• July 10, 2017

7 Best Tennis Ball Machine Drills

Drilling on a tennis ball machine can be a rewarding, fun, and exhausting experience. If done right, tennis ball machine drills allow a player to work on perfecting a particular stroke or piece of his or her game.

Using a tennis ball shooter can be particularly valuable for conditioning. Since this opponent never wears out and never misses, you’ll be provided a unique chance to push your physical abilities to the limit. But remember, tennis ball machine drills cannot be the only practice you get. It’s important that you continue to seek out live opponents to keep a well rounded game. Finally, make sure you purchase a reliable top tennis ball machine for your drilling.

View Best Tennis Ball Machines Here

Supplies Necessary for Drills Below

Warning: Without careful attention, tennis ball machine drilling can actually make your game worse. Repetition is generally a good thing, but if you’re practicing a bad habit, you’ll just make it worse. Make sure you get proper instruction before working with a tennis ball machine. There are also numerous YouTube videos that can help you learn how to perfect your strokes before practicing them with tennis ball machine drills

How To Use The Drills Below

The tennis ball machine drills are designed to be used in any word and for any duration. Depending on the time you have and what you’re looking to work on, you can create your own by mixing and matching these drills.

To see what drills fit your game best, we recommend a 90 minute work out with your tennis ball machine. Spend 10 minutes experimenting with each drill and the remaining time to stay hydrated and adjust ball machine settings in between drilling.

General Recommendations for Tennis Ball Machine Practice

There are three main things to keep in mind when you pull out the ball launcher. In addition to the tennis ball machine drills below, these tips will ensure that the time you’re spending on the court is used valuably and efficiently.

1. Practice what needs work

NOT what you’re already good at. Time and time again I see my students practicing their favorite shots on the ball machine. If your forehand is solid, practice your backhand. If your volleys are looking good but your weakness is to a lob, set the ball machine to an elevation and practice your overhead. In a match, exploit your strengths. In practice, exploit your weaknesses.

2. Move the tennis ball launcher around the court

If forehands are your weakness, it’s GREAT to only hit forehands for an hour straight while doing tennis ball machine drills. But that doesn’t mean the tennis ball machine should stay static. Instead, take a break every ten minutes to move the ball machine on the court. Better yet, use two line oscillation if available and practice hitting open stance, closed stance, inside out, and outside in shots. Start simple and continue to build complexity as you continue to progress through your tennis ball machine drills.

3. Vary the Feed

Even more important than adjusting the position of the ball machine is adjusting the feed type. Most ball machine (including most lobster tennis ball machines) allows the player to adjust spin: you should do this for all of the tennis ball machine drills below. Simply put, your live opponents won’t hit you the same shots over and over. They will vary spins, elevations, power and depth. You mu practice exposing yourself to the same variability your opponent will.

“The Cross-Courter” Tennis Ball Machine Drill

cross-courter-tennis-ball-machine-drillGoal:

This simple tennis ball machine drill is designed to warm up your strokes and develop a rhythm. Drill the most important shot in tennis: the cross court ground stroke.

Directions:

Place the ball machine in the center of the court halfway between the service line and the basement. Adjust your settings so that the ball machine is hitting a medium pace shot with good clearance to one side of the court. If you have two line functionality on your machine and feel comfortable on both sides, enable this setting so that the feeds switch between your forehand and your backhand. Every ball you hit should go cross court for this tennis ball machine drill – we’ll graduate to down the line later on.

Focus On:

  • Footwork: aim for at least 10 steps between each shot.
  • Depth: Make sure every ball you hit lands behind the service line and ideally within three feet of the baseline.

Advanced Level:

Alternate between hitting cross court and down the line. If you have two-line oscillation settings, hit one forehand cross court, one backhand cross court, one forehand down the line, one backhand down the line and the repeat.

“The Approacher” Tennis Ball Machine Drill

approacher-tennis-ball-machine-drill

Goal:

Drill your aggressive shotmaking and practice generating depth and power when your opponent gives you a floater ball. Additionally, this drill assists players learn how to move through the ball when making contact.

