As pickleball continues to grow, we see manufacturers coming out with more advanced gear, with newly released paddles made using high tech materials and innovation resulting in the best paddles to hit the market to date. Other advances include the invention of new court equipment and training aids such as ball picker-uppers and pickleball ball machines.
While these ball throwing machines have been around in the tennis world and used other sports for decades (the first baseball pitching machine was made in 1897 using gunpowder!) pickleball is a much younger sport (invented in 1965) and we are still in the relatively early stages of the sport with lots of new equipment being launched specifically designed for pickleball.
Although pickleball balls are roughly the same size as tennis balls, the weight and diameter are different enough to render them incompatible with existing ball machines. Because pickleballs will not work with tennis ball throwers, equipment makers have had to either redesign their existing ball launchers or come up with a totally new machine.
Currently, the following machines are selling on the market: the Simon X, Simon 2, the Pickleball Tutor Spin & Tutor Plus, the Pickle by Lobster,
In mid-2018, Playmate also announced that they are launching a pickleball machine. They are offering demos at clubs but their website still does not show a retail price or way to actually purchase one on their site.
To research this topic, we looked everywhere and were surprised that we couldn’t find a clear comparison table of the features of these machines anywhere – so we decided to make one ourselves especially for our readers.
If you are considering buying a pickleball machine, we are here to help you. We’ve organized the information in a format you can easily compare and also given several things to consider before buying. Scroll down to see detailed reviews of each machine.
This is obviously a much bigger buying decision than say a paddle or a pickleball bag, so it makes total sense you’d want as many details as possible to find the best pickleball ball machine for your needs and budget.
Pickleball Machines Comparison Chart
|Feature||Simon X||Simon 2||Pickleball Tutor | Plus||Lobster Pickle|
|Speed (MPH)||5-70||10-60||10-60 | 10-65||10-60|
|Ball Capacity||120-180||160||125 | 110||135** (~100)|
|Shot Adjustable Arc||Arc- Yes||YES||YES||YES|
|Shot Intervals (Seconds)||1.5-10||1.5-10||1-10||2-12|
|Oscillation||Yes (Stealth)||Optional Add-On||Optional Add-On||YES|
|Spin Effect||Yes||NO||NO | YES||YES|
|Battery Life (Playtime in hours)||10-12 hours||6||3-4||2-4|
|Weight||65 lbs||32 lbs||22-34 (Varies by model)||35 lbs|
|Wheels||YES (Tri-Wheel System)||YES||YES (Since 2018)||YES|
|External Battery||NO||NO||Yes (6 hrs of play)||Optional|
|Wireless Remote||YES||YES||Add On||Add On|
|Parent Company Name||Big Whale Promo||Big Whale Promo||Sports Tutor||Lobster Sports|
|Years in Business||20+||20+||20+||40|
|Warranty||3 Years (***Lifetime on throw wheels)||3 Years (***Lifetime on throw wheels)||3 Years||2 Years|
|Price||Simon X||Simon 2||Tutor Spin Tutor Plus||Lobster Pickle|
|*Speed: These are advertised speeds. We have not used a radar machine to confirm these. Some of our readers have reported that actual speeds are less than advertised. **Ball Capacity: The lobster advertises a capacity of 135 but we’ve found realistically it fits about 100 without overflowing. ***Warranty: Only the Simon machines (X and 2) offer a separate (lifetime) guarantee on pitch/throw wheels (see more details below).|
Simon X Pickleball Machine – Best Overall
The new Simon X machine launched just in time for the holidays of 2019.
The Simon X is built like a tank and loaded with features that no other machine has. It is currently the most powerful machine on the market, with speeds topping out at 70 MPH but can also be dialed down to 5 MPH for the softest touch to be able to practice the all-important soft game and dink shots at multiple heights and angles making it the fastest and “slowest” at the same time giving players a huge range of practice speeds. The new Simon model is designed for Pickleball Resorts, clubs, teaching professionals, serious players that simply want a top-quality machine.
At a weight of 65 lbs, it can be transported in a vehicle although it requires some strength to lift it can easily be done by two people. It does have 2 lift handles, one at the top and one at the bottom which allows for a good grip and lifting of much easier. Simon X is a military-grade built machine designed to last and the components including the 10-12 hour battery add weight. The unique and rugged Tri-Wheel system allows X to roll nicely so it’s very mobile and can even climb up steps. It is without a doubt the most revolutionary machine we’ve seen.
