There was a time when tennis ball machines were reserved only for clubs, pros, or people with lots of money. But in recent years, they’ve become more accessible as the technology and ease of use has improved, and the prices and sizes have gone down.
In this post, we’ve compiled the best tennis ball machines, with a range of prices and features so you can find the one that’s right for you.
Our Top Picks for the Best Tennis Ball Machines in 2020
- Spinshot Plus-2
- Wilson Portable Tennis Ball Machine
- Lobster Sports Elite Two
- Match Mate Rookie
- Spinshot Lite
Use the links above to jump to any of the reviews in this post. You can also check out our post on Spinshot Tennis Ball Machines. We consider Spinshot to currently be one of the top brands.
What to Look For When Choosing a Tennis Ball Machine
A tennis ball machine, also commonly known as a tennis ball shooter, is the best way to practice tennis when you don’t have anyone to play with, and they’re becoming increasingly common not only for clubs and teams, but for individuals as well.
Before we jump into our reviews, let’s go over what we look for in a tennis ball machine, so you can keep them in mind to help you decide on the best tennis ball machine for your situation.
Speed – Consider both the speed range, as well as top speed.
Ball Capacity – This refers to how many tennis balls the machine can hold at once. More ball capacity obviously means you can hit more balls before you have to go pick them all up and refill the machine. You might consider to use pressureless tennis balls in tennis ball machines because they are more durable and less expensive.
Feed Rate – This is a range of how quickly the balls can be shot out of the machine.
Oscillation – Ball machines offer horizontal, vertical, and randomized oscillation. If you want to practice both forehand and backhand, you’ll need at least horizontal oscillation. If you want to add lobs, volleys, and any overhead shots, you’ll need vertical oscillation.
Most ball machines offer horizontal oscillation, and more advanced will also offer vertical, as well as randomized horizontal and vertical oscillation, for maximum ball placement variety.
Spin – Not all ball machines offer topspin and backspin. If this is something that’s important to you, make sure you get a machine with this feature.
Battery Life – How long does the battery last before it needs to be recharged. Consider how long your training sessions are, and then make sure you buy a machine with a battery life to outlast them.
Programmable Drills – Does the ball machine have different preset drills?
Ease of Use
All the features in the world don’t do you any good if you can’t use them. We review each tennis ball machine on how easily you can take advantage of the features it has to offer. This includes whether it comes with a remote control, a smartphone or smart watch app, and ease of use of any programmable settings.
Transportability – Portable Tennis Ball Machines
It’s important to remember that you’ll have to transport your machine to and from your house to your car to the court, and then back again. You’ll want a portable tennis ball machine that isn’t too heavy or large, and that has features like handles or wheels for easier portability.
Your ball machine will most likely end up getting hit by tennis balls. It might get dropped. Durability is an important factor to keep in mind, since you want a machine that will last a long time. These can be expensive machines, and you obviously don’t want to have to replace it if you can avoid it.
When we talk about reliability, we’re talking about how accurate the ball placement is, as well as if the machine ever malfunctions or stops working. You don’t want to have to stop your training to fix or reset your machine.
Other Factors to Consider
Budget – Buying a ball machine can be cost prohibitive for some, but it’s a purchase that can actually end up saving you money. If you consider the money you would spend working with a coach or trainer, a ball machine will end up being cheaper in the long run. That said, not everyone is in a position to buy an expensive ball machine, and in this post we cover a range of pricing options. Some opt to purchase used tennis ball machines to save money.
Skill Level – If you’re looking to buy a tennis ball machine for intermediate or more advanced players, you’ll want something that can change up speed, direction, and has programmable drill settings. For beginners, you might just need something that a simple tennis ball shooter that can shoot balls in their direction, without all the bells and whistles. Whatever your skill level, if you’re serious about improving your tennis game, a ball machine can really help.
Tennis Ball Machine Reviews
- High level of programmability
- Drill Maker mobile app with 12 customizable drill presets
- Patented De-Jam Design prevents jamming
- Battery charges quickly
- Lighter and more compact than machines with similar features
- Has the convenient OLED screen and control panel for easy oscillation settings configuration
- App drills can be difficult to program at first
We consider the Spinshot Plus-2 to be the premier tennis ball machine on the market today. It’s only slightly more expensive than the popular, best-selling Spinshot Player, but comes a convenient OLED screen and control panel for easy oscillation settings configuration.
If you’re looking for the best tennis ball machine money can buy, you won’t be disappointed in the Spinshot Plus-2.
- Great features for price
- Wilson’s manufacturer warranty
- 2-line oscillation sold separately as an upgrade
- On the heavier side
- Remote sold separately
This is a great machine by Wilson if you are looking for a mid-range ball machine. It has more features than your basic beginner machines like the Spinshot Lite or the Match Mate Rookie, but not the programmable drills settings of more advanced machines like the Spinshot Plus-2.
Unfortunately, the 2-line oscillator, which allows you to alternate between forehand and backhand (or to shoot to 2 lines of students), is sold separately as an upgrade. The convenient remote control is also sold separately.
- Excellent battery life
- Convenient remote control (sold separately)
- Great top speed (80 MPH)
- Somewhat flimsy construction, especially the handle and wheels
- Charger can fry the batter if left charging too long (Buy the premium charger to fix this).
- Remote sold separately
The Lobster Sports Elite Two also doesn’t come with programmable drills, but you can set it to random horizontal and vertical oscillation for a variety of ball placements. Combine that with an excellent top speed of 80 MPH and you can expect a great workout!
If you’re happy with random placement, and don’t need programmable drills, this is a great machine.
Best Tennis Ball Machines Under $1,000
These next two machines are simpler, less expensive machines designed for beginners. If you’re looking for a tennis ball machine under $1,000, we consider these to be the best options. You might also consider looking for a used tennis ball machine on eBay or your local classified listing site.
- Very lightweight
- Long battery life
- Simple, and easy to use
- Doesn’t have wheels
- Limited speed range
- No programmable drills
The Match Mate Rookie is a great choice if you are looking for the least expensive ball machine that will do the trick. It doesn’t have programmable drills, you can just set it up to shoot balls in the same place. This is great for beginners who need to practice the same shot over and over again.
- Very lightweight and portable
- Easy to use
- Longer battery life
- No drills configurations, or oscillation – program to shoot balls in one place at a time
- No remote control or mobile app
- Smaller ball capacity
The Spinshot Lite is a great alternative to the Match Mate Rookie. It’s slightly more expensive, but is a better quality machine, with better reliability. It’s also more portable, as it comes with the standard wheels and handle of the Spinshot line.
The Spinshot Lite is the lightest and least expensive model of the Spinshot machines with the fewest features. If you’re looking for a simple machine that will hit balls to the same spot over and over, this machine will do the trick and do it well.
Summary & Recommendations
The days when tennis ball machines weren’t widely accessible for personal use are over. Having a machine is the a great way to practice by yourself when you don’t have a partner, or to assist in training and practice sessions.
If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line tennis ball machine, complete with programmable drills, we recommend the Spinshot Plus-2. If you’re looking for the least expensive machine that will do the job, check out the Match Mate Rookie, or the Spinshot Lite if you’re willing to spend a little extra.