Directions:

For this tennis ball machine drill, set the launcher at the center service T. Adjust the setting so it throws light, lofty balls landing at or just behind the service line. Be sure to leave sufficient time between each feed – you’ll be running a lot! Begin at the baseline and move forward through each ball as you attack into the court. Focus on hitting down-the-line and generating as much power as possible while still keeping safe control over your strokes.

Focus On:

  • Power: now is the time to really hit out! There is no opponent to get annoyed if you miss a lot. Take care not to throw out your arm.
  • Moving Forward: leave sufficient time between each feed so that you can move forward through the shot. You should begin the drill at the baseline and finish 2-3 feet in front of the service line.

Advanced Level:

Don’t set this drill to oscillate. Instead, add a series of normal strokes before the approach shot to simulate a live stroke. This may break up your rhythm a bit, but you should find consistency again after refocusing on generating power and moving forward to the net. You can also add volleys to the drill after the approach.

“Consistent King” Tennis Ball Machine Drill

consistent-king-tennis-ball-machine-drillGoal:

Build consistency and precision with this tennis ball machine drill. The goal is NOT to hit with power, but instead to target a small area of the court over a high net.

Directions:

Set the ball machine in one the alleys halfway between the service line and baseline. At 50% power, have the ball machine feed normal pace balls straight ahead into the alley. The player should stand at the baseline and at only 50% power return the balls directly back toward the tennis ball machine. Take care not to hit the ball machine with a powerful shot!

Focus On:

  • Limited Power: this drill is NOT about hitting it hard. Limit your power and focus on placement and consistency.
  • Building a streak: For beginners, start at 5 in a row and as you begin to feel more comfortable, increase your goal by increments of five.

Advanced Level:

Although the doubles alley is already the highest part of the net, try using a tennis net height extender to make this drill even more difficult. To be successful at this advanced tennis ball machine drill, you’ll need to generate significant racket head speed and spin so that your ball drops back into the alley after completing the stroke.

“Volley-Baller” Tennis Ball Machine Drill

volley-baller-tennis-ball-machine-drillGoal:

Drill your volleys and increase your reflexes in preparation for play on the doubles court. This is a fantastic drill for players who feel weak and targeted on the court during doubles play.

Directions:

Place the ball machine at the baseline (or closer if you’re more advanced) and turn up the speed dial. Launch the balls near the center of the court and if available and advanced enough, turn on two-line oscillation for this tennis ball machine drill. Position yourself in the center of the court, halfway between the net and the baseline. Mix up the volleys you hit: some angles, others deep.

Focus On:

  • Footwork: You hit volleys with your feet! Keep the elbow in and the wrist cocked. Don’t move the arm much at all and let your feet do the work. Move forward and attack the ball.
  • Depth: Depth on volleys is often overlooked. But while performing this tennis ball machine drill, it’s a great time to perfect the deep volley. Being at the net is a great opportunity to take time away from your opponent in both doubles and singles. Keeping the ball deep helps accomplish this goal.

Advanced Level:

If your tennis ball launcher allows, add in a lob approximately every five shots. This will greatly increase the physical endurance required to increase the drill. Best of all, perform an advanced level of this tennis ball machine drill by randomizing the balls the launcher sends your way and try to keep up!

“The Sequencer” Tennis Ball Machine Drill

sequencer-tennis-ball-machine-drillGoal:

Shot variance is key to keep your opponent out of a rhythm and constantly guessing where you’ll hit the ball. This tennis ball machine drill perfects your ability to mix up the ball. You’ll end up hitting a lot of tennis balls on this drill so consider a top tennis ball hopper to help you pick up all those balls!

Directions:

Place the tennis ball machine in standard position as demonstrated to the left. Use normal single-line oscillation, depth, and keep each ball the same. While the tennis ball machine feeds you the same shot over and over, you will practice changing with every ball. First, hit a standard steady cross court ball. Second, hit the same down the line. Third, lob the ball back cross court. Finally, hit a drop shot. Then repeat. Make sure to practice this progression for both your forehand and backhand.

