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View Full Version : ball machine/drills v.s hitting with better player


webbeing
12-03-2009, 09:00 AM
Hello,

You are a 3.5+ player and have only 2hours to practice a week, would that 2 hours are better spent working on drills with a ball machine or hitting/rallying with a 4.5-5 level player? Many thanks.

JRstriker12
12-03-2009, 09:11 AM
Depends on your goals for that 2 hours of practice and whether the 4.5-5.0 player is willing to do some coaching.

If you are just trying to groove a stoke and get a workout, the ball machine would be good.

If you want to get in some match play or drill strategy and situations, then playing with a hitting partner would be better.

If your 4.5 - 5.0 friend is able and willing to do a some teaching, then I'd say hit with your friend.

Never hurts to mix it up. You don't only have practice a certain way all the time and the ball machine will also come in handy if your friend can't hit that day.

In D Zone
12-03-2009, 09:13 AM
I'd say both.

Hitting a higher level allows you to learn and get more at ease with the speed and power of the ball. You'll see alot of different looks, its more dynamic and can be overwhelming. It's also a good guage on how well you are doing and it exposes your weaknesses. But it can be very frustrating if you cannot keep up. Always play with the idea that you are learning and need to stay positivie - have a plan - review your game after each session so you know what you need to work on next.

Ball machine - allows to work on improving on the things you need to improve. Its more controlled and you can hit with the shot over and over again. Great for working on specific drills or shots. Down side is you won't get as much variety as playing against a live person. If you speed the pace of the ball - you can hurt yourself.

Ripper014
12-03-2009, 09:19 AM
Depends on your goals for that 2 hours of practice and whether the 4.5-5.0 player is willing to do some coaching.

If you are just trying to groove a stoke and get a workout, the ball machine would be good.

If you want to get in some match play or drill strategy and situations, then playing with a hitting partner would be better.

If your 4.5 - 5.0 friend is able and willing to do a some teaching, then I'd say hit with your friend.

Never hurts to mix it up. You don't only have practice a certain way all the time and the ball machine will also come in handy if your friend can't hit that day.


I lean towards this.... at your level you need to work on developing consistant and dependable strokes. You would probably benefit most from drilling with a ball machine... but in saying this, you need to be practicing correct technique otherwise you are only reinforcing bad habits.

Playing with a hitting partner is good since not ever ball you are going to get will be in an ideal position, so doing both is a good thing. But you would probablybe more practical to develop a reliable stroke before you take it out on a court.

Blake0
12-04-2009, 08:21 PM
If you can hit with consistency and have decent form, i'll say always the better 4.5-5.0 player. Save the ball machine for some other time.

volusiano
12-04-2009, 10:28 PM
The whole point of a ball machine is to do drill so your strokes are good enough to play against a live opponent. Since you're 3.5+, you're also not a beginner anymore and you must already have decent enough strokes to rate at that level. So I can't imagine why you'd want to keep using the ball machine over a live person who's a better player than you, unless beside these 2 hours of "practice", you also have had a chance to play with a live person for at least another 4 to 6 hours on top of your 2 hours of practice during that week already.

If it were me, I would ALWAYS chose a live/better player over a ball machine any time.

fuzz nation
12-05-2009, 08:47 AM
The whole point of a ball machine is to do drill so your strokes are good enough to play against a live opponent. Since you're 3.5+, you're also not a beginner anymore and you must already have decent enough strokes to rate at that level. So I can't imagine why you'd want to keep using the ball machine over a live person who's a better player than you, unless beside these 2 hours of "practice", you also have had a chance to play with a live person for at least another 4 to 6 hours on top of your 2 hours of practice during that week already.

If it were me, I would ALWAYS chose a live/better player over a ball machine any time.

Good point.

In my coaching experience with high school kids, the JV crew could benefit greatly from using a ball machine to hammer out some essentials. I'm actually hoping that one of my hitting partners can rent me the one he owns when the gang starts up in the spring.

The stronger varsity kids tend to need more competitive work where they're across the net from live hitters. While a player can anticipate a ball machine's feeds in a drill setting, that doesn't take the place of reacting to someone hitting a ball from the other end of the court.

The machine is good for grooving that one handed backhand or getting comfortable with a more extreme forehand grip. Better players demand earlier, more efficient movement and better timing.

papa
12-05-2009, 10:23 AM
Well, I'd go with the live player anytime but that doesn't mean ball machines should not be used if you cannot find a person as described. It also depends on the ball machine that is available to you - not all ball machines are created equal. Some of the better ones have features like spin, can be adjusted for height, variable ball location, etc. You can pay upwards of $10,000 for some of the fancy machines and some clubs have them so it would depend on what's available to you.