Although it does come with a higher price tag than some others on the market, it’s got our vote for the best overall machine based on the build quality, innovative design, and lifetime warranty on the pitch/throw wheels.
This pair of wheels is the more critical part of a throwing machine and the most likely to break down – regardless of the brand you buy. The Simon models are the only ones on the market that offer a lifetime guarantee.
The main disadvantage would be weight as it’s almost twice the weight of the others so if you’re top priority is portability you may want to consider the lighter Simon 2 or the other options on the list.
Here’s a video overview of the new Simon X.
The Simon Pickleball Machine was the first pickleball machine on the market. The Simon was launched in November of 2014 at the Pickleball Nationals in Buckeye AZ.
The 2019 upgrade boosted the max speed to 60 MPH, added oscillation as an add-on and customer customization is now also available on the Simon to add your own decal or logo.
First impressions: The build quality of the Simon 2 is definitely heavy-duty, made of heavy gauge steel and aluminum. Just looking at it, it shouts durability, its durable metal and dark green paint remind me of equipment you’d see in the military.
The Simon 2 excels as a workhorse with the biggest capacity of the three machines (160 balls) and the longest battery life (6 hours). The machine is also pleasantly simple: an ON/OFF switch, Speed knob, Feed Knob (to adjust speed interval between 1.5-10 seconds), a charger input and a reset button.
Portability: At 32 pounds, the Simon 2 falls right in the middle of the three machines. While it’s not as light and compact as the Tutor, it is actually a few pounds lighter than the Lobster model and it does have large wheels that make it easy to move around the court.
Speed: With a max speed of 60 MPH, the Simon is on par with the rest of the machines.
As of March 2019, all new Simon machines have been upgraded with new circuit boards that boost the top speed up to 60 mph. So the new speed range is 10-60 MPH, equaling the speed of the other two machines.
Even at 40 MPH, the pre-2019 Simon machines offered quite a bit of speed to practice your returns, especially focusing on the control and short game with two accessories included in with the machine: a lob “ramp” attachment (small metal chute) and another one designed for dinks. Even at 40 MPH, that’s plenty of speed for even the most competitive players to practice at.
Oscillation: As of March 2019, oscillation is an optional “add on”. It is a stand-alone oscillation platform with its own battery power that can be used with any Simon machine.
Elevation: The newly designed Simon 2 comes with a more user-friendly elevation adjustment system that replaces the old peg system. The introduction of the adjustable ramp (replaced the 2 separate “dink” & “lob” ramps and is now one piece with 2 settings- 30 degrees for dinks & 44 degrees for lobs/high volleys). No need for the elevation pegs or propping it up. The adjustable ramp takes care of it and throws up perfect dinks & lobs.
Throw wheels: The two pitch/throw wheels that shoot the ball out into the court are, without argument, the most critical part of any ball throwing machine. If the wheels get out of balance or degrade they will negatively impact performance and throwing consistency.
This is also by far the most common problem we hear from our readers that have bought a pickleball machine in the past (some have mentioned this in the comments at the end of the article). The wheels are a vital part of the machine and if they fail, the entire machine would need to be sent in for repair.
The two pitch/throw wheels on the Simon 2 are military-grade compared to a soft urethane rubber used on other models that tends to degrade easily. We’ve confirmed with Mike, the owner of the company, that he has never had to replace one wheel in the over 4 years the Simon machines have been on the market and he is so confident in the quality that he now offers a lifetime guarantee on the throw wheels!
Customer customization/personalization: A unique feature in that any club, resort or customer can add their own full-color digital decal (can be a logo, message or picture) to their Simon machine to give it its own special look.
Warranty: apart from the 3-year warranty on the overall machine, Simon 2 is the only machine on the market with a lifetime guarantee on the throw wheels.
Battery: As mentioned, Simon 2 takes the top spot when it comes to battery autonomy, outlasting the competitors by 2-3 hours.
