Pickleball is a great, fun game to play with friends. But, if you’re looking for a way to add in a little pickleball practice and polish your skills, a quality pickleball practice machine can make a huge difference in your game. There are many different pickleball practice machines on the market, each offering something different in terms of design and function.
A pickleball practice machine is similar to a tennis ball practice machine. The difference is that instead of a tennis ball, these machines have throw wheels that toss out pickleball balls at you and help you improve your play.
We’ve taken a closer look at five of the most popular and well-rated pickleball practice machines to find the best machine based on a number of different features. We’ve looked at details like price, construction, design, weight, portability, ball capacity, speed, and battery life. We also looked at additional features like if the machine includes a remote, the ease and functionality of the control panel, oscillation, and whether the machine has to be manually adjusted.
The bottom line is that choosing the best pickleball machine depends on the pickleball player as much as it does the features of the machine itself. Take a look at five of our favorite pickleball machines, consider what your goals are during pickleball practice, and then choose the best machine for your practice and pickleball skill-building needs.
Simon X Pickleball Machine
Best Overall Pickleball Machine
The Simon X has a lot of features that make it so that many in the industry consider it to be the best machine there is. There are a lot of details to cover with the Simon X pickleball throwing machine, but let’s start by talking about its durability.
The Simon X Pickleball Machine ranks in the class of military-grade built machines. The machine is built from heavy gauge aluminum and stainless steel. There’s nothing that’s going to put a dent in this pickle ball machine, but the heavy-duty construction also makes it one of the heaviest on the market. The Simon X weighs 65 lbs, which makes it about twice as heavy as most of the other pickleball machines we’ve reviewed.
Another feature of the Simon X that pickleball coaches and players love is the ball capacity. This machine has the highest ball capacity of those we reviewed, holding between 120-180 balls with the addition of an optional add-on ball hopper.
Currently, the Simon X is considered to be the most powerful machine on the market. It has a huge range of feed speed, with the lowest being 5mph and the top speed reaching 70mph for intense practice that mimics tournament-style play but also with soft play and dink shots.
Another feature that serious players will like about the Simon X is the stealth random oscillation feature. Many pickleball machines have an oscillation feature, but with this machine, the oscillating mechanism is tucked inside so that it isn’t visible during play. This makes it more difficult to predict the shot that’s coming toward you and lends to more challenging practice and play.
Along with all of the above greatness, some more noteworthy features of the Simon X include a wireless remote that works from 100ft away, a seriously long battery life (12 hours), an AC power supply, pickleball server wheels that make it easier to move on the court, handles that make it easier to carry, adjustable ramp for infinite ball height adjustments, and a lifetime warranty on the wheels.
The only thing that might turn some people off of the Simon X, aside from the hefty weight, is the hefty price. This is one of the more expensive pickleball tutor machines in this category.
Tutor Plus Pickleball Machine
In contrast to the Spin model, the Pickleball Tutor Plus is designed for more competitive practice and play. This pickleball machine covers all the bases as far as shots go, helping players improve by practicing overhead shots, topspins, backspins, dinks, lobs, groundstrokes, quick reaction volleys, and just about any other type of shot.
This Pickleball Tutor Machine has a decent ball capacity of 110 balls. This isn’t the smallest or largest ball capacity of the other machines we reviewed. One good thing about the Pickleball Tutor Plus ball capacity is that the balls actually stay in the hopper instead of falling out during play.
The top feed speed for the Pickleball Tutor Plus is 65mph with adjustable speed, which is more than adequate for intense practice and mastering hard shots. Like the Spin model, this pickle ball machine also has a delay timer, so you have adequate time to position yourself on the court.
This Pickleball Tutor Machine comes with all the standard features, plus a few bells and whistles. The battery life on this machine is pretty average, with the external battery pack holding a charge for about 4-6 hours. We like that this battery-powered model comes with a smart charger so that you can leave it charging overnight and have it be ready for practice in the morning.
The control panel is super easy to navigate, with the amount of spin on the ball being controlled manually with a single switch. This is also one of the random oscillating machines that will shoot balls in a manner that replicates actual play. The Tutor Plus offers optional features, including a remote control. It’s a decently portable machine, weighing in at 27 lbs without the external battery pack. All in All, the Tutor Plus is an overall solid pickleball practice machine that serves as a great pickleball coach when you want to level up your game.
