According to Statistic Brain, three of the top ten New Year’s Resolutions are health improvement related. Gym memberships increase by 30% in January, as eager to get in shape individuals crowd into neighborhood gyms, waiting their turn on the treadmills and weight machines. Those who prefer working out at home to avoid the grunting, groaning, waiting, and sweaty odor of a crowded gym, opt to purchase home equipment; usually a treadmill for a more private work out in a more ambient atmosphere. Treadmills account for over 33% of home exercise equipment purchases and almost 50% of home exercise equipment retail sales. Yet, only 8% of us stick to our declaration to hit that treadmill running on a daily or weekly basis. Sooner, rather than later, jumping on that big in-the-way machine becomes monotonous and, sadly, it transforms into a great (and expensive) place to throw your robe.
If you are anything like me, you are more motivated to exercise if you have an exercise buddy to run with, swim with, or play a sport with. Many days, however, it is hard to find someone to “play” with. We all have busy lives and our schedules most often do not coincide.
The solution: buddy up with a machine, which not only shows up every time, on time, doesn’t leave early, excels in patience, doesn’t whine, keeps you engrossed, and is a good enough competitor to give you the challenge you need to improve your skills; a machine which not only gives you a great work out, improves your game or teaches you a new one, but one that the entire family can utilize, even the dog! No, not a robot; good guess though! It’s a tennis ball machine.
Not just a great tennis partner, they are also excellent coaches!
The best way to improve your skills in any sport is to always play against someone better than yourself so you will be challenged and forced to step it up to the next level. Playing with the same tennis partner or a player on the same level all the time will not give you that challenge; a tennis ball machine will, as you can advance the settings as you advance your skills. Much like a tennis coach, yet more precise, tennis ball machines have the ability to send shots to you exactly where you need them and how you need them. Hitting to your backhand, forehand, close to the net, deep into the court, with various spins or no spin at all – your electronic tennis partner will be on target every time, allowing you to advance all the skills you need to be a top player on the court. Your confidence will increase as your skills increase and you grow stronger.
There’s an app for that!
Tennis ball machines have improved over the years from shooting tennis balls to you in the same exact way each time until you break your momentum to walk over and move the machine to receive the exact same shots from another angle; not much of a challenge when you know exactly what is coming next. Today’s machines allow for various shot combinations which will test and help improve all of your strokes, advance your game with precision returns, improve your agility and footwork on the court, and enhance your anticipation of the next shot – automatically.
Fluctuating from repetitive shots, say to your backhand 50 – 60 times, then switching it up to oscillation mode to improve your footwork and anticipation skills is now as easy as pushing a button on your cell phone. Lobster Sports and Bluetooth have teamed up with Android and iPhone to transform your cell phone into a remote control for your tennis ball machine. Simply download the free app from Google Play or iTunes and you can change the settings on your tennis ball machine without having to leave your side of the court.
Take it from the pros
As the finest serve-and-volley player of all-time, Stefan Edberg, former World No. 1 professional tennis player from Sweden, and childhood idol of Roger Federer, used tennis ball machines to practice his volley. Edberg sited the tennis ball machine as the best way to practice volleys as a human challenger is unable to hit the ball to you exactly the same way and speed every time, which is necessary to perfect your stroke through repetitive practice.
Andre Agassi, former World No. 1 tennis player, the best service returner in tennis, and named seventh greatest male player of all time in 2010 by Sport’s Illustrated, practiced with tennis ball machines early on, which were set up on his backyard tennis court by his father, Mike. Andre learned his exceptional abilities and return of serve by placing his tennis ball machine on a ladder for the correct angle and practiced for hours on end.
A healthy return on your investment
You know what they say, “use it or lose it”, and, according to Dr. Robert Leach, vice chairman of the USTA Sport Science Committee, people who are active in childhood and remain active throughout their life, maintain a higher level of fitness than those who are idle.
Tennis is a great way to introduce children to sports. It improves hand-eye coordination, flexibility, mental focus, and helps them maintain a healthy weight, which decreases their risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes through regular physical activity.
Kids can easily get bored or frustrated with a sport that does not challenge them enough or over challenges them, causing them to continuously fail. A tennis ball machine can be set to match your child’s abilities to keep them interested while learning the game, and then increased to a higher level as they improve their game. The machine is always ready to play, even if their friends are not; it never tires as we humans often do, and will not get frustrated with them no matter how many times they miss the ball!
Don’t forget about the four-legged member of your family! Your tennis ball machine will also give your dog the exercise it needs to remain healthy and happy when you don’t have time for a walk or to play ball. Look at the fun this dog is having playing fetch with his new mechanical buddy!
Tennis ball machines just might be the best piece of exercise equipment you can invest in this year to keep the whole family healthy and in shape all year long. As if that’s not enough, you will gain an added bonus - membership into the rare 8% band of individuals who actually keep a New Year’s Resolution!
Suzi Martel, founder of In Suzi’s Words, is a freelance lifestyle writer, from Southern California, who has a passion for writing informative, entertaining copy on a variety of topics such as; sports, exercise, healthy living, and caring for others.