By Jen Azevedo, Tennis and Pickleball Director

The new Lobster Phenom II ball machine is here, and I wanted to be the first to try her out.

There are a lot of settings to offer, so I figured a little tutorial might be helpful to our members as they get used to playing.

First off, there is a lot more technology happening in the Phenom, so she takes a few seconds to calibrate after you’ve made selections on the remote or the main screen.  But, when she’s ready to deliver, watch out.  With top speeds of 80mph, the ball can get to your racket awfully fast!  Use the spin and speed functions as needed, and then we can play with all the drills that are offered.

When preparing to take on the Phenom, note the main presets first.

You’ve got the options of one of the preset 12 drills, customizing your own program, or manually choosing a spot for balls to hit the court.  Then there are settings for any choice made, from beginner to advanced, and also basic shot selection.  These include random, (all variations) 2 line, sweeping the width of the court or the length of the court. Don’t forget about choice of speed (40-80mph in 5 mph increments) spin, depth, and feed intervals of 2-9 seconds.  Getting overwhelmed?

If you prefer to be a little less inundated with options, choose from the 12 preset drills.  Each one is comprised of 6 ball patterns, and you can choose the level of difficulty.  I enjoyed the attack & defend drill to get a good all-court workout in, and will be toying with the other soon!

If you are comfortable with the above components, you might be ready to program your own drill.

When you are, the fun really begins.  Using the “program” button, select a location for your first shot, using the numbers 1-18 on the screen.  Then adjust the parameters of that ball for speed, spin and feed.  Once satisfied with that shot, use the menu buttons to scroll to the next shot until you are satisfied.  When the new drill is complete, it can be selected from the overall program screen, and can be edited from within the program screen.  Please be kind with these drills- they will be for everyone.

The remote control function is a great way to set your ball machine time by your own phone, but isn’t necessary to use the Phenom.  If you have an iPhone or watch, you can download the Lobster Remote from the App store.  When you turn on the Phenom, you can connect to its Wifi to use the remote for all your functionality while playing.  It’s an easy way to make changes on the go.

Most importantly, HAVE FUN!