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View Full Version : Any nice ball machine drills?


tennisfan2k
12-03-2012, 07:46 AM
I just got a ball machine for myself, determined to raise my game to the next level in 1-2 years. Does anyone has some nice ball machine drills I can apply? Currently I am more a baseliner, really want to develop into a all court player.

Thanks.

beernutz
12-03-2012, 09:50 AM
When I use my machine I typically start with a cone drill where I put an orange cone about 6 feet away from where I'm hitting and shuffle around it between each shot to help with footwork.

To help with doubles I will line up so that the balls are being throw directly at my right hip in order to practice awkward volleys. Or alternatively I'll crank up the ball speed and stand where the balls are being shot at center mass to work on reflex volleys. I have found it hard to get other players to work with me on volley drills at all, much less getting them to pound them straight at my body consistently.

Another thing that has helped me in doubles is to work on half-volleying by setting the machine so that shots are hitting right about the service line where my feet would be if I was coming in after a serve. I then practice coming in a few steps, split-stepping, and hitting a shoe-string volley or half volley. Being able to hit a few hundred of these in a row has improved my net rushing success by quite a bit.

Putting your machine up on a cart or even getting it higher than that to throw balls helps better simulate serves so you can work on returns of serve. I've posted a video of how I set up my machine to do this, as have other posters, but I don't do it much because it requires too much set up time.

charliefedererer
12-03-2012, 10:32 AM
If you already have the basic stokes down, beernutz has great advice above to use the machine to work on your footwork.

In competition, players hit to the open court.

So start from a neutral postion, and run to the spot the ball machine is hitting the ball to, and recover as quickly as possible back to the neutral position. Keep repeating.

Each time you refill the ball machine, slightly increase the speed /spin. By the end of the session you should be able to handle tougher balls, and keep working on this over time.

Practice hitting to a target - you will want to be able to hit both deep down the line and cross court shots, as well as angled shots.

As beernutz said, work on running to volley the ball to develop your all court game,

Intenionally challenge yourself running to hit difficult volleys and half volleys.

Shoot balls to midcourt to practice approach shots.

Every time you have difficulty in a match with a shot, make a note of it, and practice it with your ball machine. For example, you may have difficulty with someone who hits hard crosscourt slices to your backhand that stay real low.

If you have room in your vehicle, putting your ball machine on top of a simple cart you can buy from Sears or Harbor Freight will allow you to keep the ball machine closer to the baseline as you crank up the speed. (At high speed, even with topspin applied, the ball machine on the ground has to throw from quite far away.)
http://s.shld.net/is/image/Sears/00959238000?hei=185&wid=185&op_sharpen=1&qlt=85

It is not high enough to ideally practice returns of serve, but it seems much more realistic than against a machine on the ground.
It also seems more realistic practicing your volleys.
The lower part of the cart can be used to bring your tennis racquets, balls, and water.

beernutz
12-03-2012, 11:34 AM
If you already have the basic stokes down, beernutz has great advice above to use the machine to work on your footwork.

In competition, players hit to the open court.

So start from a neutral postion, and run to the spot the ball machine is hitting the ball to, and recover as quickly as possible back to the neutral position. Keep repeating.

Each time you refill the ball machine, slightly increase the speed /spin. By the end of the session you should be able to handle tougher balls, and keep working on this over time.

Practice hitting to a target - you will want to be able to hit both deep down the line and cross court shots, as well as angled shots.

As beernutz said, work on running to volley the ball to develop your all court game,

Intenionally challenge yourself running to hit difficult volleys and half volleys.

Shoot balls to midcourt to practice approach shots.

Every time you have difficulty in a match with a shot, make a note of it, and practice it with your ball machine. For example, you may have difficulty with someone who hits hard crosscourt slices to your backhand that stay real low.

If you have room in your vehicle, putting your ball machine on top of a simple cart you can buy from Sears or Harbor Freight will allow you to keep the ball machine closer to the baseline as you crank up the speed. (At high speed, even with topspin applied, the ball machine on the ground has to throw from quite far away.)
http://s.shld.net/is/image/Sears/00959238000?hei=185&wid=185&op_sharpen=1&qlt=85

It is not high enough to ideally practice returns of serve, but it seems much more realistic than against a machine on the ground.
It also seems more realistic practicing your volleys.
The lower part of the cart can be used to bring your tennis racquets, balls, and water.

Great advice as always from charliefederer which reminded me of an issue with my cart I want to add. I bought a Harbor Freight cart (the gray metal $45 one) almost a year ago to push my machine and balls etc to my neighborhood courts and while it has been a great asset if you get that one be sure to use Locktite on the fittings otherwise they will come apart on you, or at least they did on mine. I ended up losing several nuts, bolts, and washers which were pretty easily replaced and after I took everything apart and applied Locktite I haven't had a single problem after several dozen back and forth trips to the courts.

charliefedererer
12-03-2012, 05:44 PM
^^^Good practical advice.

