Help!! looking for a ball machine.

Discussion in 'Other Equipment' started by Bobo96, Aug 16, 2013.

  1. Bobo96

    Bobo96 Semi-Pro

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    I'm looking for a ball machine to get some extra hours on court. I am a 16 year old high level junior player, say 5.5.

    what exactly does oscillation mean?

    the machine must be portable with a re chargeable battery. It must hold a decent amount of balls. It must have different spins and trajectory and decently high speed to challenge me. I really want one that I can do different patterns with say backhand crosscourt, backhand crosscourt, forehand dtl. I would like random with.different depth, spin etc, but it is not necessary.

    I don't need remote, fast charger or any other things that make it easier, I care more about the actual quality and functionality of the machine.

    I don't have a specific price as I feel I will save a lot on lessons, but I basically want is cheap as possible, I'M PAYING FOR IT! I'm somewhat intrigued by the silent partner machines but am not exactly sure what all the features mean, and if any of them have what I'm looking for.
     
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  2. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    With tennis ball machines, just like almost everything else, you get what you pay for, the cheapest won't do you any good especially considering your level.

    Personally I think ball machines are overrated, many people once in possession of such devices get enthusiastic for a few weeks and then it weans off. Unless you want to practice one particular stroke I think you get more bang for the buck training with partners of the same or better level and then there is always the wall.
     
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  3. jonestim

    jonestim Professional

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    The machine will rotate sending multiple balls from one side of the court to the other. Depending on the speed of oscillation and how often the balls come out you could have anywhere from 3-6 balls from left to right, then the same number on the way back. So you would get a pattern like - wide forehand, normal forehand, runaround forehand, two backhands, then it would start coming the other way giving you one or two more backhands, then onto the forehand side again.

    You could kind of do that with oscillation. Another option would be getting one with a "2 line" feature. It would send one to your forehand, then one to your backhand, repeat. You would have to modify the pattern to FH DTL, BH DTL, FH CC, BH CC, etc...

    Every option on the machines adds money. I have a Tennis Tutor Plus that just has oscillation, topspin, speed and height adjustments. I have had it for about a year and a half and use it a bit more than once a week on average. A remote would be nice, but I manage without it. I have wanted two-line on a couple of occasions, but not enough to have payed the extra for it. Topspin adjustment is nice, as is oscillation. Almost all have speed and height adjustment.

    Having a machine that does random spin/pace/depth starts adding a bunch of money. I don't know other brands, but to get a Tennis Tutor Plus Player it is $1750 with no remote. Ouch.
     
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  4. Bobo96

    Bobo96 Semi-Pro

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    With the oscillation can set it to certain parts in the court? So lets say you wanna set it to 3 locations can wide forehand, wide backhand, then a shot in the middle for either inside out forehand or backhand.
     
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  5. DirtBaller4

    DirtBaller4 Rookie

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    The Silent Partner Lite is gonna give you all the options you need for the least amount of money. They are 695 but can be found for 500 used if you are lucky.

    They have oscillation, spin, good pace, big bucket, nice wheels, and a good company to back it all up.

    I bought a tennis cube which is fine for me since I just wanted to iron out one stroke by doing thousands of reps.

    I think @ 5.5 you would need more pace and the spin option that the Silent partner has to offer.

    I may trade up in a few months.

    Good luck!
     
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  6. jonestim

    jonestim Professional

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    No. It just goes the full width of the court. Programmable ones are out there, but even more spendy. I don't know much about them.
     
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  7. 2ndServe

    2ndServe Professional

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    tennis tutor, especially in the states. Their customer service is the best I've ever experienced.
     
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  8. Bobo96

    Bobo96 Semi-Pro

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    the SP lite battery life scares me! Only 2 hours. However the star is 850 and lasts for 6hours, so that may be a possibility.
     
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  9. bobtodd

    bobtodd Rookie

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    Silent Partner Lite

    I have this ball machine and really like it. It has spin, oscillation, and can produce a fast top spin ball that is challenging to most players. Also, you can set it up for returns and lobs. Highly recommend this ball machine. Battery life is two hours.
     
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  10. JPW

    JPW Rookie

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    I purchased the Silent Partner Lite, but after having some issues with balls getting stuck I returned it and Silent Partner sent me a Silent Partner Sport for free. So I have experience with both the standard battery and the heavy duty battery.

    First, a 5.5 player is pretty darn strong in my mind. I'm 4.0 / 4.5. What you asked for in the original post, where the ball could basically land in multiple locations on the court forces you in to the more expensive models of any ball machine manufacturer because you'll want a programmable ball machine.

    In my case I got very caught up in stats around ball machines when I went hunting for one. I really thought I might need something that would send me a ball at 90 mph. Boy was I wrong. Again, I'm not at the leve you are, but you would be surprised how many people out there use ball machines and are no where near there potential. I'm in this category. I probably have the speed set on 3 / 10 and I typically don't bother with oscillation. It allows me to switch back and forth between my forehand and backhand and try to fine tune my strokes. This seems to be the same way most people are using it that I see. So for this kind of activity the Silent Partner Lite is the least expensive way to get you there. Anything above that is probably overkill.

