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View Full Version : A ball machine: is it really worth it?


6_lotus
09-01-2006, 12:23 PM
I would kindly appreciate the opinions of both "long-time" and "new" owners of a tennis ball machine. What is your experience, is it really worth it?

My fear is that I will like/use the ball machine only for the first few months then I will gradually find it too boring/too cumbersome/too easy/too ..etc.

Or that the ball machine will break down too many times and will eventually be too much of a pain to fix.

My situation:

I used to be a pretty good club player (won a couple of club tournies), playing up to 6 h/week of which 2 were with a teaching pro. Then stopped for 12 months. Then started again but now limited to 2 h/week max and no teaching pro, due to relocation, new job and crazy work hours/schedule.

A ball machine seems like the right solution but I estimate that to recoup my "investment" I need to use it regularly at least twice a week for at least 1 year and half and then some.

Thanks for your help

PS: currently considering the Lobster Elite II or III (despite reviews)

zhan
09-01-2006, 12:31 PM
if i have money i'd definately buy a portable one!
and i dont even play that much...
BUT
i think if you join a club (indoor club) you can use their machine...
and you just need to pay a fee for the club membership...

6_lotus
09-01-2006, 12:46 PM
My current club (outdoor but 5 mn from my place) doesn't have one. ...My previous club had one of those "old" pneumatic stuff. It was broken half of the time and when it worked it basically pitched over quasi-moonballs with zero spin and pace.

However I've scoured the internet for reviews and videos of the latest kind of ball machines and they seem pretty adequate to me.

The question now are: are they reliable? do you/would you still use them after a couple of years?

Ciao

Mark Rainey
09-01-2006, 12:53 PM
Have my Lobster Elite 3 for about six weeks. The wheels look great but are of defective design and construct and will fail quickly. It is fun to use and can be challenging, but a human partner is funner. The right type of balls is always a concern - pressureless are best, but hard. I have used it frequently, but not certain about the future. I hope it is durable with repeated use. If you got the bucks to blow, get it. If money is tight, don't.

6_lotus
09-01-2006, 01:32 PM
Of course the more money one has, the easier it is to go for "emotional" buys. I am certainly excited with the prospect (hype?) of a reliable "partner", consistent drills, and grooving my shots. However, my financial situation (and to tell you the truth, my dear wifey) dictates that, even if I have the cash, I must come up with some minimal business case :-)

Cruzer
09-01-2006, 01:44 PM
I have had my ball machine for just over a year and my wife and I both use it at every available opportunity. I have a Tennis Tutor 4+ and am quite happy with it. Since I am having to take some time off from tennis due to having surgery a couple of weeks ago I am looking forward to hitting with my ball machine to get back in the groove when I can start up again.

SpinItIn
09-01-2006, 05:28 PM
I've only had my machine (TT+ w/ remote) for a little over a month, but so far I'm quite happy with it and have absolutely no feeling of buyer's remorse. I already see three big benefits:

1. Convenience - No phone calls, no planning, no cancellations. If I come home from work and the weather's nice (and the HoneyDo list is caught-up :o ) I can throw the machine in the car and be hitting balls at the local city park in <20 minutes.

2. Flexibility - I can pick out one or two shots and work on them for an entire session if I want without worrying about depriving a hitting partner.

3. Consistency - At my low (2.5-3.0) level neither I nor most partners I've hit with are consistent enough to rally for extended periods to work on basic shot production. The ball machine is reasonably close (albeit without the feedback) to the repetition of having a pro or even a partner feed me baskets of balls for this purpose. This is probably not such a big deal for more advanced players.

All in all I'd rate a ball machine as a somewhat pricey but worthwhile investment. I suppose some more advanced level players might find them less beneficial, but I'm probably a few hundred thousand practice swings from that point myself.

racquetfuel
09-04-2006, 06:08 PM
I've had my lobster elite 2 for a few weeks-
there is no doubt that it is fun and convenient during the good weather to know you can usually play anytime you want. I am getting back to tennis after 25 yrs off so its been nice to get some semblance of practice so I don't embarass myself with hitting partners. I live in New England though and to play tennis i have realized that I must join an indoor club given the short season. Of the 3 clubs I am considering, 2 rent a ball machine at 10$/hr and won't let you bring yours in, the other lets you use theirs free. All of them are using Playmate brand which is certainly better than the portables. furthermore, they all have leagues and ladders that pair you with partners so I'm wondering if having your own machine on top of the 2000-4000/yr needed for a family club membership is really worth it also.
Another issue- at the public courts, the ball machine is a bit of an imposition of neighboring courts, even if you try very hard, the balls do often roll to the next court-most people are nice about it but some do get understandably annoyed. Anyway- if cash is no issue it is certainly great to have one for those spontaneous outdoor play opportunities. But would probably join a club first as you'll get a lot more play experience and then can decide if a ball machine is needed
RF

Kevo
09-04-2006, 09:01 PM
I really enjoy mine. It's funny though that since I got it, all of a sudden a lot of people want to hit with me. 6 months ago, I couldn't find anyone to hit with most of the time. Anyway, it's really nice to be able to play whenever you want, plus tennis is my main form of exercise now, so I can "work out" when ever I want. And you can certainly get a good work out with one.

Ten.Is
09-04-2006, 10:03 PM
I want a ball machine...you know guys know any ball machines at a decent price?

Ten.Is
09-04-2006, 10:05 PM
I have had my ball machine for just over a year and my wife and I both use it at every available opportunity. I have a Tennis Tutor 4+ and am quite happy with it. Since I am having to take some time off from tennis due to having surgery a couple of weeks ago I am looking forward to hitting with my ball machine to get back in the groove when I can start up again.


How much did you pay for your Tennis Tutor?

Cruzer
09-05-2006, 10:01 AM
How much did you pay for your Tennis Tutor?

It was about $1,600 including sales tax and delivery charges.

skuludo
09-05-2006, 08:24 PM
Get the SAM Robot and you can play a set against Roger Federer simulation. A new machine will cost about the price for a Subaru WRX STI 2006.

The machine will also keep track of the score.

redeagle
09-06-2006, 01:09 PM
I happen to know a friend who started playing tennis in his 20's and got a ball machine and its helped him out a lot, and he still uses it a lot