Once you get serious about tennis, you need a ball hopper. Try going out to practice 100 serves without one and you'll be bending over to pick up the balls more than hitting serves. The basics of ball hoppers are very simple. They’re designed to hold a specific capacity of tennis balls, and they can be categorized into two groups: those you pick up and carry around and others you wheel around.
The ones you carry around are smaller and allow you to place the hopper on top of a ball, push down, and have it go in the basket by squeezing through the metal frame, or you can open the top and place the balls in the basket that way as well. The ones you wheel around are generally intended for when you have hundreds of balls at a time and it’s just too cumbersome to lift all those balls in a hand basket. Wheeled hoppers will have a tray that disengages from the hopper so the balls can be poured into a smaller hopper or a ball machine.
By the way, there are only a few standard brands in ball hoppers: Gamma, Wilson, and perhaps Hoag. After doing the comparisons, for the standard models we strongly recommend Gamm products. However, there's a kid and grown up-friendly friendly brand called Hop-A-Razzi who manufacture ball hoppers in a plethora of colors, with good features such as wheels to make it easier for juniors.
With any hopper, look for a simple warranty or return policy when you purchase a hopper (regardless of brand) from your favorite outlet just in case you find that you need more or less capacity, or one with an additional feature.
The following ball hoppers have varying capacities so you can choose the one that's best for your needs. The hopper with a capacity of 50 balls tops our list because that's where most people will start, but it all depends on your individual needs. The hoppers listed here each are made with sturdy materials which are welded when appropriate, weather resistant, and designed to last through years of practical use.
A very well made product with features that extend its useful life. It's probably about as large in capacity as a single player who's not a teaching pro would need, and you can probably still carry it comfortably. Read Full Review
Gamma makes a smaller hopper that holds 50 balls called the Risette, but if you want to step up to a larger hopper then try the Pro Gold 85. The basket has a hexagonal design that seems to hold more balls efficiently in a given space. The frame is welded and coated for weather resistance. The bottom of the hopper has additional wear bumpers to add to the life of the product.
To consider if this is the right product for you, make your choice based on capacity and features rather than price; think about hitting 85 balls out of the basket. If you hit one serve every 15 seconds, that's about 20 minutes of serving practice. If you’re drilling ground strokes and hitting 20 balls in a row, then the Pro Gold 85 may the choice for you. You'll find this ball hopper for less than $50 at most outlets so you.
For the teaching pro or player on the go between courts, this hopper offers versatility. You can use it as a traditional hopper or a bag’em hopper and get going to your next practice session. It offers years of service and is priced moderately around $60 at most outlets. Read Full Review
This isn't the usual ball hopper that you find but instead it's more like a flexible bag on wheels, and allows you to take the bag off the stand and carry it with you. The bag holds 150 balls so this is a really convenient choice for a tennis pro/instructor. You may want to couple it with a wheeled hopper for easier pick up if you’re really going to have 150 balls on the court at one time. This unique design also features a push-button release on the top so you can conveniently transport or store the hopper. The hopper itself is a nylon basket, light-weight, and stands up to the rigors of the court.
Smooth wheels and a wide mouth make this an easy-to-push hopper that can clear a court of 350 balls and get you back into action. It’s recommended to take care of the wheels to ensure nothing in the hopper rusts or gets caught in the axle so you can enjoy the hopper for a very long time. Read Full Review
When you have to pick up 350 tennis balls as fast as you can, this is the hopper for you. The mower-style design has two arms that collect the balls, but fold from almost four feet wide to under two feet for easy storage (and less chance of tripping on it while you're on the court). It's made of lightweight aluminum and coated with a polyurethane so it's better resistant to chipping. This is serious equipment for the teaching pro or club, and you'll find it priced between $400 to $500.
This hopper will keep you busy with students for a long time before it's exhausted (and you might be too). It's large capacity and easy movement make it a great choice for the "shopping cart" style ball hopper. Read Full Review
Many teaching pros use a hopper that looks a bit like a shopping cart from your local supermarket and the Gamma Brute Teaching Cart 325 is one of those. The balls are held at a convenient height and you can wheel the cart around easily on the court. The cart is designed to go easily in and out of the standard-width tennis court gates.
The wheels swivel on ball bearings, just like your favorite shopping cart, and you can place a divider in the court to separate better balls from teaching balls, or oversized youth balls. You can find it for under $200 and several outlet stores and online.
The Hop-A-Razzi Junior is an appealing choice for kids because of the selection of vibrant colors, wheels and solid construction. Hop-A-Razzi's patented design offers adjustable handles as well. Read Full Review
Here's a ball hopper that's aimed for juniors which holds up to 65 balls, has stand-up legs which fold over as handles for carrying the hopper, and it has a snap-closed lid. It also has wheels in the base for easier "dragging" around the court. The construction is sturdy but what I really like about this model is it comes in 12 different colors, including green, blue, pink, as well as more standard hues too. For kids, tennis is all about having fun, so why not have a fun-colored hopper?