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View Full Version : Would it make sense to get a ball machine?


Cindysphinx
05-14-2007, 09:36 AM
I'm just a 3.0. I probably won't be hitting the WTA tour any time soon. I understand this.

But I really need to find a way to practice more to groove my stokes and improve my consistency. I am thinking of buying a ball machine for this.

Would this be a hopeless waste of money and an outrageous luxury for someone like me? If you own a ball machine, do you get a lot of use out of it? What should I expect to pay for something that meets my needs but doesn't greatly exceed them?

I really don't want to pop a huge amount and find I have a white elephant that doesn't help me improve any more than hitting against a wall. Nor do I need a ball machine just for the sake of getting a workout or for conditioning.

skiracer55
05-14-2007, 09:41 AM
...and I think it's an incredible training aid...used properly. If you're working on the right stuff, the reps and consistency you get witha ball machine are immensely helpful. If your strokes are a little hinkty, a ball machine will just help you practice your mistakes.

I've responded to a lot of your postings, and it's still hard for me to visualize your strokes, your game, and what your goals are. Where are you now, and where do you want to go? If you have a handle on that, I think a ball machine can be of great service. If not, well, your mileage may vary...

fearless1
05-14-2007, 10:13 AM
I'm just a 3.0. I probably won't be hitting the WTA tour any time soon. I understand this.

But I really need to find a way to practice more to groove my stokes and improve my consistency. I am thinking of buying a ball machine for this.

Would this be a hopeless waste of money and an outrageous luxury for someone like me? If you own a ball machine, do you get a lot of use out of it? What should I expect to pay for something that meets my needs but doesn't greatly exceed them?

I really don't want to pop a huge amount and find I have a white elephant that doesn't help me improve any more than hitting against a wall. Nor do I need a ball machine just for the sake of getting a workout or for conditioning.

Ball machine is a very useful learning and training aid. Even advanced level players use them for training, especially when a suitable training partner or coach isn't around to feed balls. In fact, there are some drills more practical with a ball machine than with live practice partner or coach (eg, angle volleys and overhead winners). For the money, hard to beat. Before buying, check around your local tennis facilities for ball machine rentals. A rental saves you from having to make large cash outlay and also from having to lug around a ball machine to tennis courts (assumes you don't have your own private court!).

itsstephenyo
05-14-2007, 10:52 AM
Yes. I've only been playing tennis for about 6 months and about 5 months with a machine. Simply put, it works. I hit yesterday with a 4.0-4.5 player in the area and my groundstrokes were much better than his. Now, he could always just be lying to me, but even so, the guy played tennis for several years, as opposed to the few months I'd played. I am absolutely sure that if I didn't have the machine, I'd still be poking balls around with no pace.

jb193
05-14-2007, 11:03 AM
A ball machine is a fine training aid, but you can't really beat a partner to hit with. Having said that, a ball machine really helps you work on the little things that completes a game. I wouldn't just buy one to "hit with". I would use a partner for that. I use a ball machine to really work on down the line backhands, my drop vollies, my short cross court backhands, and inside out deep and short forehands. These are shots that my normal hitting partners don't really want to "drill" on, but would rather play points.

I will say that lugging the machine around and all the balls that goes with it can become quite a chore and buying one needs some commitment if you want to get your money out of it. Whenever I use mine, I plan on spending at least 2 to 3 hours on the court, because I am not going to carry that thing around for just a casual hit.

Good luck in your decision.

sapient007
05-14-2007, 11:05 AM
do you play on public courts?? clubs or private backyard court? all the machines are kinda hefty to lug around, so why not just rent for $20/hour?? a machine is going to cost you at least $200 used plus the cost of balls should round out close to $300 just to start it off. if you do the per hour math, it's about a 14hr session if you were to rent.. so are you really going to go beyond that??


in my exp, if i rent a machine with a friend, we usually each get about a 20mins of hitting and our arm goes dead. I'm not sure of your strength, but seems to me that an hour on the machine is more than enough to fix a stroke or break or arm.

my 2cents.

mrHan
05-14-2007, 11:29 AM
Yes, but only if you are really going to use it.

1. It is not a complete substitute to an actual player (no variation in ball speeds, depth and height)
2. Factoring in the cost of balls and maintanence, it might be cheaper to rent one
3. It will only beneficial as a training aid to groove your strokes.

