Two hits in in every tennis match, I remember that my backhand sucks. I grab the racket, aim horribly and I’m lucky if the ball lands anywhere inside the white lines. It’s a lack of skill that’s stuck in grade school camps, high school doubles, and ongoing sibling rivalries. But now that I’m 30, it’s time to do something about it. Tennis is one of the few sports you can play in a lifetime, and I can’t spend the next few decades beating every time the ball is on the left side of the court.
That is why I eagerly agreed to test the Slinger Slingshot T-One, a portable tennis ball launcher that looks like a wheeled sports bag. Load it up, drop up to 144 balls in the top, and you can set it up to shoot everything from volleys to my dreaded basic backhand. For $ 599, significantly more affordable than most competitors (and a few months of tennis lessons), you can work on the shots you struggle with in your spare time, on public court. For anyone who doesn’t have the time or money to join a tennis club and hire a trainer, the Slinger is a great training tool.
Roll the balls
The best part of the Slinger is how easy it is to use. The blue and black trolley bag has two large zippered pockets on the front, one to hide the firing mechanism as well as the speed and speed of the bullets, and the other to hide the bullet bin. On the side, a small zipper hides an angle adjustment lever. (Loosen, adjust to the desired angle and tighten the screw.)
There is a large interior section accessible from the top of the bag where you can put a few tennis rackets, and a side sling for an optional telescopic ball catcher (Slinger sells a number of accessories to go with the bag, but this one – this is the best). There’s a USB charging port in a top right pocket for cellphones, and an optional phone holder that locks onto the telescoping handle if you want to film your shots for TikTok or Instagram.
Such a smart design and simple, logical functionality make it easy to transport all of your equipment in the field. Simply roll the bag, which holds your tennis balls, pitcher, and racquet inside, where you want to play, unzip it and go. It weighs 33 pounds, so it’s not too difficult to lift it up and out of the trunk of a car.
Setting up the perfect shot for a given exercise takes a bit of practice, but once you understand the machine’s settings, they’re pretty easy to adjust. The speed and ball flow buttons on the front of the bag are easy to adjust. adjust, and they go from pretty darn slow to pretty darn fast. An included remote control, which looks a lot like a car key, lets you turn it on or off from across the field. There is a short warm-up time for the machine before it starts (approximately 30 seconds).
I usually started training with the machine close to the net but on the same side as me. At low speed and medium bullet feed, it provides nice, gentle warm-up shots. Once I feel more confident, I spin the pitcher to the other side and set an angle and speed for a type of shot I’m trying to work on (lately volleys and that dreaded backhand).