The Grand Slam 4 Lobster ball machine can simulate 3 types of common tennis playing styles to help you prepare for your next match. Use these drills to improve your game.
In this review, we look at the features offered by the Lobster tennis ball machine Grand Slam IV model and how it compares to other similar tennis ball machines. We then analyze the Lobster Elite tennis ball machine Grand Slam IV based on overall customer satisfaction, ratings, reviews, and positive and negative consumer comments. We also offer our own rating and recommendation on whether to purchase the Grand Slam IV Lobster ball machine.
Lobster Sports produces both battery operated and electric tennis ball machines. In the battery operated category there is the Elite Freedom economy model, the Elite 1, 2, and 3 models, and the Grand Slam IV and V. Lobster started manufacturing tennis ball machines in 1970 and has maintained a reputation for high quality and reliable ball machines. For more information on Lobster Sports you can read our Lobster ball machine page.
We have already reviewed the Elite 2 Lobster ball machine and the Elite 3 Lobster tennis ball machine so we can compare all three machines. The least expensive price we’ve found for the Elite 2 is $1,350, and the cheapest for the Elite 3 has been $1,600, and for the Grand Slam IV $1,900. All of these models offer a range of valuable features. The primary difference between all of the Lobster ball machines lies in the oscillation.
The Elite 3 offers a two-line narrow and wide angle oscillation feature. What this means is that the Elite 3 throws balls to the corners of the court using a built-in indicator, thus simulating real match play. As we discussed in our review of the Elite 3 Lobster tennis ball machine, we feel that the two-line feature is a great bargain up from the Lobster Elite 2 for only another $250.
The Grand Slam IV also offers the two-line feature and adds a medium setting, whereas the Lobster Elite 3 only has wide and narrow. It also adds three types of six shot pre-programmed ball drills and fully random oscillation. The price jump to the Grand Slam IV Lobster Elite tennis ball machine from the Elite 3 is about $300. Do these three additional features justify the jump?
Let’s break down the features to answer that question.
First the two-line setting is useful for two players or two lines of players to use when working on a drill or for the single player wanting to practice alternating forehands and backhands. As the settings describe, narrow means you don’t have to move very far from the center of the court to reach the balls, as they will land relatively close to you, alternating forehand and backhand. Wide, means you’ll be stretching, even into the doubles court. Medium, is in between the two. Adding medium to the Grand Slam IV Lobster tennis ball machine is nice, but certainly not a major upgrade.
The second feature added to the Grand Slam IV Lobster ball machine is fully random oscillation. In the information provided by Lobster it’s hard to see the difference in where the balls land comparing random oscillation on the Elite 3 with fully random oscillation on the Grand Slam IV. Both diagrams look the same. Lobster says balls with the Grand Slam IV tennis ball machine are thrown throughout the entire spectrum of the court, mixing up speed, spin, trajectory, and oscillation. But the Elite 3 also offers varying speed, spin, etc, so we’re not sure about the distinction here. Looking solely at this feature, it’s probably not worth bumping up to the Grand Slam IV for $300 more.
The last additional feature offered by the Grand Slam IV Lobster ball machine over the Elite 3 is its built-in pre-programmed drills. The Grand Slam IV comes equipped with three pre-programmed six shot drills that simulate the most popular styles of play that you will see in an opponent’s game; the grinder, the all-courter, and the power baseliner. These drills mix up speed, trajectory, and spin to help prepare you against tough opponents. If you know an upcoming opponent has a style similar or even better, exactly matches a particular style offered in the pre-programmed settings, you can practice that style over and over again before a big match. This can be a huge advantage. Lobster makes it easy to use this feature as well; you simply hit one button to go to each type of drill. Each drill is described as follows.
The Grinder Drill
The Grinder is a player that likes to wear down his or her opponents physically and mentally, waiting for the other player to make a crucial mistake. This type of player hits high, loopy, moderate spin shots that will challenge all players.
Power Baseliner Drill
The Power Baseliner is explosive in their shot selection, playing with pace, aggression, and minimal spin. This type of player showcases an attacking style, known as “first strike” tennis.
The All-courter focuses their game on tactical savvy. He/she can compete well from the baseline and will come in to the net to finish points. When playing this type of player, you can expect a great deal of shot variety.
In our opinion, if you are an advanced to expert level player the three pre-programmed drills are an outstanding feature that will certainly boost your game and help you in matches against specific types of opponents with the most popular playing styles. In this case, the $300 move up from the Elite 3 Lobster ball machine is justified. If you are a beginner to early intermediate level, then you are probably best sticking with the Elite 3 for now. It certainly has enough challenging features. However, if you are at a lower level, but are starting to get into more competitive tennis play, maybe entering a few tournaments or playing in a league at your club, then you may just want to shell out the extra money and get the drill settings. They’ll certainly give you an advantage.
Here is a list of all of the features you’ll find in the Grand Slam IV Lobster tennis ball machine.
Lobster Ball Machine Grand Slam IV Features Overview
Power Type – The Lobster ball machine Grand Slam IV is battery powered, with a standard battery life of 4-8 hours. Battery recharge time is typically 12 hours. You can get a premium fast charger also for $149 which will charge the tennis ball machine in 1-3 hours. There is also an external battery pack available for $179 which will provide an additional 4-8 hours of court time.