SlapShot
05-14-2007, 11:36 AM
Most indoor courts have ball machines for rental, and you're out $20-$25 for an hour of grooving groundies. That's what I do - I prefer to use a good, high end machine for an hour that feeds me consistent balls.

Cindysphinx
05-14-2007, 11:36 AM
Rent one?

I'm not a member of a club. Do tennis stores rent them, or only clubs?

I could join a club, but that's $400 a season and up, plus court time and machine rental . . . That's why I figured owning one would be good.

Oh, skiracer, I'm a 3.0 trying to get to 3.5. I play doubles, mostly.

SlapShot
05-14-2007, 11:38 AM
Rent one?

I'm not a member of a club. Do tennis stores rent them, or only clubs?

I could join a club, but that's $400 a season and up, plus court time and machine rental . . . That's why I figured owning one would be good.

Oh, skiracer, I'm a 3.0 trying to get to 3.5. I play doubles, mostly.

Do you not have public indoor courts? The courts that I use are tied to the University of Minnesota, and they're public - a ball machine is $5/hour in addition to court time. Money well spent to me.

sapient007
05-14-2007, 11:40 AM
Rent one?

I'm not a member of a club. Do tennis stores rent them, or only clubs?

I could join a club, but that's $400 a season and up, plus court time and machine rental . . . That's why I figured owning one would be good.

Oh, skiracer, I'm a 3.0 trying to get to 3.5. I play doubles, mostly.

most indoor courts have machine rentals. where abouts do you live?? find a local university courts should offer rentals.

Jonnyf
05-14-2007, 11:54 AM
Firstly instead of buying a ball machine either post a vid here or join sites like hi-techtennis (where you can send Jeff vids of you're strokes) this can help you immensly and can show you alot of problems with your strokes. thats just my opinion if you're willing to splash $200+ on a ball machine why not try spending $0-30 on joining a site or even just posting here.

Cindysphinx
05-14-2007, 12:22 PM
OK, I found a club that will let a non-member use the ball machine.

Court time is $36. Machine rental is $9. Total = $45.

My pro is $60 an hour.

Should I bother with the ball machine or just take some private lessons/hitting sessions with the pro?

goober
05-14-2007, 12:45 PM
OK, I found a club that will let a non-member use the ball machine.

Court time is $36. Machine rental is $9. Total = $45.

My pro is $60 an hour.

Should I bother with the ball machine or just take some private lessons/hitting sessions with the pro?

For $45, I would go with the pro. That seems like a very high price for a ball machine rental. I have seen ball machine rentals for $10 for 90 minutes which includes court time around here.

oldhacker
05-14-2007, 12:47 PM
Hi Cindy - from my experience as a ball machine owner it IS NOT a substitute for a GOOD coach. I thought it was and hit thousands of balls with mine to groove what turned out to be poor form, even thoguh I was convinced I was hitting right, which meant my game hit a wall at a weak 4.0 level. I now have an hour a week with a very good coach (a great player and teacher) and spend a couple of hours a week practicing what I have learnt on the ball machine. And that is really working for me. So I would say if you really want to improve and have the time and money then a good coach and a ball machine are a great combination. But if you are hsort on time or money or both then I think you are better to spend your money on a coach at least until you have really mastered the main shots and can hit them with good form

OK, I found a club that will let a non-member use the ball machine.

Court time is $36. Machine rental is $9. Total = $45.

My pro is $60 an hour.

Should I bother with the ball machine or just take some private lessons/hitting sessions with the pro?

jb193
05-14-2007, 12:48 PM
I would take lessons from a pro, play matches, practice with partners, and hit against a wall all before I bought a ball machine. In singles, 3.0-3.5especially, consistency is deadly and you don't need a ball machine to teach you that. Once you get the consistency part down, I would then contemplate buying my own machine......

Also, playing people better than you is probably the most important thing you could do to improve your tennis, in my opinion.............

SlapShot
05-14-2007, 01:07 PM
I would take lessons from a pro, play matches, practice with partners, and hit against a wall all before I bought a ball machine. In singles, 3.0-3.5especially, consistency is deadly and you don't need a ball machine to teach you that. Once you get the consistency part down, I would then contemplate buying my own machine......



