The Fantastic Five – Essential Tennis Ball Machine Drills

Like with every sport, mastering tennis takes a good base and using all the available resources. The most important facet is your mindset. Why am I playing? How far do I want to go? How badly do I want this? There are all essential questions that you must ask yourself on a daily basis. Yes, on a daily basis. Passion is like a muscle – if you don’t use it, you lose it.

Mentally and emotionally you must be ready. When you’ve solved that comes the most “boring” part – enhancing your muscle memory. Making every shot a naturally-gotten reflex is a must. To accomplish this, there is no better thing that the one and only ball machine.

It gives you’re the necessary repetition to perfect every shot. It’s the technique boost you’ve been missing, for sure. Adding it to your practice arsenal gives you the perfection and finesse you’ve always needed, but you weren’t aware of.

5 Best Tennis Ball Machine Drills

We’ve compiled some essential drills for you to use on your quest to bring your game to the next level. They are simple but yield astonishing results. Here are the essential 5 drills to make you a true warrior on the court.

#1 Overcome your weaknesses

The first step here is pinpointing the weaknesses in your game. Analyze the way you play and select three shots that are your worst one. Be honest, as honesty towards oneself is the only way to improve.

Let’s say you have a dodgy backhand and a shaky slice. Select the places on the court where you want those balls. Fill the machine with 200 balls and try to hit every ball. Have a coach or a friend track your hit rate. Do 5 rounds for every shot. This is also good for basic stamina.

#2 Increase mental strength

With this drill, you should aim to alternate and to enhance mental dexterity.  Place the target in the middle of the court. Run around the ball every time as you alternate between backhand and forehand. This will give you a good routine to solve the tricky mid-court balls.

Because you will run so much, you will get a good cardio workout. A good beginning would be filling the machine up with 100 balls. Ten sets with a 3-minute break should bring you to the brink of your own endurance.

#3 High Intensity Interval Training

For starters, set your machine’s two-line setting. Make it throw balls in two directions – the forehand one and the backhand one. This gives you an opportunity to space out the shots more. In the beginning, you should focus more on form and getting used to running the width of the court.

For more advanced stages, set the speed up high. By doing width-sprints, you will practice hitting your shots on the run. Getting proficient at this improves your mind-muscle connection. These sprints are a good HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout.

#4 Establish patterns

With this specific drill, you aim to set yourself free. By setting the machine to random oscillation, you can practice specific rallies and shots. This is good for establishing patterns that are your specific weakness.

You alternate between targets – two parallel and two diagonal shots. Shot types can also be perfected while doing the specific exercise.  Three forehands followed by two backhands can be an excellent and worthwhile routine.

#5 Watch training videos

When you’ve mastered the previous four, it’s time for the ultimate challenge. With this drill, you can recreate any point you want. Coaches often combine this drill with watching the film. After the film session is done, you can program the machine to fire in a pattern.

We love this specific drill because it allows unlimited freedom and gives you chance to work on your weaknesses. If you’re a coach, this just may be the best thing for beginners. Kids have trouble coordinating between different areas of the court.  By allowing them to exit their comfort zone, they will get the ultimate preparation for any challenge.

Any of these drills can be modified however you want it. Before doing it in a certain way, try it out. Add or remove repetitions as you like. What’s certain is your improvement and a new outlook on the game of tennis.

Using tennis balls in machines

The way you will sue the balls depends on the machine itself. Some machines can be programmed to stop firing after a select number, and some cannot. Those who can’t, usually fire until they’re depleted. If you have the latter type, you should pre-count the balls. Divide them in bags of 20 each. That way, you will know how much shots you’ve struck.

Is it better to buy a high capacity or a low capacity machine? It depends on your plans. We would personally advise you to purchase a high capacity, programmable one.

They aren’t that much expensive and provide much more training options. For an advanced session, you’re going to need a lot of balls. It may be a some investment, but it will bring your game to the next level.


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