Owning a tennis ball machine is amazing for practicing. Nowadays, you can do almost anything you can do with a hitting partner or coach, thanks to technology. And while they are a pretty good investment, they can be quite expensive. That’s why it’s not only important to take care of your ball machines but make sure the balls you are using are both suited for the machine and can provide a quality hit for you.
Using old balls that wear down fast can create a lot of issues not only for the machine but also for your body. That’s why it may be important to consider some of the factors of the quality of the ball you are inserting into your tennis ball machine.
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In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…
|DUNLOP Championship Extra Duty Tennis Balls
|Wilson US Open XD Tennis Ball
|Penn Championship Tennis Balls - Extra Duty
|Tecnifibre X-One Tennis Balls
|Babolat Gold Championship Tennis Balls
But what makes a great tennis ball?
With so many brands and different types of tennis balls within the brand, we may not know which direction to go in. That’s why this guide will serve as the ultimate list of top 5 tennis balls for your ball machine to ensure you the best quality hit you can get.
What Makes a Good Tennis Ball?
When it comes to putting a tennis ball in your ball machine, it is important to consider the quality of the ball you are putting in. That’s because you want them to play well and replicate the same sort of feeling as if you were playing against someone on the other side of the net. There are a few characteristics that really come to mind when we think about the type of ball we need to be fed to us.
Each one of these factors can be elaborated on a little more so we can get the full picture of what makes a great tennis ball.
The first factor is the weight of the ball. Tennis balls carry a certain weight to them, which doesn’t necessarily mean that they are much heavier in pounds than others. When we see extra-duty on a ball, we can confirm this is going to be a heavier hit ball than something like a regular duty. Typically European players play with heavier extra-duty balls on clay because it provides a little more substance to the ball when being hit.
Heavier balls tend to last a little longer because their fuzz doesn’t get beat up as fast, and they retain their bounce just a little bit more. This can be ideal for those who are using a ball machine because they are repeatedly going to be hit over a period of time, making them last longer.
Durability somewhat goes hand in hand with the weight of the ball. Sometimes, however, heavier balls will be made of poor quality, and you will see their fuzz start to spread and deteriorate rather quickly. Sometimes a light-weighted ball can do the same, where after a few hits, the balls become dead or pop with more powerful players.
This is why it can also be important to find extra-duty balls or balls that last well over a period of time. Replacing the tennis balls often in a tennis ball machine will add up very quickly and make the investment possibly a little less worth it. That’s why investing in durable balls can make all the difference in the long run.
Not a lot of people talk about the stiffness of a ball. This can also be referred to as the pressure of the ball. A ball that is a little stiffer or has more pressure than one is going to have a little more bounce to it. While this may become a more personalized thing, Many players will tell you that balls with a little more bounce may last you a bit longer because the ones that become super slow may not replicate the same natural point feeling. This is because no matter where they start, balls will always go down a little by little in terms of their quality and bounce.
While it is important to know what kind of balls you will be playing with, it is equally as important to recognize some of the best brands in tennis. These companies like Wilson, Penn, Babolat, and others will be familiar to a lot of tennis pros and players as they make rackets and other equipment.
And while they certainly produce great results, they are not the only companies offering up great tennis balls or machines. Let’s take a look at these brands and what separates them from one another.
One of the most recognized brands in the tennis world is Wilson products. From balls, clothes, ball machines, rackets, and more, there is nothing that this company doesn’t produce in tennis. They have been one of the leading tennis manufacturers in America and in the world for quite some time now.
One of the things that they absolutely pride themselves on is their ability to create a tennis ball that is perfect for the exact surface and conditions that are meant to be played in. With claiming more than 40 years in excellence, it is no wonder why they are the U.S. Open designated official ball. When it comes to preference for using a hardcourt ball, Wilson knocks it out of the park with no one even close to tying them first.
When it comes to overall recognizability and a ball that all tennis players know, Penn is up there. Claiming as American’s #1 selling ball, Penn can often be found in every Walmart, Grocery store, pharmacy, and sporting goods store.
Penn has been noted to make a stronger rubber core that offers players who like to play with a little more spin and kick something extra.
Dunlop has been making its way over to America, but the following brands have been a popular ball in European countries. That is because Dunlop makes a great ball for clay season and surfaces other than hard. With Europe being mostly a clay surface-atmosphere, it makes total sense as to why Dunlop has dominated the scene.
Dunlop, like some of the following options, is going to be heavier balls than what we are used to seeing with Penn and Wilson. They are going to get a little fluffier and feel a little more weighted upon contact. This is why we see a lot of the labels like Dunlop Fort. This means they are strong because they need to endure the clay and remain in good condition.
Babolat will function in a similar way to Dunlop and Tecnifibre. Technically they are a French company known for their successful racket making on tour. With players like Rafa representing their brand, the trust and credibility are already there. Babolat is a popular ball used on the men’s tour for its heaviness and weighted features.
Also more commonly seen in Europe, Babolat is used for both the hard court and clay court seasons.