We’ve left this info here just in case you are buying a used Simon you may find the old peg system:
Older Units: The Simon use to come with two metal pegs. If you want to increase the elevation, you have to manually lift the front end of the machine and insert the two pegs into holes on the bottom of the machine. The company also recommends using pickleballs to prop up the front of the machine as a workaround to having to mess around with the pegs. While it’s a way to jury-rig it to work, it’s not an ideal solution compared to the newer Simon machines or other brand machines that have electronic elevation (Tutor) or (Pickle).
Company Profile: The Simon 2 is an individually owned and operated company run by the founder of the machine, Mike Schwartz. Not only is Mike the inventor and manufacturer of the machine, but he is also a 5.0 pickleball player.
When you buy a Simon 2 you are dealing directly with Mike and the customer service and follow-up are first class.
I’ve personally had several conversations with Mike and am always impressed by his knowledge of the game, the expertise in the mechanics of pickleball machines and very friendly communication. It’s so nice to talk directly to the owner and manufacturer of the products you buy. Finding an American-made machine with an owner that answers the phone and speaks directly to his customers is almost unheard of nowadays!
We’ve talked to players that have bought the machine and they’ve also mentioned quality customer service and love that the follow-up is direct with the owner and inventor of the machine (Mike Schwartz).
The feedback he gets is stellar. If you take a look at the testimonials on the site, he gets 5-star ratings on his customer service (in addition to buyers being very satisfied with the Simon machine).
See More On The Company Website: Pickleballmachine.com
- Heavy-duty construction: heavy gauge steel and aluminum compared to plastic competitors.
- Only company to guarantee their pitch wheels for life.
- Largest ball capacity (160).
- Matches the top speed of 60 MPH.
- Sturdy wheels for easy transport.
- A true wireless remote with 100′ range.
- The company is owned and operated by the inventor of the machine.
- Designed and manufactured by a 5.0 pickleball player.
- No spin setting.
- Higher price.
The Pickleball Tutor Spin:
This is the most common pickleball throwing machine we see on the courts being used by coaches, clubs and in private lessons. There are loads of useful training videos and drills posted online by users which is also helpful when trying to get the most out of your investment.
First Impressions: Over the years, the Pickleball Tutor machine has become a common sight on the pickleball court with many coaches and serious players using this model. The shape itself is rather boxy looking but the new Tutor Plus model does have a more ergonomic design and now both Tutor models do have wheels to make them easier to transport.
Click to see the Pickleball Tutor Spin on the Oncourt Offcourt website (official distributor) for more details, photos and check the price.
Oncourt Offcourt also just recently started offering the Pickleball Tutor Spin on Amazon.
However, it is very portable as it’s the lightest of all the machines, folds down into a very portable rectangular shape (only 20″ on the longest side) and at 22 pounds, the basic model can be carried around by most players without a problem.
Weight AC Model
Tutor 22 lbs
Tutor Plus 27 lbs
Weight With Battery
Tutor 29 lbs
Tutor Plus 34 lbs
The features on the “Basic” model may be somewhat lacking since it does not come with the oscillation function but it is an optional add-on. On the other hand, the basic model is affordable for someone looking for a simple machine without bells and whistles.
However, for those that want extra features, there are plenty of add-ons to customize the machine to your liking, including oscillation, electronic elevation, external battery pack, and remote. There is also an AC model available.
Portability: The basic Tutor model (without any external battery pack or other accessories) is actually the lightest of the three machines at 22 pounds. The dimensions (12″x 18″x 20″) make it very portable.
Speed: While all three machines have a minimum speed of 10 mph speeds so the only difference is on the high end and the difference is negligible since they are all within 5 MPH of each other (60 vs 65).
Do you think you’ll be spending a lot of time practicing at max speed? As mentioned earlier, we feel 50 mph is plenty of speed for most pickleball players to practice even their hardest shots and all of these machines have an (advertised) speed that tops that.
Spin: While the original Tutor didn’t have a spin feature, the current model does. You could upgrade to the newer Plus version that does (see below).
Elevation: On the basic model of the Tutor, the elevation is controlled by manually turning a knob. There is an Electronic Elevation Add-on that you can buy (+$100). This automatic elevation feature is only available on the oscillating machines so you would need to purchase the oscillating version (not basic model and also select the electronic elevation add-on.
Battery: The standard battery offers 3-4 hours of playing time on the court. There is an optional External Battery Pack
that gives an extra 6 hours of play. This needs to be purchased separately. Also note that the external battery is not light, weighing in at 12 pounds so that’s something to consider if you are planning to transport the machine often.
