PDA

View Full Version : Ball Machine: Are you really improving your game?


garmarc
10-06-2006, 08:31 PM
For the Ball Machine owners or users: Is really true that you are improving your game using this training aid? How is that? I mean, is the Ball Machine a good substitute of a partner or tennis teacher?

I am very interested in the acquisition of a Ball Machine (TT + I think), but I want to be sure this is a good investment. Thanks for your comments.

jluspo
10-06-2006, 08:45 PM
Ball machines are no substitute for a good coach! You should already know the principles of how to hit certain shots and use the ball machines to instill muscle memory and groove those strokes.

I've used ball machines in the past and they help a great deal. But, you have to practice the right way or you're wasting your time.

Swissv2
10-06-2006, 08:46 PM
a person to watch that the strokes you are doing with the ball machine are correct, and once you have your fundamentals down - then have at it.

pmata814
10-06-2006, 09:25 PM
I think the ball machine is great but you need tennis lessons to go with it. I actually think it could do more harm than good if you go out there and groove bad habits. I have a ball machine and I feel it has helped my game immensely; however, I have been taking tennis lessons, on and off, for about a year now. I don't practice a stroke until I have gone over it with my instructor in the lesson.

Also, the ball machine cannot substitute a hitting partner. The ball machine will send you the ball to the same location every time so you know what to expect. Even if you set it on oscillation you get a pretty good feel of where the ball is going. In my opinion there is no substitute for live ball.

With all that said I still feel that without the ball machine I would not have advanced as quickly as I have. I actually keep track of how many balls I hit, between 700 & 800 balls a week, with the ball machine in a tennis log. I've gotten great results by combining lessons, ball-machine and live ball.

P.S.
By the way...in case you're wondering I am a 3.0 (closer to a 3.5 actually) who plays at least 4 times a week--twice with the ball machine, once live ball rallies or match and one half hr. lesson. I hope this helps :D

MacBorg18
10-06-2006, 09:46 PM
For the Ball Machine owners or users: Is really true that you are improving your game using this training aid? How is that? I mean, is the Ball Machine a good substitute of a partner or tennis teacher?


I echo everything that's been said. Like all training tools, a ball machine has its purpose but it is not meant to be a substitute for a hitting partner or a coach. It adds variety to your workouts and builds muscle memory because you end up hitting a lot more balls than you otherwise might in a match or a lesson of the same length of time. But you should use it to drill the strokes that you've learned. And don't overdo it--or you may wake up wondering why all of a sudden you've got a case of tennis elbow.

Good luck! :)

vinnier6
10-07-2006, 01:45 AM
ofcourse a ball machine can improve your game...how can it not??

hitting hundreds and hundreds of balls can only help you...ofcourse as long as you know how to hit the ball correctly that is...

SpinItIn
10-07-2006, 04:04 AM
Is really true that you are improving your game using this training aid? How is that? I mean, is the Ball Machine a good substitute of a partner or tennis teacher?

In general I'd agree with earlier replies. I bought a ball machine (TT+) this summer and have been extremely happy with it and the improvements it's helped me make, but I wouldn't think of it as a substitute for hitting with a partner or taking lessons. All a machine does (obviously) is feed you balls. While this can be very, very useful it's not the be-all/end-all for improving your strokes.

First you have to determine what you need to work on - most likely either through match play, hitting with an appropriate-level partner, or critique from a pro (as part of paid lessons).

Then you have to figure out what you need to change to get the desired improvement (more power, more spin, better consistency, etc.). This is where many might say you have to take lessons. IMHO you can decipher much of this for yourself if you're willing to put in some time doing things like reading forums and books, watching matches on TV (esp hi-def when available - what a difference!), studying slow motion video of pro technique, etc. Trying to learn on your own may not be as efficient time-wise as paying a pro to tell you what to do, and in some cases you might have to take lesson(s) - certain techniques are pretty tough to pick up on your own. For me, however, it's much more rewarding and sticks better when I figure out things for myself.

Then you have to apply what you've learned. That's where the ball machine is most valuable. Granted there's no feedback, but there is an unlimited supply of balls and you can be your own judge on when you've got it right by seeing the end result. Then practice, practice, practice 'till you've got that perfect swing grooved.

Lastly you have to go back to live play to test yourself. Being able to hit a particular shot 95% of the time off the repetitive feeds from a ball machine in no way guarantees the same result against a living, breathing opponent. That is, after all, the end goal.

So to answer your question after all of that, I'd say yes a ball machine can improve your game (or at least your strokes) but it takes a little more than just filling the hopper and keeping the battery charged.

