Lobster Elite Grand Four Tennis Ball Machine Review (2020)

lobster elite grand four tennis ball machine picture

Lobster Sports Elite Grand Four

The Lobster Elite Grand IV ball machine can simulate 3 types of common tennis playing styles to help you prepare for your next match. Use these drills to improve your game from intermediate level to advance level.

Features 9.5/10
Design 9/10
Overall 9.25/10

Editors Overall Rating

9.25/10

Detailed review of Lobster Elite 2 Tennis Ball Machine

In this review, we look at the features offered by the Lobster Sports Elite Grand Four tennis ball machine and how it compares to other similar tennis ball machines. We then will analyze the Lobster Sports Elite Grand Four based on overall customer satisfaction, ratings, reviews, and positive and negative consumer comments. We also offer our own rating and recommendation on whether to purchase the Grand Slam IV Lobster ball machine.

Lobster Sports produces both battery operated and electric tennis ball machines. In the battery operated category there is the Elite Freedom economy model, the Elite 1, 2, and 3 models, and the Grand IV and V. Lobster started manufacturing tennis ball machines in 1970 and has maintained a reputation for high quality and reliable ball machines. For more information on Lobster Sports you can read our Lobster ball machine page. lobster elite 4 grand side view

We have already reviewed the Elite 2 Lobster ball machine and the Elite 3 Lobster tennis ball machine, so we can compare all three machines. All of these models offer a range of valuable features. The primary difference between all of the Lobster ball machines lies in the oscillation and pre-programmed tennis drills.

Let’s break down the pros and cons as well as review the top features.

Pros

  • Pre-programmed drills
  • Fully random oscillation
  • Two Line Oscillation
  • Battery Powered
  • Easy Feed Rate Control
  • Full Spin Control
  • Good Ball Capacity (150)

Cons

  • Slightly bulky

Lobster Elite Grand 4 Pre-Programmed Drills

In our opinion, if you are an intermediate to expert level player the three pre-programmed drills are an outstanding feature that will certainly boost your game and help you in matches against specific types of opponents with the most popular playing styles. In this case, it’s only a few hundred more dollars to move up from the Lobster Elite 3 tennis ball machine is well justified.

If you are a beginner to early intermediate level, then you are probably best sticking with the Lobster Elite 3 for now. It certainly has enough challenging features to get you improving your game. However, if you are at a lower level, but are starting to get into more competitive tennis play, maybe entering a few tournaments or playing in a league at your club, then you may just want to shell out the extra money and get the drill settings. They’ll certainly give you an advantage.

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Pre-Programmed Drills

The best features of the Lobster Elite Grand IV tennis ball machine offers built-in pre-programmed drills. The Elite 4 comes equipped with three pre-programmed six shot drills that simulate the most popular styles of play that you will see in an opponent’s game; the grinder, the all-courter, and the power baseliner. These drills mix up speed, trajectory, and spin to help prepare you against tough opponents. If you know an upcoming opponent has a style similar or even better, exactly matches a particular style offered in the pre-programmed settings, you can practice that style over and over again before a big match. This can be a huge advantage. Lobster makes it easy to use this feature as well; you simply hit one button to go to each type of drill. Each drill is described as follows.

The Grinder Drill

The Grinder is a player that likes to wear down his or her opponents physically and mentally, waiting for the other player to make a crucial mistake. This type of player hits high, loopy, moderate spin shots that will challenge all players. The Grinder drill uses the back court with different types of spin.

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Power Baseliner Drill

The Power Baseliner is explosive in their shot selection, playing with pace, aggression, and minimal spin. This type of player showcases an attacking style, known as “first strike” tennis. The Baseliner drill uses full back court with little spin and more ball speed.

All-Courter Drill

The All-courter focuses their game on tactical savvy. He/she can compete well from the baseline and will come in to the net to finish points. When playing this type of player, you can expect a great deal of shot variety. The All-Courter drill uses both full back court and front court with some top spin and less ball speed.