There is also an AC model which of course makes battery life a moot point…as long as you are within cord reach of a power source.
Start-Up Time Delay: Gives you time to get to the other side of the court before the balls start shooting out of the machine.
Company Profile: The Pickleball Tutor is made by Sports Tutor Inc. They also make automatic throwing machines for tennis, softball, volleyball, baseball and soccer.
OnCourt OffCourt is the exclusive representative of the Pickleball Tutor in the U.S.
- Commonly used by coaches and clubs.
- A basic affordable model with custom add-on options.
- Weight: lightest of all three (22 vs 35 lbs).
- Smallest ball capacity (125 vs. 160).
- No spin setting.
- Remote must be fitted at the time of ordering the machine, no option as an add-on later.
The Pickleball Tutor PLUS:
In 2019, the new and improved version of the Tutor was released: The Pickleball Tutor Plus.
This new machine is an improved version of the standard Tutor described above. Below we’ll outline the major improvements and upgrades.
The Tutor Plus offers a few new features over the original. Most notable is the addition of a Spin setting to practice both topspin and backspin. They’ve also increased the max serving speed to 65 MPH, a five MPH boost over the original machine. Here are some of the other features:
Two Line Oscillator: This unique setting (no other machine we’ve seen has this) allows to shoot to two predetermined court positions – this is a great option if you want to alternate practice shots between forehand and backhand, or if two players are practicing at the same time (i.e. a private lesson for two or group lesson line drills).
Start-Up Time Delay: Gives you time to get to the other side of the court before the balls start shooting out of the machine (also included on basic Tutor).
Electronic Elevation Control: This allows you to easily change the ball trajectory using a switch (marked “Higher/Lower”) directly on the control panel (rather than having to use a manually adjusted knob.
The ball feed options remain the same, allowing you to set it from one second up to 10 seconds of delay between shots.
The Tutor Plus is available here on Amazon including all of the optional features or you can buy direct from Oncourt Offcourt where you can also customize the Tutor Plus if you feel you don’t need any of the options: 2-Line oscillation, the wireless remote or the electric elevation. Oncourt Offcourt also has additional add-ons that you could buy either at the time of purchase or at a later date including an AC power supply, an additional external battery pack or a vinyl cover to protect.
Lobster Pickle Pickleball Machine
The Lobster “Pickle” is the most recently launched pickleball machine of the three machines currently being sold on the market.
The Lobster “Pickle” (check price)
Just looking at this machine, you can see that the company took the time to work out the features and design needed for a very practical ball throwing machine.
It looks like a very close cousin to their other battery-powered tennis ball machine line (Elite and Grand models).
While it is a few pounds heavier than its two closest competitors, the pickle is built on 8” wheels and has an ergonomic handle to roll the machine around the court. This feature in itself is a clear distinguishing factor, making it the most portable machine of the ones currently available.
Portability: The ball hopper conveniently inverts back on the machine for storage and transportation. Easy transport is a major advantage over its competitors.
As of 2018, new units of the Tutor do come with caster wheels and a carry handle. Also, the regular Tutor comes with a foldable carry cart so Pickle has less of an advantage in the portability category than it did when originally launched.
The Simon 2 does have wheels but the shape and size of the machine are quite a bit larger than the Lobster and scores lower marks in the convenience column.
- Weight: 35 lbs
- Wheels: Yes
Spin: The Pickle is capable of shooting balls at speeds anywhere from 10-60 MPH giving you the flexibility to train a wide range of shots. The slowest speeds help you perfect your dink shot and or soft lobs while the highest setting will blast shots at you that would get you a speeding ticket on many roads!
Speed: The top speed of 60 miles is similar to the other machines on the market (within 5 MPH).
As the sport of pickleball evolves, serves are getting harder and faster (as we saw at the recent 2018 Minto US Open), so having the ability to practice your return at speeds that are 10-20 MPH faster than the other pickleball ball launchers, which is definitely a plus for the Lobster brand machine.
The Lobster Pickle machine has a separate knob on the control panel to control the amount of spin ball. This default setting (with dial in a neutral/ vertical position) is for a flat delivery with no tangible ball spin. The dial has a +/- 4 setting to left/right to add varying degrees of desired topspin or backspin (marked underspin and topspin on the dial).