This brand is something many Americans really haven’t heard of. Unless, of course, you are tennis fantastic or playing at high-level junior or professional events, it’s normal that you haven’t heard of them. Tecnifibre produces a variety of equipment like tennis balls, rackets, and more. Like Babolat, they are a French manufacturer and possess a lot of the similar qualities from Babolat that you will find in their very own balls.
Since being around in 1979, they are a great option and company to consider when thinking about training with a little more weight behind the ball and putting an emphasis on quality.
Best Tennis Balls for Your Ball Machine
Now that we know what some of the best companies are and what qualities we are looking for when buying tennis balls in bulk for the machine, we can talk about the specific brands that will make a great fit for you. Everyone is going to want something a little different, which is why we have so many options of rackets, balls, strings, and more to choose from.
Here on this list, we prioritize the main qualities listed but also try to provide a variety of options to look at from weight and how the ball bounces coming out of the machine.
Without needing to wait any longer, let’s dive into the list.
1. Wilson US Open Extra Duty.
Wilson is what we referred to and many others as the top choice when it comes to the hardcourt ball. And since so many of us are using tennis ball machines on the hardcourt, it only makes sense to use a Wilson ball as our first choice. The reason that these balls are a great choice is, first, their ability to hold up well. The extra duty part is said that maintain the balls for at least four sets which is a lot of playing.
Durability is specifically important when it comes to ball machines because first, they are getting a lot of reps but second, they are getting chewed up every time they are being spat out. This is why you can see the ball fuzz underneath the machine. But with Wilson U.S. Open Extra Duty, we see a little less fuzz which makes it such a good choice.
- As noted these extra duty versions hold up well under a lot of rotation and use.
- Wilson is a great match for hard-court hitting.
- Wilson is easily accessible in the United States. If you are on backorder online it may not be so difficult to pick up some at the store.
- Official pro ball giving you the most authentic feel to tournament play.
- There is really only one law when it comes to using these balls and it is their price. U.S. Wilson Extra Duty is a little more on the expensive side despite maybe in-country shipping. Just a six-pack can cost you 30 and you are likely to need much more than that.
- Even though these are extra-duty balls in comparison to some of the later options on the list they may not measure up in terms of heaviness if that is what a player is looking for.
2. Penn Championship Ball
Another American-made factory when it comes to producing good hard court tennis balls is the Penn Championship ball. OFf the bat, we may feel like this ball may have something over the Wilson just because of the price alone. It comes in cheaper and may feel a little lighter to those who are hitting with it. The lightness factor of these balls may feel like users need to adjust the settings from time to time because the ball may come out a little faster and may fly a little further.
The benefit to having a slightly lighter ball may be that it is less pressure on the wrist, arm, and joints in general. This allows relieving some of that extra duty. The downside is that the ball may wear out a little faster. If replacing the balls is no problem, then this may become your ultimate champion with your ball machine.
- A great hardcourt option that comes at a slightly better price compared to its Wilson rival.
- The ball is lighter and moves a little quicker for the court which appeases some preference styles in terms of hitting.
- May also be a great option for those who have joint or arm issues.
- Despite benign lighter still shows good signs of durability.
- Some people feel these balls are weighted enough causing the balls to constantly flight out of the machine at” wrong” speeds or heights. This makes for a little less accurate pitching.
- It is possible that these balls wear down faster with use than some of their rivals.
3. Tecnifibre X-One Ball
You probably have never heard of this ball before, and that’s OK. This is the chosen ball and recommended ball by the French Davis Cup team. It mirrors some of the best qualities of the U.S. Open Ball but first for all occasions. These are considered premium hard court balls, which may be great for those looking for quality made outside of the U.S.
These balls specifically are made with 72% felt, which makes them a long-lasting, durable ball. This is why you may not need to replace these balls for quite some time after finally getting them. And if you are someone who is looking for more than just a hard court practice, these are playable on any surface, so if you are a clay-court machine, no problem at all.
- Like Wilson, these can be great long-; lasting balls that you may not need to replace for quite some time.
- A heavy hit makes it feel very traditional to what the pros play with.
- This can be very expensive because the quality of the ball is very high and you are likely to be shipping from France or paying a higher price from whoever ordered it from France.
- IF you do go ahead and use them on clay and then switch back to hardcourt you may find that the balls don’t work the same way. This is because the clay sticks to them a bit and may have a reduction in bounce.
4. Dunlop ATP Regular Duty
Dunlop ATP Regular Duty is actually a great choice for ball machines because they seem to check off the middle of every box. They have a good quality, receive spin well, have some bounce when you hit the ball, and more. This replicates the perfect playing circumstances, which is what we are looking for when we are trying to get balls through the ball machine.
Because they have a tight fit, they actually feel like they may be a smaller and lighter ball. Ultimately this would make us think that the quality would go down, but because they aren’t actually bad quality and they provide this great feel, they end up being a fantastic option.
- These are the official ball for the Australian open which competes directly with our choice of U.S. Open ball (Wilson). It is well-liked by a lot of the pro players making it another option for a pro feel.
- It is a bit tighter of a wrap-on felt making it feel effortless when hitting the ball.
- Because of the lighter feel, it also may feel liek
- Some players don’t in fact like the tight wrap feel and think the ball flies too much both off the racket and off the machine.