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Other Features of the Lobster Elite Grand Four

Here is a list of all of the features you’ll find in the Lobster Sports Elite Grand 4 tennis ball machine.

Two Line Oscillation

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First the two-line setting is useful for two players or two lines of players to use when working on a drill or for the single player wanting to practice alternating forehands and backhands. As the settings describe, narrow means you don’t have to move very far from the center of the court to reach the balls, as they will land relatively close to you, alternating forehand and backhand. Wide, means you’ll be stretching, even into the doubles court. Medium, is in between the two. Adding medium to the Elite Grand IV Lobster tennis ball machine is nice, but certainly not a major upgrade.

Fully Random Oscillation

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The second feature added to the Lobster Sports Elite Grand IV Lobster tennis ball machine is fully random oscillation. In the information provided by Lobster it’s hard to see the difference in where the balls land comparing random oscillation on the Elite 3 with fully random oscillation on the Elite Grand 4. Both diagrams look the same. Lobster says balls with the Elite Grand Slam 4 tennis ball machine are thrown throughout the entire spectrum of the court, mixing up speed, spin, trajectory, and oscillation. But the Elite 3 also offers varying speed, spin, etc, so we’re not sure about the distinction here. Looking solely at this feature, it’s probably not worth bumping up to the Grand Slam IV for $300 more.

The last additional feature offered by the Elite Grand IV Lobster ball machine over the Elite 3 is its built-in pre-programmed drills. The Grand Slam IV comes equipped with three pre-programmed six shot drills that simulate the most popular styles of play that you will see in an opponent’s game; the grinder, the all-courter, and the power baseliner. These drills mix up speed, trajectory, and spin to help prepare you against tough opponents. If you know an upcoming opponent has a style similar or even better, exactly matches a particular style offered in the pre-programmed settings, you can practice that style over and over again before a big match. This can be a huge advantage. Lobster makes it easy to use this feature as well; you simply hit one button to go to each type of drill.

Battery Power Type

The Lobster Sports tennis ball machine Elite 4 is battery powered, with a standard battery life of 4-8 hours. Battery recharge time is typically 12 hours. You can get a premium fast charger which will charge the tennis ball machine in 1-3 hours. There is also an external battery pack available which will provide an additional 4-8 hours of court time.

Complete Spin Control

elite grand four by lobster control panel

The Lobster Elite Grand 4 tennis ball machine has a dial on the control panel that lets you control the degree of top spin and backspin.

Machine Weight

The Elite Grand IV Lobster ball machine weighs 44lbs (19.96kg). The ball machines we’ve reviewed on this site range in weight from 11 lbs (5kg) for a very, very basic ball machine to 90lbs (40.82kg) for a heavy-duty commercial type model. 44lbs is not terribly difficult to pick up and put in your car however you may want to ask for help. As for moving around on the ground, the Elite 4 Lobster tennis ball machine has an extendable towing handle and heavy duty oversized transport wheels that help you pull it just like luggage.

Compact Dimensions

lobster elite grand 4 folded down

The Lobster Elite IV Lobster tennis ball machine measures a very compact (Length x Width x Height) 24 x 16 x 32 inches (.61 x .46 x .81m). The hopper on the Grand Slam IV can easily be inverted and the handle removed to fit into the trunk of your car. The hopper can also serve as a convenient cover.

Wide Speed Range

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The Grand Slam IV Lobster ball machine fires tennis balls between 30-80 mph (48.28-128.75 kph). The ball machines we have reviewed range in speed from 10 mph to 95 mph (16.10-152.89 kph), so the Grand Slam IV Lobster ball machine seems a bit limited in terms of speed range. Beginners will have difficulty with balls at a minimum speed of 30 mph. However, advanced players will certainly feel challenged by balls coming at 80 mph.

Sufficient Ball Capacity

The Lobster Elite Grand 4 Lobster ball machine holds 150 tennis balls. Economy tennis ball machines will hold 50 balls, whereas ball machines in high usage situations, such as clubs or tennis camps can hold up to 300 balls. We feel that a 150 ball capacity is sufficient.

