The Hybrid Model 301 Lobster Tennis Ball Machine is an old school pneumatic tennis ball machine that offers quality, durability, and positive customer ratings.
Lobster Sports Inc. began manufacturing tennis ball machines in 1970, which means they’ve been in business about twice as long as most of their competitors. Lobster currently produces six different ball machines including both battery powered and electric tennis ball machines. Their electric powered ball machine models include the Lobster Ball Bucket 201, the Lobster Hybrid Model 301, and the Tournament Model 401. You can read more about Lobster ball machines on our Lobster page.
In this review we take a look at the Hybrid Model 301 Lobster tennis ball machine and see how it rates based on overall customer satisfaction, consumer reviews, and positive and negative consumer comments. We also look at all of the features offered by the Hybrid Model 301 Lobster tennis ball machine and how it compares to other similar tennis ball machines. We then offer our own rating and recommendation on whether to purchase the Hybrid Model 301 Lobster ball machine.
The Hybrid Model 301 Lobster ball machine is a pneumatic firing tennis ball machine, which is ideal for high usage situations such as clubs, schools, and camps, or for a home court user. Tennis ball machines are currently manufactured with two ball firing propulsion options, pneumatic and counter rotating wheels. The majority of the tennis ball machines reviewed on our site are powered with counter rotating wheels, which is the latest in propulsion technology. Machines that fire balls in this manner generally offer more spin and speed options, however they are more expensive. Pneumatic tennis ball machines offer durability, basic features, and a very low cost relative to counter rotating wheel machines. You can read more about tennis ball machine firing options in our “Tennis Ball Machine Buying Guide.”
All of the electric powered Lobster ball machines are pneumatic. The primary differences between the models, in terms of features, lies in ball capacity and spin. The Ball Bucket 201 is the entry level machine, starting at $640.00 USD and offers a ball capacity of 50 and random and horizontal oscillation. The Lobster Hybrid Model 301 ($794.00) moves up to a 150 ball capacity and has random and horizontal oscillation. The Tournament Model 401 costs $896.00 and has a 150 ball capacity with random, horizontal and vertical oscillation. All of the other features for each machine are basically the same.
Three times the ball capacity with 150 versus 50 is well worth the extra $150 when moving up from the Ball Bucket 201 to the Hybrid 301. With a 50 ball capacity you’ll spend most of your time picking up tennis balls and filling up the machine, and not hitting balls.
We typically would recommend moving up to the Tournament 410 to get vertical oscillation for another $100 over the Hybrid 301. However after reading the customer reviews and ratings for both machines we decided to place our endorsement on the 301. The Model 301 had many positive reviews and rated 4.6 out of 5.0, whereas the Model 401 had some negative feedback and rated 3.4 out of 5.0. We’re not really sure why this is, but perhaps because the Lobster Hybrid Model 301 was first manufactured in 1990 whereas the Tournament 401 was first manufactured in 1985. Perhaps with 5 years of additional engineering experience Lobster was able to build a better machine.
Here is a list of all of the features you’ll find in the Hybrid Model 301 Lobster tennis ball machine.
Hybrid Model 301 Lobster Tennis Ball Machine Features Overview
Power Type – The Hybrid Model 301 Lobster tennis ball machine is electric powered running off 120 volts or optionally 240 volts. It can also be run off a 1200-1400 watt generator.
Oscillation – This is a key feature when analyzing tennis ball machines and one of the major factors affecting the cost. The Hybrid Model 301 Lobster tennis ball machine offers random and horizontal oscillation, which means the machine fires balls randomly back and forth. You can manually change depth settings by going over and moving the firing tube up or down.
Spin control – the Hybrid Model 301 Lobster tennis ball machine offers spin control with the purchase of an additional attachment which costs about $50. Many counter rotating wheel firing tennis ball machines offer spin control settings where you can control the degree of under spin or topspin. However that degree of control is not possible with this attachment. We still highly recommend it though; it’s fairly inexpensive and certainly can add variety to your workout.
Weight – The Hybrid Model 301 Lobster tennis ball machine weighs just 31 lbs (14.06kg). The ball machines we’ve reviewed on this site range in weight from 11 lbs (5kg) for a very, very basic ball machine (no spin, no oscillation) to 90lbs (40.82kg) for a heavy duty commercial type model. 31lbs should be very easy for almost everyone to pick up and put in your car and roll around the court and parking lot.
Dimensions – The Hybrid Model 301 Lobster tennis ball machine measures a very compact (Length x Width x Height) 39 x 24 x 13 inches (.99 x .61 x .33m). The Hybrid 301 has two oversize 6 inch wheels that make it easy to roll around the court and parking lot.
Speed Range – The Hybrid Model 301 Lobster tennis ball machine fires tennis balls between 15-70 mph (24.14-112.65 kph). The ball machines we have reviewed range in speed from 10 mph to 95 mph (16.10-152.89 kph). The 301 offers a great speed range for an entry level tennis ball machine. Even advanced players will feel challenged with balls fired at up to 70 mph, and beginners can certainly handle the slower speed range.
Ball Capacity – The Hybrid Model 301 Lobster tennis 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. A 150 ball capacity for a tennis ball machine at this price level is good.
Feed Rate – this is how fast the balls are fired out of the machine. The Hybrid Model 301 Lobster tennis ball machine fires at three different rates, 3, 6, and 12 seconds. Most tennis ball machines we’ve reviewed offer a range from 2-10 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. So, 3, 6, and 12, although not ideal, should provide most players with enough variety to satisfy.
Warranty – the Hybrid Model 301 Lobster tennis ball machine comes with a two year warranty on parts and labor. 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.
Extras – The Hybrid Model 301 Lobster tennis ball machine offers a heavy duty vinyl cover for $50.
Customer Ratings and Comments
Sites with Customer Reviews Posted (5)
Number of Reviews (5)
Average Score (4.6 out of 5)
|Easy to use (4)||Difficult to use (1)||Intermediate (5)|
|Improves performance (5)||Casual athlete (3)|
Summary of Positive Comments: Many reviewers like how easy the Hybrid Model 301 Lobster tennis ball machine is to use and the degree of versatility it offers at such a low price. Everyone saw improvements in their games.
Summary of Negative Comments: There weren’t any, surprisingly.
Don’t recommend — Recommend with reservations — Recommend — Strongly Recommend
If you need a workhorse tennis ball machine in a high usage situation such as a camp, school, or club, or if you are an individual who just wants to put in a lot of hours on the court, then the Hybrid Model 301 Lobster tennis ball machine is perfect for you. Pneumatic tennis ball machines are very durable and rugged in general and less likely to wear out.
There have been newer more advanced ball machines developed in the last few years however the “old school” pneumatic Hybrid Model 301 Lobster tennis ball machine still holds its own against many of these models when you take into account price. Sure you can get more features for double the cost, but it’s very hard to find a durable, dependable tennis ball machine for under $800 that offers the basics in spin control, random oscillation, a wide speed range, and large ball capacity.
Best Places to Buy the Hybrid Model 301 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.
Lobster Spin Adaptor – $50.00
Rate the Pneumatic 301 Lobster Tennis Ball Machine Yourself
If you have tried out this tennis ball machine for yourself, let us know. You can write a review in the comments section and give it a rating below.