Ball Machine Drills

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by art-of-tennis, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. art-of-tennis

    art-of-tennis New User

    Jul 29, 2011
    Hey guys, I was just wondering what some good drills would be for a person who owns a ball machine? I've had one for a few years (the old silent partner sport I believe, from when they were the boxy style) and I feel like whenever I take it out I just hit some balls repeatedly and don't get much out of it. My machine can oscillate but it's not programmable.

    Right now I want to get better at swinging volleys and hitting balls while running btw.

    Thanks for any tips.
  2. dr325i

    dr325i Legend

    Nov 7, 2007
    IMO, the ball machine is great for 2 things:
    1) Quick and effective correction/improvement of the specific shot
    2) physical training.

    You can focus on one shot and repeat it over and over.
    You can load up 200 balls and turn it into a long rally that would get you tired...
  3. West Coast Ace

    West Coast Ace G.O.A.T.

    Feb 11, 2005
    So Cal
    Here's what I do (not using oscillate): set the machine up in the center - point it to your BH corner - you'll stand slight to your BH side - you'll have to decide how far you can be away from the BH corner you can stand and still 'intercept' the ball. Recover back toward the center (you'll set the frequency of balls being shot to give you time to get back) - repeat. Hit a bucket with your BH then do your FH.
  4. gully

    gully Professional

    Feb 22, 2004
    I have my daughter do a number of 20-ball "grinder" drills, aiming at cones set in the deep corners and the machine on "sweep" (SP model). We vary the spin, height, and pace of the ball and try to time the feed so that it comes out of the machine just when the struck ball reaches the baseline. Ten or twelve of these in a row with different settings is good for refining the timing/mechanics.

    For swing volleys, the same: 20 in a row, taken from midcourt, on sweep, aiming at targets. Same with overheads.

    Also good for doubles: take 3-4 balls in a row moving forward on each, from groundie to half-volley to midcourt volley to putaway. Let ball go and run back to baseline.

    It's very easy to get lazy against the machine, though, so we try to do high-intensity, high-efficiency workouts, maybe 500 balls in 30 minutes or so.
  5. West Coast Ace

    West Coast Ace G.O.A.T.

    Feb 11, 2005
    So Cal
    Agree 1000%. Many on these boards rip ball machines. But it is what you make of it. There are plenty of ways to get them up to get a great workout and hone your strokes. Of course, not a total replacement for 'live fire'.
  6. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

    Jun 10, 2010
    IMO, you should use use the ball machine to practice the shots you would hit in a match. The beauty of a ball machine is that you can get a lot of repetitions in a short period of time to groove in your technique. I would set it up to practice cross courts, inside outs and inside ins, corner to corner, fh and bh. Then set it up to hit shorter shots that you can practice hitting dtl. You can also practice volleys cross court, dtl and inside out.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2012
  7. westcoast777

    westcoast777 New User

    Aug 4, 2011
    Practice moving side-to-side, alternating between forehand and backhands. Emphasize bending your knees on both strokes, especially if you hit with a one-handed backhand.
  8. 86golf

    86golf Semi-Pro

    Aug 30, 2009
    My best use of the ball machine is to feed short lobs so I can work on my overheads. Hitting partners normally aren't interested in feeding 100 lobs to you so the ball machine is great for this.

    The other is technical analysis. Video tape a specific stroke using the ball machine and get feedback here. Otherwise I prefer live ball drills with a hitting partner.
  9. gindyo

    gindyo Semi-Pro

    Oct 21, 2007
    I bought my ball machine about 4 months ago and I really regret I didn't buy it earlier. If you are serous about improving your game in the shortest amount of time a ball machine is a must i think. for me the best use of the ball machine is to practice:
    1. Footwork
    2. You can hit lots of winners and the machine will not complain that you are not rallying with it :)
    3. it is great for practicing combinations like "extreme short angle - down the line" ( unless you are paying them not too many partners will be too exited about you hitting that drill with them for an hour)
    4. Or another very interesting game I came up with is playing real match with the machine. Here is how it is played: you turn on the oscillator and hit rally\neutral shots until you get a ball in the middle of the court that is easy to attack with your forehand, soon as you get that ball you hit an approach shot and get to the net ( to make it little bit harder I put an object about two-three feet in front of the base line and every approach shot must land behind that object or else I cant come to the net) . the only way you can win a point is to finish the volley at the net anything else is a point for the machine. You keep score like in normal match. Any one who can win a set like this against the machine must be a pretty good player, I personally barely win one out of six games. This one is very engaging once you get the hang of it, like a video game but you are not sitting on the couch :).
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2012
  10. Sparky

    Sparky Semi-Pro

    Dec 25, 2013
    Reviving this thread to see if other members have drills to share. Thanks.

    I have a Tennis Tutor Plus Player model for 2 months and have taken it out once. I regret not getting the Model 2 instead m the size is a bit cumbersome to transport.
  11. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

    Dec 9, 2010
    I have been doing a drill I call " Everything is a forehand" basically just set it to two line and then hit to a target on either side but hit everything as a forehand. The goal is to make the speed faster and faster to improve court coverage and foot speed.
  12. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Hall of Fame

    May 17, 2011
    The Heath Waters website has an excellent ball machine video where he has the person play a set against the ball machine. You need to have one with a remote control that allows you to turn it off/on easily.

    To win a point, you need to hit 10 balls in a row in. Not just dinking the ball in, but hitting with match pace. If you miss before 10 shots, the machine wins the point. You can vary the difficulty by increasing the pace of the ball machine, the spread of the shots, or decreasing your target (balls must land past the service line, etc.).

    It's not as easy as it sounds….
  13. Tight Lines

    Tight Lines Professional

    Jan 14, 2013
    Cincinnati, OH
    This. Recovering back to the center is key IMO. I would even put a cone in the center and force yourself to go around it. Anyone can hit balls that are fed to them. It's only when you are on the run where your flaws are going to be exposed.

  14. uncle pollo

    uncle pollo Rookie

    Jul 1, 2014
    Set it to "exterminate". You will sweat bullets .

Share This Page