It's all about the most effective use of your available money. For me, my coach is $30 (he's a great value - believes in making tennis affordable for everyone, not just the priviledged - indoor would cost that + court time), and an indoor court with a ball machine is $25 for an hour. In the winter, I'll probably cut my lessons in half and spend an hour a week with a machine, but in the summer, it makes more sense to me to have outdoor lessons with a coach.

Taxvictim
05-14-2007, 01:30 PM
Where would you use a ball machine? On a public court? Keep in mind that if the court you use is adjacent to other courts (without netting or fencing in between), a lot of your shots will roll onto adjacent courts. It's just what happens when you're hitting ten balls per minute. Also, other players' balls will roll onto your court and become lost in your sea of tennis balls.

We rented a ball machine recently, but the only available court was next to this couple who was trying to play a game. They became very aggravated by our balls rolling behind them, and when their balls rolled onto our court and they couldn't find them. But, hey, when you pay to rent the machine, what are you supposed to do? Next time, I'm taking a can of pink Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer tennis balls, and will give the can of pink balls to anyone playing next to us. That way they lose no balls, and they can easily find the balls they're playing with.

zapvor
05-14-2007, 10:44 PM
i would spend that amount of money on hitting with MrHan.

volusiano
05-14-2007, 11:02 PM
If you don't have an idea for the cost of a ball machine worth buying yet, expect to spend between $1K to $1.5K for a decent machine, and another 2 or 3 hundred bucks for decent pressureless balls. Somebody mentioned $200 for a used ball machine. I think realistically if you're lucky to find a good used ball machine, it would be more like $500 and up.

I have a ball machine and I use it maybe once a week, but more for lack of having a hitting partner than for trying to groove my strokes. Lately when I don't have a hitting partner and want to play, I would rather spend the time practicing my serve over using the ball machine to groove my strokes.

Don't get me wrong, it's very nice to have it around to groove your strokes, but there's only so much grooving your strokes you can do before you get better and bored with the machine (assuming you already have good form from your coach to get better quickly). Then you would rather hit with someone live than use the machine, even if that person is not as good as you.

If you have other people in your family who also play tennis to make good use of it, it'd be easier to justify the cost. But if it's just for you only, and you don't have trouble finding hitting partners, I would rather stick to playing with people. Maybe consider doing singles practice sessions so you get more hitting time to groove your strokes that way.

But if dropping that kind of money is not that big of a deal to you for a sport that you love, it would NOT be a huge waste of money or an outrageous luxury like you're afraid it would be. It'd be a nice tool to complement your enjoyment of the game, as long as you have realistic expectation about what it can do for you.

Slazenger
05-15-2007, 12:02 AM
Been there done that. If you are looking to groove your strokes and improve your consistency, forget the ball machine and hit the nearest wall. Quickest way to improve.

origmarm
05-15-2007, 12:08 AM
I reckon use a wall instead, or rent one. I just don't see it being economical long term. I would say rent one once a month for a few hours and just use a wall for the daily stuff

35ft6
05-15-2007, 12:17 AM
Unless you own your own court, you'll have to get one that's light enough for you to be able to lug around. Those light ones tend to be less reliable. Or maybe they've come a long way since when I used one.

But yeah, agree with the people who say it's a fantastic learning aid. For me, an hour with a ball machine would be like 4 hours with even a good hitting partner. You can really work on stuff.

smoothtennis
05-15-2007, 05:00 AM
I spent years grooving bad contact zones, bad set up positions, and a ball machine would have made it even worse.

At 3.0, in my mind, a pro would be by far your best long term investment for both skill development, and ultimately your overall enjoyment of the game. I can say now, that hitting a ball clean and relaxed with power is so much more enjoyable than all the extra motion and gyrations needed without good fundamentals.

Speaking of....three weeks ago, a gentleman brought a ball machine out to the practice courts where I play, and proceded to hit ball after ball after ball. The only problem was that no two balls where struck the same. He was leaning back on all backhands, and lifting up on all forehands. I thought what a shame, because not only is he grooving big mistakes, I am sure he has no idea he is doing those things. And you know...you can't go over and help most people, they get a little freaky. Bummer.

fearless1
05-15-2007, 06:28 AM
OK, I found a club that will let a non-member use the ball machine.

Court time is $36. Machine rental is $9. Total = $45.

My pro is $60 an hour.

Should I bother with the ball machine or just take some private lessons/hitting sessions with the pro?

