Ball Machine Recommendations

#1
Hey everybody...new to the forum.

My two main hitting partners are gone...one moved and one is out indefinitely with shoulder issues. I've been looking into getting a ball machine. Was wondering if anyone had any recommendations.

My main hitting partner was the state champion in Texas at 4.5 in 2016. I'm looking for a machine that can match his pace...spin...direction...etc. Most machines, I gather, will deliver me as many forehands and backhands as I would ever desire. But I'm looking for something that can also mix it up...move me side to side and front to back. Something that can do some rapid fire so I can get some net work in. Something that can hit both topspin and slice. And definitely something that can bring some pace.

I've been looking at a few different models. Silent Partner Scoop Smart...Spinfire Pro 2...Tennis Tutor Plus Player...and a few others. One other thing that I NEED in a machine...I need something that can either plug in OR play on battery. I've heard mixed reviews on battery, but if I am going over to the local middle school courts, there's not an extension cord long enough to get me over to the buildings! So a battery is a must in some cases.

I was hoping to find something in the $1,000-$1,200 range...but I might be looking more towards the $2,000 range. If you know where I can get a good deal on used or demo models, I'd appreciate that.

Finally...and this is not as big a deal to me as it might be to some others, but portability? I drive a little Nissan Sentra...so something that can fit in my back seat or trunk. I don't need a ball hopper or anything...I'll carry tennis balls in a trash bag if I need to. That doesn't bother me. But I just need a machine that can fit fairly comfortably in my car.

Thanks for taking the time to get this far...and I look forward to hearing your experiences and recommendations on different machines.

Your friend in tennis...Greg! :)
 
#2
Silent partner sells gently used demo models on e-bay at a discount. They have their own store there (silentpartnerbyauction). I bought one that way and it was in brand new condition and also came with 1 year warranty. So far it works great.
 
#4
I got the edge sport. I was not looking to spend a lot of money so this one was perfect for me. All I really wanted was something that oscillates side to side and had adjustable spin control. It also had a heavy duty battery which adds some weight, but it seems to be lasting a long time (I haven't even charged it once yet). I only got it a few weeks ago, so I am still checking it out, but I am very satisfied with what it does do far. Elevation control is manual but it's easy to adjust and since I use it mostly to drill specific strokes over and over and over, I have no issues with that. I have used lobster machines too. They are also good. I would suggest that you go for the highest model that fits within your budget.

The e-bay store does not have every model for sale all the time. I imagine it depends on what they have available at a given time. But I would go used that way and maybe get a more sophisticated model for your money.

Keep in mind that if you really want randomness front to back as well as side to side, you will have to look at the more expensive models. Some of the upper end models will pretty much simulate total match play for you. Just look at the comparison charts on the various websites.
 
#5
Yeah...I've looked at those. That's when I discovered that my $1,000-$1,200 budget was going to be closer to $2,000! Seems like the three I mentioned...Spinfire Pro 2...Silent Partner Scoop Smart...Tennis Tutor Plus Player...as well as a couple of others...are all in the same general family. I'm hoping to hear from more people like yourself who have hands-on experience with these machine. My buddy (the 4.5 player) has the Silent Partner and he's a big fan. He's going to let me use it. The club I play at has a Tennis Tutor that they are going to let me hit on next week.

If I'm going to spend $2K...I want to make sure I'm getting something with all the functions/features I want. I've read some threads that say the Tennis Tutor doesn't get anywhere near 85mph...but then others say that's not accurate. Just want to make the most educated decision before I spend that kind of money. I definitely appreciate your input, regardless of the level of machine you bought. If your Edge Sport is reliable and functions properly, that's a good reflection of the company and their quality...so it stands to reason that a higher or lower model will function similarly.

Anyway...thanks for the info. Hoping to get some more feedback on those other brands.
 
#6
Tennis Tudor . I have had mine for many, many years, 25+. I have only had to replace the battery during all those years. I had to contact the company for info about how to replace the battery. They were great and send me the instructions for my exact machine. Quick and easy. Top notch customer service! I recommend Tennis Tudor to anyone that is looking to buy a ball machine.
 
#7
Can't say enough, or over-recommend the benefits of investing in a feature rich ball machine with advanced remote control!!!
I researched all the various machines and companies for years. I was'nt sure which ball machine "feature/function/option or ability" was going to be important, crucial or necessary - after I purchased and started to actually use on the court. I was afraid of getting bored, or being limited or not challenged. So I decided that I'd rather spend another $500 - $1,000 and get all/every option available......than to spend $1,000 - $1,500 and not be stimulated.

For me.....that machine was Lobster's "programmable"
Elite Grand V L.E. (limited edition). I've had it for 7 years and have had NO trouble or issue. Still using the original battery!! Fixing to upgrade the excellent remote I got with the machine to an Lobster's iPhone/iWatch remote. There are simply too many options, choices, features, capabilities to list. I encourage you to research various machines, companies and their capabilities, etc. There are other good machines and companies. Most important thing is to GET ONE! I can play anytime I want. I Do not need a partner. I am a 4.5 player and the machine wins everytime.
 
