Author Topic: Tennis Ball Machine. Worth it?  (Read 2616 times)

bnadz

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Tennis Ball Machine. Worth it?
« on: February 05, 2018, 06:44:22 PM »
I was wondering if anyone thinks buying a tennis ball machine is worth it?

I am a relative novice and I hate hitting with my girlfriend because she is pretty good and I feel like my lack of ability to rally could be detrimental to her game, also I am sure it is not as much fun for her to play with someone of my caliber.

Which brings me to my dilemma. The only way I will get better is to play more but it is hard to find partners of similar strength. I could also get a membership to a gym/tennis club for $150+ a month. So I ask, anyone who has or has had a tennis ball machine, was it worth it? It seems the one I would like is around $1500.

I know I could find more Mustachian types of activities but I have loved tennis ever since the first time I played.

FrugalToque

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Re: Tennis Ball Machine. Worth it?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2018, 07:14:54 PM »
I've gotta go with "no way"?

$1500 is a heck of a lot of money.  Maybe, if you're already a millionaire and you're set for life with no financial worries at all (You already have a house paid for, no worries about transportation etc.)  Then you could blow money on recreational projectile devices.  Until then, $1500 is "a mortgage payment", "a good part of a user car" or a nice, tidy sum to chuck into your retirement account.

You have to ask, is that machine really going to get you the same $1500 worth of happiness and fulfillment that the 3 options I mentioned above could get you?  If not, it's a definitely no-go.

Continue to play tennis, find out if the girlfriend is really that annoyed with having to play with you while you learn, find others to practice with if necessary.

Toque.

Zamboni

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Re: Tennis Ball Machine. Worth it?
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2018, 07:32:10 PM »
Well, that depends.

It was worth it for Andre Agassi's dad (he actually bought a pitching machine, welded it on a platform with legs to make it taller, and modified it to feed tennis balls.)

For 99.99% of the rest of us, probably not worth it.

I would check around at local clubs and local parks and recs to see what they charge to hit on a ball machine. My local parks and rec has a nice tennis park . . . it is $300 annual fee for a single adult ($400 for non-city residents) to be a member and that includes all kind of stuff like hitting on the ball machine 8 times (if you want to do it more, it is then $13 an hour to hit on their ball machines), 10 free guess passes, discounted lessons and leagues, etc.  It's $70 for a "40 hour pass" that you have to use up in 4 months (which seems like a way better deal to me to test out if this is how you are really going to spend your time.) Since the $300 annual fee also includes court time, options to join leagues, etc. this seems like a way better deal than shelling out 5 times that to have your own machine (you would also have to buy the balls to fill it, and a hopper so you don't go crazy picking them up after).

AlanStache

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Re: Tennis Ball Machine. Worth it?
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2018, 07:43:13 PM »
?  Do you really have to ask?

That said, will it be in a place that you can use it often?  If you have to pick it into your car and drive it to a club to use it twice per month it is really dumb.  If you will use it in your back yard four times a week maybe less dumb.  What is the resale marker like these, what do they go for on CL?  Say you bought it and did not use it could you sell it for a good price?  This is the kind of thing I would definitely sit on for a month or two.  If you are still interested latter on maybe think more about it.

jeromedawg

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Re: Tennis Ball Machine. Worth it?
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2018, 08:28:28 PM »
Your money would better be invested taking lessons. Or if your GF is interested in "helping" you, just have her lob and hit to you and you just work on returning rather than rallying.

Beyond that, like someone else mentioned, you just have to get out there and keep doing it. Try to make friends and find other beginners to practice with - this shouldn't be that hard especially if there are multiple parks/courts in your general vicinity where you can go.

Another idea is to checkout Meetup, Facebook, etc to see if there are any local 'beginner' or novice groups where you can go and not feel intimidated rallying back and forth.

If you don't have your basic forehand or backhand down as far as getting the ball back over the net (and not necessarily inside the lines but within reason to where the other person can still return it or hit back) then you just need to keep at it and keep practicing. Whether that's with a ball machine or real people on the other side... or off a wall, it doesn't really matter. Going out and buying a ball machine just seems like overkill though.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2018, 08:31:28 PM by jeromedawg »

birdiegirl

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Re: Tennis Ball Machine. Worth it?
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2018, 09:47:46 PM »
What is your goal for tennis?  Do you want to get into playing in leagues, tournaments, etc. or just play for fun? If it is the former a ball machine won't get you too far. It's good for some practice but you really get better by playing. 

I'd start with looking at local park & rec programs for beginner lessons.  Or see if any local clubs offer lessons without committing to an expensive membership.   I do pay the $150 for a gym membership that includes tennis to play in a league and have access to regular drills, lessons, etc (although those are all extra so I don't utilize them as much as I'd like). 

