Tennis Tutor Ball Machine Review
The Tennis Tutor tennis ball machine can simulate the strokes and spin of a beginner, intermediate, and advanced player. You will see your game improve dramatically. This is one of the best tennis ball machines that you can buy as it is portable, has great features, and affordable.
Editors Overall Rating
Detailed Review of the Tennis Tutor Ball Machines
When I head out to the tennis court to practice, I always like playing with someone that’s better than me. A better opponent challenges me to pick up my game to their level. That’s really the only way you can get any better. Unfortunately, I can’t always find someone, not because I’m so good that nobody at my club is better than me. That’s far from the case. It’s usually because the guys I like to play with are busy or are already scheduled with someone else.
So, when I’ve got free time and no opponent, I usually pull out the ball machine. And one of the major factors that I look for in a tennis ball machine is the ability to simulate a real opponent. That means getting balls hit to me from side to side, front court and back court, and with topspin – the more difficult the shot, the better, because that is what helps me improve. Not many ball machines on the market offer this. The Tennis Tutor Plus Player Model is one that does.
The Tennis Tutor ball machine comes in three different models:
- The Tennis Tutor
- The Tennis Tutor Plus (includes top spin, backspin, and elevation control)
- The Tennis Tutor Plus Player (includes Player Mode which simulates a real player)
Each version offers additional features for a higher price. The Standard Tennis Tutor is about $1,239, the Plus is around $1,449, and the Plus Player is around $1,899. I recommend going right up to the Plus Player version because the extra features are definitely worth it. Here’s what you get at each level.
Best Features of the Tennis Tutor Machines
A Strong Battery Gives You Lots Of Playing Time
All of the Tennis Tutor models come as battery powered machines with the option to order them with AC power if you want. The heavy duty battery gets about 4-6 hours of playing time and you can upgrade to an optional external battery pack if you want to get even more playing time. 4-6 hours of battery time is really good for a ball machine. The Tennis Tutor also has an indicator light that shows you how much battery charge is left and it will beep you when there’s only a half hour left on the charge. It usually takes about 12 hours to fully charge it up.
Large Ball Capacity to Keep You Busy
All of the Tennis Tutor models hold 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. 150 balls is about 2 full ball hoppers worth. Running through 150 balls will give you a pretty good workout before you need to start picking them up.
The Tennis Tutor Will Make You Run
All of the Tennis Tutor machines offer random and horizontal oscillation, which means the machine fires balls randomly back and forth at one depth setting, such as the baseline. To get random vertical oscillation, in which the machine fires balls short and long, you need to upgrade to the Plus model. You can of course adjust the Standard machine to fire only close or only far, just not alternating.
The Standard model also comes with a 2 line function that will fire balls at two court positions. You can practice alternating forehand and backhand shots using this feature. If you are a tennis coach giving a group lesson you can also set up two lines of students and have them practice shots using this feature. You can also set the two-line feature to fire balls narrow or wide. Those wide shots will really make you stretch.
You also get elevation control on the Tennis Tutor Plus. Using this feature you can practice overheads as well as scooping up those net skimmers that can be so hard to play. You get 10 different elevation settings to choose from by simply pushing the elevation setting button on the control panel. The Tennis Tutor Plus is the only ball machine on the market where you can adjust the elevation right from the control panel. With most machines you have to adjust the height manually using some type of prop, which can be kind of a pain. The Tennis Tutor Plus makes this a real snap.
Other Features of the Tennis Tutor Ball Machine
The Tennis Tutor Will Fire Balls At You Depending On Your Ability Level
All models of the Tennis Tutor machine fire tennis balls between 10-85 mph (16-137 kph). This is a very good speed range and offers a lot of variety for all ability levels. Children and beginners can easily practice with balls coming at 10 mph, and more advanced players will definitely feel challenged by balls firing out at 85 mph.
The Tennis Tutor also offers the widest feed rate range out of all the ball machine I’ve looked at. The feed rate is how fast the machine will fire balls at you. You can set the Tennis Tutor to fire a ball every 1.5 to one ball every 10 seconds. Setting the machine to feed you a ball every 1.5 seconds is fantastic for practicing rapid fire volleys at the net. Scaling it back to fire a ball every 10 seconds is great for beginners who need time to set up or good for a group setting where people need to hit and then move to the back of the line. A slower feed rate is also good if you want to incorporate some sprinting or shuttle running between shots to help build up your quickness.
Tennis Tutor Plus Upgrades You to Spin Control
You get all of the cool features of the Standard model plus ball spin with the Tennis Tutor Plus. Most ball machines only offer top spin. The Tennis Tutor Plus offers top spin and under spin. So you can practice not only the booming topspin forehands that you can expect from a really strong opponent, but also the slicing backhands and touch shots you’ll see from finesse players at the highest level.
To control the degree of topspin or under spin you just turn a little dial on the control panel of the Plus model. If you put the dial to the middle, the ball comes out flat. I have to say, turning the dial all the way up on the topspin side you’ll get a big kick on the ball. Man, those shots are tough! But great practice.
Tennis Tutor Plus Player Model Takes Simulation to a Whole New Level
As I mentioned, the best ball machines are the ones that best simulate a real opponent. The Tennis Tutor Player Model takes that to a whole new level. Tennis Tutor’s patented Player Mode technology is really amazing. If you didn’t see the suitcase sized machine on the other side of the court you’d swear that there really was another guy or gal over there hitting balls back to you.
