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timball
01-29-2010, 10:39 AM
I am seriously thinking about purchasing a ball machine to use at my small and private sub-division. We have two courts that are rarely used but in great condition and with a number of benefits. Electricity and storage are available. I am interested in getting an education on ball machines and what represents good value. I would even consider used if available. Fortunately, there would be only two or three people using ths machine and I cannot imagine more than a dozen hours a week or so.

Thanks for advice, in advance.

Icedorb217
01-29-2010, 03:07 PM
try silent partner ball machines since they are the cheapest and have decent quality and fit ur description well

tpotter
01-29-2010, 03:23 PM
I would recommend a pneumatic lobster ball machine - for $6-$800 you will get a machine that lasts 15-20 years.
I would never recommend a battery machine to someone who has access to electricity (what if you forget to charge it, what if the battery stops holding a charge??). The best and worst thing about a battery tennis ball machine is it's battery (it's portable, movable to a public court, but you don't need that).

Hominator
01-30-2010, 03:03 AM
I have a Tennis Tutor Plus 4 that my wife and I use. It's very portable and has been reliable thus far. You can get a pretty good deal by buying either a refurbished or older model directly from Tennis Tutor, too.

Mr. Blond
01-30-2010, 05:48 AM
I have a silent partner pro and it does everything I want it too for a private court. If I were to purchase another, I would get it again, only include the 2 line feature.

great machine overall though.

brad1730
01-30-2010, 05:51 AM
I would recommend a pneumatic lobster ball machine - for $6-$800 you will get a machine that lasts 15-20 years.
I would never recommend a battery machine to someone who has access to electricity (what if you forget to charge it, what if the battery stops holding a charge??). The best and worst thing about a battery tennis ball machine is it's battery (it's portable, movable to a public court, but you don't need that).

I agree... as long as you know that you'll be living there for quite a while. If there's any chance you might be moving, then I'd go with a battery model.

beernutz
01-31-2010, 08:43 AM
Wow, I am in almost the exact situation as OP (have neighborhood courts etc.) and was going to post a similar message today. I have about an $800 budget and so far the suggestions have been:
silent partner and specifically the Pro (A friend bought a refurbed Pro on e-bay from SP which he likes. He has also had a couple of services issues with the machine handled efficiently by SP which is also a plus.)
lobster pneumatic ball machine
Tennis Tutor Plus 4 (I've used the bottom end TT model which had no bells or whistles but which seemed well made)

These seem like good suggestions. I'd like to hear more opinions about the battery vs. no battery issue. My courts have electricity about 50 feet away so battery would be more convenient but not a requirement. I also have no storage at the courts so I'd be rolling the machine about a bit less than a quarter mile from my house to the courts each time I want to use it. I have a hand truck (dolly) I thought I'd use for this and use bungee cords to secure the ball machine.

beernutz
01-31-2010, 10:20 AM
I did a lot of reading and I've decided on the Silent Partner Lite which is on sale for $599 + $40 S/H. I don't care that much about a remote and you can purchase and install a second battery in the Lite for ~$20 which effectively makes it equivalent to the next level up Star model, except for its remote, that sells for $200 more than the Lite. Given all the good reviews I've read, for $639 I can hardly go wrong.

mrw
01-31-2010, 11:45 AM
I did a lot of reading and I've decided on the Silent Partner Lite which is on sale for $599 + $40 S/H. I don't care that much about a remote and you can purchase and install a second battery in the Lite for ~$20 which effectively makes it equivalent to the next level up Star model, except for its remote, that sells for $200 more than the Lite. Given all the good reviews I've read, for $639 I can hardly go wrong.

nice machine but I find my remote invaluable. if you want to take a breather, stop for any reason, don't want the machine firing balls until you get on the other side of the net, you will want a remote.

Scenario... You get on the other side of the net and decide that you want to alter spin,height etc. with out the remote the machine keeps firing away until you get back over there.

Remote= less time picking up balls and more time honing your strokes.

Rob_C
01-31-2010, 12:49 PM
I would recommend a pneumatic lobster ball machine - for $6-$800 you will get a machine that lasts 15-20 years.
I would never recommend a battery machine to someone who has access to electricity (what if you forget to charge it, what if the battery stops holding a charge??). The best and worst thing about a battery tennis ball machine is it's battery (it's portable, movable to a public court, but you don't need that).

