• June 20, 2017

The Best Portable Tennis Ball Machine of 2017

Unfortunately, most of us don’t have our own tennis courts in the back yard. But nonetheless, the tennis scratch must still be itched, even if there is no one to play with. That’s when a reliable portable tennis ball machine becomes a must. Once you’ve made the upfront investment into the machine, ownership of a top portable tennis ball machine allows you to easily transport it to (hopefully nearby) public tennis courts and be smacking balls within minutes. By using your purchase often, you’ll improve your forehand in no time using the tennis ball drills we recommend.

In this guide, we look at all factors that make a tennis ball machine great: durability, price, versatility, battery life and more. But in the search for the best portable tennis ball machine, one factor stands above the rest: can you move the darn thing. Tennis ball machines are infamous for their cumbersome nature. But luckily, there are some well-built products on the market that will fit in your vehicle, even if you have no room next to all of the other tennis equipment in the vehicle.

By the way, if portability is not the most important factor to you, visit our page on the best tennis ball machine to find the best machine for you.

Best Portable Tennis Ball Machines Comparison

Lobster Elite Freedom

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Price: $

Weight: 35 lbs (16 kg)

Capacity: 150

Rating: 2/5

Summary: The best portable tennis ball machine available for those looking to spend as little money as possible on a ball machine.

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Lobster Elite Liberty

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Price: $$

Weight: 35 lbs (16 kg)

Capacity: 150

Rating: 4/5

Summary: The best portable tennis ball machine available when considering both functionality and portability.

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Spinshot-Plus Launcher

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Price: $$$

Weight: 46 lbs (21.3 kg)

Capacity: 120

Rating: 5/5

Summary: The best portable tennis ball machine for those looking for a slightly more robust and high functioning machine.

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What should I look for to determine what makes a tennis ball machine portable?

indoor-tennis-lesson-with-portable-tennis-ball-machineIf you’re looking for basic information about tennis ball machines, please head to the primary source for how to chose the best tennis ball machine. Otherwise, this section will explore what to look for if find the best portable tennis ball machine is your top concern.

Weight

Weight is likely the most important factor in a portable tennis ball machine, especially if you know that you will need to be lifting your purchase in and out of a vehicle. The machines on this list vary from 35 to 46 pounds. Remember that this weight does not include the weight of the tennis balls that you will be placing inside the hopper.

Size

The dimensions of any object that needs to be maneuverable are important. In this article, we also consider whether you’ll be able to fit your new purchase into your vehicle.

handle-of-spinshot-plus-tennis-ball-machineClearance

If you’re purchase a portable tennis ball machine because you know that you’ll be wheeling it over uneven or rocky surfaces on your way to the courts, then make sure you consider the distance between the bottom of the machine and the ground.

Handle

A sturdy, foldable handle is an important feature to consider. Some tennis ball machines have been criticized for their poor handle construction despite great functionality. Take care to find a machine with solid carrying handle.

Disassembly

Finally, both when taking your portable tennis ball machine out of the box, and when stowing it after a hitting session, it’s important to have a quick set up and take down. This section will examine the time it takes for the user to pack up his machine.

LOBSTER SPORTS ELITE LIBERTY TENNIS BALL MACHINE

After reviewing portable tennis ball machines across the market, we gave the Lobster Sports Elite Liberty tennis ball machine the title of best portable tennis ball machine. It is small, light, maneuverable, and yet still highly functioning. Best of all, it comes at a reasonable price. With the same build as the Lobster Sports Elite Freedom model, the Elite Liberty just brings a few additional features which make the additional $100 in price well worth the money.

Bottom Line: If you’re going to be moving around your tennis ball machine, then the Lobster Sports Liberty Tennis Ball Machine is the best portable tennis ball machine for you.

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Review: What makes the Lobster Elite Liberty a portable tennis ball machine?