To get this mode going, just select your ability level on the control panel. You can choose Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced. If you’re a beginner, you need shots hit to you pretty easy, with very little spin on the ball. The Tennis Tutor does just that, with easy shots in the middle of the court so you can hit it back and get the basics of your ground strokes down.
As you move up to the Advanced Level, the shots become more difficult, moving from side to side, changing depth and spin levels. So as you get better you’ll still be challenged by the Tennis Tutor Plus Player model. The thing that makes this Player Mode feature so cool is that each level will simulate how someone of that ability level actually hits the ball. It is not just a random pattern, but actually uses a computer to simulate shot patterns.
You can also customize the standard settings by increasing or decreasing the spin, elevation, and speed levels, so you can never get bored hitting against the Tennis Tutor.
Benefits of the Tennis Tutor Ball Machine
- Lightweight and easy to move around – As you can see from the picture, the Tennis Tutor looks like a small suitcase, something you could even fit in the overhead compartment on an air flight. It’s got wheels and a nice handle to roll it around and it only weighs 46 pounds so you can easily pick it up and put it in the trunk of your car.
- 2 year warranty – Most machines only come with a one year warranty so it’s good to see 2 years from Tennis Tutor.
- Easy to use control panel – The control panel has very simple and clear buttons and knobs to control all of the settings. It’s very self explanatory and you won’t even need to look at the owner’s manual.
- Will improve your game – There were numerous owner reports talking about how the Tennis Tutor Plus Player model helped boost their games. With so many options, I don’t see how it couldn’t, especially if you get in a couple of hours of practice time with it each week.
- A ton of variety – With Player Mode and all of the customizable settings and shot options, you’ll never run out of drills to do with this machine. It’s really an outstanding machine for players of all ability levels.
Disadvantage of the Tennis Tutor Ball Machine
- Some feeder jamming reports – There were a couple of reports from owners of the balls getting jammed in the feeder. This tends to happen with any tennis ball machine, especially when you try to fill the bucket to capacity. The good thing is though that there don’t seem to be more reports with it happening with the Tennis Tutor than with any other brand. I’d recommend not putting the max 150 balls in container if you start having this problem.
Tennis Tutor Ball Machine Extras
You have a lot of options with the Tennis Tutor. You can get just the ball machine and nothing else or you can upgrade with the following options, all of which cost extra.
- Storage cover – a heavy duty, lined vinyl cover
- Smart battery charger – automatically shuts off when the battery is charged
- Smart/Fast charger – charges up the battery 3 times faster
- External AC power supply – plugs into an AC outlet to provide continuous operation for battery-powered Tennis Tutors
- External battery pack – extends battery time an additional 4-6 hours
- Two-function wireless remote – controls the feed rate and sweep/oscillation type
- Multifunction wireless remote – matches the control panel exactly and gives you control over all of the features from across the net.
Tennis Tutor Plus Ball Machine Specifications
|Power Type||Battery or AC|
|Oscillation||Random, horizontal, vertical, 2 line narrow/wide, Player Mode|
|Top & Backspin||Yes|
|Elevation (degrees)||10 settings|
|Dimensions (L x W x H inches)||19.5 x 20 x 20|
|Speed Range (mph)||10-85|
|Feed Rate (seconds)||1.5-10|
|Battery Life (hours)||4-6|
|2-Function Wireless Remote||Extra|
Tennis Tutor Consumer Reviews
Summary of the most helpful positive reviews:
Everyone seems to love how easy to use this machine is. They also like all of the different control options. Many customers like the different spin and oscillation settings and feel that their games have improved as a result of the variety. Everyone loves the Player Mode and say it’s great for all ability levels. The feedback is also good about the multifunction remote control. Customers that have purchased this option feel that it’s worth the investment as it makes practice time more efficient with less time spent running back and forth to change settings.
Summary of the most helpful negative reviews:
Taller players (6’2″ and above) may have to stoop down a bit when towing the Tennis Tutor machine as the tow handle may not be long enough, and the wheels are small and bumpy on sidewalks. Some reviewers mentioned the ball hopper flaps cracking if struck solidly by a tennis ball. Sports Tutor will replace these if the machine is under warranty. Some jamming may occur when packing a full 150 balls into the machine, even though Sports Tutor says the machine has an anti-jamming feature. One user said he found this to occur 1-2 times for every 100 balls.
Where to Buy the Tennis Tutor Ball Machine?
I checked all over and the best place to buy the Tennis Tutor is on Amazon.com. They often run discount specials and many times will offer free shipping. You can also find some really good deals on other tennis accessories that you may need. Search for the best price for the Tennis Tutor Plus Player Model by clicking below.
More about the Tennis Tutor Company
The Tennis Tutor tennis ball machine is produced by Sports Tutor which is one of the most popular and best selling tennis ball machine manufacturers in the world. They produce six tennis ball machine models, the Tennis Twist, the Tennis Tutor Prolite, the Tennis Tutor, the Wilson Portable, the Tennis Tower, and the Shotmaker. For more information on Sports Tutor tennis ball machines, see my Sports Tutor tennis ball machine page.