View Full Version : Ball machine shots

02-21-2004, 07:45 PM
I don't get it, I just spent an hour with a ball machine, and all my shots were being hit great, forehand and backhand. However, when i get out on the court with my friend, all my shots are horrible... is it because with a ball machine its hit to the same place? whereas on the court you have to move?


02-22-2004, 04:31 AM
When I use our club's machine (Playmate), I just use it to groove my strokes. The machine is easier to hit with than a real person. One thing I have done on occasion is to set up the machine to produce one of seven different balls randomly in terms of spin, depth, speed, placement side-side, height, and that makes it difficult to predict what is coming next which is more "human-like." Also, moving the machine closer to you gives you less reaction time. For example, having it fire balls at you while you are at the net makes volleying more difficult than with a real person because you can't anticipate as well (your "opponent" has no racket so you can judge racket speed, racket face angle, most likely shot given opponent's position on court, etc.).

02-22-2004, 08:52 AM
okay, yah, at my club there are practice lanes, so its not a full court. So, i can't really make the ball machine vary in terms of all those things, i can really only change its height, and move the machine.

thanks though


Bungalo Bill
02-22-2004, 10:29 AM
It is simply that your feet may get lazy or used to moving a certain way on every ball making it "feel" like your making progress. However, your timing is being geared to the ball machine and not to real play.

Another thing is that most players hit with a bit more spin then the ball machine you playing with and your timing is off because the ball might be a little higher and have some topspin so it either dips or jumps at you a little quicker and that throws off your weight transfer and swing path a bit.

Your ball machine is good for the following things:

1. Finding out your preferred contact point and grooving it.

2. Grooving your swing path on the ball hieght your hitting from the ball machine.

Next time try stepping forward and taking the ball at a different level or time. Or moving back and taking it as it is dropping down to vary what you need to do.

You still need to hit with live people and drill with a friend. Slowly, things will come together and your brain will click on both areas. You might notice your forehand side adapting easier then your backhand side. If you do, this is common.

Bungalo Bill
02-22-2004, 10:33 AM
One more thing is anticipation.

It is easy to know where the ball is going to bounce and get your footwork correct to help your swing meet the ball.

Iti s another thing to engage the brain so it can "pickup" the ball as soon as it leaves the racquet - get the feet set then hit from a different position and a different ball then the ball machine produces.

SO just use your hitting lanes for what they are for - just groove the contact point and swing for that height. :)

02-22-2004, 11:17 AM
Good posts, Bungalo. I own a ball machine and have the same kind of problems above mentioned: Great hitting with it, speed and shotmaking abilities are on the rise, but against a "human" oponent most of it falls apart if I don't use my balance and footwork. Those two things are very difficult to practice unless you have a mid-upper range machine.

02-22-2004, 01:46 PM
bungalo's right when i first got my machine the hardest thing was finding a contact point and timing, now the machine is great i can fine tune my strokes, try new shots, angles and perfect the consistency of my game, just keep playing with it eventually you'll see the great rewards

02-23-2004, 07:48 AM
One thing I do with my ball machine is two load it up with two different colors of balls: half the bin is solid yellow, the other half is two-toned. I always hit the solid ones cross court, and the two-toned ones down the line. It gives you something to think about once the ball is released, forcing you to alter your footwork, etc.. and I find it's hard to get lazy and remain in the same place as a result.

Plus, it's an easy way at the end of the session to see the ratio of how many were netted judged on what color balls are still on your side of the net.

02-23-2004, 02:12 PM
BBILL has the correct answer = feet are lazy. The machine should be used for FEDERER hand eye volleys = work on punching - slice. Don't have the straight shots, oscillate - run to forehand/backhand shot and move the feet. I have improved my basline backhand liner and running forehand. The machine also works for serve and volley - turn the speed down.

02-24-2004, 10:09 PM
A ball machine that fires only to one spot (used only in a practice lane) is really only good for beginner type practice. You need to get out on the court with a ball machine that has a variable sweep and an ability to generate topspin (or underspin). This will force you to move around and learn how to judge the flight of the ball and you can practice your footwork for setting up your shots. Ball machines with oscillating sweep rarely are precise enough to fire the ball to the same spot, so you will get plenty of variation in the placement of the ball.

02-29-2004, 06:02 PM
One tip I use is anticipating the ball throw and say to yourself: "bounce", hit". Its easy to zone out and just whack 300 balls, you need something to think about. Remember you can waste a few balls and just think of your footwork, or get lower. Add the ballpicker upper into a far corner and aim to hit it deep, you'll add feet to your best deepest shots. I used to give my twins 50 cents for any hits on the machine itself-had to quit at $8.00 since all kids w/ 20/20 vision can plug the machine too easily!