Weight

At just three pounds heavier than the Lobster Elite Freedom model, this machine is light and easy to carry. If all you need to do is lift the machine into your vehicle, then don’t worry about having issues.

lobster-sports-elite-liberty-portable-tennis-ball-machine-featureSize

The Lobster Elite Liberty has the same effective, ergonomic folding design that all other Lobster machines possess. It’s folding ball hopper and compact size reduce the cumbersome nature of the portable tennis ball machine.

Handle

Like all other Lobster machines, the handle folds down making it easy to maneuver.

Disassembly

The set-up and take down for the Lobster Elite Liberty is a breeze. The directions are written by someone who speaks English as their first language and the quick fold down design makes clean up and storage easy.

Clearance

While the clearance on this machine isn’t it’s forte, the portable tennis ball machine is light enough where if you need to carry it over severely uneven ground, just picking it up is likely your best option.

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Other Important Factors to Consider:

lobster-elite-liberty-remote-best-portable-tennis-ball-machineSpin Control and High Functionality:

Unlike it’s cheaper sibling, the Lobster Elite Liberty allows spin control and this is important. Real players use spin so if you want to get lifelike practice, you need to have a machine that can train you with spin. In addition, the Lobster Elite Liberty has fantastic placement with each ball landing within 3 feet of it’s targeted location. Finally, the Lobster Elite Liberty can hit a ball pushing 80pmh which is an impressive feat for a portable tennis ball machine. This increased speed makes it preferable to players of a high level. But do be aware that adding top spin to the shot will reduce it’s top speed well below 80mph.

Battery Life Complaints:

Some customers have complained of issues with the battery life. While Tennis Club Supplies has never experienced battery life issues with this portable tennis ball machine, we understand the worries. We are fairly certain that the majority of battery issues from this machine come from the fact that when received, the battery is not plugged in to the machine.  This is not immediately obvious and Lobster should address this problem by including clearer instructions on correctly installing the battery in their user manual. If battery is your only worry about this machine, we don’t think it should stop you from purchasing.

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Lobster Elite Liberty Review: Can we call it the best portable tennis ball machine?

Tennis Club Supplies considers the Lobster Elite Liberty to be the best portable tennis ball machine available. It’s sturdy build, small size, and high functionality make it the perfect machine for players of all levels. This machine has the strength and endurance to make you think that it would need to be plugged in to a wall, but in reality, it operates off a battery. With the ability to go up to 8omph, add top spin and back spin, and use a variety of drill and oscillation settings, we recommend the Lobster Elite Liberty as the best portable tennis ball machine on the market.

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SPINSHOT-PLUS REVIEW

spinshot-plus-portable-tennis-ball-machineThe Spinshot-Plus, Spinshot’s midtier tennis ball machine, is the least portable tennis ball machine on this list but also offers the highest functionality. Coming in at 21kg (46 pounds) for the battery operated version, it is the heaviest machine on our list. But it’s smart, compact design turns those 46 pounds into a maneuverable load. Despite it’s heavier weight, we included this machine for it’s phone operated remote control app and versatile oscillation functionality.

Bottom Line: If a portable tennis ball machine is important, but you’re also unwilling to sacrifice other features, this is the best machine for you. The few extra pounds are made up for by the increase in functionality.

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Review: What makes the Spinshot-Plus a Portable Tennis Ball Machine?

Weight

In summary, the Spinshot-Plus takes an approach focusing on maneuverability and durability in it’s attempt to become the best portable tennis ball machine. The other tennis ball machines on this list use a plastic frame, but the Spinshot-Plus is constructed of a solid metal frame. This make it the ideal machine if you have to roll over uneven or rocky ground on your way to the court. But because of this sturdier construction, its weight comes in higher than other portable tennis ball machines.

Size

The size of the machine is manageable and the large wheels make it easy to roll. But, like with any object that is nearly 50 pounds, you will find it difficult to lift into a car. Especially if you are of a smaller frame. We can’t recommend this machine for people who cannot lift 50 pounds and who will need to move the machine in and out of a vehicle.