This is definitely a highly marketed feature of the “Pickle”. Although it was the first to introduce it, the Tutor Plus now also offers a setting for spin. As with speed, many players feel spin is an increasingly important skill in pickleball, whether imparting spin on your shots or being able to handle returning shots coming at you with heavy spin.
For training drills to increase your skills for spin shots, this is a key feature that Lobster sports offers with their new machine. While it’s true that a good coach can drill you by putting spin on their shots, this machine definitely is a cool training tool for coaches and players.
It would be tough even for many coaches to repeatedly deliver a high volume of practice shots in such rapid succession that are fast, well placed and with a consistent amount of topspin or backspin. This takes the guesswork out of your spin drills.
Elevation: allows you to crank up the machine from level 0 to a max of 50 degrees. This gives you the flexibility to practice hard drives and the return of serve from back at the baseline, high lob shots/smashes or soft dinks. The elevation is controlled manually.
Battery: The basic battery charger that comes with the machine takes between 12-24 hours to fully charge the battery. If you want a quicker charge, there are upgrades available from Lobster, the Fast Charger will reduce the time to 6-18 hours and the Premium Charge will shave that downtime to a quick 1-3 hours.
Ball Capacity: Advertised as holding 135 pickleballs. Some of our readers have reported back that 135 is a stretch, realistically about 100 balls fit comfortably without falling out.
Price: At the time of writing this, for the features included, the slightly more affordable than the Tutor. *The Basic Tutor is actually the least expensive model but you’d need you factor in the cost of the oscillation add-on to get similar functionality between the two machines – this feature comes included on the Lobster Pickle.
Check Current Price of the Lobster Pickle
- Optional accessories (remote, external battery pack, fast charger).
- Spin Setting
- Weight: heaviest of the three machines.
- Plastic outer body and hopper.
- Shortest court playing time on battery.
- Some of our readers report problems with server wheels failing.
Company Profile: The “Pickle” model just bounced on the scene in 2018. However, the company, Lobster Sports, has a 40-year history of making quality tennis ball machines. The company was founded in 1970 by Harry Giuditta who purchased a failing machine manufacturer and started the company off down a better path by recalling all the company’s machines!
These early beginnings show the integrity of the company and their 40+ history in the industry is a testament to their quality products.
The “Pickle” joins the Lobster Sports full line of ball machines, including their battery-operated and larger electrical models for tennis. Some of which, like the Lobster Phenom line of machines, have ball capacity up to 250 and fully programmable training programs for tennis pros with a wide variety of shot locations and pre-programmed court drills. These larger machines are powered by an AC cord.
They also sell more portable battery-operated ball machines including the new “Pickle” model that was specifically made for pickleball. Lobster Sports is located in North Hollywood, CA and its products are all made in the USA.
What to consider when buying a pickleball machine:
Ball Capacity: Ball capacity is one of the key features that players consider. The number of balls that can be held in the hopper has a direct impact on how efficient the machine will be to play with. Every time you have to stop doing drills to pick up balls.
Having a ball mower can speed this up, but still stopping practice to pick up balls and refill the machine will cut into your lesson or practice hour. The ball capacity on these three machines ranges from 120 (Tutor) to 160 (Simon 2) with the Lobster Pickle falling in the middle with a capacity for
135 pickleballs (in tests, the real capacity is closer to 100)
While there is a relatively large difference (40 balls) between these 3 machines, at a certain point I think there is a limit to how many balls you really need in the machine. 120 balls is still a lot of shots in a row!
Realistically at over 100 balls to me seem like plenty. At that point, you have balls all over the court and you’ll need to stop anyway for a variety of reasons:
- Too many balls around your feet are a tripping hazard and you’ll end up stopping to get them out of your way.
- At this point, you’ll probably want or need a breather and give your arm a short rest.
- Pickleball coaches may not really want to do over 100 shot drills. There needs to be a break for correction/instruction and stopping to collect the balls and refill hopper is a natural part of a lesson. 100+ shots give ample opportunity for a series of drills.
- The larger the ball capacity is, the larger the hopper would need to be (and therefore the overall size of the machine). It seems logical that all three machine makers design their models to hold roughly the same number of balls.
