity: 150
  • Battery Backup: 2-3 hours
  • Dimension: 73 (L) X 39 (W) x 53 (H) cm
  • Power: Battery/AC supply
  • Weight: 19 Kg
  • Warranty: 2 years
LOBSTER Sports Elite Two

While all of Lobster Sports' models offer quality features and specs, we feel that the Elite Two hits the perfect balance between affordability, features, and portability. Priced between $1,350 and $1,450, you get as much value as possible out of its four-digit price tag.

Weighing 19 kg, holding 150 balls at max capacity, and coming with two over-sized wheels, Elite Two is a pro-quality machine while still being portable enough to bring to the court. A unique feature of the Elite Two is its ability to oscillate both horizontally (from the touchline to touchline) as well as vertically, allowing you to practice your lobs and overhead swings. Firing at a maximum speed of 120 km per hour with a 2 to 12 feed rate, it can challenge even seasoned tennis players and has a little something for all levels of play. Each charge lasts for 4 to 8 hours of play, and you can also power the machine via the AC supply. Extra features include the ability to control the machine from your phone or Apple smartwatch.

In random mode, the machine throws ball left, right, center, short, and deep with random topspin or backspin, keeping you on your toes all the time. This not only helps you improve your footwork but also your reaction times. The unique feature of the machine is the 50-degree lobs and 120 km/hr ball throws, which none of the other machines in the market offers.

The Lobster Elite 2's closest competitor is the Spinshot player, which also happens to be our top pick. Elite 2 is much easier to use, lighter, shoots ball faster, and is a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than Spinshot player. However, where Spinshot Player outscore Elite 2 is the ability to program and save your drills.

So, if you're looking for a solid tennis ball machine that is convenient to use and allows you to practice all sorts of strokes, be it deep or mid-court, lob or short, the Elite 2 would be ideal for you. However, if you like to program your own drills, look at the Spinshot player.

Final Note: Lobster 2 is a well-refined tennis machine that has been in the market for over five years and well-received by thousands of players worldwide. This pro-quality ball machine lets you practice and work on your tennis game while still be convenient and portable to use.

5. ​Match Mate Rookie: Bargain Pick


Specifications:

  • Control: Manual
  • Oscillation: N/A
  • Programming: N/A
  • Speed: up to 45 Km/h
  • Feed rate: 2 to 12 seconds
  • Spin: Topspin by default
  • Ball Capacity: 70
  • Battery Backup: up to 7 hours
  • Dimension: 28 (L) x 28 (W) x 56 (H) cm
  • Power: Battery
  • Weight: 10 Kg
  • Warranty: 1 year on parts/labor; 6-months on battery
Match Mate Rookie

​As its name implies, this machine has almost no bells and whistles - just set it up, and it starts firing. For this reason, and for its approximately $500 dollar price tag, it is an excellent machine for beginners and junior players (USTA 10 and under) to start learning with. It's about as bare-bones as a tennis ball machine can get, but you can't ignore how cheap it is. The small form factor makes it super convenient to carry down to the court or use at home, be it the driveway or the backyard.

The machine does not come with either oscillation or elevation feature, but budding players don't need them. Younger players need to focus more on their stroke and technique, and this is what this machine precisely offers - Consistent ball throws for building effective strokes and muscle memory. You do get adjustable speed, feed delay, and height adjustment feature, which allows the player to practice at varying levels of difficulty. So, whether you want to set the machine to shoot baseline to baseline or baseline to the service line, you can very much do that.

Coming to the specs: The machine can fire balls at a speed of 15 to 45 kilometers per hour with 2 to 12 second delay and can hold up to 70 balls. This machine is compatible with both regulation ball as well as stage 3 felt balls (red, orange and green and orange) allowing the kids to practice and play safely.

It's battery-powered, and each charge lasts about 5 hours, which is sufficient for most players. The supplied smart charger prevents the battery from overcharging, further safeguarding your investment. The outer aluminum casing, the urethane wheel, and the overall design is built with durability in mind. You can be sure, your kid is going to use it for a long time until he/she outgrows it.

Pros: Cheap, Easy to use, Lightweight, Great for Beginners

Cons: No oscillation feature

Final Note: 

If you're looking for a compact and affordable tennis ball machine to your budding tennis champ, the Match Mate Rookie is definitely worth considering. It's cheap yet packs sufficient features for effective practice.

Buyer's Guide to Tennis Ball Machines

Tennis ball machines can be quite expensive. It isn't something which you would want to buy or replace often. So, it's crucial to buy the right machine, so that it adequately meets your current and future training needs. You also need to be careful not to over or under spend. If you play recreationally, you don't need a 2500 dollar machine. Similarly, if you're committed to tennis, you should be looking for a machine with custom programming capabilities.

In the next section, we've covered what factors you must take into account while choosing a tennis ball machine.

Who Is the Machine for? Who should buy one?


If you take your tennis playing seriously at any level, this is one of the first things you should buy. Ball machines are common at all levels of training and offer you the best way to practice with repetition and consistency, training your muscle memory as efficiently as possible.

As you can probably tell from our product reviews, the machines come in a variety of shapes and sizes and offer a wide range of features as well. This means that you have a lot of options to choose from, so finding one that suits your skills and needs as a player should be pretty easy. As previously stated, if you take it seriously at all, a tennis machine is a must-have.


But that's the rub. As you probably noted under the product reviews, tennis ball machines can be really, really expensive. Like any hobby, you shouldn't invest a lot of money into tennis if you aren't ready to commit to it. For that reason, we suggest that you work on your tennis skills without a machine before considering buying one.