#8
hey monkeymuggs,

do you often use the drill settings on your machine? What kind of drills do you do? I'm thinking of getting the SP Star which only has 1 spot and oscillation. I'm debating between that and getting the SP Quest which has 2 line. The advantage of the SP quest is that is can be upgraded in the future to the SP Smart which can do programmable drills.
 
#9
For the first couple of years, I relied heavily and used the "6 separate/unique - multiple parameter + location - programmable shots" feature found on my Grand V LE. I also used the the multiple tweaks available on the - left/right - forehand/backhand - oscillation drills - extensively to make minor adjustments to my strokes/grip, etc. Within the oscillation program above....you can adjust for narrow/medium/wide ball placement; also have machine toss ball for a short or drop type shot, or to the svc line or baseline; and of course speed of ball, underhand or top spin and then "rate" (# of seconds before ball is delivered again). Each and/or just one of these separate parameters.....and the various tweaks/adjustments applied.....are HUGE, and provide a totally different + unique challenge to work on and/or master!!

Recently - I've started delving more into the multiple other "drills" the machine has built into it. Quite honestly, I tried several of the drills right after receiving machine 7 years ago, and I was simply not "good" enough or in the appropriate physical shape/condition to handle/play against these machine drills. Thanks to this ball machine - I am playing at an entirely different level now, and have also lost over 40 lbs. My game/shots/consistency have drastically improved and am in far better physical shape/condition. Other ball machines, I'm sure, could/would also provide similar results. My love for this game, and tennis in general, was simply important enough to/for me.....to invest in what I thought/felt was the most feature rich/laden machine available. Lobster has improved their software and remotes and I will be sending my machine in for these upgrades.

Again, I just can't recommend enough researching/buying the "right" ball machine for yourself and your budget enough!! Quit putting it off and go for it!! It is tremendously worth it!!
 
#10
ahh I just can't quite pull the trigger. I'm waiting for a couple things

1) They had a sale a silent partner but now its done (except for the fake permanent sale)
2) I'm waiting till more tennis clubs open here for the summer and then i'll post ads looking for a used machine.

I do have a question for you. I've heard of many machine owners saying that the machine is great but then stopping entirely. That's my fear, I wouldn't want to waste $2000. What has allowed you to make such great use of your machine?
 
#11
ahh I just can't quite pull the trigger. I'm waiting for a couple things

1) They had a sale a silent partner but now its done (except for the fake permanent sale)
2) I'm waiting till more tennis clubs open here for the summer and then i'll post ads looking for a used machine.

I do have a question for you. I've heard of many machine owners saying that the machine is great but then stopping entirely. That's my fear, I wouldn't want to waste $2000. What has allowed you to make such great use of your machine?
I had no one to hit with during the day time hours when I was off. I worked where I had a couple of days off between shifts. None of the people I worked with played tennis. I hated to pay a pro at the club to just hit around with me, too expensive. The leagues I could not join because of my work schedule and erratic days on/ days off. So I was stuck with either not hitting at all or biting the bullet and buying a ball machine. I actually bought it from a company that had a 30 day return policy. I figured what the heck, I'll try it for 30 days and see how I like it. That was 20+ years ago. Still like it and use it, especially in the spring after the long winter in the house spell. I use it about 2-3 times a week from spring through fall. Only during the summer do I stop when the temps are too high or the humidity is really high as well. I hit usually 800- 1000 balls each time I take it out.
 
#12
mctennis describes similar situations/scenarios/frustrations that I too faced and was constantly confronted with. Finding ready and willing hitting partners/players can be quite a challenge. Finding players @ your same level/ability is rare at best and often impossible.

I just wanted to hit tennis balls. Lots of them. When and where I wanted. And I too could NOT afford to pay professionals @ their hourly rate to simply hit/play with. I got to the point where I was no longer willing to deprive myself of the joy + benefits of exercise of getting on the court and working on my strokes, game, etc. After dreaming of and wanting a machine for years, I started researching them and could see that they were indeed a viable option/solution.

Kanata.....I too was petrified that I would "invest" 2k and the machine would simply stop/break and that I would be screwed trying to figure out what happened or which part broke and how to fix/repair it. Thanks to the internet and forums like this one.....I was able to verify and allay most of those fears. The simple truth/fact is.....most of the machines and companies commonly mentioned here are very reliable. The primary/main brands mentioned here also offer and honor their warranties. I was especially impressed and comforted by "Lobster's" - 2 year warranty. I called Lobster and other companies and was able to speak with live/real people, ask questions, etc. I have had NO issues with my machine or remote since I bought it 7 years ago. And quite amazingly..... I am still using the original battery that came with my Grand Elite V and it is still outlasting me during my weekly 600 to 1000 ball hitting sessions!! (I simply followed the battery maintainance directions/instructions for the charger that came with the machine).