[At the same Harbor Freight I buy big boxes of nylon lock nuts for cheap and never assemble anything that will shake or move with the hardware supplied.]

3fees
12-03-2012, 08:42 PM
With a ball machine you can practice fielding lobs, moving in for the short balls, practice return of serves, practice taking the ball center court and driving it to the corners,practice slices , top spin lobs,ect. I have a tennis tudor...

:mrgreen:

tennisfan2k
12-04-2012, 05:49 AM
Thanks beernutz! Nice drills!

When I use my machine I typically start with a cone drill where I put an orange cone about 6 feet away from where I'm hitting and shuffle around it between each shot to help with footwork.

To help with doubles I will line up so that the balls are being throw directly at my right hip in order to practice awkward volleys. Or alternatively I'll crank up the ball speed and stand where the balls are being shot at center mass to work on reflex volleys. I have found it hard to get other players to work with me on volley drills at all, much less getting them to pound them straight at my body consistently.

Another thing that has helped me in doubles is to work on half-volleying by setting the machine so that shots are hitting right about the service line where my feet would be if I was coming in after a serve. I then practice coming in a few steps, split-stepping, and hitting a shoe-string volley or half volley. Being able to hit a few hundred of these in a row has improved my net rushing success by quite a bit.

Putting your machine up on a cart or even getting it higher than that to throw balls helps better simulate serves so you can work on returns of serve. I've posted a video of how I set up my machine to do this, as have other posters, but I don't do it much because it requires too much set up time.

tennisfan2k
12-04-2012, 05:51 AM
Thanks charliefedererer! Practice returning serve is not the priority right now, there is so much to improve with my game. :)

If you already have the basic stokes down, beernutz has great advice above to use the machine to work on your footwork.

In competition, players hit to the open court.

So start from a neutral postion, and run to the spot the ball machine is hitting the ball to, and recover as quickly as possible back to the neutral position. Keep repeating.

Each time you refill the ball machine, slightly increase the speed /spin. By the end of the session you should be able to handle tougher balls, and keep working on this over time.

Practice hitting to a target - you will want to be able to hit both deep down the line and cross court shots, as well as angled shots.

As beernutz said, work on running to volley the ball to develop your all court game,

Intenionally challenge yourself running to hit difficult volleys and half volleys.

Shoot balls to midcourt to practice approach shots.

Every time you have difficulty in a match with a shot, make a note of it, and practice it with your ball machine. For example, you may have difficulty with someone who hits hard crosscourt slices to your backhand that stay real low.

If you have room in your vehicle, putting your ball machine on top of a simple cart you can buy from Sears or Harbor Freight will allow you to keep the ball machine closer to the baseline as you crank up the speed. (At high speed, even with topspin applied, the ball machine on the ground has to throw from quite far away.)
http://s.shld.net/is/image/Sears/00959238000?hei=185&wid=185&op_sharpen=1&qlt=85

It is not high enough to ideally practice returns of serve, but it seems much more realistic than against a machine on the ground.
It also seems more realistic practicing your volleys.
The lower part of the cart can be used to bring your tennis racquets, balls, and water.

tennisfan2k
12-04-2012, 05:52 AM
That's the reason I bought it. :) Just want to find some drills combination that are useful in real matches.

With a ball machine you can practice fielding lobs, moving in for the short balls, practice return of serves, practice taking the ball center court and driving it to the corners,practice slices , top spin lobs,ect. I have a tennis tudor...

:mrgreen:

tennisfan2k
12-04-2012, 05:55 AM
Like your signature by the way, LOL

Great advice as always from charliefederer which reminded me of an issue with my cart I want to add. I bought a Harbor Freight cart (the gray metal $45 one) almost a year ago to push my machine and balls etc to my neighborhood courts and while it has been a great asset if you get that one be sure to use Locktite on the fittings otherwise they will come apart on you, or at least they did on mine. I ended up losing several nuts, bolts, and washers which were pretty easily replaced and after I took everything apart and applied Locktite I haven't had a single problem after several dozen back and forth trips to the courts.

njboy
12-05-2012, 04:27 PM
I just got a ball machine for myself, determined to raise my game to the next level in 1-2 years. Does anyone has some nice ball machine drills I can apply? Currently I am more a baseliner, really want to develop into a all court player.

Thanks.

http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=436529

tennisfan2k
12-07-2012, 11:13 AM
Good info. Thanks.

http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=436529