Pitch/Throw Wheels: The two pitch/throw wheels that shoot the ball out into the court are without argument, the most critical part of any ball throwing machine. If the wheels are out of balance or degrade negative performance and inconsistency will result. It can also be an expensive part to repair or replace.
Shot Adjustable Arc: This feature is critical to modify the shot selection you want to practice. Straight-line drives for hard serve returns or long baseline drives and shorter arc for softer lobs and dink shots. Having a higher arc capability is also very useful for high lobs and practicing the overhead smash.
Speed: All three ball machines we’ve looked at on this list have a minimum speed of 10 MPH so on the low end for delivering soft lobs, dinks and drops they are all very comparable. Although older models of the machines had varying max speeds, as of 2019 all the new machines being sold have a max speed of 60 MPH except the Tutor Plus maxes out at 65.
Even though an older, used machine from a few years ago might have a top speed of 40 MPH – that’s still a very decent speed to train your serve returns and baseline drives and a max velocity that many players would find adequate.
A serious, competitive player or pickleball coach with advanced level players wanting to take their practice up a notch or two will appreciate the extra punch these newer machines offer.
Shot Intervals (Seconds): How many seconds between shots. Speed intervals as low as 1 second up to 10-second pause between shots (may be useful for coaching and giving tips in between shots.
Oscillation Pattern: Currently, the machines offering this use a random horizontal pattern to keep shots unpredictable.
Spin: Currently the Lobster Pickle is the only machine offering this and has options for both backspin and topspin.
Elevation/Elevation Degrees: Ability to increase the height of the lob and dink shots. Max elevation would be for high lob returns and practicing overhead shots.
Charging time and Battery life/playtime: When buying a battery-powered model, the charging time can be a major consideration since the added hours needed to charge could limit how much the machine can be used on the court daily (coaching, busy clubs) or the need to buy extra external battery packs.
AC/DC power: This can be a very useful option where you are within reach of a power source (extension cord) and are not limited to the amount of time the machine can be played continuously.
Play While Charging: Most machines do not have this option as the machine cannot be in use while the battery is charging.
Remote Control: A remote control, as you can imagine makes the machine much more convenient. If you are drilling with a coach or taking turns with a friend, they can pause the machine for you. However, if you are practice alone, standing on one side of the court with the machine on the other baseline a remote can be a major time saver.
Even if you are with other people, having a remote saves the hassle of having to go back to the machine to turn it off. This can make lessons much more efficient since the pickleball coach doesn’t have to be walking back and forth. It’s also a huge benefit to be able to stop the drill often, give a quick coaching tip or modify the drill (adjust a cone, target, etc) and then quickly resume the lesson.
Why not just hit all the balls in the hopper- and then refill it. Keep in mind that even the smallest capacity hopper of the machines holds a whopping 125 pickleballs. Realistically, very few if any players will hit that many balls in a row without experiencing fatigue or at least wanting to pause the machine briefly. If you don’t have a remote, the machine will continue to spit out balls while you walk back around the net and to the machine- so a pretty inefficient way to practice.
Price: The cost is obviously an important factor in any buying decision. One thing to keep in mind with these machines is not just the base price but the “add-ons” you might need. For example, the Simon 2 has a battery life that doubles the others so you may not need an external battery pack. The Lobster machine comes with oscillation, whereas this would be an additional option on the others. However, all things considered, for an investment like this the machines are pretty competitively priced even with the add-ons they come within about 10% of each other so not a major price difference. The exception would be the new Playmate brand machine which we’ve heard rumored will retail for 3x the price of these three:
Check Current Prices: Simon X Simon 2 | Tutor Spin & Tutor Plus | Lobster
Renting vs Buying a Pickleball Machine:
Current rental rates: While there is an ample supply of tennis ball machines for rent, pickleball machines are less common. There are even websites dedicated just to tennis ball machine rentals with prices as low as $25/day and even less per day if you rent by the week. My local tennis club rents machines for $10/hr if you just want a quick practice session.
However, just based on supply and demand, you’ll most likely pay more per day for a pickleball machine rental since there are fewer around and the demand for them continues to rise.
We’ve seen local pickleball clubs and sports equipment rental shops renting pickleball machines for about twice that: $49/day or about $90 for a weekend (pickup Thursday PM and return Monday AM).