- Can be a more expensive option compared to the Penn Championship.
5. Babolat Gold All-Court
Finishing with Babolat on our list, it is worth noting that their balls act in a similar way to their rackets. Powerhouses. It’s an extra-duty felt wrapped ball, which is great for providing an overall feel to the player and durability for the long run. Because European brands are known for making things a bit heavier, we expect nothing less from the Babolat.
The Gold ball series is an all-court ball, and they really mean that. This way, it is suitable for whether you are pushing the ball out through hard court or clay court. Or, for that matter, you can find yourself training on the grass in some situations.
- These balls will be sure to last you a long time with the ball machine making the purchase worth it.
- All-court feel provides great accuracy with both the ball machine and the player hitting the balls.
- Power and snap to the ball making for fun hitting without the ball flying too much or being too heavy to work with.
- This is one of the more expensive balls on the market.
- Some players reported that these balls are too slow in comparison to the Penn or U.S. Open Wilson
- Usually reserved for men’s matches in tournaments.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that we have explained what makes a good ball and why it is easy to see with the list we came up with. In general, most of these balls are going to run a little on the heavier side because tennis ball machines tend to beat up the balls pretty well.
Some people may not have a problem with feeling like they need to constantly replace them, but others may feel it gets expensive. These decisions and questions will constantly come up, which is why we have dedicated this section to answer your questions and concerns.
Let’s dive into our most frequently asked questions.
Do some people use pressureless balls and why?
Ah, this question. It is certainly hands down the most frequently asked question when it comes to tennis ball machines and what balls to use. Pressurized balls are all the ones we have named on our list. However, there is such a thing as pressureless balls, and they play quite differently. But tennis players have been entertaining the idea because of their durability.
Pressureless balls do, in fact, last way longer than any of the pressurized balls you can purchase above. But what you trade the pressure for is the ability to train a specific way. Matches are played with pressurized balls, and when you train with pressureless balls, you sacrifice a lot of quality. These balls simply feel a lot different than the ones on the list above and can end up altering your playing ability in a worse way.
To answer the questions specifically, yes, people do use pressureless balls because they are cheaper and last a few long time. This may be more ideal for a recreational player and not a serious player who may have their game affected by this.
Is it bad to mix balls from different companies?
Some of us have wondered whether it will make a difference to the machine or to you if you started to mix the balls and brands. While the answer is definitely not life-threatening, you are going to get two different responses when it comes down to you and the machine. Likely, the machine will be fine as long as the ball remains regulated size for the machine.
As a player, however, you will likely experience a much different feel ball to ball. The Penn ball may come at your hard and fast and soar away, whereas the Babolat ball may make it to you 10 minutes later. What happens here is that you are likely going to mess up your feelings because of the inconsistencies that are going to be presented to you. It’s even possible that the ball will be spat out differently because the felt is being affected by the friction. The more felt, the slower it may come.
Does it make sense to buy the same balls from the manufacturer of the tennis ball machine?
Potentially. There are no rules about needing to pair of the manufacturer and the tennis ball machine if you buy one that happens to make both. Not every single ball machine out there actually makes tennis balls. Having said that, it is never a bad idea to go with the company that did design both tennis balls and the machine. It just might operate better, or it may keep the balls fresher longer. For instance, Wilson may be the perfect example where you do, in fact, want to keep it matching.
A ball machine that is seriously loved but doesn’t make balls is the Lobster Ball Machines. For this type of ball machine, you will have to opt for a traditional company.
At what point do I need to change the balls out?
This is a little more of a difficult question to answer because the answer will vary on a lot of different things. If you are consistently using your ball machine every day and the balls are getting worn down quickly, you may need to change them every few weeks are so. That’s for the player that is really practicing quite a bit. Now, if you are not practicing that, often they will certainly last longer but keep in mind that balls still die and lose their pressure with time.
If it has been half a year and you haven’t touched the balls, there is a good chance they are dead. The best way to tell if the balls need changing is to listen to the sound that the ball machine makes when it pitches one out. Dead balls will be off-key and be placed less consistently than balls that are still good to go.
Try It Out
Having a tennis ball machine can be a blessing. It is a great investment for those who are looking to improve their game. They are, however, an investment, and it’s best to be fully committed or not. Some people try to save a bit on the balls only to realize they are wasting money cause the balls are not of great quality, or they are dying too quickly. It is better to spend a few more bucks here and there to get what you want.
That’s why we came up with a lot of important qualities that you may want to consider when looking at purchasing tennis balls for your machine. Durability is the name of the game. While price is an important factor to consider as well, fell is definitely a runner-up to durability. You want to replicate the situations you will face in match time so getting a ball that performs just like the ones in the matches is important.
While you can certainly mix and match your options, it may be worth buying a few cases and trying them out to see what you like best. All of the companies on this list are world-known brands that are played with by the very best pros. They just offer different feels because of their felt and their weight. This will be a complete preference thing. For those who really want to save, Penn ultimately does become the best ball because many matches are played with it, and it is affordable, so you can change the balls out more often.
Whatever you decide, try a few out and see what makes the most sense for your training purposes. This may change from time to time. Happy hitting!