Handle

All Spinshot machines feature a fantastic suitcase style extendable handle. I have never had issues with the handle: well built and useful. In addition, Spinshot customer service does a fantastic job and sends replacement parts for free. So if your handle happens to break and your machine is still under warranty, you’ll have no problem getting another one.

Disassembly

Not much disassembly of the SpinShot-Plus is required. It’s small rectangular shape just requires you to push down the suitcase style handle. This allows for quick set up and take down: a great feature for any portable tennis ball machine.

Clearance

Finally, the clearance of the Spinshot-Plus can cause some problems. It has a low clearance to the ground of just a few inches. If you are dragging it over rocks or an uneven surface, it may drag a bit. But this should not be a major issue.

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Other Important Features:

Finding the best portable tennis ball machine requires more than just portability. Below are the other stand out features that the Spinshot-Plus offers. Due to it’s larger size, this machine stands out as the one with the highest functionality on the list.

spinshot-plus-weight-phone-appPhone Operated Remote Control:

While the other machines on this list require the purchase of a separate remote control (often to the tune of a few hundred dollars), the SpinShot-Plus offers a free Android and iPhone phone application to control this portable tennis ball machine. This is a big advantage, especially for those customers who find a remote control a necessary feature. Not to mention, having the remote control on your phone provides you with one less thing to lose!

Fantastic Oscillation Control:

Compared to the other machines on this list, the Spinshot-Plus offers by far the greatest functionality. Notable, while still qualifying as a portable tennis ball machine, the Spinshot-Plus allows: random horizontal oscillation, 2-line horizontal oscillation, vertical oscillation, random horizontal and vertical oscillation, 2-line horizontal and vertical oscillation and oscillation programmability. If keeping things interesting by mixing up the settings is a key selling point for you, buy this machine.

SpinShot-Plus Review: Can we call it the best portable tennis ball machine?

Tennis Club Supplies recommends this machine for those who have a little extra money to spend and who are able to lift a heavier machine. It is by the highest functioning portable tennis ball machine on our list. It’s oscillation features can simply not be compared to the Lobsters. So if you are someone who prefers to get run around in circles on the court, we recommend this machine.

If you are of a smaller size and would have trouble lifting 45+ pounds into your vehicle, then think twice before purchasing this machine and instead consider the Lobster Elite Freedom model.

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LOBSTER SPORTS ELITE FREEDOM PORTABLE TENNIS BALL MACHINE

The Lobster Sports Elite Freedom Tennis Ball Machine is the cheapest machine on this list. For the budget tennis players out there, this is the portable tennis ball machine to buy. Although the cheaper price point offers slightly fewer features (discussed below) than the other machines available, its size and performance are still of fantastic quality given the cheaper price. In addition, despite being small and maneuverable, the machine holds 150 tennis balls when full and with a maximum battery life of 2-4 hours, you’ll be sure to get an exhausting work out in.

Bottom Line: If small, light and affordable are the most important factors for you when choosing your portable tennis ball machine, then this is the launcher for you. But beware, this machine does not allow the user to control spin meaning that it won’t hit you realistic balls with either topspin or backspin.

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Review: What makes the Lobster Elite Freedom a portable tennis ball machine?

Portable-Tennis-Ball-Machine-Design-FeatureWeight

The Lobster Elite Freedom weighs in at just 35 pounds. When compared to the Spinshot-Plus, this machine feels light and is a breeze to lift into the vehicle.

Size

The Lobster Elite Freedom has a fantastic ergonomic design which provides considerable assistance in seeking the title of the best portable tennis ball machine. When folded up, its size is small. In addition, the machine possess large sturdy wheels making it easy to roll it on uneven ground while en route to the courts.

Handle

The handles on all Lobster machines are well designed and trustworthy. When you reverse the ball hopper, the handle folds back over the machine making the machine easy to fit in a normal, small sedan-style vehicle.