    Again, for what you are hoping for, it sounds like you might need a programmable ball machine. Silent Partner has these and if you can't tell I'm a fan of the company. Some might think I'm not because when I bought my Lite I had one that arrived damaged because of shipping (not SP's fault) and another got the balls stuck on the ramp. In both cases SP allowed me to return the ball machine (at their cost, they paid for shipping in both cases) and then sent me an SP Sport for my trouble. At one time the outer shell on the Sport became slightly concave impeding the balls from flowing down the ramp properly. A quick e-mail to SP and they suggested a heat gun to mold the outer shell a bit to remove it from hitting the ramp. Balls now get stuck maybe 1 / 500 balls, very acceptable. Also, I've had to add weatherstripping inside the basket to allow all the balls to clear properly. They tend to get stuck at the bottom perimeter of the basket sometimes. At another point in time the feed wasn't moving, but the wheels inside the ball machine were. I wrote the company and within in hours they had me check the circuit board. Sure enough one of the contacts had come lose and once I connected it back up it worked fine. My point is I do think the design itself could be improved on a little, but I don't really care. The company has stood behind the product every inch of the way and what I especially appreciate is their responsiveness. I'm not waiting days for a resolution because I typically want to be using the ball machine the next day. They respond quickly and the e-mail is from someone who has an intimate understanding of the design so they offer solid resolutions. For as much as I use it, it has been one of the best purchases I've made.

    Anyway, back to the batteries. The Lite comes with the standard battery. I remember that even though it was the smaller battery I still couldn't get it to die with one outing. It had juice in reserves and this was after using it for probably 2 - 3 hours. In my case, with the Sport, you can forget it with the heavy duty battery. I'll die sooner that that battery will with one outing. I actually use it for multiple outings. So on a single charge I can easily take it out 2 or 3 times and it still doesn't die. One thing that is sort of funny is I know SP thought they were doing me a favor by sending me the Sport. The one thing you have to keep in mind is that the heavy duty battery adds a considerable amount of weight. I was always sort of amazed how light the SP Lite was (pun intended). But I find the SP Sport to be pretty heavy with the upgraded battery, especially when you are trying to lift it out of a trunk at an odd angle with an odd body position. For a 16-year old 5.5 player this is probably irrelevant. You probably bench press cars for fun :) I'm 45 and had back surgery about 20 years ago :(

    Good luck with your search and let us know what you decide. As some other posters mentioned there are some good ball machine companies out there, Lobster and Tennis Tutor come to mind. I'm biased toward Silent Partner because they seem to be the least expensive out there, but it gets the job done well and after owning one for 3 years it is still going strong and looks like new.

    Bobo, one other thing I'll touch on that you might keep in mind is that I personally feel these ball machines are a very solid investment. I don't have any intentions in selling mine, but I have noticed that when people do they are snatched up quickly. I suspect you'll be able to buy one, enjoy it for some time, and then when the time comes and you no longer find you are using it, you'll be able to get a lot of that money back when you sell it.
     
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  11. pingu

    pingu Semi-Pro

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    I have a Tennis Tutor Plus machine that has spin and oscillating features and really enjoy it. I don't know about you, but I always quit before the battery ran out. It always gives me a good work out. At any level, I think you'll find a machine is very helpful. I use it to improve my foot work, ground stroke, and volley.
     
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  12. DirtBaller4

    DirtBaller4 Rookie

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    battery

    I hear ya, if you aren't going to be using it solo, 2 hours may not be enough.

    But! You can get a heavier battery for 23 bucks here.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
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  13. bobtodd

    bobtodd Rookie

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    Terminal type

    Will the F2 terminal work in the Silent Partner lite? It has a F1 battery now.
     
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  14. Chotobaka

    Chotobaka Hall of Fame

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    When I was shopping for a replacement battery for my Star Edge (after almost four years of use) I saw F2 to F1 adapters. I went with a battery that had F1 terminals so I didn't need them, but I see no reason why you couldn't use an F2 battery so long as the physical dimensions are the same as the outgoing battery's.
     
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  15. DirtBaller4

    DirtBaller4 Rookie

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  16. DirtBaller4

    DirtBaller4 Rookie

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  17. Bobo96

    Bobo96 Semi-Pro

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    thank you for the very long and useful reply!!!! I'm not so worried about the speed. I'm a very aggressive player so I just want to drill 2 hours a day on the ball machine aside from match play just so I can be confident in a match that I won't make silly mistakes :). I'm trying to decide whether I want a fancy machine or a more affordable machine like the SP Sport or Tennis tutor plus. I'm leaning towards the sport, or a used Sp rival from sp's **** account.

    I know in the long run I will be saving money w/ball machine but its hard to justify the money.

    I feel it may be worth it even if it isn't programmable. For example I did something interesting with my clubs bal machine. Drilling cross courts with a partner is obviously very useful, however, when you only have three balls, and pretty much all the people I hit with miss much more than me l it seems somewhat pointless. I parked the ball machine where a person would be if I were hitting forehand CC w/he/she and just drilled forehand CC same with backhand. I'm also sure if I'm somewhat creative I can do some patterns!

    thanks for all the replys!
     
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  18. lightthestorm

    lightthestorm Rookie

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    My club has a playmate ball machine that I use a lot. It costs a lot though. Some of the older guys have their own Lobster machines. But it looks like you settled on one, so that's good.

    A 5.5 16 year old... wow. That's like at least top 25 nationally in that age group.
     
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  19. Bobo96

    Bobo96 Semi-Pro

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    oh, no no. I'm a 4 star, aspiring blue chip :) I go back and fourth with two 5.5's at my club, and usually beat the 5.0's. I figured that would make me a 5.5?

    Maybe I just play better in those practice matches, because there is no real pressure. Or maybe my game is ahead of my movement :)
     
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