Geezer Guy
12-05-2009, 08:34 PM
Depends on the 4.5-5 level player you'd be hitting with/against. If that player will hit "nicely" with you then you guys can have some good rally's and it can actually be good for both of you (if you have fairly good strokes and consistency). If the hitting is likely to be more "competitive" than it is "cooperative" then you're likely to be always running, always on the defense, and watching a lot of winners fly by. It may be good for his ego, but it won't do much to improve your game.

Virtua Tennis
12-08-2009, 12:08 AM
If you're hitting all over the place and trying to hit for winners that 4.5/5.0 player rather you hit with a ball machine and not waste his time and your time. When you have only 2 hours you want to have a good work out not chase balls all over the court.

Also at that rating it would be good idea to throw in some lessons. Even pros at their levels have a coach monitoring their strokes and game so they never build bad habits.

raiden031
12-08-2009, 03:42 AM
A ball machine is meant to be used by someone who can't find a hitting partner. Definitely practice with the hitting partner as long as he's willing to hit cooperatively and help you work on the strokes you want to work on.

Nellie
12-08-2009, 06:36 AM
Well - it depends on how you practice. If you stand there and hit a million balls from a ball machine bouncing into your sweet spot, you won't improve, especially if you blast shots that miss more than go in. A ball machine player crushes balls in their sweet spot but lose every point in real matches because he/she cannot adjust to the hard ball.

If, on the other hand, you set the machine to give you a hard ball (short/low or deep/ high) and you practice moving to adjust to these balls, you will really improve fast because the ball machine provides a constant ball that allows you to work on your fundamentals.

It is a lot more fun to play with a partner, but if you stand in the middle and rally balls back and forth or try to blast winners on every shot, you won't improve much. If, on the other hand, you practice smartly - work on cross court rallies with an occasional change of direct, you can really improve.

In the end, what really matters is how much you can improve your weaknesses and replicate game situations. Most people can consistently hit the ball in their sweet spot, and it is the better players that adjust to harder ball (and even thrive on hitting those shots).

jazzyfunkybluesy
12-08-2009, 06:38 AM
Im a big fan of the ball machine. You can work on your net play, transition shots, groundstrokes. You end up hitting 3 times as many balls than with another person. Then practice your serve.

raiden031
12-08-2009, 08:09 AM
Im a big fan of the ball machine. You can work on your net play, transition shots, groundstrokes. You end up hitting 3 times as many balls than with another person. Then practice your serve.

I don't see how thats possible. You spend half your time cleaning up all the balls with the machine (I know because i have a machine), whereas with a partner you can hit the same ball multiple times before cleaning up.

charliefedererer
12-08-2009, 08:23 AM
The ball machine will let you methodically work on the current weak links in your game by letting your muscles/nervous system/eyes go from awkward to smooth, error prone to consistant. Keep turning up the speed and spin on the ball and the distance you have to run to get to the ball for the weaker side on your groundstroke, to develop better timing coming in and across on your volleys, and on your the service return by returning bullets to the corners and at your body.

Hitting and playing will let you incorporate your now less weak areas into your game, and let you know how much more work you have to do with the ball machine.

jazzyfunkybluesy
12-08-2009, 08:35 AM
Well my machine holds 150 balls. I have 300. So after hitting 300 I do pick them up. Since time is an issue for Webbeing, how much time do you waste picking up balls if you are playing with 3. I guess its preference yes?

Camilio Pascual
12-08-2009, 10:29 AM
So after hitting 300 I do pick them up. Since time is an issue for Webbeing, how much time do you waste picking up balls if you are playing with 3.
We don't waste much time because we pick up just the balls that are concentrated at the net. While drilling, we push any balls lying around on the court into the net.

papa
12-08-2009, 01:07 PM
Im a big fan of the ball machine. You can work on your net play, transition shots, groundstrokes. You end up hitting 3 times as many balls than with another person. Then practice your serve.

Well, you haven't hit with people like me (and I'm probably no different than many on the board) if you think you can hit 3 times as many balls with a machine. Although, like everything else, there might be exceptions, good players are not going to hit winners when you hit with them. They are going to push you as far as you can go though and that's the way it should be.

Virtua Tennis
12-08-2009, 03:42 PM
Well, you haven't hit with people like me (and I'm probably no different than many on the board) if you think you can hit 3 times as many balls with a machine. Although, like everything else, there might be exceptions, good players are not going to hit winners when you hit with them. They are going to push you as far as you can go though and that's the way it should be.

It's the bad player thats going to hit for winners and hit all over the place.

jazzyfunkybluesy
12-11-2009, 10:27 AM
Right the combination of people going for winners, shanks, and errors create a lot of ball chasing. To each their own.

user92626
12-11-2009, 10:45 AM
Even if you have more ball chasing, picking time, hitting with a decent player always seems to be better. You can learn to read other's stroke. You can gauge the quality of your hitting by observing the other people's reactions or responses.

When I could convince my hitting partner to dial down the power we could easily hit 40+ shot rallies which make you feel so good with footwork, hand/eye coordination and stroke feels.