Yikes....$45 per hour (or 90 mins)?? At my local club, it's $9 per 90 mins total, so I guess I'm lucky. The only thing I use the ball machine for is practicing angled volleys and angled overheads. It's hard to practice angled winner type shots with a regular practice partner, assuming I can find a practice partner willing to feed balls for 90 mins in the first place (not!). Doing these drills with a teaching pro would cost me more than using the ball machine. For grooving the groundstrokes and practice some consistency drills, I simply use a hitting wall.

skiracer55
05-15-2007, 07:51 AM
...lemme just chime in again:

- First, you're a 3.0 trying to get to 3.5. A noble goal, but why stop there? I have, as any of you who have seen my posts know, a lot of issues with NTRP, one of the major ones being that it tends to be self-limiting. When I started playing, back when the world was young, there was no NTRP. We were whatever we were, which was probably 2.5 to 3.0. What were we aiming for? The equivalent of 7.0, obviously. I read all the books I could, watched all the tennis I could, and tried to play like my heroes...Ashe, Stan Smith, McEnroe, and so forth...and it more or less worked.

One of the especially limiting things about NTRP is that it talks almost exclusively to strokes and strategy, doesn't say a word about the athleticism you need to move up. Most players would do well to drop their rackets for a summer, and work on nothing but foot speed, agility, strength, and flexibility. A lot of the reason why a 4.5, for example, has "sound footwork", as it says in the NTRP descriptions is that a 4.5 player has figured out that to have sound footwork, you need to be a better athlete.

- So having said all that, moving from 3.0 to 3.5 is still an excellent goal. As a reminder to all of us, let me attach the ratings from 3.0 through 4.0 so you can see where you might want to go as well as where you want to go next.

3.0
You are fairly consistent when hitting medium-paced shots, but are not comfortable with all strokes and lack execution when trying for directional control, depth, or power. Your most common doubles formation is one-up, one-back.

3.5
You have achieved improved stroke dependability with directional control on moderate shots, but need to develop depth and variety. You exhibit more aggressive net play, have improved court coverage and are developing teamwork in doubles.

4.0
You have dependable strokes, including directional control and depth on both forehand and backhand sides on moderate-paced shots. You can use lobs, overheads, approach shots and volleys with some success and occasionally force errors when serving. Rallies may be lost due to impatience. Teamwork in doubles is evident.

- One of the key things I'd like to emphasize about the above is that when you get to 4.0, it says you have to have "dependable strokes." What that means is that while doing all that good stuff about having directional control, depth, and so forth, you can't make a lot of silly unforced errors. What that translates to, for me, is that to even think about getting above 3.0, at the 3.0 level, you've got to have pretty clean strokes...which I usually don't see. Most 3.0 players, for example, serve with a semi-Western forehand grip, and hit backhands with whatever grip happens to appear for a given stroke, and swing at volleys, and so forth.

You're working with a pro, so I assume you're not doing any of these Bad Things. But be advised that there's a subtle implication in the NTRP ratings descriptions, which is that a 3.0 has basically the same clean stroke as a 4.0 and above...just not as much topspin, or depth, or whatever. So my advice is get your fundamentals down, and stop thinking about what level you are. The fundamentals of an athletic ready position, quick, efficient footwork, early prep, and a clean stroke are what you build on, so get them dialed in, and your progress from one level to the next will be relatively painless.

I'm not saying, however, that everybody should have exactly the same strokes. I was watching the Champions Cup from Boston the other night (a series which every aspiring player ought to watch...), and the commentators, quite rightly, were saying that Jim Courier had a little hitch in his getalong on his backhand...but he realized this early on in his career, felt like his stroke passed the acid test of effectiveness and consistency, and stayed with it. Lendl had a service toss that I'd never advise anybody to use...but it worked for him. If you have a toss like Lendl's, fine...as long as you can get 60% of your first serves in, and hold your serve at 15 every time.