Do you know how much they charge at your local pickleball club…or if they even have machines for rent? If so, please let us know in the comments!
At the current prices of new pickleball machines, by the time you rent a ball thrower 10 weekends (or 45-day rentals) to “get your money back”… if you used roughly one weekend a month by the end of about a year you would have paid the same in rentals. Something to consider when shopping. How often do you really see yourself using it?
Benefits of using a pickleball ball throwing machine.
Who can benefit from a pickleball machine:
Honestly, this took a ridiculous amount of time to research! We have updated the article several times since it was published as companies have added and changed things on the machines.
However, I’m glad we did it since buying one of these machines is likely the biggest purchasing decision a pickleball player will make (apart from building a home court) and our site exists to give you the information you are looking for to make an informed decision when buying pickleball equipment.
We sifted through all the information we could find, contacted all three companies with follow-up questions, read each manual from cover to cover and watched all the YouTube videos we could find to include as much info as possible.
This article was a long time coming, we’ve been putting it off- mostly because of the number of hours we’d need to put in researching it, but felt the site would not be complete without a section on pickleball ball throwing machines.
Check Current Prices: Simon X, Simon 2 | Tutor Spin & Tutor Plus | Lobster
34 thoughts on “Pickleball Ball Machines – Tutor vs Lobster Pickle vs Simon – Best One?”
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! You made my decision easy!
Great, I’m glad you found the guide helpful and hope you enjoy your new pickleball machine!
Thanks for all your research. Very helpful.
Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and glad you found it useful!
Great info! I just sent the link to my fiance’ as a hint for Christmas!
Thanks, glad you found it useful.
I hope he takes the hint and you get one for Christmas!!
I’m definitely going to buy a ball machine, and while I had started to research on my own, this article is a tremendous help. Thank you so very much for the doing the “heavy lifting” for us! =)
Thanks, I’m glad you found it useful.
Please let us know which machine you end up with and how it works out for you.
I was going to purchase a Pickleball Tutor mainly because I had no comparison data to help with my selection. After studying your guide, I purchased a Lobster. Ball spin control was the difference maker. Thanks for your informative efforts! Randy K
Great, glad to hear the comparison was useful for you.
Let us know how the Lobster works out for you.
lobster pickle machine is perfect for drills
thanks so much for the all the information
Thanks for letting us know that the Lobster works well for you.
Glad you found the article useful.
Great information! Thanks for sharing!
Glad you found it useful!
If you end up buying a new machine, it would be great if you check back in once you’ve used it and let us know how it works out for you.
THe pickle is being redesigned. The server wheels last only a few hours. Great machine concept but I would’nt buy one until they get the problems worked out
I purchased a Lobster Pickleball Machine in September. The battery in the first machine they sent would not charge. They sent a new battery. Same results. They sent a new machine. After about 1000 balls the wheels that throw the balls began to fail. The machine would throw 2 balls at a time or not throw in any kind of consistent pattern. Lobster tried 5 more sets of wheels with similar results. At first they said I was the only person having the problem. They later admitted there were others having the same problem and they were working to correct it. The last 3 sets of wheels they sent were made of a different kind of material but they also failed.
After working with them for more than 3 months I returned the machine. They refunded my money.
Lobster said they were making some upgrades to the machine and asked me to tryout the new machine. The results were the same as the previous 2 machines. After about 1500 balls the wheels were badly damaged from throwing the balls. The charging system on this machine failed as well.
I would not recommend this machine.
thanks, Walt, for your feedback on the Lobster. After reading the review I was leaning towards the Lobster but not now.
Looking to invest in a Pickleball Machine for Club use, which machine will hold up best for 350 member club. We also offer club lessons and will be helpful with drilling our newer members.
Thanks in advance. Any tips will be helpful.
As far as holding up to heavy use and lots of wear & tear, I’d go with the Simon 2.
It’s made of stainless steel and heavy gauge aluminum.
It also has the longest battery life, so if you are planning to use it a lot at the club that might be another factor to consider.
Hope that helps-
Thank you for feedback !!! Very helpful and hoping our board will consider the new Simon 2 as it seems it has made improvements from original Simon..
You might want to talk to Mike Schwartz before you make your decision. Mike is the guy who builds and sells the Simon machine. He is getting ready to release a new machine, Simon X. Sounds like a terrific machine.
