There are few training tools out there as effective as tennis ball machines. Invest in a good one, and it can help a player learn just about anything.
The only problem is that most tennis ball machines are pretty expensive to buy and use. Not only is there the cost of buying a machine, but getting it to the court is an issue as well.
Cheap, convenient tennis ball machines are on the rise. As companies try to sway players to give their brand a try, this list includes some of the top options out there currently.
Here are the 5 best affordable tennis ball machines.
1. Sports Tutor Tennis Twist
To start this list off, one of the best and most affordable kid options out there is the Sports Tutor Tennis Twist. It will be an easy machine to set up for beginners, as it only maxes out at 15 miles an hour. It’s battery-powered for those just learning how to play.
It has a ball capacity of 28, which will be more than enough for the average tennis player to get some work in. It runs on D batteries and will go for about 10 hours before needing to be switched out.
Replacing D batteries isn’t exactly the most enjoyable thing for the average person, but there’s enough power that they won’t need replacing too often to keep up with kids.
The great thing about this machine is its portability just about anywhere since it only weighs 11 pounds. Kids usually play tennis all over, so having the ability to go to different places helps.
- Easy to set up
- Moves around easily
- Perfect for kids
- D batteries aren’t always the best
- Kids eventually grow out of it
2. Spin Shot Lite Tennis Training Machine Basic Model
This is a basic, entry-level model, but it’s perfect for beginners looking to get their game to another level. Juniors and adult beginners will find this to be a way to work on a somewhat fast ball while getting quite a bit of exercise as well.
The controls are simple, and the portability makes it easy to take to public or private courts. The maximum speed of 35 MPH isn’t the best, but it still gives players a decent challenge to work on the strokes and see real improvement.
A nice feature with this option is the topspin put on shots. The modern game comes with a lot of topspin from opponents, so it makes sense to practice with those types of balls as well. Coupled with oscillation, it’s truly a perfect and inexpensive solution for players who don’t need a ton of speed.
- Excellent portability
- Oscillation provides a great challenge
- Topspin mimics real-life shots
- Only maxes out at 35 MPH
- Can tip over without balls inside on windy days
3. Match Mate Rookie
If players aren’t necessarily worried about speed, the Match Mate Rookie is a perfect ball machine that’s strong yet weighs very little. It also just happens to be one of the most affordable options out there for one of those.
Beginners love that the ball comes in at a maximum speed of 30 MPH. It allows a lot of focus on individual strokes instead of just being blown away by a machine on the court.
It’s a very simple machine to operate, and can be moved from court to court with ease. If a player wants to speed the ball up a little bit, they can place it closer to the net so that it comes at them with less reaction time.
The only negative is that eventually, most people will move on from Match Mate Rookie. It’s built for beginners, so there’s no reason for a person to hold onto it for too long. People usually get what they can out of it before moving on.
- Very lightweight
- Easy to get beginners involved
- Has severe speed limitations
- Not the best design and look
4. Sports Tutor Tennis Cube with Oscillator
The Tennis Cube is a lightweight option that can help players who need to get some training done on their own. It’s not exactly built for advanced players since it only reaches a speed of 50 MPH, but everyone else will love the ability to set it up easily and get going.
Everything about this ball machine is efficient. It’s not going to have all the bells and whistles, but it can feed balls at a pretty steady pace if somebody wants it. It has a ball capacity of 70, meaning there are not a lot of annoying ball pickup moments.
Oscillation works well, which adds some variety to the mix. For people who want even more options, Sports Tutor makes more premium options out there so that people can get exactly what they are hoping for.
- Gets up to 50 MPH
- 70 ball capacity
- Rechargeable battery works well and charges quickly
- Getting the right position for shots can be frustrating
- Balls sometimes get stuck in the machine
5. Wilson Portable Tennis Machine
The Wilson Portable Tennis Machine can be found for under $1,000 depending on what type of deals exist currently. That’s getting up there in price, but players willing to sacrifice a little bit will save a lot while still getting a premium option.
There’s a lot to love about Wilson and what they offer. For starters, it is a trusted brand in the tennis industry. Even though it’s a little expensive, it can operate like one that’s almost twice the price. The ball can reach speeds of 75 MPH, and the feed rate is fully adjustable to simulate different situations.
Oscillation works well for players who want to have random shots thrown at them to mimic an actual match. This is great as a player starts to move up to different levels.
For something so sturdy and dependable, it’s a portable option as well. Weighing right around 40 pounds, it has a rechargeable battery with a pretty good life to it.
People love that the ball machine comes with a three-year warranty in case anything goes wrong during normal use. That even means if the battery starts to malfunction and does not perform as it should.
This isn’t a perfect solution, but it fits in the cheaper category without having to drop thousands and thousands of dollars for top options. It gets the job done for a personal ball machine. It can also help serve different needs at smaller clubs with limited resources.
- Three-year warranty provides plenty of coverage
- Strong overall build
- Changes spin and speed
- Prone to the occasional ball issue
- Charging takes a little bit of time
Renting vs. Buying a Tennis Ball Machine
Anyone researching top-end tennis ball machines knows just how much these can cost. It is a very difficult investment for the personal user, which is why so many rely on tennis clubs to rent them out.
While renting can be a great solution, it also becomes costly on its own. Use it long enough, and it would be smarter to invest in a ball machine so that it can be used anywhere.
There is basic maintenance and the need to buy new balls every once in a while, but all the major expenses are covered when initially purchased.
Cheaper purchasing solutions seem to be that perfect sweet spot. A player isn’t investing a few thousand dollars on a ball machine that’s hard to move around. They can rely on clubs for those. Instead, smaller and more portable options make a lot of sense.
Do Tennis Ball Machines Mimic Actual Play?
Invest in the tennis ball machine, and it will mimic play enough that players will notice a difference in the game overall.
It’s always nice to have something to train with instead of having to always rely on having a partner around to play. A combination of real opponents as well as a machine can make improvements.
Just with the examples above, it’s clear that there are different types of tennis ball machines out there depending on the caliber of the player.
Get the right option, and it can completely mimic how the game is played. Some of those machines cost more than the budget options listed here, but affordable solutions are easier and easier to find these days.
Final Thoughts on Affordable Tennis Ball Machines
Even the most affordable tennis ball machines will cost a decent amount of money. Instead of doing zero research and hoping for the best, it’s better to go with a trusted option in the fitting price range. If a bad machine is purchased first, it will take away any type of deal a person feels like they get initially.
A ball machine could be the best in the world, but it also needs to be strong and durable so that it will withstand years of use. If the machine seems like it’s already struggling, it’s best to reach out to the manufacturer and see if a replacement is possible.
Use some common sense and take care of the ball machine overall, and it has a chance to last for years and years even with heavy usage.