When I first purchased a tennis ball machine, I found myself wondering how such a small battery powered machine could shoot out at tennis balls at such high speeds. They’re impressively deadly. But what’s the secret? How does a tennis ball machine work? In this article, we examine the insides of a tennis ball machine designed for a tennis court (not one of those puny tennis ball machines for dogs). We can’t promise you’ll be able to build your own tennis ball machine after this read, but you’ll at least feel a bit smarter when you’re out hitting with a top tennis ball machine (one hopefully recommend by us!).
The key to solving how a tennis ball machine works is at the very beginning: air pressure. As the machine warms up and prepares to fire off a tennis ball, a fan collects outside air in an airtight compartment. In order to protect the tennis ball shooter from the debris of a tennis court, the air passes through several filters. Depending on the tennis ball machine and how it works, the air pressure inside can get very high!
As the pressure grows, a tennis ball machine drops into the chamber. On both the top and bottom of the chamber are two rotating wheels that move the ball into place. Hint: by controlling the direction of these two wheels, the tennis ball shooter can adjust the spin that the ball will have upon release. The ball arrives at it’s final location in what’s called the detent, an airtight loop that seals the chamber. Pressure is building…the wheels are spinning…and only a small flap at the front of the chamber is stopping the tennis ball from careening across the tennis court!
Voila! The small flap at the front of the chamber opens and at the same time, the wheels on the top and bottom of the ball spring into high-speed action. As the ball flies across the court, the available space in the chamber is now filled by another tennis ball that has fallen down from the ball hopper.
A simple three step process doesn’t quite explain the full complexity of how a tennis ball machine works. These are confusing machines. Other features that many top tennis ball machine models are include oscillation (sending balls to different sides of the court) and elevation. For a look at how a tennis ball machine working correctly looks, check out the video below!