Some battery models have an available AC adapter you can use if electricity is available. Tennis Tutor and SAM ball machines have this option, it runs about $125.

COPEY
01-31-2010, 08:55 PM
nice machine but I find my remote invaluable. if you want to take a breather, stop for any reason, don't want the machine firing balls until you get on the other side of the net, you will want a remote.

Scenario... You get on the other side of the net and decide that you want to alter spin,height etc. with out the remote the machine keeps firing away until you get back over there.

Remote= less time picking up balls and more time honing your strokes.

Completely agree. Remotes, although grossly overpriced, are just a nice luxury to have. I suppose if you've never used one and you're young, like running back and forth on the court it's fine lol. Me - I teach with my machine, and being able to pause the machine from across the court to discuss footwork, stroke mechanics or even to answer the phone is just too convenient.

jmjmkim
01-31-2010, 09:28 PM
I have a silent partner, and am very satisfied. But if I could do it again, I would spend the little extra for the Tennis Tutor. There is always a reason why a brand is popular, and why something is a bit more expensive.

eg: Why a Benz is more than Audi, El Torito is more than Alcapuco, Polo is more than Chaps, Rolex is more than Omega, Coke is more than RC, Goodyear is more than Hankook, Sony is more than Samsung, etc.

But still, I did save some $ buying the Silent Partner . . . . it's just a little bigger and less compact that the tennis tutor.

charliefedererer
02-01-2010, 07:22 AM
I've loved my Silent Partner Lite. Good speed and spin.
The lack of remote only means I get a little more exercise running to the machine and picking up a few more balls.
The battery life is great, a second generic battery and charger is cheap on-line, and it only takes 15 seconds to change batteries if you are having an extra long session.

beernutz
02-01-2010, 07:37 AM
Thanks for the additional comments. I really in no rush so I'll probably wait a few days and think about it before deciding between the Star and the Lite. To remote or not to remote, that is the question...

COPEY
02-01-2010, 08:01 PM
My remote was included with the machine, however, I also know just because it wasn't a seperate item that it definitely figured into the price tag.

I'm a strong proponent of getting a remote if you're buying a luxury item (because that's what it is) like a ball machine. It's kind of like buying a real nice house, but opting not to install garage door openers because of the added expense. Is it a big deal to get out of the car and open the garage? Nope, but the convenience of openers with remotes spoils you. They're certainly not cheap, but the expense becomes a moot point after a short period of time (especially if you live in a climate where subzero temps are the norm in the winter).

I suppose you could always give it a whirl without the remote, see if running back and forth to turn the machine off and on is your thing. Some guys say they don't mind it. It's nuts to me, but to each his/her own. ;)

Rina
02-01-2010, 10:58 PM
I have a Tennis Tutor Plus, bought it directly from Tennis Tutor store. It works great, but it is a bit heavier than I expected. It has good spin range. Hope this helps.

1st Seed
02-02-2010, 12:25 PM
Awesome machine^^^With Remote Ac onlyhttp://i45.tinypic.com/2i1m4ao.jpgRifles balls,

timball
02-03-2010, 04:35 AM
thanks to one and all! Looks like Tennis Tutor is the most likely purchase. Now, if I could just get the weather here to cooperate so I can get bck outdoors!

beernutz
02-03-2010, 06:12 AM
My remote was included with the machine, however, I also know just because it wasn't a seperate item that it definitely figured into the price tag.

I'm a strong proponent of getting a remote if you're buying a luxury item (because that's what it is) like a ball machine. It's kind of like buying a real nice house, but opting not to install garage door openers because of the added expense. Is it a big deal to get out of the car and open the garage? Nope, but the convenience of openers with remotes spoils you. They're certainly not cheap, but the expense becomes a moot point after a short period of time (especially if you live in a climate where subzero temps are the norm in the winter).

I suppose you could always give it a whirl without the remote, see if running back and forth to turn the machine off and on is your thing. Some guys say they don't mind it. It's nuts to me, but to each his/her own. ;)

That is certainly one way to look at it. Another is that the Lite is currently $600 and the Star $800 with the biggest difference between them being the remote since extra batteries can be had for only around ~$20. That $200 difference adds an extra 1/3 to the cost of the Lite and also probably equals what I'll spend on Tretorn pressureless balls.

