Over the summer time months, I have been attempting out a number of ball machines in pursuit of discovering one of the best tennis ball machine available on the market proper now.
There are extra critiques to return, however the machine in focus in the present day is the Slinger Bag from Connexa Sports activities.
The Slinger burst onto the market a number of years in the past by way of a profitable Kickstarter crowdfunding marketing campaign and has since cast a partnership with Dunlop after being included into the bigger Connexa Sports activities Group.
The product has been effectively marketed and is likely one of the extra standard ball machines on the market, due to its accessible worth level and portability in comparison with some heavier machines.
I have been testing the Slinger bag for a number of weeks, so is it any good? How does it examine to costlier machines? Discover out on this full playtest and evaluate.
The Slinger Tennis Ball Machine
The Slinger Bag has a novel luggage-like design, and alongside the ball machine firing part, it has storage for round 144 tennis balls instantly above it.
On the rear of the bag, there’s a high loading racket compartment part that holds three rackets after which a number of accent compartments on the edges to retailer the charger, the distant key fob, the cellphone holder and different bits and items.
The telescopic ball collector that holds 20 balls when prolonged is strapped to the facet, and on the rear of the Slinger are two wheels with a telescopic deal with for wheeling it round.
The oscillator accent is available in a separate bag, which you’ll be able to slot over the telescopic deal with for carrying round.
By way of design, I believe it is extremely slick trying, and it attracts loads of consideration from folks; whereas most individuals have guessed it’s one thing sport-related, no one outdoors the tennis world that I’ve run into knew it was a tennis ball machine.
The mannequin I’ve is the Grand Slam pack which incorporates:
Slinger Bag Grand Slam Pack
- Slinger Launcher
- Distant Management
- Ball Tube (holds 20 balls)
- Digital camera Holder
Slinger Bag Specification
- Weight: 33lbs/15kg (not together with balls)
- Dimensions: 14″ x 18″ x 34″ (35.6cm x 45.7cm x 86.4cm)
- Launch pace: 10-45 mph (16-73 km/h)
- Battery: Lithium lasts 3.5 hours
- Controls: Feed fee and pace knobs on the machine, distant management for on/off and oscillation
- Launch Angle managed by way of Elevation Knob 10 and 40 levels
- Variable ball feed frequency of between 2 and seven seconds.
- Holds ~144 balls
Setting Up the Slinger Bag
Establishing the Slinger is easy. First, guarantee it’s absolutely charged by plugging the charging adapter into the port and letting it run earlier than play.
Additionally it is attainable to take away the battery and cost that instantly should you’d somewhat depart the bag within the automotive or in a spot the place there is no such thing as a wall socket inside attain.
When you arrive on the court docket, you unzip the entrance backside pocket and fasten it with the carabiner clip, so it stays absolutely open.
Turning on the Slinger bag is completed by way of a rocker change, and also you then have two knobs to regulate the pace and the feed fee. There are 4 lights to point battery degree.
When you have by no means used a ball machine earlier than, do not be alarmed by the tennis ball fuzz, this occurs on all ball machines and is endless.
You may vacuum it off periodically, which I like to recommend, however it is going to be again instantly as quickly as you utilize it once more.
There’s a facet pocket that you just open to entry the elevation knob, which dictates the angle the ball fires out at from zero to 40 levels. You loosen it to regulate, then tighten it when pleased with the angle.
You then open the highest entrance compartment, which is the ball holder; opening permits the balls to be shuffled round in a bigger area.
If you’re utilizing the machine for the primary time, I might suggest protecting it off the oscillator, as it would be best to mess around with court docket places first.
To make use of the oscillator, you place the bag onto the oscillator base, so the wheels are within the grooves, then join it by way of the white cable, which locks on magnetically to the management panel. You may then change it on from the distant management keyfob.
You might be able to go from there, however do not decide up your racket and dash to the baseline like Nadal.
I might suggest utilizing the fob to change to the machine to ‘go’ if you are standing subsequent to it; then, you’ll be able to see the place the primary couple of balls land.
Relying on the pace and bounce location, you would possibly want to regulate.
For first-time use and warm-up, I might suggest putting the machine behind the ‘T’ of the service containers, setting the pace to only underneath midway, and the angle at round 15 levels. This offers a snug ball to get into the groove.
Earlier than utilizing the Slinger Bag, I might used a Siboasi ball machine for six weeks; that mannequin is a extra conventional model ball machine with many options.
