Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The World’s Best Practice Partner

Coach Wayne’s Corner

Photos by Wayne Clark

If you are a regular follower of my column, then you know what a big fan I am of drills and practice. I hope your game has improved from doing some of the individual drills and practice routines that I prescribed over the last two months of lockdown. 

As we all begin adjusting to the new ways of “normal” life, you may find yourself wanting to get back out on the pickleball courts. However, you may still be a little gun shy of exposing yourself to being in a situation where you encounter large groups of people. 

You may also be having trouble finding a hitting partner to drill and practice with. 

Using a ball machine as a practice partner is a great way to get some exercise and work on improving your strokes at the same time. A couple of nice things about hitting with a ball machine are: 

  • It does whatever you tell it to do. 
  • It does not complain, argue with you, or give you an attitude. 
  • It is extremely consistent in hitting the shot that you ask it to hit. 
  • It adheres to your schedule. 

While there are many drills you can do to work on specific shots, I personally like to utilize a ball machine simply to get in a good workout! 

Much like using a treadmill, stationary bike, or a stair machine, I use the ball machine to help build my stamina and endurance, both in my legs and in my lungs, as well as reinforcing the quality and timing of my footwork. 

The ball machine at The Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida located at East Naples Community Park is available for rental during Pro Shop hours: 

  • Mon  Sat  
  • 8 AM – 11 AM 
  • $25 per hour rental fee 

The Academy also offers private, semiprivate lessons, as well as clinics for all levels of players.  

You can register for all activities at or call the Pro Shop at 239-963-9732. 

My final recommendation is that if you are new to using a ball machine, schedule a lesson with an Academy instructor to assure you are using the machine properly and that you are benefiting from your practice time and not re-enforcing bad habits. 

Wayne Clark is a professional tennis instructor with over 25 years experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction and is on staff as an instructor with The Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida at East Naples Community Park. Contact Coach Wayne by email at, or by or by phone or text at 239-450-6161.


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