Just my 4 cents.

racquetfuel
10-07-2006, 07:34 AM
I find the ball machine practice is a good setting to try new techniques either suggested by a coach or from video/etc., you can isolate particular aspects of your stroke or mental approach and really evaluate if a particular adjustment might be helpful over the course of a bucket of balls. Must accompany this with live play- but most definitely an advantage for practice particularly at intermediate levels. Not sure how helpful it would be to more advanced (ie 4.5+) players.

Swissv2
10-07-2006, 07:41 AM
I find the ball machine practice is a good setting to try new techniques either suggested by a coach or from video/etc., you can isolate particular aspects of your stroke or mental approach and really evaluate if a particular adjustment might be helpful over the course of a bucket of balls. Must accompany this with live play- but most definitely an advantage for practice particularly at intermediate levels. Not sure how helpful it would be to more advanced (ie 4.5+) players.

To help 4.5+ players, all you have to do is put up targets. At higher levels the general focus is consistency. Once you establish your drills, then instead of a coach feeding, you have a ball machine feeding.

darkblue
10-09-2006, 01:28 PM
For the Ball Machine owners or users: Is really true that you are improving your game using this training aid? How is that? I mean, is the Ball Machine a good substitute of a partner or tennis teacher?

I am very interested in the acquisition of a Ball Machine (TT + I think), but I want to be sure this is a good investment. Thanks for your comments.

My ball machine keeps me in shape.
I attempt to minimize reinforcement of bad habits by video taping the work session (and reviewing it after the workout). Someone asked "how can it not" improve one's game - ball machine is the -best- worst way to acquire/reinforce "hard-to-get-rid-of" habits you wish you never had.

The machine can be a substitute for a hitting partner, but DEFINITELY not an instructor. Real-time feedback during your work out is the BEST way to improve quickly.

Lastly...
"during-the-point" movement and preparation is hard to simulate with a ball machine. (i don't know about you, but programmable depth/side-to-side machines are out of my budget) there's a tendency for you to learn "to get lazy" with a machine.

know the +'s and -'s of a ball machine - this will allow you to get the most out of your investment.

garmarc
10-10-2006, 08:35 PM
Thanks for your comments, I certainly will take the TT+ option. And of course, I will continue with a tennis instructor (once or twice a month I think) and practicing with my son (14 yo) and other partners. What type of drills (and or routine) do you recomend to balance workout and tennis improvement???? What is your related experience????

MUSCBoneDoc11
10-10-2006, 08:50 PM
garmac--let me give you a bit more of a non-pro answer. With regards to the ball machine, I've used them in the past and just got a TT+. I also play a lot of baseball and use pitching machines all the time. These machines are great for repetition, timing, hand eye coordination, focusing on specific mechanics, etc. They obviously will not make you a superstar by themselves. I think what many of the responders above mean is that you will not become a tennis star with a ball machine alone, and I agree. But, you will improve. No, it will not make your swing like a pro's just because you hit 1000 balls BUT even if you have a bad swing to start with, you will get better at playing with a bad swing. And, even without a coach, an astute person will be able to look at their results, watch tape of their swing and compare it to good swings they've seen, and use obvious feedback while hitting to improve. I don't think anyone starts using a ball machine with poor mechanics and after using the machine is worse than when they started. You will be better at hitting the ball but there is no promise that your mechanics will improve. People with poor mechanics still hit the ball and still play tennis--some better than others--which obviously means improvement is possible with practice. Repetition will teach you hand eye coordination, timing, and how to get the ball into the court (even if that doesn't involve perfect mechanics). So, I think most people would agree with me in summing things up like this--a ball machine will definitely make you better, but it will need to be combined with many other resources in order to reach certain levels of play. In the end, you have to hit the ball over the net and into the other court regardless of how or how pretty. Anyone can learn to do that with practice and will learn to do it better with more practice but to really do it well, practice may not be enough. That's my 2 cents--hope it helps.

darkblue
10-11-2006, 06:09 AM
i do recommend the Lobster Elite series...

it works great!

my machine:
* 2+ years old
* use it 1-2 times a week, for 60-90 minute sessions
* batteries are still good. (it can still last a 120 minute session - before the consistency deteriorates due to loss of charge)
* customer service is good! (i needed it only once in 2+ years - but you can talk to a knowledgeable service rep. they also keep a database of lot#'s vs serial numbers vs part list/BOM ....which translates to them knowing what could be going wrong in your machine, and being able to send the spare parts quickly)
* looks a lot better than TT (it's a tennis chick magnet)