Lobster Pickleball Machine
Best Lightweight Machine
Lobster Sports is a well-known name in the industry, being respected for decades as a maker of tennis ball machines. Lobster Sports actually makes two different pickleball machines – the Lobster Pickle Machine and the Lobster Pickle 2 Machine.
The Lobster Pickle Ball Machine is one of the preferred in the industry. It’s slightly more economical than other full-size pickleball machines that offer the same ball capacity, and its design works well for pickleball players on the go. The Lobster Pickle has the nice feature of two large 8-inch wheels plus a handle for easy maneuvering. It’s also relatively lightweight, coming in at about 35 lb on the scale.
The Lobster Pickleball Machine ranks standard when it comes to speed, with ball speed ranging from 10-60 MPH, so it’s good for beginners and seasoned pros, as well as for practicing all types of shots. The machine from Lobster Sports also has good ball capacity for its lighter weight.
The specs say that the Lobster holds 135 pickle balls in the ball hopper. The one issue with this machine is while it technically holds 135 balls, that seems to be only when the machine isn’t in operation. Once the machine is running, not all the balls fit inside, and some will spill over from the top.
The Lobster Pickle Ball Machine offers a good range of shots during practice. It has a random oscillation feature that more accurately mimics real play. It can also be adjusted to practice lobs, dinks, and standard shots. There’s also a separate knob to control the spin on the ball.
Additional features that come with the Lobster Pickle Ball Machine include an optional remote control, a trickle-down smart battery charger that prevents overcharging, an external battery pack that offers 4 to 8 hours of playtime, a protective cover, and an Elite Power Pack that allows you to run the machine off of a standard outlet for unlimited play.
Tutor Spin Pickleball Machine
The Pickleball Tutor Spin is a nice compact machine that’s perfect for new or younger players just starting to take a serious interest in the game. It’s portable, smaller than other pickleball machines, sets up in just a matter of seconds, and has all the features you need for a good pickleball practice session.
The Pickleball Tutor Spin machine weighs about 22lbs without the external battery pack. For being compact, it has a good ball capacity of 125 balls. This Tutor Pickleball Machine comes in two versions. You can get the Spin with or without the oscillation feature that most machines have.
The Tutor Spin offers variable ball speed, ranging from 10-60mph, to allow for practicing a variety of shots. The battery life of the Tutor Spin is pretty standard, holding a charge long enough for about 4 to 6 hours of play. You do have to be careful not to play the machine while it’s charging, or else you could risk damage to the machine or battery.
Another feature that we like about the Tutor Spin is the start-up time delay that gives you a little more time to maneuver around the court and position yourself for play. This is something else that makes the Tutor Spin one of the best-selling machines for new players. It allows them to get comfortable on the court without instantly jumping into play.
The Tutor Spin is probably the most portable and easy to set up pickleball ball machine on the market. However, it’s also one of the more expensive in its class, and you have to pay extra for the Tutor Spin Pius model if you want features like oscillation, remote control, and electronic elevation. This model also doesn’t come with wheels for easy transport, but it does include a separate wheeled cart that you can tote it around on.
Playmate Pickleball Machine
The Playmate Pickleball Machine is a beast among pickle ball machines. Playmate is a known brand of ball machines, with the name being highly recognized among tennis ball practice machines. Unlike some of the others on our list, this pickle ball machine isn’t the most portable. It’s heavy and solid, weighing 69 lbs with the battery. The Playmate ball machine has wheels, so it can be wheeled around, but if you’re transporting it to a court, it’s not the easiest to lug in and out of your vehicle.
The Playmate ball machine is a revolutionary machine in that it’s designed with high-tech materials. This pickleball ball machine is built using aircraft aluminum, so you know this is probably the best pickleball machine if you’re worried about your equipment taking a beating on the court.
The Playmate pickleball practice machine offers all of the standard and premium features you’re looking for. Its toss consistency and ball trajectory are spot on. The control panel is easy to use, with separate dials for height, speed, spin, and feed rate. This allows for a high degree of customization rather than pre-programmed drills that might not challenge you or offer practice in the area you want. This machine also comes with a two-function remote control and a removable battery pack that allows for 4-5 hours of play when completely charged.
The major drawback to this pickleball throwing machine is the price. This model costs nearly three times as much as the other pickle ball machines on this list and is the only machine we reviewed in this higher price category. There’s the argument to be made that with the design, construction, and durability that it’s definitely worth it. Still, for some, the cost might be seen as prohibitive.