So focus on that kind of stuff. Could a ball machine help in that effort? Definitely, as I said, if you use it right. As somebody above noted, it's going to cost you about $1000 to $1.5 K...minimum. And as I've been saying, and as a number of other people have said, it's just one more training aid. I hit about 2 hours a day, 5 or 6 days a week, with one hitting partner or another. About once a week, I'll get out with my ball machine. I don't really use it to make any great leaps forward, I use it mostly to iron out whatever bugs I'm experiencing. For example, backhand volley is probably my best shot, but lately I've been shanking a few more than I'm comfortable with. So the other day I set up my ball machine and hit two sets of 300 balls to my backhand volley. After 10 balls, it was obvious what was wrong, namely, the same old boring stuff. My prep was a little late, so my timing was off, and I didn't have much direction or pop on the volley because I didn't have much follow-through. I was also arming the ball a little, and not getting a good step into the shot. So I got that cleaned up and regrooved my backhand volley.

I think the advice people are giving you about renting a ball machine and seeing what it does for you is good stuff...I wouldn't run right out and buy one, at this point. Just remember that the ball machine will do exactly what you tell it to do, but it doesn't care about what you're working on, or where you hit the ball...or even if you hit the ball. That's up to you...

Robbnc
05-15-2007, 09:34 AM
Note: If you do get a ball machine be creative with your practice drills. Don't
just stand in one spot waiting on the balls. Recover to some point on the
court between shots (like the alley). This way you can not only grove your
strokes but improve your footwork, speed and areobic conditioning as well.
Do this with 150 balls in a row at 4 seconds intervals and I promise your
game will improve.

sapient007
05-15-2007, 09:45 AM
one thing positive about a ball machine is practicing your behind the back type of secret weapon shots. oh and women's 3.0 kick serve returns.

:)

Geezer Guy
05-15-2007, 10:43 AM
I enjoy hitting with a ball machine, but I do it mainly after I've taken some private lessons as a way to help groove what I've learned. At my club we can rent a machine for $5 an hour, so that's what I do (court time is free at certain unpopular times).

That said, if the only way I could hit with a machine is to buy one, I wouldn't. I'd try to find a practice partner instead.

103xStateChamp
05-15-2007, 11:02 AM
When I lived in Maine in my neighborhood nobody played tennis I was 10 and I would go up to the local court and hit hundreds upon hundreds of serves when my mom found out she bought me a ball machine and my strokes improved greatly. If your going to use it it's not a waste of money especially if you often dont have a hitting partner.

LuckyR
05-15-2007, 01:18 PM
Oh, skiracer, I'm a 3.0 trying to get to 3.5. I play doubles, mostly.


Here's a bit of a different tack on the issue. Since you are mostly interested in doubles, your baseline game is sort of relatively less important. Serves, returns, over heads and volleys are your bailiwick and a ball machine is less good at helping with those.

In D Zone
05-15-2007, 01:50 PM
Here's my take on ball machines:
I did first thought of getting a ball machine because my playing partner is not into rallying. Instead of picking one up, I found another guy in the tennis center who is about 4.5 and is into playing drills and rallys. I was able to save $$ and honestly the drills against a live player really really help. You get to practice playing different speed and angle of the ball;not only I improved my strokes, my footwork gets more polished at the same time.
I also alternate my days by playing with different partners - one day focus on playing a couple of sets and then next day on drills. I then started this same regiment with my 15 year old son, believed me I can see his improving one week from the next.
The other advantage of playing with a good hitting partner is to develop your stamina and continuation of the play (live game simulation).

If you need to work on you strokes mainly - I would advise you rent a machine and try it out first. You can only learn so much with a machine especially when u reach 3.0 you will need to have live game experinces to be able to win some games. Again Nothing can prepare you better than Live drills

Robbnc
05-15-2007, 02:37 PM
Here's a bit of a different tack on the issue. Since you are mostly interested in doubles, your baseline game is sort of relatively less important. Serves, returns, over heads and volleys are your bailiwick and a ball machine is less good at helping with those.

I would beg to differ when it comes to overheads and volleys the right
maching can be VERY effective.

If you have partners available any and every time You want to practice
and they don't mind helping you work on your game then by all means a
machine would be useless. Personally, practicing everyday, I find it hard
to round up that many people. And most of them wimp out after 2 sets
or an hour of practice. So I guess it really boils down to your
situation.

LuckyR
05-15-2007, 03:01 PM
I would beg to differ when it comes to overheads and volleys the right
maching can be VERY effective.



I never said that they are ineffective, just that that is not their strength. Also since you brought it up, the more high tech machines are the ones that might be OK at volleys and especially overheads, and in my experience it is the uncommon individual (without a private court to use it on) who choses those models (usually they are purchased by clubs who seek the durability of them and can defray the cost over many years of rental fees).