I could go on and on as to what a deal and value I feel my ball machine has provided/given me. I "splurged" and spent a bit more than I perhaps originally planned or intended. But I am very glad I did, and here is why:
Now that my game has progressed and I am playing in the tournaments I had always hoped and wanted to....I have been greatly humbled, for Match/Tournament play is an entirely different animal!! Any + All weaknesses in your game will be exposed. Right now....high and seemingly "simple" volleys to both my forehand/backhand have confounded me. "Overheads" have also been inconsistent and killing me in matches. Generating my own power against "pushers" has also been a problem (been exposed) and has cost me countless points, games in unforced errors. Points/Games/Matches.... I thought/felt I had under control and would/should have won - I lost. With my Grand V Elite LE - I am able to program these specific shots, locations, heights, speeds/spins, scenarios, etc. (overheads, high/floating volleys, easy simple middle of the court "set ups", etc.) and patiently/slowly and specifically - work on each of them - at my own speed/pace/time and comfort level! No pressure to perform or "get it" during an expensive 1 hour tennis lesson. How likely would it be to find someone to patiently feed me these specific shots over and over!?! How much would it cost to find/pay a willing Pro to feed me these exact shots.....consistently.....in order for me to see/feel and make necessary adjustments in order to get comfortable hitting those shots and to eventually/hopefully become proficient, adept at hitting them!?!

The above is how/why I feel my machine has been an investment and in fact has easily cost justified itself!
 
#15
I'm in same boat. I want a premium machine and have heard too things about a lobster. But the remote is $$$? You'd think that remotes would come with a >2k machine. So I'm seriously considering a Silent Partner Smart. It comes with a remote. If they'd only take my big name internet 6 mos free financing as payment I'd have one on the way
 

Vanhalen

Professional
#17
I bought a Silent Partner Edge Star in May of 2012. Best tennis investment I've ever made. I used it so many times in 2012-2014. I was without my normal tennis partners..both moved. What a life saver. In 2015-2016 I had about 4 guys always calling me to hit and hardly used it.

Now, two guys are injured, one moved, and one has young kids and is hit or miss. Charged the battery today and went out at 6pm. Hit for an hour and realized what I was missing:

Got to hit a ton of forehands and now regained confidence in that stroke. Could you imagine asking your hitting partner to hit you forehands for an hour????
No time wasting chit chatting. Yeah....I don't really care to hear all the details of your kids tee ball game.
Did what I wanted to do, when I wanted to.
 
#18
hi Vanhalen,

thanks for your input. I was thinking of getting the Star but now I'm leaning towards getting the Quest and then upgrading to the SMART later. Do you ever wish that you could set your own drills? Do it get boring that the Star can only hit to 1 spot or do random?
 
#19
I'm in same boat. I want a premium machine and have heard too things about a lobster. But the remote is $$$? You'd think that remotes would come with a >2k machine. So I'm seriously considering a Silent Partner Smart. It comes with a remote. If they'd only take my big name internet 6 mos free financing as payment I'd have one on the way
And on the opposite opinion, I've heard too many horror stories of all of the other ball machines. Battery life in others are horrible, gear mechanisms, angle, speed.....
I had a Lobster Tournament 401 with spin adapter for almost 20 years - using it 3-4x/week for at least 1 hr/day - all year round. Only problem I ever had was some rain water pools in the ball hopper - nothing a couple of drill holes would take care of.
It was just too large to lug around in my trunk of my new car, and finding courts to plugin was too difficult.
I bought a Lobster Liberty about 7 years ago and never had a problem.
 
#20
I bought a Lobster Elite without the long/short feed although you can upgrade (the switches are there) by sending it in. Generally I am pleased with it and get a good cardio workout, However if you are looking for heavy top spin I can't recommend it the speed slows right down on top spin setting and is nothing like playing a strong opponent.
That said I wonder which machines can genuinely feed 60-80 mph top spin?
 
#21
I've had a Playmate for several years and have loved it! I've used other brands in the past, and in my experience, Playmate wins hands down. I don't work for them, don't know anyone who does work for them, and am not a paid endorser. It's a great ball machine.
 
#22
I will second the workout part of a machine. A truly random pattern will work over just about anyone. I try to use mine more for specific drills. You will quickly learn how much time 2 players spend not hitting the ball.

I do not have a remote and it is not a huge problem. A remote would be nice but I just shut the machine down when I pick up balls. My machine also gives you time to get over to the other side after you start it.

I think it is a great investment for drills. I tend to try to use it when courts are fairly empty.
 
#23
I just bought a Silent Partner Lite R for $650 on the auction site. It came from the manufacturer and was lightly used. I've had it for about two weeks and I love it. It's great for practice and great for fitness. It's already firmed up my volleys and my slice backhand, and I'm seeing improvement on the two-hander I'm learning.

Plus, it's just fun. I can go out at 6 am and get 90 minutes of good practice and exercise in before work. I will feel great for the rest of the day.
 

nvr2old

Professional
#24
I just bought a Silent Partner Lite R for $650 on the auction site. It came from the manufacturer and was lightly used. I've had it for about two weeks and I love it. It's great for practice and great for fitness. It's already firmed up my volleys and my slice backhand, and I'm seeing improvement on the two-hander I'm learning.

Plus, it's just fun. I can go out at 6 am and get 90 minutes of good practice and exercise in before work. I will feel great for the rest of the day.
Agree totally. Great workout and fairly quick.
 
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