So my preconceptions of the Slinger could be that it is not pretty much as good, given its thrice cheaper and would not have as many choices.
Nevertheless, my first time utilizing the Slinger impressed me. Whereas it isn’t pretty much as good in some areas because the Siboasi, it is higher in others which I am going to get into under within the playtest part.
The primary impression I appreciated was how simple the bag was to maneuver round. It’s simple to tilt to get onto the wheels, and you might fairly simply stroll a good distance to the courts should you wanted to; bringing it on public transport would even be no drawback.
Whereas stairs and tough surfaces like gravel aren’t going to be simple to traverse, it is simple sufficient to raise and carry for a short interval if you want to.
I’ve carried it up and down three flights of stairs a number of instances, and whereas it is cumbersome, it’s mild sufficient to be manageable for most individuals. As you’ll be able to see, it suits in a automotive boot comfortably. Mid-size SUV under for reference.
I notably just like the wheels on the Slinger; they’re slimline however substantial and have a rubber really feel. They run tremendous easily, too, and so they really feel just like the wheels you get on a well-made suitcase.
That is in comparison with the Siboasi machine, which has absolutely plastic thick chunky wheels, that are a bit clunky.
In the event that they added a rubber coating to them just like the Slinger’s, wheeling round could be a lot smoother, particularly on pavements.
I additionally appreciated how the Slinger is one full package deal; with different ball machines, you want the machine, ball baskets and your rackets which might contain a few journeys again to the automotive to get every part, whereas the Slinger has every part throughout the bag.
Slinger Bag Playtest
The Slinger comes with a cardboard placard, suggesting the place to place the machine and what settings to make use of.
I believe the ball boy suggestion is pointless, because it’s firing you one ball you catch then serve with. Practising serves with a basket is way simpler, and when do membership gamers ever have a ball boy to chuck them a ball? 😁
My first attempt of the Slinger was indoors, and I set it simply behind the service line on the following pace and feed settings.
After my first few hits, I used to be shocked at how a lot high spin the Slinger generates.
I believed the ball would possibly really feel lacklustre given it would not have the pace functionality of larger machines, nevertheless it produces an exceptionally difficult ball with a penetrating topspin.
It does this as a result of it solely has one wheel, whereas different machines use two wheels that run at completely different speeds, producing a flat ball, topspin and underspin.
I’ve seen another feedback that solely having topspin is a disadvantage of the Slinger, however I do not assume this can be a drawback.
I believe it is a bonus as a result of as your sport progresses, particularly should you’re a junior, you’ll run into increasingly topspin.
I keep in mind after I first performed somebody who hit the ball with large topspin off each wings; it was like nothing I might ever seen earlier than, and the response off my stringbed was so alien to me that it took a number of video games to regulate to.
The Slinger produces that sort of ball, and it’s the sort you wish to face because it challenges you and can make you a greater participant.
You might be fortunate to seek out greater than 2 or 3 gamers at a tennis membership that may hit that sort of spin, so having a machine that may hearth out ~140 heavy spin balls at you is extremely advantageous.
If you can begin coping with excessive bouncing balls penetrating the court docket, you will additionally get higher at mopping powder puff moon balls from the dreaded ‘pusher’ that everybody at each degree of tennis has misplaced to in some unspecified time in the future.
On my first session, I hit a whole bag of balls on that setting, then moved the Slinger Bag again to the baseline, growing the pace to the max whereas protecting the angle the identical. The outcome was extra of the identical with a shoulder-high bouncing ball which supplies an actual exercise as you are utilizing smaller muscle teams.
I then put the oscillator on, which makes issues much more difficult as you are now hitting excessive balls on the run, which is extraordinarily tiring should you do a complete basket of them.
For the second session, I made a decision to attempt extra focused drills, so this time I arrange the bag on the identical facet of the web as myself and put the pace close to its lowest and the angle close to 40 levels.
This produces a sort of hand-fed ball, and I needed to follow getting into the court docket and getting low to hit brief forehands, retreating to the center behind the baseline and repeating.
The sort of drill helps develop the brief steps required for higher footwork. See the video under for the type of factor I am speaking about; change Coach Nick with the Slinger and you’ve got an analogous drill:
To shut the session, I made a decision to check out the Slinger on one of many least practised pictures in tennis – the overhead.
For this, I set the bag contained in the baseline on the centre service line with a pace close to max and an angle of 40 levels. This fires up lobs at a good top, and you may as well follow again pedalling should you stand near the web, which is difficult.
