How to Choose a Tennis Ball Launcher

How to Choose a Tennis Ball Launcher

Like other products on the market today, there is no lack of variety when it comes to tennis ball machines. You can get machines that are top of the line options costing thousands of dollars or you can simply opt for the more simple and basic route. What you choose is up to your budget, expectations, and what you are really looking for. If there is a specific feature you require, start by looking for a machine that satisfies that need.

There are a variety of brands and tech that is available in tennis ball machines. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to choose a ball machine based on what works for you.

There are different kinds of tennis ball machines that can use either compressed air or rotating wheel, with each ball machine offering their own pros and cons.

Man-using-tennis-ball-machine

Compressed Air:

  • + Compressed air isn’t as hard on the tennis balls during use.
  • + A less expensive option than the rotating wheel.
  •  Compressed air tennis ball machines can be noisy.
  •  Not accurate when using different types of balls.

Rotating Wheel:

  • + More consistent compared to the compressed air models.
  • + Doesn’t make as much noise.
  •  The tennis balls will wear out sooner with a rotating wheel.
  •  More expensive than other options.

Types of Spin Offered

Different tennis ball machines offer different topspin and backspin shot features. They are a good addition if you require them, as you can learn to get better at different kinds of swings and swerves.

Different Oscillations

Some tennis ball machines let you shoot directly at yourself; while other machines will shoot the ball from side to side.

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Speed

A woman returning a shot from a tennis ball machine

Being able to set the speed the ball is fired at is important as it allows you to practice different types of shots, from baseline returns to shots close to the net. Being able to program different speeds also means you can create a drill that will be as close to real play as possible. Most tennis ball machines allow you to control these.

The functionality of the Machine

Some tennis ball machines encourage the user to get a workout in between the shots, which is done by dodging side to side. There are other workout settings that can be programmed in the shooter’s onboard computer, which could be helpful during long workout sessions.

Remote Control

All the models have a built in control panel but it can be hard to control the function of your ball machine when you are on the other side of the court, which is why some of the premium models come with their own remote controls, so you can adjust the setting without having to walk over to the control panel on the machine.

Portability of the Machine

Smaller tennis ball machines can be easier to transport between locations, which is especially important if you plan on taking it to multiple locations.

FAQ

Which Ball Firing Option Is Better?

Illustration of a Lobster tennis ball machine

Like all products on the market, different tennis ball machines have their strengths and weaknesses and it all really depends on what you are looking for and how much you are willing to pay.

High-speed tennis ball machines required more power to use as is the case with pneumatic machines. These types of machines cannot be operated on batteries alone, which could be seen as a significant disadvantage as you will need access to an external AC power outlet if you want to use a pneumatic machine.

The strengths of pneumatic tennis ball machines, however, is that they do not wear the tennis balls out as fast as the counter-rotating wheel option, so they could be a cheaper option overall.

Do any of the models deliver serves?

None of these emulate serves, if you want that try the Ace Attack.

Tennis Ball Machine Power Types

Battery

Illustration of a tennis ball machine battery

Tennis ball machines that are operated by batteries are generally smaller, as well as being easier to move around. The drawback to battery-operated tennis ball machines is that they often lack some of the essential features of their AC powered variants.

Battery life for machines can be between two and eight hours depending on the model. The portable models use lead-acid batteries.

A typical charge for a battery-powered ball machine should last between 10 and 12 hours. You just need to plug the battery-operated machine into an AC outlet to charge, which should take you anywhere between three and nine hours.

AC Power

Illustration of a tennis ball machine plug

AC powered tennis ball machines are the ones you typically see used at a sports center have their own AC outlets. They offer more features than a battery-operated tennis ball machine and come without the difficulties of recharging.

AC powered machines are generally larger and heavier in nature, and as such, they cannot be easily relocated.

AC powered machines can only use outlet powers and do not support batteries.

The key advantage to an AC powered machine is that the user can use for them for as long as they want without fears of running out of charge. You do not need to buy batteries with these models.

Advantages of using a tennis ball machine

There are quite a few different ways to benefit from using a tennis ball machine, depending on the skill or technique you are trying to learn. They are a very convenient way of practising when you don’t have a partner to play with.

Tennis coaches and those who provide instruction to younger or inexperienced players will usually know of several practice sequences or drills that can be employed to work on particular areas of a person’s game. The best machines will have the following advantages:

+ Improving consistency

For newer players and even some more experienced ones, striking the ball consistently can be a challenge. Setting up a tennis ball machine to target exactly the same position on the court each time means that players can practice any shot over and over again until it becomes second nature.

+ Test your reactions

Settings that involve shots being fired towards different areas of the court at different speeds (and spinning) can provide the kind of challenge players who are looking to improve their reaction times will benefit from. Many tennis ball machines can be set so that they shoot tennis balls with different spin ratings, directions and heights, meaning anybody using it must react quickly to the unpredictable combination of shots coming their way.

+ Alternate between shot styles

Though some budget models and homemade devices will not have this kind of setting, for intermediate and professional players, setting a tennis ball machine to fire tennis balls that need to be served either forehand or backhand, for example, will mean that you can practice combinations of shot styles, just like you would need to employ in a match against a real opponent.

+ Improve movement and agility

Using a setting that allows the tennis ball machine to osculate means that you can serve tennis balls to different areas of the court relatively quickly.

This means players will need to factor in their movements between balls, so for example, if a shot is served to the back of the court, they will need to move quickly to get to the right spot in time before playing their shot. This is especially great for intermediate to advanced players. For anybody who wants a good cardio workout while also improving their tennis game, this setting can be a fun and intense way to work up a sweat.

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