The more balls you hit the better player you will become, and a tennis ball machine seems the obvious answer, but is it?
If you have trouble with your shot selection then a ball machine is not much help to you. A ball machine is a mindless machine that spit balls out, perhaps in a random .
Tennis is a thinking game, and a ball machine hardly focuses your attention in this respect. So why do players train with them? It is all about strength and improving muscle memory.
One of the unique things a ball machine can do that no coach can is to feed balls in exactly the same spot at exactly the same speed. This allows a player to have confidence of knowing what ball is coming and to develop a particular shot. Of course a ball machine will never replace a tennis coach but it does have its positive uses.
When To Use A Ball Machine
Habits take a long time to break, and a ball machine can be utilised in helping you develop good tennis habits. It is advisable to use a machine after you have had a session with your tennis coach, take another thirty minutes with the machine to drill the lesson home with repetition.
Learn the strokes and the strategy from a professional coach, get your coach to teach you how to hit, then use the machine to build muscle memory, and friendly partner to play for fun.
The Best Machines
The best machine is one that fits your budget and play level, has the ball capacity you need, and has all the features you will need to practice all the shots you will need.
How To Select A Machine
You will need to consider the following factors:-
Price – Machines can be expensive, obviously the more expensive will have more features.
Really depends on where you are going to store the machine, and if you prefer portable ones or large towers.
- Ball Capacity
How many balls would you like your machine to carry at one time? This varies from 50 to 300, so will you be using it yourself or with others.
Heavy machines are hard to move about, so older players may struggle with the weight.
- Power Type
This depends on your power source at home, but battery operated ones have limited functionality, and advanced features.
This refers to the machine’s ability to feed balls in more than one direction. This can be random or programmable, where the former feeds balls in an unpredictable pattern while the latter allows you to choose the number of shots programmed.
Elevation refers to how high or low the machine can feed balls. This is important if you need a dynamic feed. You also might want to consider machines that feed lobs also.
- Feed Rate
How fast can the machine feed balls, the faster the feed rate, the more you will improve at reacting to incoming balls as well as being able to hit more accurate shots.
- Propulsion – Top speed & Spin
Propulsion is how the ball is fed. There are two types: spinning wheel or air pressure. These two types allow for speed and allowing for spin.
So the decision is up to you but there is definitely a place in tennis training for machines.