Is a pickleball ball machine worth it? Pros & cons

Tired of not improving your game?

Pickleball has grown in popularity over the years and is now the fastest-growing sport in America. It’s a sport that requires practice and dedication to improve your game. But what if you don’t have a partner to play with or want to improve a particular shot like your backhand or dink?

That’s where pickleball machines come in handy.

We’ve seen these funny looking machines at the pickleball court in the corner of our eye. We’ve heard the noise in the background.

Heck… we’ve even heard of some pickleball clubs and courts that have these strange machines that, quite honestly, are not very attractive at all. They are even more common as we head into 2024.

These “machines” have been around for a while and their used to help new and experienced pickleball players get better at receiving the ball, serving, and volleying. Whether you are just getting started in pickleball or a more advanced player, you should at least know what they are and if you should consider using one at all.

What is a pickleball machine?

A pickleball ball machine (aka a pickleball machine) is a device that is used to feed the ball to a player – very helpful when there is no one to help you practice. Many people have them for the sole purpose of practicing in the off hours when courts are empty, and they want to hone their skills. A pickleball machine is used by folks for basic serving to advanced pickleball drills.

pickleball ball machine example

These machines can be adjusted to suit players of all levels, from beginners to professionals. There are various types of pickleball ball machines available in the market, each with its own set of features and benefits.

Most are very easy to use, and the settings are straight forward – after all, how many settings can there really be?

old instrument panel

Normally, there are options for interval, speed, direction and some pickleball ball machines can even impart a spin on the pickleball ball.

Can a Slinger ball machine be used for pickleball?

Yes, you can use a Slinger ball machine for pickleball. But… it is important to note that Slinger ball machines are designed primarily for tennis and may not have the same level of adjustability and customization that a dedicated pickleball machine would have. You’ll want to get a ball machine that’s designed to be used for pickleball.

How to use a pickleball ball machine

Using a pickleball ball machine is straightforward. Follow these steps to get started:

  • Set up the machine: Find a flat surface to place the machine, making sure it is stable and secure.
  • Fill the machine with balls: Depending on the machine, you may need to load the balls manually or use a hopper to feed them in.
  • Adjust the settings: Pickleball ball machines come with various settings that can be customized according to your needs, such as speed, frequency, and angle. Make sure to adjust these settings based on your skill level and practice goals.
  • Start practicing: Once you’ve adjusted the settings, turn on the machine and start practicing your shots.
  • Not difficult: Using a pickleball ball machine is not difficult at all and very intuitive.

Is a pickleball machine practical?

You’re tired of practicing alone, and you want to get better at your game, and tired of looking silly playing with some of your more experienced friends. But how can you get the serves and volleys in during off-hours and not bothering anyone?

The solution is getting a pickleball ball machine that lets you practice by yourself anywhere!

It’s fairly straight forward and easy to practice with a pickleball ball machine. Of course, your machine will have instructions, but you stand on the other side of the court and balls are hit/served at you. Some of the more advanced machine have pre-programmed drills such as built-in drills allowing you to alternate between forehand, backhand, and other specific shots.

Considerations for a pickleball ball machine

Getting a pickleball ball machine requires some homework – and for the most obvious reason: this machinery to keep up with the Jones can be very expensive.

When considering the purchase of a pickleball ball machine, it is important to consider the cost, weight and ball capacity in order to make the best decision.

Cost is an important factor to consider when making any purchase, so be sure to research different models and compare prices. Weight is also something to take into account as some machines can be quite heavy and difficult to transport. Additionally, you should make sure that the machine has enough ball capacity for your needs as some machines are limited in how many balls they can hold at once.

Captain obvious: don’t buy packs of 6 or 12 pickleballs (is it “pickleballs” or “pickleball balls”?) Make sure you buy the balls in quantity in order to save money and never run out for your new pickleball machine. We suggest the Onix Fuse pickleballs because they are top-rated and the most popular.

We know that cost should not be the only consideration, but it will be a started point. If you’re OK parting with anywhere from $250 to $3,000 then, yes, start taking notes on the next steps and items to consider before you buy a pickleball ball machine.