Focus On:

  • Rhythm: this drill required immense mental concentration. This is how you train yourself for tournament play! It can help to say each shot as you hit it: “cross — line — lob — drop”
  • Targeting: Use targets to train your brain to aim for specific spots. Reward yourself with a fist pump every time you make contact with a target.

Advanced Level:

Instead of having the tennis ball machine feed you the same ball every time, set it’s mode to random but keep your progression the same. You’ll find this is extremely difficult and similar to the normal version of this tennis ball machine drill, it trains your mental game, not just your physical game!

“The Depth Demon” Tennis Ball Machine Drill

depth-demon-tennis-ball-machine-drillGoal:

Develop a high loopy shot and generate additional racket head speed with this tennis ball machine drill. By hitting for ten minutes with a tennis net height extender, you’ll train your brain to hit with extra clearance leaving you ample room for error.

Directions:

Set up the portable volleyball net over the center of the court. Place your tennis ball machine farther back than usual for this drill and raise it’s elevation so that it can reach over the extended net. Starting with forehands and then moving to backhands, focus on generating as much spin as possible while still getting the ball over the net. Keep the ball deep! Try to hit the ball HARD, but don’t hit it into the net. This will help you generate additional racket head speed.

Focus On:

  • Power: Unlike the consistency tennis ball machine drills, here you should aim to punish the ball! But you’ll quickly find that with a raised net, it’s not as easy as it looks.
  • Positioning: Try to take the ball on the rise! Don’t let it fall down back toward the court before making contact. Run TO the ball, don’t let it run to you.

Advanced Level:

Combine this drill with the consistency king tennis ball machine drill! Good luck – by forcing yourself to hit out and keep the ball in the alley at the same time, you’ll quickly become a fierce player with ground strokes like Nadal!

“Deep Driller” Tennis Ball Machine Drill

deep-driller-tennis-ball-machine-drillGoal:

Force yourself to drill the ball deep into the court to keep potential opponents on their back foot. If you find that you are generally playing too defensively, this is the number one tennis ball machine drill you should be working on.

Directions:

Place the tennis ball machine in standard position at the T of the court or just behind it. Adjust the settings so you’re getting a slightly loftier shot than usual. Set up a rope at the rear of the court that is 3-5 feet away from the baseline. Hint: a tennis court is 27 feet wide so you’ll need at least 30 feet of rope. Aim to get at least five balls in a row inside the target area. Increase your goal in increments of five as you advance.

Focus On:

  • Clearance: You can use this drill in combination with the depth demon tennis ball machine drill to really test your abilities. The higher the ball is over the net, the deeper it will go!
  • Eye on the Ball: When trying to get the ball deep, it’s important to keep the head down! You’ll be inclined to lift your head to see if you hit the target area, but keep your head down through the shot and only when you have you completed your follow through should you look up.

Advanced Level:

Set your tennis ball machine to two line oscillation and practice keeping both your forehand and your backhand deep at the same time. Better still, improve this tennis ball machine practice exercise by setting your machine to random. A DIY Tennis Ball Machine is unlikely to suffice for this drill!

Conclusion: How to get the most out of your tennis ball machine?

You can read and read about the best tennis ball machine drills, but if you don’t actually do them, you won’t get anywhere. So stop reading and hit the courts! While you’re out there, keep the general tips in mind that can be found at the top of the page.

And don’t forget to purchase the supplies that will help you take these tennis ball machine exercises to the next level!

Summary
7 Tennis Ball Machine Drills
Article Name
7 Tennis Ball Machine Drills
Description
The tennis ball machine, if used correctly, can be a fantastic tool for perfecting your game. This article walks players of all skill level through 7 unique drills that if properly executed will leave your game improved and your body exhausted.
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Publisher Name
Tennis Club Supplies
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