How Much Are Pickleball Machines
Pickleball machines aren’t an inexpensive investment. They’re available in a range of prices, which typically reflect construction and features. On the lower end of the price spectrum, expect to pay at least $700 for a decent pickleball machine. Again, this is really at the low end of pricing for reputable machines, and it’s going to be more limited in features.
On the far end of the spectrum are machines that cost upwards of $3000-$4000. These types of machines are usually designed for tournament practice, coaching facilities, or for more serious players. With a machine in this price range, you can expect a large ball capacity and additional features like calibrated ball trajectory, electronic elevation, remote control features, smooth running pitch wheels, and power source options.
Right in the middle is the average price that you’ll pay for a pickleball machine. On average, a good machine will cost between $800-$1200. There are some really good machines in this price range, with a level of quality that’s pretty even across the board.
What’s going to make the difference to the average consumer are the details. The ball capacity of all these machines is good, all offering plenty of balls for practice and play. With some, there’s a remote control optional model while the remote is included in another. Even seemingly small details like this can make a significant difference in price.
How To Use A Ball Machine For Pickleball
A pickleball machine can be a good tool for amateurs and tournament players alike. If you’re new to the game, pickleball machines can help you learn how to maneuver on the court and get a feel for some basic shots. They’re also a good tool for replicating more challenging play as you start to feel more comfortable on the court. Using a pickle ball machine is pretty easy and intuitive, so once you become accustomed to your machine, using it becomes a piece of cake.
The first step is always getting the machine to the court unless you have the advantage of a home pickleball court or a pre-existing practice machine where you usually play. Next comes set up, which should come in the form of easy-to-follow directions with your machine.
The real question about how to use a ball machine for pickleball comes down to what you want to use the machine “for.” Before you start playing, you should have an idea of what you want to achieve. Are you looking to get familiar with the pickleball court and practice a few easier shots? Is there an area of performance that you really want to target? Are you training for an upcoming tournament and want to practice in a style that most closely mimics your future opponent? The great thing about these machines is that they can be adjusted to provide you with the exact type of practice you’re looking for.
Is A Pickleball Machine Worth It?
A pickleball practice machine isn’t a cheap piece of equipment, which leaves some asking if it’s really worth the investment. If you’re an avid pickleball player or have newly discovered a love for the game, the answer will almost always be yes if you have the extra room in your budget.
A pickleball practice machine is great for when you want to practice your game but don’t have a suitable opponent. Meaning that you might have someone to play the game with, but their skill levels aren’t aligned with the practice areas you’re most interested in. A pickleball practice machine can be adjusted with height, speed, spin, arc, and timing changes that will really target your areas of practice.
If you play pickleball just for fun and aren’t that concerned with polishing your technique for your next match with friends, a practice machine is still fun to have around and is a great way to get some extra exercise. Playing pickleball is also great for stress relief, so the purchase of a practice machine can be seen as an investment in your physical and mental health.
Now, for some of the reasons you might not want to invest in a pickleball practice machine. The first issue besides cost is space. These machines aren’t huge, but you are going to need somewhere to store it when not in use. If you have a garage or a basement, this isn’t a concern, but if you live in a small apartment and don’t want a practice machine as part of your living room decor, this could be an issue.
The next thing to consider is how often you’ll use it and if you really need it. If you’re taking pickleball lessons or have a community pickleball center near where you live, chances are pretty good that you can access a practice machine through there. If you’re a casual player, there’s no reason to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in a piece of equipment that you can use for free or low cost.
Comparison Shop to Find the Best Pickleball Machine For Your Game
Whether you’re looking for a pickleball practice machine to finetune your game and win the next big tournament, polish your technique for your next game with friends, or are just interested in a machine because of the fun exercise it provides, you need to make sure the one you choose works for you.
The Simon X is our overall top choice for its high-quality and durable construction, larger ball capacity, power, adaptability, and a long-lasting battery power source. These are details that should be important in any machine you choose, and we’d have no problem recommending any machine on this list.
So, how do you know which machine is best for you? Do some comparison shopping, and look at the fine details like battery life, weight, portability, capacity, and durability. From there, look more closely at the features that will help enhance your game. Taking this approach, you’re sure to find the pickleball practice machine that’s perfect for your needs.