Good Feed Rate

This is how fast the balls are fired out of the machine. The Lobster Elite 4 tennis ball machine fires at a rate ranging from 2-12 balls per second. The fastest firing time we’ve seen in a tennis ball machine is one ball every 1.5 seconds and the slowest is one ball every 12 seconds. The Grand Slam IV’s feed rate is more than adequate for working on rapid fire volleys coming at you every 2 seconds, as well as beginners who may need the slower feed rate of 12 seconds to prepare and set up.

Warranty

The Lobster ball machine Grand 4 Model comes with a two-year warranty on parts and service. Most tennis ball machine brands offer a 2-year warranty although some offer only a one year. We have found that only deluxe models over $3,500 offer a 3-year warranty.

Lobster Elite Grand Four Extras

Optional extras for the Grand Slam IV Lobster Elite tennis ball machine include the following:

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  • 15-function wireless remote control – This state-of-the-art compact controller lets you make changes to functions such as play/pause, oscillation sweep, fully random, 2-line, speed, feed, spin, and more. This is a nice remote, but a bit pricey and costs around a few hundred dollars. A standard 2-function remote comes with the Grand IV that lets you control oscillation and pause/on/off.

Lobster Elite 2 Customer Ratings

Customer Ratings and Comments

Pros:Cons:Best Uses:
Easy to use (10)Bulky (2)Intermediate (11)
Improves performance (7)Difficult to use (2)Casual athlete (7)
Excellent  battery(1)Ineffective (2)Professional (4)
Excellent fast (1)Wears out quickly (2)Tournament play (2)

Summary of Positive Comments: Several reviews say that there are very few ball jams with the Elite Grand 4. Advanced players seem to love the machine with its advanced drilling features. Most say that the battery lasts very long.

Summary of Negative Comments: Several reviewers cite performance and durability issues with the machine. They reported a lot of break-downs and sending the machine back to Lobster for work to be done. Most of these issues seem to be covered by warranty, but it was a bit disturbing seeing these in the reviews.

Lobster Elite 3 vs. Lobster Elite Grand 4

The Lobster Elite 3 offers a two-line narrow and wide angle oscillation feature. What this means is that the Elite 3 throws balls to the corners of the court using a built-in indicator, thus simulating real match play. As we discussed in our review of the Elite 3 Lobster tennis ball machine, we feel that the two-line feature is a great bargain up from the Lobster Elite 2 for an additional two hundred to three hundred dollars.

The Elite Grand 4 Lobster tennis ball machine also offers the two-line feature and adds a medium setting, whereas the Lobster Elite 3 only has wide and narrow. It also adds three types of six shot pre-programmed ball drills and fully random oscillation. The price jump to the Grand Slam IV Lobster Elite tennis ball machine from the Elite 3 is about three hundred or so dollars. Do these three additional features justify the jump?

In our opinion, if you’re looking to significant improve your game, the pre-programmed tennis drills of the Lobster Elite Grand Four will take you to the next level.

The Verdict: Recommend with Reservations

We recommend the Grand Slam IV Lobster Elite tennis ball machine primarily on the outstanding features that it offers. As we discussed above, the programmable options make this ball machine a great buy at $1,899 for advanced and expert players, or players who are starting to move into tournament play. For beginner and intermediate level players, cheaper machines are out there that would provide just as much of a challenge as the Grand Slam IV Lobster tennis ball machine at a much lower price.

In the consumer reviews we were also concerned with the relatively low rating and break-down issues reported with this machine. For a tennis ball machine that is almost $2,000 and comes with a two-year warranty, we don’t expect to see any of these issues.

Where to Buy the Lobster Ball Machine Elite 2 Model

We recommend Amazon, because you can read real reviews before making a purchase. You can often times also find deals on tennis ball machines as well as purchase all the required accessories. Amazon is a great resource for shopping.

 

Still not convinced? Here's a video of the machine in action:

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