Intro

Tennis ball machines have been around for a while and are now becoming more and more affordable. These machines are now equipped with technology that allows you to program custom workouts. These machines are great for all skill levels and can help improve your game. Unlike a tennis partner, tennis ball machines provide a consistent shot so you can practice the same return over and over again. Tennis ball machines can reach speeds up to 95 mph (152 kph). That’s crazy fast, but don’t be intimated by the speed because you can adjust the speed and types of shots on most machines. This article will go over how the machines work, how they create topspin and backspin, random oscillation, and some of the cool technology that you can find. 

How are tennis balls propelled? 

There are two common methods a tennis ball machine works to propel the ball across the tennis net. The first and least effective method is pneumatic propulsion, which uses technology similar to a vacuum cleaner in reverse. This method is noisy because it requires a lot of air to launch tennis balls. Pneumatic propulsion cannot provide custom topspin or backspin. The ball instead is launched like a knuckleball in baseball. They are less predictable, making the other method, counter-rotating wheels, more superior. Most pneumatic machines have been discontinued. 

Spinshot and lobster tennis ball machines use a pair of counter-rotating wheels. These wheels spin at high velocity in order to propel the ball forward. A hopper feeds the tennis balls, the ball is then dropped between the two rotating wheels. This is done by an electric powered hopper that is used to start and stop the balls being channeled into the launch zone. Once the ball is dropped into the launch zone, the two wheels squeeze the ball, once the ball is squeezed, which creates enough friction on the wheels to grab and then launch the ball forward. Keep in mind there are certain types of tennis balls designed for tennis ball machines

How do the machines create topspin or backspin?

The method to create topspin or backspin is fairly simple. Spin is created by revolving one counter-rotating wheel faster than the other. The two wheels are stacked on top of each other. If you want to create topspin, the wheel on top will spin at a faster speed, compared to the wheel on the bottom. 

To create a backspin or slice, you guessed it, the wheel on the bottom will spin faster than the wheel on top.

If you are looking to buy a tennis ball machine, make sure to check if it can spin the balls. Some tennis ball machines have the two wheels on horizontal sides of the ball, rather than top and bottom; therefore, they are unable to spin or slice. 

What is random oscillation, and why it’s important?

Oscillation is defined as a movement back and forth at a regular speed. With random oscillation on tennis ball machines, it’s a program that replicates a match. It does this by keeping you on your toes. Random oscillation will launch the ball at random angles, directions, speeds, and spin. This program will not only help improve your shot, but it will also help you practice your footwork and fitness. Practicing without this program can be boring. That’s why if you want this program, make sure to check for it before purchasing a tennis ball machine. They are not always available on the basic models. 

Apps and Custom Drills

What’s exciting about tennis ball machines is that they are keeping up with the latest technology. Many of the top tennis ball machine companies have apps where you can customize drill settings to your personal preference. By customizing your own drills, you can change whether or not you want to work on your forehand or backhand, the speed of the ball, the level of spin on the ball, the trajectory of the ball (you can adjust the height to work on volleys or lobs), and feed rate (how fast next ball will be launched). 

You can also change the name of the drills, so it will be easier to remember which drill is which. The apps are available for Apple or Android devices. 

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