Bodacious DVT
05-15-2007, 05:18 PM
OK, I found a club that will let a non-member use the ball machine.

Court time is $36. Machine rental is $9. Total = $45.

My pro is $60 an hour.

Should I bother with the ball machine or just take some private lessons/hitting sessions with the pro?

OR

have a one hour lesson, then work on what you learned for an hour on the machine! maybe rent it a couple times a week, then have another lesson. repeat.

navster
05-15-2007, 05:39 PM
When I lived in Maine in my neighborhood nobody played tennis I was 10 and I would go up to the local court and hit hundreds upon hundreds of serves when my mom found out she bought me a ball machine and my strokes improved greatly. If your going to use it it's not a waste of money especially if you often dont have a hitting partner.

Agreed, my brother went from 2nd from last place on his tennis team to #1 the next year by getting good on a ball machine

Cindysphinx
05-17-2007, 01:45 PM
OK, I went with the pro today instead of the ball machine.

Man, what a good decision! We managed to re-work a couple of things in my forehand (shoulder rotation, hitting on the run) and we figured out my volley problem (inconsistent and often wrong grip). These were things I hadn't even considered as the cause of my latest troubles.

I asked him about the ball machine idea, as the machine is available at one of the clubs where he teaches. He made a face and said he wouldn't advise it for me. He said he sees lots of people use the machine and proceed to hit badly for an hour. He said it would be OK if someone were to watch me and make sure I don't lapse back into my evil old ways.

So we're going to do one more private lesson next week so I don't relapse, and I'll leave the ball machine alone.

Burt Turkoglu
05-17-2007, 06:18 PM
Rent one?

I'm not a member of a club. Do tennis stores rent them, or only clubs?

I could join a club, but that's $400 a season and up, plus court time and machine rental . . . That's why I figured owning one would be good.

Oh, skiracer, I'm a 3.0 trying to get to 3.5. I play doubles, mostly.

I use mine for practicing certain shots in doubles....for example, the transition shot approaching the net after the serve.....I start out several feet behind the service....the machine fires a ball at my feet....I volley or half volley back crosscourt and assume net position to hit the next volley......then reset and repeat.......I will also practice angles and short low bouncing volleys (good against hard hitting baseliners)......also practice putting away short lobs by angle.....basically practice things that I wouldn't do with a hitting partner.....

skiracer55
05-18-2007, 12:38 PM
OK, I went with the pro today instead of the ball machine.

Man, what a good decision! We managed to re-work a couple of things in my forehand (shoulder rotation, hitting on the run) and we figured out my volley problem (inconsistent and often wrong grip). These were things I hadn't even considered as the cause of my latest troubles.

I asked him about the ball machine idea, as the machine is available at one of the clubs where he teaches. He made a face and said he wouldn't advise it for me. He said he sees lots of people use the machine and proceed to hit badly for an hour. He said it would be OK if someone were to watch me and make sure I don't lapse back into my evil old ways.

So we're going to do one more private lesson next week so I don't relapse, and I'll leave the ball machine alone.


...so now you have your answer: go with the pro, lose the ball machine until you and he are sure it's going to take you forward, not backward, and when you do get around to using it, rent to start...

Bagumbawalla
05-18-2007, 03:35 PM
Some neighbors I had once had so much fun boating one weekend with friends that, the next summer they bought a boat of their own.

The first year they took it out to the lake almost every weekend. The next year, not so much. Now, it sits at the side oftheir house on a tailer with two flat tires.

In my opinion, a ball machine, like a boat, is best when it is owned by someone else.

Another way of saying the same thing is-- there are people who are too lazy to excercise, but they think if they buy an expensive weight machine they would be inspired to work out more. Now they have a big, dusty, heavy, unused piece of equipment filling up their spare room.

I don't think it's the equipment that will make a difference. It's always something a lot more mental, like attitude.

B

dunloplayah
05-18-2007, 05:00 PM
You know, that IS a type of person, but...

I own boats, everyone said this to me, my first, a sailboat, i restored her, sailed her for 7 yrs, sold her, bought another one that I take out all the time and don't see it abating.

I also built a workout room for tennis in my house's extra bedroom, bought a nice machine, used and save money, bought another, an elliptical. I use the gym three to five times a week, depending on my tennis league schedule.