Thank you, do you know when and why so quickly a new Simon?
The Simon X will be released in about a month. We’ll update this page with full details about the machine as soon as it’s available.
After a year I’m very happy with my Tutor. It’s used several times a week reloaded at least 4 times per use (105 balls). There’s a new version named Tutor Plus on the market that sells for $150 more. It stands higher and weighs a bit more to include spin and has small wheels. Will try to get to see it in operation at the Open.
I have been using the Pickle by Lobster for about a year in a club setting. I use it more than anyone else and am familiar with the operation. After 700 – 1200 balls a week, the throwing wheels have held up although there is some variability in the arc of each throw. You can use it as you charge with the premium charger, but it uses the battery faster than it charges so you cannot use it indefinitely. I get at least 4 hours if plugged in. The random oscillation is not really random since the side to side motion is a fixed speed, therefore you know when to expect the next shot based on the feed rate selected.
The back spin / top spin was a big factor in our choice of the Pickle, and it works well. The ball hopper will hold up to 135 balls, but once the feed mechanism starts turning, balls start falling out. 100 to 110 balls per load will work. We have thought about adding a plastic tub on top to raise the sides of the hopper.
We guessed a remote would go missing so we did not purchase one.
I wire tied the charger & cord to the lower handle and added a 25 foot extension cord which we wrap around the handle. This prevents people from plugging in/removing the charger at the machine port which is a common point of failure.
The machine is easily moved around with the large wheels. The hopper lifts off and inverts, and the handle folds down making it very portable.
A small object placed under the front feet helps make higher lobs. More than about 2 inches causes jamming however as the balls do not roll completely into the throwing wheels.
Otherwise, rarely is there a jam or malfunction and we have been pleased with the machine. Everything worked properly from day one.
Waiting for my Simon2. While I haven’t received it yet, I was impressed after talking to Mike. I’ll leave a follow up message after I’ve received the machine and worked with it.
You have helped me with making my mind up on which ball machine I am going to buy. We live in Baja calif for most of the year and need a machine to practice more since there are not a lot of players near us. I am going with the Simon machine because it sound like it will hold up the best. Thanks for all your hard work and saving me time on researching these machines.
Great, I’m glad you found it useful and hope you enjoy practicing with your new Simon machine!
Incredibly helpful article. I am buying a machine and had decided on a lobster without much review other than YouTube. I’m now leaning heavily to Simon 2. Your insight on the throwing wheels and the composition/warranty of Simon made a big difference.
Thanks for the feedback, glad the article was useful for you.
Waiting on a new simon2 there’s been a production hold up for several weeks but mike has stayed in touch even offered my money back.Thinks it will ship late next week.l ordered it because of the durability issue you mentioned.
Now I,m confused. Great information though. May wait a month for the Simon X. Thanks so much
Has anybody had the opportunity to try out the new Simon X ?? It is easily the most expensive machine, but it sure seems like the most durable, complete product on the market. Interested in any and all feedback!
I purchased the Tutor a couple of years ago and was happy with it. But it seemed like they just rebranded the tennis ball machine model and raised the price to capitalize on the pickleball enthusiasm.
Then I purchased the Lobster, liked that better, but just recently sold it to get the upgraded Lobster 2. I like the idea of an Apple remote and electronic elevation. But to my dismay, after ordering the wifi option, I received the non wifi remote option instead but without the remote. It has taken over 1 week to get the remote, so the new machine has just been sitting. That’s a problem for me, as they said all machines go out tested before they ship. How could I get an non-wifi unit, it be tested, yet no remote was in the box? Seems like a lack of quality control. The other issue is that you really don’t get what you see in the advertisement. The Lobster 2 has the new 2-line oscillation, but the indicator on the panel is for a 3 function switch. Looks like they used old panels but with new switches. Plus they did away with the small pin charger, but the charger input is still on the old panel. Yes, it might seem petty, but for $1600.00, I would think the least you could do is create a new panel for the new hardware. They told me that the panel in the advertisement was an artist rendering.
I think, I am going to return the Lobster and go with the new Simon X. Yes, it’s about $400 more and 35lbs heavier, but I like the fact that the wheels are a lifetime guarantee. My older Lobster started throwing balls in all directions, even after I cleaned the wheels.