When scripting this evaluate, I’ve used the Slinger Bag for round fifteen 90-minute periods, and I have been very pleased with its efficiency.
Initially, I believed I might be swapping between the Slinger and the Siboasi I used to be utilizing, however I stored the Slinger within the automotive for 5 consecutive periods, so I did not miss the additional options and most well-liked the lighter portability side of the Slinger.
What Can You Follow with the Slinger Bag?
Regardless of not having among the options of different ball machines, you’ll be able to follow each sort of shot within the sport with some inventive court docket placement. Thus far, I’ve used the Slinger to follow:
- Groundstokes (duh)
- Half Volleys
- Drive Volleys
- Moon Balls
- Cross court docket drills
- Footwork drills
Even when the battery conked out on me midway via a session, all was not misplaced as you’ll be able to stick the bag subsequent to you and follow serves without having to consistently bend over and decide up balls from the bottom.
For a lot of drills, you do not even want to maneuver the bag; for instance, I put the bag in one of many corners, a few ft contained in the baseline and simply contained in the sideline, which fires the ball cross-court into my forehand.
I then hit a number of cross-court forehands, go down the road for a pair, again to cross-court, after which are available and hit a number of volleys. You may then backpedal to attempt to get the subsequent ball for some extra cross-court groundstroke hitting.
Advisable Slinger Bag Drills and Settings
|Lob / Drive Volley / Excessive Volley||80%||50%||40 Levels||Centre, simply contained in the baseline|
|Mid Courtroom Excessive Forehand||60%||50%||~15 levels||Centre, behind service T|
|Cross Courtroom Groundstokres||70%||50%||~15 levels||Inside Sideline, 2 ft from the service line|
|Hand Fed Sort Ball||20%||30%||40 Levels||Your facet of the web|
Obtained any drill solutions with their related settings? Let me know within the feedback.
For different drill concepts, there are a number of Youtube movies you’ll be able to watch, the Tennis Mentor has a complete sequence on utilizing the Slinger for all ranges of play, and there are different drill movies from Hammer It Tennis that are price testing.
Lastly, there are fairly a number of coaches that provide stroke evaluation should you ship them the footage, so Slinger can be helpful for videoing a follow session to ship them.
It isn’t all the time simple to discover a hitting accomplice who can hit constantly, so should you can movie your self hitting 50 forehands in a row off an analogous ball, this shall be useful for a coach.
Why I Like The Slinger Bag
The factor I like most concerning the Slinger Bag is that it is a stable all-rounder. It would not have all of the bells and whistles of different ball machines, however for sub $1000 / £1000, it greater than competes with them.
Whereas my costlier ball machine sits in the course of the court docket and may do every part from one location, when you begin taking part in round with the position of the Slinger Bag and the pace/launch angle, you’ll be able to recreate a lot of the issues costlier machines can do.
The opposite massive plus level was how a lot high spin the Slinger bag generates. On the leisure degree, everybody loves that waist-high ball, which implies shoulder-high balls are under-practised if not actively prevented.
The Slinger forces you to play these sorts of balls, and you’ll turn out to be a greater participant from it.
Take a look at how the professionals on the ATP tour destroy these shoulder-high mid-court balls, and so they’ve finished that via repetition, which a ball machine may also help you do too.
Lastly, I just like the all-in-one nature of the bag. The whole lot you want for a session is saved within the bag: racket, balls, ball collector, ball machine, distant management.
You flip as much as a court docket, wheel it on, and after a few minutes of setup, you’re prepared to begin hitting (remember to heat up!)
Are There Any Drawbacks?
The primary minor disadvantage I found was that not all of the balls would discover their method into the rotating part earlier than falling into the rotating hopper.
It is because there’s a lip across the edge the place the balls get caught, and usually I get anyplace from 3 to 10 balls that do not fall in.
It is a straightforward sufficient repair by putting one thing behind the velcro mesh within the bag – I used air-filled sacks used for packaging that you just typically get in Amazon containers when it is outsized in comparison with the merchandise you ordered. You may additionally use foam.
Please notice: The difficulty of balls not falling into the hopper has been addressed within the 3.0 model of the Slinger Bag.
My bag just isn’t the most recent model, and the newer one, which you will obtain should you order the bag within the USA or UK in the present day, has a unique inside setup, and a few carry handles that assist will get the bag into the automotive and so forth.