I'll strictly be using the machine by myself (i.e., not for teaching tennis) and I've used a borrowed machine which didn't have a remote before for several weeks and at the time didn't mind not having a remote. I suppose if I had used a remote before now and saw how great it was I'd regret buying a machine without one. However, since I've never used a machine with a remote before I think I won't miss it as much or at all.

You may say its only $200--no big deal--and I kind of agree, but I also say its only a remote--no big deal.

jmnk
02-03-2010, 06:24 PM
so for those that do own ball machine, or have experience with either model - do you/would you prefer silent partner or tennis tutor with similar features? If one were to judge by the number of ads than it seems that people do get rid of tennis tutor more often - but it could be that they are just more popular.

COPEY
02-03-2010, 06:49 PM
That is certainly one way to look at it. Another is that the Lite is currently $600 and the Star $800 with the biggest difference between them being the remote since extra batteries can be had for only around ~$20. That $200 difference adds an extra 1/3 to the cost of the Lite and also probably equals what I'll spend on Tretorn pressureless balls.

I'll strictly be using the machine by myself (i.e., not for teaching tennis) and I've used a borrowed machine which didn't have a remote before for several weeks and at the time didn't mind not having a remote. I suppose if I had used a remote before now and saw how great it was I'd regret buying a machine without one. However, since I've never used a machine with a remote before I think I won't miss it as much or at all.

You may say its only $200--no big deal--and I kind of agree, but I also say its only a remote--no big deal.


I hear ya, and there are other factors to consider as well, but the bottom line is if you're ok without one, that's all that matters. Based on my experience, however, anyone who asks me about ball machines, unless money is a really major issue, I encourage them to get the remote. Yes, for what you spend on a remote you could certainly afford a bucket of Tretorns, but at some point even those need to be replaced. As long as you don't lose/run over/step on/leave it in your pants pocket so it gets washed and dried, the remote should last just as long as the machine...longer in fact.

Your point is well made, however, in that if you've never used one you don't really know what you're missing. I'd still love my machine without a remote, but having one increases my enjoyment by a substantial margin, so to me they're worth it. Goodluck with your decision. ;)

jmjmkim
02-03-2010, 09:17 PM
Sorry to add more confusion, but it kind of depends on your needs and personality, purpose, etc. (Lots of factors)

Now that I have one, I realize that I can do without all the options. The main reason is that although it is a good tool to practice for consistency, it will never, ever replace a good hitting partner. I really can't see myself on this machine for several hours, day after day. It gets boring.

I don't even use the oscillation function, after trying it out a few times. The reason is, I can see the machine turning and aiming side to side, and it is just too predictable. Rather, I just use it to practice consistency and strokes.

Also, although my Silent Partner is advertised to shoot out at 80+ mph, I find it useless to do so. (For one thing, it is hard to calibrate it to stay in the court, gotta use lots of topspin to keep it in)

My main purpose for the ball machine was to use it for teaching my two little girls (8 & 10), and it satisfies that purpose 100%. It feeds nice, perfect slow pitches at the same spot every time (given the balls are consistent). For me, I take a ride on it occasionally to gain some confidence, whacking it hard. The ball machine makes the average Joe look like a professional......

Don't waste too much on it, and don't confuse it with a real live good hitting partner. I think the reason that you see ball machines on Craiglist is because the owners had the expectation of it taking the place of a hitting partner, and it got boring after a few sessions, and just had these sitting in their garages.

COPEY
02-04-2010, 01:02 AM
Good points for sure, jmjmkim. Yeah, some people mistakenly assume that it's the same as hitting with a live body, and it's not even close. If you understand that from the start you're unlikely to be disappointed.

As for the assortment of options, that's the one thing I went without. I have a Playmate Volley, and it's a pretty basic machine, but that baby is built like a tank. I liked how the battery detached for charging and the 5-year warranty.

I don't even use the oscillation function, after trying it out a few times. The reason is, I can see the machine turning and aiming side to side, and it is just too predictable.