Once you've got some lessons and practice under your belt and are ready to play matches, look into joining USTA.  They have teams you can join to get regular matches and they charge an low annual fee and then you just pay court fees when you have a match. 

dcozad999

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Re: Tennis Ball Machine. Worth it?
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2018, 08:56:53 AM »
I just checked our local tennis club and they charge $10/hour or $75/year to rent a tennis ball machine. I realize that's probably on the low end. but even at double that you would get 75 hours of practice before you break even by buying one.

I'm probably less mustachian than most on here because I like my toys, but unless you are fairly wealthy, or you are definitely sure you will use it for more than 75 hours, I probably wouldn't make this purchase.

JLee

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Re: Tennis Ball Machine. Worth it?
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2018, 12:57:41 PM »
I just checked our local tennis club and they charge $10/hour or $75/year to rent a tennis ball machine. I realize that's probably on the low end. but even at double that you would get 75 hours of practice before you break even by buying one.

I'm probably less mustachian than most on here because I like my toys, but unless you are fairly wealthy, or you are definitely sure you will use it for more than 75 hours, I probably wouldn't make this purchase.

At double that price, it'd be 10 years before owning won (ignoring inflation and opportunity costs over a ten year period).

dandarc

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Re: Tennis Ball Machine. Worth it?
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2018, 01:08:28 PM »
Find a wall.

nereo

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Re: Tennis Ball Machine. Worth it?
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2018, 01:16:34 PM »
Find a wall.
Best response yet :-)
Expensive trinkets does not make one better - practice does. Great tennis players from all decades have honed their skills playing solo against a wall.  The other suggestions here all should be considered as well;

Find a practice partner.
Pay for some lessons.
Join a tennis group/league.

Any one of those will cost just a fraction of the $1,500 you are prepared to drop and they will get you better results.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Tennis Ball Machine. Worth it?
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2018, 01:43:51 PM »
Where will you keep this machine? How often will you really get it out and transport it to a tennis court?

I'm going with not worth it; because I just don't see it being used.  Sorry.


I'd join the tennis club if you will go frequently, even though it is more expensive. I'm not adverse to spending money on hobbies. But this just doesn't seem like a worthwhile purchase. It's going to gather dust.  Buy some lessons instead.

Or I'd join a rec league somewhere less fancy. 

nexus

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Re: Tennis Ball Machine. Worth it?
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2018, 10:15:01 AM »
FWAW, 5.0 NTRP rated player here. Ball machines are garbage if you are a novice. All it is going to do is reinforce bad habits. You 'may' get more consistent at hitting the ball back, but they do more harm than good if you're going at it unsupervised*. They don't perfect your footwork, mechanics, or anticipation.

Here's why:
1. Biggest thing here is footwork. With a ball machine programmed to produce the same shot over and over again, you can get super lazy/flat-footed and miss out on really, really crucial, fundamental footwork
2. Doesn't translate well to hitting against a real person. You have to watch your opponent and read their positioning and swing in order to anticipate where the ball is going to go and then start moving in that direction. That's something that takes hours and hours of actually hitting against a real person.
3. Walls are good too, but you run into the same issues presented in #1 and #2. It's only useful if you have the fundamental footwork and mechanics down. 

What you do instead
There's a lot of really cool people that play tennis. You've just got to find a circle that's at your level. Go to the USTA website for your region, start looking for leagues. Current leagues include 40 and over men's and women's teams and 18-39 combo league. Starting in March is the 'regular' 18+ season. If you're just starting out you're going to look for a 2.5 or 3.0 18+ Team. If you want to try and join a combo team (doubles, combined rating of a team) you'll look for 5.5 teams (2.5 + 3.0 partner).
Link : https://www.usta.com/en/home/play/play-as-a-member/national/about-usta-league.html

Save money and perhaps skip lessons. Use YouTube and your own cell phone camera. There are sooooo many great videos out there. Watch a few, try and emulate on court. Set up your phone so you can review your own footage, compare, repeat, repeat, repeat, until you master things. I have clients that have played for years and never seen themselves on camera. Once you have that sense of awareness, great things will happen. I highly recommend Essential Tennis and Top Tennis Training channels. Essential tennis is awesome because they take clients and give them what I call a tennis makeover. Top Tennis Training is two guys, who are just excellent players. So good, in fact, that they are sometimes practice partners for pro tour players.

*There are merits to using a ball machine if someone is behind/beside you helping coach you as you strike the ball, or working on more advanced drill patterns, etc.

I could talk about tennis all day long. PM me for more questions, recommendations, etc. I'd love to help you!