For starters:

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Do you need/want a larger or small pickleball ball machine? Most of this will be dictated by some of the items below such as ball capacity and maneuverability.

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These fancy ball feeders can weight anywhere from 10 to 35 lbs.; don’t commit to more than you can lug around if necessary.

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Most related to weight and size, the maneuverability is one of the more crucial items to consider for your new pickleball ball machine.

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Make sure you get the maximum ball capacity you don’t want to keep feeding the beast! Look for a machine that can hold at least 100 balls.

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Ball speed, interval, and spin: These options are the basics you will find on any machine you’re looking at.

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This one, you would think, should be standard on a pickleball machine but not always. Make sure you have a delay start setting to give you enough time to get to the other side of the court without spraining your ankle running over there.

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Make sure it can oscillate from side to side between pitches.

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Most machines on the market today allow for an elevate adjustment but some have this done electronically as opposed to manually.

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Power cords are not an option on current pickleball machines as they now run-on batteries, make sure the battery life is long enough and charging is easy and simple.

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No longer a luxury, having a remote controlled pickleball ball machine is a must-have especially to make sure others don’t mock you for continuously going over to the machine to make adjustments.

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Did we mention your new machine should have wheels?

Best pickleball ball machines

When it comes to choosing the best pickleball ball machine, there are various options available in the market. But, in reality, there aren’t that many manufacturers of these ball machines – a few have dominated the market.

Here are some of the top-rated machines:

  • Lobster Pickleball Machine: Known for its versatility and adjustability, the Lobster pickleball ball machine is a popular choice among players.
  • Spinshot Pro: This machine comes with advanced features such as customizable drills and a mobile app for remote control.
  • OnCourt OffCourt Pickleball Tutor: This machine is designed specifically for advanced pickleball players and comes with various pre-programmed drills.

Our pickleball ball machine recommendation

Do a search for “the best pickleball ball machine” and you’ll millions of results!

Feel free to go thought each of those and read the products descriptions, reviews, ratings, etc. Let us know what you would recommend after you decide on one.

In the meantime, we have one pickleball ball machine we’d suggest as an option, as shown in the video below.

But WHY?

The Lobster Pickle machine is a step up from the beginner-level Lobster Machine. It offers more advanced features and functionality that beginner and intermediate players will appreciate, such as a triple oscillation feature that can simulate the shots of a real player! It has a ball capacity of 135, which is slightly lower than the beginner model but still higher than some of the other intermediate-level machines on the market.

One of the standout features of this pickleball machine is the random oscillation function, which can help you improve your reaction time and footwork. It also offers variable speed and spin; this allows you to customize practice sessions to focus on specific skills.

In a nutshell, things to consider for the Lobster machine…

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  • Price Point: $$$
  • Power Source: Battery or AC Remote
  • 2-function Oscillation: Random & triple
  • Spin: Top & back
  • Ball Capacity: 135
  • Max Speed: 60 mph
  • Battery Life: 2-4 hours
  • Weight: 44 lbs. (battery model) / 39 lbs. (AC model)
  • Dimensions: 28”H x 21”L x 14”W
  • Pros: Triple oscillation feature, random oscillation function, adjustable speed and spin
  • Cons: Expensive, lower ball capacity than some machines

We know what you’re thinking…

But is a pickleball machine worth it?

No, not if you don’t have about $1,000 for a top-rated machine (unless you split the cost with a partner/friend). Spending anything less than that we think may not be worth the time and aggravation of something you’ll be cursing on day one.

On the other hand, if you want to improve your pickleball game at your own pace then a pickleball machine is a great investment. It is not a purchase you will regret and will change your game by practicing repetitive shots. Don’t you really deserve one?

See our 2024 pickleball machine guide more detailed reviews.

Conclusion – Your Takeaways

  • there are all sorts of models with various attributes
  • most features on middle-of-the-road models have universal features
  • focus on machine with wheels and long battery life
  • you will want a remote control
  • do not overbuy for senseless options you will never use
Pickleball Ball Machine Guide – FAQ

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