Another reason I went with the Playmate - directional feeds are internal; you can't tell where it's going to shoot the ball unless your close enough to the net to see the pitching wheel turning left/right, and even then it's pretty tough. Also, I can tilt it back and place a cone under it, set it to random oscillation for "realistic" lobs. With machines where the entire box turns I don't think that's possible, hence you're limited to very low, approx 50 lobs.

Also, although my Silent Partner is advertised to shoot out at 80+ mph, I find it useless to do so.

I've always thought of the, "...can shoot balls at 95 mph" claim as marketing hype. You're exactly right - it isn't practical since you'd have to place the machine pretty far back from the baseline just to keep it in, and even then it may not be possible. I think mine is advertised at 75 mph, and that's plenty for practicing volleys, hard hit balls that you have to block back into play or working on half-volleys from near the baseline.

charliefedererer
02-04-2010, 07:44 PM
Sorry to add more confusion, but it kind of depends on your needs and personality, purpose, etc. (Lots of factors)

Now that I have one, I realize that I can do without all the options. The main reason is that although it is a good tool to practice for consistency, it will never, ever replace a good hitting partner. I really can't see myself on this machine for several hours, day after day. It gets boring.

I don't even use the oscillation function, after trying it out a few times. The reason is, I can see the machine turning and aiming side to side, and it is just too predictable. Rather, I just use it to practice consistency and strokes.

Also, although my Silent Partner is advertised to shoot out at 80+ mph, I find it useless to do so. (For one thing, it is hard to calibrate it to stay in the court, gotta use lots of topspin to keep it in)

My main purpose for the ball machine was to use it for teaching my two little girls (8 & 10), and it satisfies that purpose 100%. It feeds nice, perfect slow pitches at the same spot every time (given the balls are consistent). For me, I take a ride on it occasionally to gain some confidence, whacking it hard. The ball machine makes the average Joe look like a professional......

Don't waste too much on it, and don't confuse it with a real live good hitting partner. I think the reason that you see ball machines on Craiglist is because the owners had the expectation of it taking the place of a hitting partner, and it got boring after a few sessions, and just had these sitting in their garages.

Ball machines will never replace a good hitting partner.

But I find it hard to ask a hitting partner to hit enough of certain shots that I want to practice, but it would be really asking too much to hit hundreds of that shot to me.

So I use it once or twice a week, in addition to hitting and playing to work on the following:
1. Work on timing of returning of hard "serves" out wide to the backhand on the ad court with the spin and speed cranked all the way up.
2. Volleys. Not just reaction volleys, and never just putting away sitters at the net. But hitting them on the run from various positions on the court.
3. Work on hitting balls on the run to both sidelines.

There is a way to solve the machine positioning problem when firing the balls at near maximum speed. Put your ball machine on top of a push tray cart that has locking wheels. By getting the machine up high, you can fire the balls almost down into your side of the court (using some topsin), and yet have it sitting on the opposite baseline. This is much more realistic than having it firing from the next county. This is an essential, in my estimation, to practice returning serve and practicing volleys. Here's a link to the one I bought at Sears: http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00959238000P?vName=Gifts&cName=Father'sDay&sName=Fix-it%20Father&psid=FROOGLE01&sid=IDx20070921x00003a

beernutz
02-08-2010, 08:22 AM
Thanks for all the replies, especially yours COPEY. I decided that in the long run I'd rather have a machine with a remote so I just bought the Silent Partner Star and a bucket of 96 Tretorn Micro-x balls.

jazzyfunkybluesy
02-08-2010, 08:32 AM
Thanks for all the replies, especially yours COPEY. I decided that in the long run I'd rather have a machine with a remote so I just bought the Silent Partner Star and a bucket of 96 Tretorn Micro-x balls.

Good choice on the Tretorn balls. I bought enough to have two batches then you dont have to collect balls after every session.

greg280
02-08-2010, 08:41 AM
dont buy one until you check out playmate machines. best ball machine made!

beernutz
02-08-2010, 09:05 AM
dont buy one until you check out playmate machines. best ball machine made!

Playmates are outside of my budget.

jmjmkim
02-08-2010, 01:40 PM
Now the next thing is to consider the Gamma Roller Hopper .......

