When it comes to learning to play tennis, and especially learning to play it well, there’s nothing in the world that could replace a good coach. The experience, the tips and the know-how these people have are invaluable to any beginner’s eventual success, regardless of how exactly success is defined. Whether you want to learn tennis because you’re an enthusiast who wants to beat other enthusiast, or you’re looking to become the next Serena or Venus Williams, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, you will need a good teacher. And a good teacher is wasted if their role is simply to feed you balls while you’re practicing your backhand.

That’s what a tennis ball machine should do.

With a tennis ball machine, you can have consistent, steady flow of balls your way. You, on the other hand, can concentrate on performing the shot in the correct way, each and every time. Muscle memory is important, and that’s why repetition is good for you while you’re practicing a new shot, but that doesn’t mean you only need to hit the ball into one part of the court. It’s a better idea to alternate between midcourt and line hits, and then change it up by having the machine aim a bit further from you, so you need to move in order to hit the ball. And when you feel more comfortable, you can speed the machine up, or move to the middle of court and heat things up a bit.

Of course, your teacher will be there to tell when it’s time to step it up a bit. And they’ll know when it’s time because, being able to move around the field, they will be able to see your moves from different angles and make a better assessment than when standing on the other side of the net. Also, the machine will not slow down until the command to do so is given, so you’ll notice when you start to become tired – and so will your teacher.

And then there are different types of settings on more advanced tennis ball machines, which will allow you to train your backhand and forehand alternatively. But even the simpler ones will do you a huge favor – they will give your teacher a chance to do the best they can to teach you the skills you need before you get to try them out on an opponent. So, if you were wondering whether you need that relentless machine spewing balls your way, the short answer is – yes, you do. And you should love it, too.