A Guide to Using Tennis Ball Machines for Serve Return Training

by Jenny Byrne

Returning a tennis serve can be a daunting task, and finding a practice partner with enough skill and time can be challenging. Fortunately, a tennis ball machine can provide a viable solution. 

A good tennis ball machine can offer a variety of shots, including different speeds, rotations, and directions, which can help you practice for various match situations. However, keep in mind that the machine’s shooting mechanism is usually placed low, and it cannot replicate a tennis serve’s height. 

To overcome this issue, you have two basic options: either use the manufacturer’s platform or create a custom solution at your own risk. With the right approach, a tennis ball machine can be an excellent tool for improving your tennis return game.

Options for Tennis Ball Machine Height Adjustment: Service Platforms

If you’re looking for a way to adjust the height of your tennis ball machine to practice returning serves, there are a few options available. Two manufacturers that offer service platforms specifically designed for their machines are Spinshot and Playmate. These platforms will allow you to elevate the machine to the desired height, giving you a better simulation of real serve returns. It’s important to note that not all tennis ball machines are compatible with these platforms, so be sure to check with the manufacturer before making a purchase.

Spinshot Service Platform: A Solution for Practicing Tennis Serve

The service platform seems to be user-friendly and easy to set up at the desired height. The manufacturer provides a convenient solution for those who want to practice their tennis serve with a ball machine. However, the downside is the price, as it may be expensive compared to the cost of a new ball machine. Additionally, the platform is only compatible with Spinshot tennis ball machines, which may limit its use for those who have machines from other manufacturers. It’s important to note that using other machines with this platform may result in instability and potential damage to the machine. Therefore, it’s recommended to use this platform only with Spinshot tennis ball machines.

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Playmate Lift – A Stable Solution for Tennis Ball Machine Practice

If you’re looking for a reliable practice solution that can be used with all Playmate tennis ball machines, the Playmate Lift might be a good option for you. The lift features a stable aluminum construction and is easy to control, making it both comfortable and safe to use. While the lift is not a cheap solution, it could be a great investment for tennis clubs looking to build their machine equipment. If you’re considering purchasing a Playmate machine, the lift is definitely something to think about.

Using Tennis Umpire Chair as a Low-cost Solution

A potential low-cost solution for those seeking to practice returning tennis serves is to utilize an existing high and stable object on the court. However, this option comes with some risks that should be taken into consideration before attempting. 

An option for this approach is to use a tennis umpire chair, which can be found in most good tennis clubs and has a height of around 2 meters (7 ft). By placing the tennis ball machine on the chair, the ball will be thrown from an optimal height. 

It’s essential to keep in mind that tennis ball machines tend to move slightly when shooting the ball, so be sure to fasten it securely with a belt to prevent it from falling and causing any damage or injury.

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