COPEY
02-08-2010, 08:41 PM
Thanks for all the replies, especially yours COPEY. I decided that in the long run I'd rather have a machine with a remote so I just bought the Silent Partner Star and a bucket of 96 Tretorn Micro-x balls.

You're very welcome, but more importantly, congrats on the new machine! As for the remote, personally I think you made the right choice. If after a few months you regret buying it, let me know because you'd be the first person I'll have ever heard say it lol.

Again, congrats and enjoy your ball machine. ;)

beernutz
02-09-2010, 04:41 PM
You're very welcome, but more importantly, congrats on the new machine! As for the remote, personally I think you made the right choice. If after a few months you regret buying it, let me know because you'd be the first person I'll have ever heard say it lol.

Again, congrats and enjoy your ball machine. ;)

Thanks! I am even more excited now because I just checked the sp website and they report that my Star has already shipped on the same day it was ordered. Woohoo, that's good service.

jmnk
02-09-2010, 10:07 PM
i'm thinking about buying one, likely used one. i need battery powered one. so it looks like prince/sam 1; tennis tutor plus; lobster elite 1; wilson portable; and silent partner lite are all have similar features: oscillation, lob, spin, 2-3 hours battery, ~45lbs weight - which is really all i need (i'm not that crazy about a remote, but even if i was it is usually always about $200 option). they are all around $1100 new, $450-$650 used. except silent partner lite - which is like $600 new. is silent partner --not--as good/reliable as other models? i have zero experience with either so i'm looking for some tips from actual users.
there's number of ads for used machines here and there - given the similar features and price - is any particular model just better overall?
any advise?

charliefedererer
02-10-2010, 05:36 PM
i'm thinking about buying one, likely used one. i need battery powered one. so it looks like prince/sam 1; tennis tutor plus; lobster elite 1; wilson portable; and silent partner lite are all have similar features: oscillation, lob, spin, 2-3 hours battery, ~45lbs weight - which is really all i need (i'm not that crazy about a remote, but even if i was it is usually always about $200 option). they are all around $1100 new, $450-$650 used. except silent partner lite - which is like $600 new. is silent partner --not--as good/reliable as other models? i have zero experience with either so i'm looking for some tips from actual users.
there's number of ads for used machines here and there - given the similar features and price - is any particular model just better overall?
any advise?

I bought a Silent Partner Lite after reading all the positive feedback about the machine and the great customer service. I have been very pleased by the machine's ability to hit a hard ball with various amounts of spin and by the good battery life.

beernutz
02-13-2010, 07:35 PM
I got to play with my Silent Partner Star for the first time this afternoon and 'Wow!' I am really going to love using this thing and I am SO glad I got a remote. My wife, who usually just tolerate my toys, came up and hit some balls with the machine and really liked it too. I timed the walk from my house to the courts and it takes exactly 4 minutes. Another 6 minutes to get the machine dialed in and I was up and (literally) running. That's going to be important as the less time it takes to get up and going, the more I'll use this thing. I hit probably 300 balls in an hour and a half and was just about worn out from running side to side when the machine was oscillating. A friend let me borrow his Tretorn Micro-x balls until the ones I ordered come in and I think I'm going to enjoy them a lot too. They are so much better than the Gamma ones I've used in the past.

Thanks again for all the good advice shared in this thread. I have only used my Star for less than 2 hours but I really think I'm going to be happy with it and would recommend it to a friend without a second thought.

zacinnc78
02-20-2010, 06:23 AM
cool man, how do you feel about it now a few weeks later,and are there any regrets(wished to have got a machine with more bells and whistles)???

beernutz
03-01-2010, 02:13 PM
cool man, how do you feel about it now a few weeks later,and are there any regrets(wished to have got a machine with more bells and whistles)???

I have no regrets at all after using the Star for about 8 total hours so far over the last three weeks. The Star has the must-have features I really wanted including:
topspin/backspin control
satisfactory ball speed up to 90mph
oscillation/sweep function
satisfactory battery life (4-6 hours)
remote with feed on/off

To get a Tennis Tutor ball machine (the other brand I considered) that was comparable to the Star in terms of features or to get the next level up Silent Partner ball machine I think would have had to spend at least another $600 and I just couldn't justify that extra expense.