You should know whether or not you're going to use it before you buy it; nobody wants to drop thousands of dollars on something only to not use it! So try tennis out for a while and see if the sport is for you before you start researching what machines to buy. If you're ready and eager to get to the next level, a tennis ball machine can help you get there. If you're not, or if you enjoy playing tennis in a more casual setting, getting a ball machine may not be worth it.

Key Considerations


There are tons of features that can come with a ball machine, and each comes with its own quirks, specifications, and utility. Understanding what to look for is key in finding the machine that is right for you.

<Programmable Vs. Random Oscillation Vs. No Oscillation>

Broadly all tennis ball machines can be grouped into three categories: Programmable, Random Oscillation, and No Oscillation (Fixed).

Let's take a look into each of them:

Programmable: These are the top-end machines that come with the capability to custom program and save your drills. You can precisely set the individual parameters for each throw like ball placement, speed, spin, and elevation. So, you can program the machine to send a couple of balls to your forehand , a couple of balls to backhand, and then drop in a short or midcourt ball just as you would expect in a real match situation.

They are ideal for serious tennis enthusiasts or anyone who seriously wants to work on his/her game. On the downside, the app to design the drills takes a bit of time to get used to, and such machines usually cost $1500+.

Random Oscillation: As the name suggests, these machines fire random balls at you and come with several preset options like a 2-line drill, side to side/fixed oscillation, random elevation, etc. The machine's software randomly changes the ball parameters like speed, spin, or elevation, and you don't have the ability to program the machine.

These mid-range ball machines are ideal for beginners to intermediate players who're looking for an easy to operate machine, which allows them to work on their fundamental strokes.

No Oscillation: These machines can only shoot balls at a fixed location with varying speeds. They usually come with a single throw wheel, and as a result, they can't generate backspin, and the ball comes out with some amount of topspin. Some models do come with an adjustable elevation option. These models are clearly geared towards beginners and junior players, allowing them to work on their basic strokes.

<Portability>

All ball machines come with wheels and carrying handles to tow the machine to and from the court, but some are more portable than others. While checking for portability, weight, overall size, and size of the wheels are the important factors to look for.

Typically ball machines can weigh from 15 kg to up to 25 kg. Putting the machine in the car trunk and taking it down would require a bit of arm strength, and in some uneventful cases, you may need to pick the machine up and carry it to the court. So, it's best to look for a machine whose weight you're comfortable to handle. Similarly, you also need to consider the size of the machine so that it can comfortably fit in your car. Finally, over-sized wheels make it super easy to pull the machine down the court, and it's a good feature to have.

<Ball Holding Capacity>

Ball machines come with a ball holding capacity of anywhere from 50 to as high as 150. Typically 100 balls last for about 6 to 8 minutes of play, and most average players would be quite exhausted by then. Having said that, if you're looking for a continuous non-stop practice, look for machines with higher ball capacity.

<Price>

Finally, don't be afraid to compare prices! Once you have an idea of what you want, you'll find that there are several options for your needs that can have wildly different prices. Having all of the features possible isn't always worth it if you're not going to use them, so don't feel like you have to get the sexiest machine. Find what works for your wallet as well as for your training!

Before You Use…


All tennis ball machines are different, and each has its own quirks in terms of usage. Don't think that as soon as you purchase one, it'll be ready to go without a hitch. They often require some calibration, so mess with the controls and watch what happens as the ball flies out of the machine. You need to get a feel for how the machine responds to you changing the controls. This calibration gets more complicated with more controls, but if you have a basic grasp on features such as rate, ball speed, and launch angle, you should be able to use the machine for at least its most basic features. Set the controls to a specific setting of your choosing and observe the ball as it is fed. Does it arrive at the same spot every time? Or are there some minor variations in where it lands on the court? Knowing these little details helps you to optimize your training. Before using it, it would also help to have an idea of what you're trying to accomplish with that days' training.

Do you want to practice a specific shot, over and over again? Do you want some variation in what the machine spits out? Knowing what you're looking for in terms of shot selection also helps in calibrating the machine. Often times you will have to calibrate it more than once. That's ok - it's part of the process! Ideally, the machine is as consistent as possible, but sometimes you have to mess with it a bit to get the proper settings that work for you. A lot of this comes with time, so have faith in the machine you buy and stick with it. Many users report that there is a certain learning curve with tennis ball machines, especially the higher-end ones. If it's not doing what you want it to do, try adjusting the controls and watch what happens, then adjust again.

Let's Wrap Things Up


Tennis ball machines are a great buy, and the first major purchase for many tennis players. From beginners to pros, ball machines have a lot to offer for all skill levels.

Finding the right one for you requires some time and research, but it is well worth it if you're trying to refine your skills and reach the next level. Take the buying process seriously - you don't want to end up dropping thousands of dollars on a machine that doesn't suit your needs.

There are plenty of quality machines out there, but for our money, we think the best buy is the Spinshot Player. Spinshot makes some of the finest tennis ball machines in the business, and the Player is the sweet combination of (relative) affordability and quality of use. It allows for all sorts of shot types, including overhead shots and lobs, and also allows for customization of drills. It's not as inclusive as some higher-end models, but it has a little bit of everything, and for that reason, in conjunction with its approximate $1,600 price tag, we think that the Spinshot-Player is the best tennis ball machine for your dollar.


Have fun practicing!

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