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ffxjack 02-08-2013 05:34 PM

Ball machine: different depths?
For those with ball machines for more than a few months, how important/useful is a feature that allows for various depths?
2 line feature?

Thanks. Deciding between silent partner, lobster, tennis tutor.

IdrinkYourMilkshake 02-08-2013 06:13 PM

I added a remote to my SP lite and made it so I can stop the motors to save power and can also start/stop ball feed. The remote is important, no doubt about it because you need to take breaks and it's a real hassle going back to the machine every time you need a pause for whatever reason, including the start of a session.

2 line, only important if you have a partner.

Various depths, only important if you want the convenience of pushing a button to change the type of shot to work on. I just work on the same depth of shot near the baseline and then set the machine up manually for another type. But I don't practice every type of shot because I'll hit around with a partner too.

beernutz 02-08-2013 07:05 PM

My $.02, I would not worry about not having a machine which was not adjustable for depth using the remote. I use about 170 balls in my machine which I repressurize but which still have a good bit of pressure variation not to mention variations in how much fuzz they have left. These differences cause the balls to vary in how far they get thrown on my machine so that I am always having to move my feet for each shot even if the ossicilation feature is off.

FWIW, I have owned an SP Star since early 2010.

ffxjack 02-09-2013 02:27 AM

I appreciate the feedback. I almost bought an used lobster 2 for $800 but it didn't have varying depths so I hesitated and it was sold within 2 days. They were going for grand model. I want to get something that I won't get bored with for many years.

2ndServe 02-09-2013 05:18 AM

get one with lots of spin and maybe oscil if you want more exercise. Also you have to make sure it fits in your trunk.

ffxjack 02-09-2013 06:17 AM


Originally Posted by 2ndServe (Post 7201822)
get one with lots of spin and maybe oscil if you want more exercise. Also you have to make sure it fits in your trunk.

We have a minivan. Everything will fit:)

By oscil, you mean left/right? I believe all of them do that. However, only certain models will shoot different depth balls.

tball 02-09-2013 02:17 PM

Neither of these features are important.

Remote -- is a convenience feature. Prevents you from walking to other side of the court to press a button. It is kind of a necessity if you are training someone and need a pause to show or explain something.

Oscillator is only a neccesity if you have kids, specifically 2 kids, and they both want to play at the same time.

Depth. My machine does not have random depth variation. It might be convenient if you want to practice net shots -- with varying trajectories of the ball coming at you. Sometimes, I have to practice running up to drop shots. This is another circumstance where it might help. I have to run to the back of the court, so that I could run up again.

I've had the machine for 5+ years, and when I use (as opposed to my kids), I only use straight up shots -- to hone a particular shot.

Machine cannot be a substitute for playing, and trying to force it to play like a partner is going to be futile.

For me, far more important factors: (1) how does it fit in the trunk and (2) how does it recharge.

ffxjack 02-13-2013 05:16 PM


Originally Posted by tball (Post 7202704)
I've had the machine for 5+ years, and when I use (as opposed to my kids), I only use straight up shots -- to hone a particular shot.

Which machine do you own?

Thanks for everyone's input. About to pull the trigger on one.

BoingTennis 02-13-2013 05:43 PM

Been using a Lobster Grand V LE for abt 2 years. My comments:

Useful features:
Remote: a must-have! Nowadays most models come with a remote anyway.

Horizontal oscillation: useful for training footworks, hitting while running, etc.

Two-line: useful when training forehand-backhand alternating shots. I really like this feature for warming up. I set the machine one two-line, narrow width, and just warm up both my forehand and backhand. Works really well for warming up volleys as well. No need to change the setting, just come up to the net and start volleying.

Less useful features:
Random oscillation: I find normal oscillation is more than sufficient. Plus random oscillation sometimes gets too extreme, throwing impossible-to-reach balls.

Vertical oscillation/depth: don't get used as much as horizontal oscillation. Others might find this feature useful though.

Programmed drills and customized programs: never liked the pre-programmed drills and the custom programs takes too long to set-up. Better to just find a partner and play sets...

Bottom line:
I kinda regret getting the Grand V LE, an Elite 3 or Grand IV would have been sufficient. Get the Elite 3 if you don't mind the simplistic remote and back panel. The Grand IV has a much better remote and the back panel is digital with LCD.

For a cheaper alternative, I like the Silent Partner Quest. It's really similar to the Grand IV yet it's much cheaper. No personal experience with the Silent Partner, cannot vouch for its reliability.

tball 02-13-2013 06:08 PM

I've had Playmate Volley. The only features I've ever used is the remote. My kids love the oscilator (aka 'two line').

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