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Pickleball Tutor Mini Review: The Sub-$1,000 Ball Machine

The most consistent hitting partner you’ll find

pickleball tutor mini
(Image credit: Dennis Rodriguez)
Verdict
Sports Tutor Ball machines have a long-standing reputation for reliability, durability, and consistency in the market. As the popularity of pickleball has surged in recent years, the company leveraged its ball machine expertise to introduce the Pickleball Tutor series. Among these options, the Pickleball Tutor Mini stands out as the most portable and lightweight choice, and it lives up to expectations. Priced at under $1,000, the Tutor Mini delivers on performance and more. One of its strengths is its consistent ball delivery, with minimal to no ball jams, a common issue with other ball machines. Moreover, the Tutor Mini feels extremely sturdy right out of the box and it’s reassuring to invest in a product that not only performs well but also feels well-built, especially when considering the expense. The Pickleball Tutor Mini certainly doesn’t give off a “cheap” vibe.

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SpecsDescription
Shipping Dimensions 16” x 16” x 19”
Weight 24 lb
Power source and battery lifeRechargeable batter up to 3 hours of play
Ball capacity and feed rate 60 at 2-10 seconds
Speed and spin adjustment capabilities10-50 mph, no spin adjustment capabilities
Oscillation and randomization featuresOptional model
Remote control optionsNone

First Look

The Pickleball Tutor Mini is the definition of simplicity in a ball machine. With only 3 to 4 knobs (depending on if your model has oscillation), my first experience with the unit was seamless and self explanatory. I did not feel overwhelmed with multiple buttons and digital settings. Any user of any age can operate the Pickleball Tutor Mini with ease. The box includes the unit, a charging cable, and a user manual. There is no remote for the Pickleball Tutor Mini. Once you turn the unit on, it will give you approximately 10 seconds to get into position before it begins to feed the balls. Clearly their goal with this unit was simplicity and convenience.

(Image Credit: Dennis Rodriguez)

Build Quality

The Pickleball Tutor Mini is made out of durable hard plastic with two fairly large rubber wheels designed to create a consistent launch of the pickleball. It offers a 3 year warranty on the machine with a 1 year battery warranty. This unit feels incredibly durable and well built. The lack of a digital screen gave me confidence that I would have minimal issues. Sometimes “old school” knobs are just better. Less electrical problems, no more worrying about the digital screen going out, just a simple on off switch and a few knobs. The unit is so small and easy to transport. Personally I just keep it on a little dolly and it’s ready to be transported with ease.

(Image Credit: Dennis Rodriguez)

Ball Delivery Mechanism

The unit is designed to fit every brand of pickleball including both indoor and outdoor. Ball flight may depend on how old or worn the balls are, however, I have had minimal issues with the balls jamming. One thing to note, I used this unit a few times in the morning when there was a bit of dew in the air which caused the balls to become wet. The consistency of my ball flight became very unpredictable due to how wet each ball was that was fed through the unit. The more wet they were, the less trajectory they had, and many of my balls would be fed right into the net. Again, this was simply due to the balls being wet, which did not allow the rubber wheels to grip them as consistent as when the pickleballs are dry. As far as how loud the unit is, it is very quiet. A group of women were playing games on the neighboring court and did not find the unit to be disturbing or distracting at all.

Shot Variation and Programming

The Pickleball Tutor Mini does not have a setting to change shot variation, however, each ball does come out slightly different which I found to be more realistic during my practice sessions. Some balls would have major topspin, some had backspin, and some had a bit of side spin. This can be a negative and a positive. If you want to practice returning a specific shot such as top spin, the unit may be a bit inconsistent since there is no dial or button to change the shot selection. For the average user who wants a ball machine that simply feeds them balls at different speeds and trajectory, the Pickleball Tutor Mini does just that.

Battery Life & Charging

The built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery lasts approximately 3 hours of continuous use which can be extended with a battery pack sold separately. The unit comes with a smart wall charger that will shut off after the unit is charged completely. Initial charge time out of the box for me was about 4 hours. Since then, I have charged the battery for no longer than an hour or so before it is fully charged. I will state, I have yet to use the unit long enough to drain the battery completely. A typical training session for me is about an hour to an hour and a half with the ball machine.

User Experience

I am skeptical that you’ll find a unit on the market as easy to assemble and use as the Pickleball Tutor Mini. In fact, there is no assembly required at all. There’s also virtually no learning curve with this device. If you’re looking for a plug-and-play option, it could be the ideal choice for you. There’s no remote to misplace, no complex digital screen to decipher – just a few knobs and an on/off switch. I particularly liked the feature that gives you a brief 10-second window to position yourself before it starts feeding balls. Not only is this a great safety feature in my opinion, but it also ensures no ball goes to waste.

Comparison with Competitors

Numerous ball machines are available in the market, each with their own unique features and complexity. While some are more advanced, others are simpler. The Pickleball Tutor Mini may lack shot selection and a remote control, but it excels in portability, simplicity, and providing a hassle-free user experience. In my opinion, it offers excellent value for its price, and I’m confident it will remain dependable for years to come. Sports Tutor ball machines have a long-standing reputation for consistency and durability, and I believe you’ll appreciate these qualities when using one of their products.

If you have a question or comment, feel free to email me or leave a comment below!

Photo of author

Hey guys, my name’s Dennis. I’m a full-time Firefighter and “part-time” Pickleball Instructor who honestly loves coaching, teaching, and competing in sports. I played baseball & tennis throughout highschool and college and fell in love with pickleball. My goal with Pickleball Portal is to give you the most honest and reliable info on everything related to pickleball gear and equipment! I want to arm you with the knowledge to feel confident in your paddle choice by giving thorough reviews and comparisons through my hands on testing. Also hoping to share some tips and tricks with you to help your game and continue the growth of this awesome sport! dennis@pickleballportal.com

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