Disassembly

The folding structure of the Lobster Sports Elite Freedom portable tennis ball machine is one of it’s biggest selling points. The smart interactive design creates for a seamless experience when disassembling and storing your machine. Note: when assembling the machine, make sure the battery is connected. Sometimes the battery comes unconnected causing confusion and unnecessary customer service calls.

Clearance

The clearance of the Lobster Sport Elite Freedom model is not high. However, we don’t consider this to be a strike against it as a portable tennis ball machine. The machine is light enough where lifting it over any uneven surface does not create an issue.

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Other Important Factors to Consider:

By spending less on your portable tennis ball machine, you get fewer features. What you’re missing out on is discussed below:

no-spin-control-lobster-elite-freedomNo Spin Control:

Tennis club supplies considered the lack of spin control a major con while reviewing the Lobster Elite Freedom as the best portable tennis ball machine. The goal of a tennis ball machine is to simulate a real player and players of almost all levels use top and back spin. Even if you are a beginner and your opponents are not hitting spinny balls yet, as you improve from your practice, you’ll quickly want to make your drills more difficult. The Lobster Elite Freedom does not give you that option.

Limited Functionality Options:

In addition to losing the ability to control spin, the Lobster Elite Freedom also reduces the number of drill settings available as compared to other Lobster portable tennis ball machines. Here, vertical oscillation, 2-line settings, and electronic elevation options are not included with this machine.

But no need to worry too much, you still have corner-to-corner random oscillation, 50 degree lobs for overheads and moon balls, and high speeds topping out at 70mph.

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Lobster Elite Freedom Review: Can we call it the best portable tennis ball machine?

It’s small, foldable 35 pound design makes this tennis ball machine portable. But it’s features are not up to par with the other available portable tennis ball machines. The lack of spin control and limited drill options will stifle your learning, even if you are a beginner. If you are looking to keep things on the cheaper side, we recommend spending $100 more and purchasing the Lobster Sport Elite Liberty model instead.

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Conclusion: What is the Best Portable Tennis Ball Machine?

The award for best portable tennis ball machine goes to the Lobster Elite Liberty Tennis Ball Machine. In Tennis Club Supplies’ opinion, this machine provides the perfect mix of maneuverability with a versatile set of features of settings. If you are looking to move your tennis ball machine to other courts on a consistent basis, it is key to purchase something that you can easily roll, lift and place into your vehicle.

If you are looking to spend a little bit less money, then we recommend the Lobster Elite Freedom Tennis Ball Machineas the best portable tennis ball machine for you. With the same build as the Elite Liberty model, there is no loss of portability by switching to this slightly cheaper model. Of course, you are sacrificing some features in return for the reduced cost.

Finally, if you are able to spend a bit more money, and if you are able to handle a slightly heavier machine, we recommend the Spinshot-Plus as the best portable tennis ball machine. Coming in with a slightly higher price point, we think the additional greenbacks you’ll have to shell out are well worth the huge variety of oscillation features the Plus provides.

Consider adding a tennis ball hopper to your purchase. This will assist with transporting your balls (an important concern for someone seeking a top portable tennis ball machine) and with quick ball pick up.

Good luck on your search! And no matter what you decide to purchase, we always recommend that our customers buy from Amazon.com. Purchasing through a trusted website like Amazon allows you peace of mind with your payment information, cheaper shipping costs (especially important for a large item like a tennis ball machine) and a variety of choices. Happy hitting!

The Lobster: One of the Best Tennis Ball Machines

Summary
The Best Portable Tennis Ball Machines of 2017
Article Name
The Best Portable Tennis Ball Machines of 2017
Description
A portable tennis ball machine allows a tennis player to train anywhere without a partner. We review handle, clearance, size, weight and many other features to help you make the right decision. Find reviews on the best portable tennis ball machines here.
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Tennis Club Supplies
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