Spin control – the Grand Slam IV Lobster ball machine has a dial on the control panel that lets you control the degree of top spin and backspin.
Weight – The Grand Slam IV Lobster ball machine weighs 44lbs (19.96kg). The ball machines we’ve reviewed on this site range in weight from 11 lbs (5kg) for a very, very basic ball machine to 90lbs (40.82kg) for a heavy duty commercial type model. 44lbs is not terribly difficult to pick up and put in your car however you may want to ask for help. As for moving around on the ground, the Grand Slam IV Lobster tennis ball machine has an extendable towing handle and heavy duty oversized transport wheels that help you pull it just like luggage.
Dimensions – The Grand Slam IV Lobster tennis ball machine measures a very compact (Length x Width x Height) 24 x 16 x 32 inches (.61 x .46 x .81m). The hopper on the Grand Slam IV can easily be inverted and the handle removed to fit into the trunk of your car. The hopper can also serve as a convenient cover.
Speed Range – The Grand Slam IV Lobster ball machine fires tennis balls between 30-80 mph (48.28-128.75 kph). The ball machines we have reviewed range in speed from 10 mph to 95 mph (16.10-152.89 kph), so the Grand Slam IV Lobster ball machine seems a bit limited in terms of speed range. Beginners will have difficulty with balls at a minimum speed of 30 mph. However, advanced players will certainly feel challenged by balls coming at 80 mph.
Ball Capacity – The Grand Slam IV Lobster ball machine holds 150 tennis balls. Economy tennis ball machines will hold 50 balls, whereas ball machines in high usage situations, such as clubs or tennis camps can hold up to 300 balls. We feel that a 150 ball capacity is sufficient.
Feed Rate – this is how fast the balls are fired out of the machine. The Grand Slam IV Lobster tennis ball machine fires at a rate ranging from 2-12 balls per second. The fastest firing time we’ve seen in a tennis ball machine is one ball every 1.5 seconds and the slowest is one ball every 12 seconds. The Grand Slam IV’s feed rate is more than adequate for working on rapid fire volleys coming at you every 2 seconds, as well as beginners who may need the slower feed rate of 12 seconds to prepare and set up.
Warranty – the Lobster ball machine Grand Slam IV Model comes with a two year warranty on parts and service. Most tennis ball machine brands offer a 2 year warranty although some offer only a one year. We have found that only deluxe models over $3,500 offer a 3 year warranty.
– Optional extras for the Grand Slam IV Lobster Elite tennis ball machine include the following:
- 15-function wireless remote control ($300) – This state-of-the-art compact controller lets you make changes to functions such as play/pause, oscillation sweep, fully random, 2-line, speed, feed, spin, and more. This is a nice remote, but a bit pricy at $300. A standard 2-function remote comes with the Grand Slam IV that lets you control oscillation and pause/on/off.
Customer Ratings and Comments
Sites with Customer Reviews Posted (5)
Number of Reviews (15)
Average Score (3.6 out of 5)
|Easy to use (10)||Bulky (2)||Intermediate (11)|
|Improves performance (7)||Difficult to use (2)||Casual athlete (7)|
|Excellent battery(1)||Ineffective (2)||Professional (4)|
|Excellent fast (1)||Wears out quickly (2)||Tournament play (2)|
Summary of Positive Comments: Several reviews say that there are very few ball jams with the Grand Slam IV. Advanced players seem to love the machine with its advanced drilling features. Most say that the battery lasts very long.
Summary of Negative Comments: Several reviewers cite performance and durability issues with the machine. They reported a lot of break-downs and sending the machine back to Lobster for work to be done. Most of these issues seem to be covered by warranty, but it was a bit disturbing seeing these in the reviews.
Don’t recommend — Recommend with reservations — Recommend — Strongly Recommend
We recommend the Grand Slam IV Lobster Elite tennis ball machine primarily on the outstanding features that it offers. As we discussed above, the programmable options make this ball machine a great buy at $1,899 for advanced and expert players, or players who are starting to move into tournament play. For beginner and intermediate level players, cheaper machines are out there that would provide just as much of a challenge as the Grand Slam IV Lobster tennis ball machine at a much lower price.
In the consumer reviews we were also concerned with the relatively low rating and break-down issues reported with this machine. For a tennis ball machine that is almost $2,000 and comes with a two-year warranty, we don’t expect to see any of these issues.
Best Places to Buy the Grand Slam IV Lobster Tennis Ball Machine
Amazon sells everything, including tennis ball machines. You can find some really great deals here on other tennis accessories as well. If you’ve ever bought anything on Amazon you also see suggestions based on your previous purchases, as well as numerous consumer product reviews. Amazon is a great resource for shopping for just about anything.
Onlinesports.com – $2,018.75
Online Sports is one of the Internet’s oldest and most popular sites for finding sports and recreation products and services. They continue to win awards for providing an excellent, user friendly method to bring together buyers and suppliers of sports products.
Rate the Grand Slam IV Lobster Ball Machine Yourself
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