I imagine some areas will nonetheless be promoting the two.0 model if they’ve inventory. So if having the most recent model is essential for you, ask earlier than ordering.
One other disadvantage for me could be the distant management’s incapacity to regulate pace or feed fee.
I do miss the choice of being unable to tweak the pace or frequency from the opposite facet of the court docket. It isn’t a deal breaker, although, simply good to have; if I hadn’t skilled that on my different ball machine, I am undecided I might have considered it that a lot.
Is the actual fact you’ll be able to solely do topspin a gripe? Not a lot for me. When you cannot get the Slinger to fireplace flat balls at you, that’s simple sufficient to get from a hitting accomplice.
So whereas solely topspin is a limitation, it isn’t one thing I’ve discovered myself lacking when utilizing the Slinger, as I benefit from the problem of going through a ball that kicks up.
Slinger vs Different Ball Machines
The desk under compares the Slinger Bag vs the Spinfire 2 Professional, the Lobster Elite Two and Tennis Tutor.
Slinger Bag Suggestions and Tips
After utilizing the bag a few instances every week for a number of weeks, listed below are some ideas and methods I’ve considered.
Carry a small Pozi screwdriver and a few substitute CR2016 batteries within the bag. I don’t know how lengthy the battery within the keyfob will final; I assume it’s much like a automotive key. However attending to the courts then having no approach to begin the machine could be painful.
Cost the Slinger often. I might suggest charging each time earlier than play. On one among my periods, the battery ran out after half-hour of utilizing it as a result of I hadn’t charged it. I get round 3-4 hours from the battery. So do not get caught out in any other case; you are practising serves for the rest.
Clear the bag typically; I like to recommend vacuuming off the fuzz from the management panel and contained in the ball machine to stop extreme buildup. I take advantage of a Xiaomi mini handheld vacuum that does a good job. You can even use a smooth bristle brush to get it out of the harder-to-reach locations.
Use high-quality unpressurised balls. My favorite is the Wilson Triniti which play nice with a ball machine. I additionally use the Babolat Gold Academy balls, that are respectable, however I choose the Triniti total. Slinger now companions with Dunlop for balls, however I’ve not tried them.
Get a second ball tube or basket. The bag has a tube that holds 20 balls, but when you will get two, use one in every hand, and you then spend extra time coaching and fewer time gathering.
How I Would Enhance the Slinger
- Allow pace and feed settings to be managed from the distant
- Small LCD display screen for battery % somewhat than LED lights
- Repair situation with not all balls falling into the machine (has already been addressed within the newest model)
Another enchancment concepts? Let me know within the feedback.
Who’s the Slinger Bag For?
The Slinger is the best bag for the enhancing leisure participant or an aspiring professional, and it is the type of factor I might have been fruitlessly asking my dad and mom for as a Christmas reward after I was a child.
In case you’re searching for a private ball machine that’s simple to raise into the automotive, simple to maneuver round on the court docket and delivers a constant ball to enhance your strokes, this is able to be my decide as you will not discover higher for the worth.
Whereas there are extra refined machines on the market, not everybody has $3k / £2k to spend on what is actually a luxurious toy that fires a tennis ball at you, so I like the place this bag sits by way of worth: efficiency.
Sure, the Slinger Bag remains to be fairly costly at $800 / £800, however when you think about that many individuals spend $1000+ on an iPhone yearly, that is cheaper and will get you shifting round.
Whereas it’s extra fitted to private use, I additionally assume it is a useful string to the tennis coach’s bow.
Some coaches will seemingly be higher off investing in a pricier machine, however for these one-on-one classes the place you wish to watch a participant’s strokes from behind or the facet whereas they hit from the machine, it is a useful device.
Likewise, it is going to be a superb funding for coaches who journey round and run group coaching camps for juniors.
They will use the Slinger on the court docket with a bunch of youngsters and martial them from closeup with out having to deal with the feeds.
It is also simpler to hold round than the heavier machines, so should you do a morning session at one membership after which drive to a different a part of city for a day session, the Slinger lends itself effectively to that use case. Additionally they promote a spare battery, so you’ll be able to swap them out if you cannot cost it up between periods.
- Very slick design
- Multi function package deal
- Straightforward to move
- Big topspin
- Good worth
- Balls do get caught within the hopper
- The distant management could be flaky at a distance
- The oscillator is a bit cumbersome to hold moreover
Have you ever tried the Slinger Bag? Do you will have any questions on it or assume I’ve missed any vital bits of information? Let me know within the feedback.