You are right, it's about attitude. If someone has the right attitude and can follow thru, then buying a ball machine isn't a bad idea.

Altho, i think the best advice was above, unless you get your mechanics worked out, using the machine will only reinforce bad habits, eh?

BounceHitBounceHit
05-18-2007, 05:06 PM
Yes. I've only been playing tennis for about 6 months and about 5 months with a machine. Simply put, it works. I hit yesterday with a 4.0-4.5 player in the area and my groundstrokes were much better than his. Now, he could always just be lying to me, but even so, the guy played tennis for several years, as opposed to the few months I'd played. I am absolutely sure that if I didn't have the machine, I'd still be poking balls around with no pace.


Was your friend self rated or computer rated 4.5? C

BounceHitBounceHit
05-18-2007, 05:09 PM
OK, I found a club that will let a non-member use the ball machine.

Court time is $36. Machine rental is $9. Total = $45.

My pro is $60 an hour.

Should I bother with the ball machine or just take some private lessons/hitting sessions with the pro?

At the 3.0 level I fear you will be out there grooving bad habits on the machine. At least take a few lessons FIRST and find out what merits 'grooving' (and what you need to re-vamp)!! ;)

Best,

CC

dunloplayah
05-18-2007, 05:15 PM
Cindy has just reinforced what I'm going to do about a ball machine and helped me finally decide. I'm taking lessons and then getting a lower end, cheaper ball machine. The i-sam has great resale value on eeee b - a - y. I've been watching one on there but i'm buying new for $550 shipped with the warranty. No spin but with instruction, league play, POA courts anytime i want and a light weight portable machine, I feel that this is a great plan. I hope that after a year of use and instruction, i'll see results, have found some practice partners and can just sell the machine losing less than what i'd have spent renting. This is the plan. we'll see how it works out. private lessons first.

Mick
05-18-2007, 05:40 PM
find a pusher and practice with him/her. I think it's better than practicing with a ball machine.

dunloplayah
05-18-2007, 05:44 PM
I have tried to find someone to regularly practice with but no luck so far. other than league games, I don't get to play with others very often. I'm not buying one yet, i'm going to do the instruction first and see how it goes and play another night of league play. BUT, i've got the $$ and can always sell it, so I don't think it can hurt.

Cindysphinx
05-18-2007, 08:30 PM
I have tried to find someone to regularly practice with but no luck so far. other than league games, I don't get to play with others very often. I'm not buying one yet, i'm going to do the instruction first and see how it goes and play another night of league play. BUT, i've got the $$ and can always sell it, so I don't think it can hurt.

I'd hold off if I were you. I think you said you are trying out a couple of pros in the next days or weeks. Pick one, then do some lessons. Maybe five or six. Once he knows your strokes, ask him about the ball machine. Also, once you've seen what lessons will and won't do, you might wish to spend all of your resources on lessons.

I say that because I've been working with my pro for a year now. I figured there wasn't much else to teach on the forehand. Instead, we spent a good chunk of an hour working on one thing last time: generating more power by getting shoulder rotation. And wouldn't you know, paying some attention to the left shoulder made a huge difference in power and topspin.

A ball machine wouldn't have helped me with that concept.

Cindy -- who can't wait to go hit against the wall and try out this left shoulder business

SFtennisGG
05-18-2007, 09:57 PM
Where do you live Cindy? Here in the Bay Area (california) you can rent a machine for about $20 a day. With that said, I find a ball machine an excellent tool to groove your swing once you have the proper technique. Of course lessons are important to make sure you're not drilling improperly and grooving bad habits.

Thud and blunder
05-19-2007, 02:15 AM
Pro vs machine is not an either / or proposition. Ideally you would have a lesson with a pro, then groove what you've learnt on the machine....unless you can shell out for a pro 4 days a week or whatever....

Machine without pro feedback - as others said, the tendency may be to groove bad habits.

Pro without machine - less opportunity to groove what you've learnt.

They're complements, not substitutes....

volusiano
05-22-2007, 12:59 PM
Well said.

dunloplayah
05-22-2007, 01:04 PM
x2! agreed. After I get a few more lessons in, I may end up getting the lowerend unit just to have a ball with some pace to groove those strokes but I do not intend to stop my lessons with my pro.