A tennis ball hopper is a device used to collect tennis balls that have come to rest on a court. They can be especially useful when dozens of balls are laying around during a practice session. The hopper makes it easy to collect and reuse these balls. They can readily be found at sports retailers and tennis pro shops that sell tennis accessories.
The tennis ball hopper usually consists of a wire or metal basket that is used as the basic storage areas for the balls. A removable top provides access for those who are using the balls, but it can also be latched shut to prevent any spills. The hopper will also usually include a couple of handles, usually at least half the length of an average-sized person. Usually, the handles can also act as legs so that the basket will be at a convenient level when taking balls out.
The main advantage to the hopper is its ability to collect balls without having to bend to pick them up. Those using them simply take them by the handle. The spaces on the bottom of the hopper are spaced just far enough apart that tennis balls can slip through the bottom and into the basket with just a little bit of pressure, but will not slip back out. Thus, balls can be collected simply by placing the tennis ball hopper over the balls and slightly pressing down.
Most ball hoppers will work with standard-sized tennis balls. Some leagues and coaches may use slightly larger balls during tennis practice and games. It may or may not be possible to use those larger balls with a hopper, depending on the model.
Once collected, the hopper can then be used to store tennis balls, or be used as a practice aid. The ability of the hopper to stand up is useful for those who are practicing serves and will need many balls every minute. Also for coaches who want to watch their pupils' strokes rather than worry about where to get the next ball, it can also be convenient.
Ball hoppers are sometimes called ball baskets and come in a variety of sizes. The cost often depends on the size of the tennis ball hopper selected but most smaller, entry-level models start at approximately $30 US Dollars (USD). Commonly, ball hoppers come in sizes that will accommodate up to 50, 75 or 100 tennis balls.