Hitting with a pro or hitting ball machine/

PK6

Rookie
Hi all which is better? Lessons with tennis pro or hitting ball machine/practicing my serve alone? I think ball machine/practicing serve alone. What do you all think?
 

ttbrowne

Hall of Fame
There is no substitute for a good pro. But BM hitting is important to groove your game. One thing...the BM can hit directly to you, cutting down on your footwork. Set it where you do at least 30 minutes of side to side. Jmo
 
Hi all which is better? Lessons with tennis pro or hitting ball machine/practicing my serve alone? I think ball machine/practicing serve alone. What do you all think?
I don't think it's an either/or; there are pros and cons of each. It all depends on what you want to gain.

The ball machine and serve practice are available any time you have access to a court. You decide what you want to work on and for how long. And the pro costs a lot more.

However, the pro will give you feedback, possibly critical in preventing you from going down the wrong path whereas a ball machine can't.

How about a combination of the two? Lessons for learning and identifying and ball machine for practicing.
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
If you are working on or practicing nuance technique, ball machines are good and usually you have more control. For overall practice, variability, and such then I like real people on the other side personally.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Hi all which is better? Lessons with tennis pro or hitting ball machine/practicing my serve alone? I think ball machine/practicing serve alone. What do you all think?
Ball machine + watching lots of free tennis instruction videos on the Internet + posting for free help in the Tips forum of this board
 

vandre

Hall of Fame
i hit with my ball machine a ton. to me, it's good for that. a pro might be more beneficial if you want to "fix" a stroke or are having a problem figuring out why something isn't working. once you master the settings on the ball machine, there's a bunch of things you can do with it. i can set mine to practice overheads. i can do "mini-drills" with mine (approach shot+ volley). i can just put it on oscillate and grind. i can set up targets and work on placement (also good for solo serve practice) and depth. it you know what you want to improve, you're halfway there.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
If you have bad technique, hitting with a ball machine will just groove these bad strokes. Also, most bad technique arises from bad footwork and incorrect spacing - these are very hard to correct on your own. I would always recommend frequent lessons with a good pro early in your tennis development who can diagnose and correct your technique with customized drills. Using a ball machine in between lessons when the instruction is fresh in your mind can be useful as is doing drills with good players if you can convince them to hit with you.
 
I'm surprised ball machine manufacturers haven't incorporated a "Magic 8 Ball" device filled with phrases that randomly get announced after every stroke:

- "Bend your knees!"
- "Low to High!"
- "Brush up on the ball!"
- "Unit Turn!"
- "Foot Fault!"
- "Get me a falafel, I'm famished!"
- etc

Then mix in a little AI/ML and, kidding aside, you could probably come up with a decent instruction/feedback system.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
Learning tennis: Hit with a teaching pro
Practicing offensive skills: Ball machine
Practicing Defensive skills: Human opponent

It's hard to make a ball machine do something unpredictable. You can vary the locations but they tend to have dialled in settings for power and spin. Human opponents can be unpredictable with their advanced AI, so they can keep you on your toes which is better if you are trying to work on recovery footwork, anticipation, hitting from different platforms and hitting more defence oriented shots like stretched out slices and lobs.

The ball machine however is easy to set up to give you practice on your offensive shots. Wheelhouse FH's an BH's. Volleys.
 

Curtennis

Rookie
A good ball machine is gonna run 1500 USD easy. A good lesson, if booked in bulk should be maybe $75 including court fees if applicable. That’s 20 lessons for the price of one ball machine.

Granted you can sell it when you’re sick of it but then you’re back at square one anyways…

I had a ball machine. Dragging it from my house to my car to the court and back, along with a hopper and my bag was not fun. I didn’t use it anywhere near 20 times before selling it.
Hitting the ball machine only helped me get rid of the rust. 30 minutes of practicing bad form is more than 30 minutes wasted.
I would wager than if you booked 20 lessons with a competent pro spaced 1 a week and then you practiced/matched with a friend even just once a week along with it, you’d move up a full .5 ranking (assuming you’re now between 3.0 -4.0)
I don’t think you’d see that same increase with a ball machine.
 

time_fly

Hall of Fame
Hi all which is better? Lessons with tennis pro or hitting ball machine/practicing my serve alone? I think ball machine/practicing serve alone. What do you all think?
I would give two different answers for the serve vs other shots. For my serve, I get more mileage out of practicing alone. I'm motivated to get tips, sometimes from lessons, but often just from YouTube videos and go out and play with them on my own. I've made big improvements in my serve over the past several years this way.

For other shots, the ball machine can get you reps to work on one specific shot, but the pro can help with broader game play. When working on your game with the machine, set it to hit shots that you struggle with (low slice, short balls, moon balls to the backhand, whatever it is) and practice those repeatedly. Most people just use it for cardio and have it hit rally balls side to side, which is a nice workout but doesn't help your game that much. But a pro is better for general training unless you have a really fancy ball machine, because the pro can help you with more complicated, realistic patterns of shots.
 

nyta2

Professional
Hi all which is better? Lessons with tennis pro or hitting ball machine/practicing my serve alone? I think ball machine/practicing serve alone. What do you all think?
ball machine
PRO: is great if you're grooving a stroke for the first time. personally i found it invaluable when i went through grip changes.... consistent ball, slowish pace, etc... - don't need to schedule with anyone
CON: PITA to lug balls + hopper + machine

lesson with pro
PRO: they watch you and give you feedback; can feed exactly the ball you need
CON: $, often not alot of free rallying (eg. hand/racquet feeds), and if they are hitting, they are spending half the time watching the ball, and not you

hitting pro
PRO: once you're basic strokes are in place, you need variety of spin, depth, placement, pace, etc...... hitting pro will typically get it mostly into your strikezone
CON: $

takeaway, you need all three....
 

Ruark

Professional
Ball machines are good for drills, if you use them creatively. For example, the running forehand. Set the machine to hit the ball to a fixed point near the sideline. Stand about 20 feet away from that point. When the ball comes, run over to it and hit it on the run. This is GREAT practice. Do the same for the backhand. Or do both: set the machine to hit it straight down the middle, while you stand over on one sideline, then the other, alternating.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
I prefer a ball machine which comes with a pro who can carry the machine, set it up, operate the remote, and pick up the balls.

I think I just invented a new job category! The Tennis Caddy. It will generate millions of new jobs!
 
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Yamin

Semi-Pro
Depends what you can afford. Membership at a club + court + ball machine for a month is equal to a 1 hour lesson lesson where I am. Youtube and ball machine for me.
 
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sureshs

Bionic Poster
I think you will make a great Tennis Caddy. I have created a training course on whose completion you will become a Certified Tennis Caddy. Please contact me for details.

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