Accuracy and power are both key elements of elite-level tennis and both can be improved through repetitive practice. If you are serious about your tennis but do not have a full-time coach, it can be hard to get the regular practice you need; that is where a ball machine can come in handy.
Even players who work with a coach also work with ball machines because they allow coaches to get a closer look at a player’s technique, helping them perfect their stroke. But if you are on your own, a ball launcher can help you to fine-tune your game and build tour strength and fitness. You can invest in a machine or rent one at your local tennis club. Once up and running, you can practice for as long as you like.
A brief history of ball launchers
Tennis machines were first used in the 1920s by the French tennis player and businessman Rene Lacoste. He patented a hand-cranked machine which required an operator at the other end of the court. It was sold under the Dunlop brand.
The first electric machines appeared at tennis clubs in the 1950s. These had adjustable speed and trajectory systems and did not require a partner to operate. By 1968, Robert H. McClure’s new “Little Prince” machine was launched under the Prince brand name. These air-pressure machines were the first available on a large scale to the general public and revolutionised training sessions.
They became the standard for many years until cheaper battery-operated portable machines hit the market.
Today, you can buy a machine from as little as $700 or hire one from a tennis club for around $15 per hour. You can adjust the speed, trajectory and regularity of the balls and you can even program them to apply spin to the deliveries.
Benefits of a tennis ball machine
With a machine, you can learn to hit the perfect stroke every time by repeating shots until it becomes second nature. You can also work on your body and foot positioning. As you build up confidence in your stroke, you can vary the height and speed to push yourself to the limit. If you work with a coach or a friend, they can surprise you with a range of different shots to prepare for the toughest in-game scenarios.
You can work on your forehand, backhand, lob and smash at a time and pace that suits you. If you are serious about your game, a machine helps you to put in the extra hours that can make the difference between a good player and a great player. However, a ball machine can only take you so far, if your goal is to see your name listed alongside the top professionals in the latest tennis betting markets, you better team up with a coach as well!
The quality of the machines can vary depending on how much you spend. The cheaper air-powered machines are kinder on tennis balls than the more expensive rotating wheel systems. However, they are not quite as accurate. But for a player on a budget, they are perfectly suitable for everyday use.
The more you spend, the more features you will get; for example, the best machines can spin the ball different ways and even fool you by moving from side to side before firing the ball. And remember, if you need to transport the machine, stick to a portable model. Even the cheapest ones will help you to improve your game. But remember, a ball machine is just one thing that can help you get better – professional players need a whole team behind them to reach the pinnacle of the sport.