The new Pocket Radar – Ball Coach has been branded as one of the best speed radars that’s available to the general public; offering the best combination of price and accuracy. I (Tom) was delighted to take this review, as I’ve personally owned one of these little devices for a few years now and know the product inside out.
Some of you may have arrived at this review from different backgrounds to others reading this. Although we’ll be writing primarily from the perspective of the device’s suitability to tennis, I am aware the Ball Coach is extremely popular amongst other sports such as baseball, cricket, softball, volleyball and hockey. If that’s you, or you compete in a different sport that places immense value on an accurate reading of ball speed, then this article is absolutely for you too!
The ability of a speed radar to capture an exact ball speed reading is critical in sport. In baseball, it can be “make or break”. Pitching speed is one of the most desirable aspects in baseball, so it’s essential that aspiring players keep accurate data of their progress if they’re serious about improving. In the context of tennis, serve speed is extremely important and having an accurate speed radar will allow recreational and professional players alike to measure their improvements.
I’m actually very excited to bring you this review. When searching for a speed radar for my own game I had to go through an awful lot of junk before I found “the one”, not to mention my burnt wallet! Not to sound big-headed or anything, but I wish I had had access to the information in this article at the start of my research process. But hey! I hope you benefit from it!
What Does The Pocket Radar Ball Coach Promise?
Contrary to many cheap, popular speed radars out there, the Ball Coach promises an accurate reading of actual ball exit speed. The reason this promise is so meaningful is that capturing ball exit speed is extremely difficult. Most speed radars like the SpeedTrac X or the even cheaper Supido sports radar can only pick up the ball speed as it approaches the device. Due to air resistance, the ball has already slowed down and has lost a lot of its initial velocity. Therefore, the speed these devices display are consistently slow, inaccurate readings of the true velocity.
At Wimbledon, the Hawk Eye System uses cameras to track ball speed right off the racket head. Unfortunately, the rest of us don’t have access to a million-dollar radar system! What’s interesting though, is the Ball Coach device promises the same quality of reading that a professional radar gun would give, but for a fraction of the price… That’s not to say the Ball Coach isn’t a professional-level radar gun – it is! It’s just the best value for money we’ve ever seen for one of these radars so it’s easy to forget that it’s also in this upper level of class.
The Pocket Radar Ball Coach is extremely well priced and affordable. It’s also extremely easy to use. A surprisingly small device, (the company’s name, Pocket Radar, really is fitting!) it is extremely portable and adaptable for a variety of situations.
To clock the serve speed in tennis, the Ball Coach can be used in hands on (partner holding the device) or hands-free (mounted on tripod) environments. The device should be positioned behind or in front of the server and at the height and angle of ball contact to get the most accurate readings.
It measures speed ranging from 25-130mph in either mph or kph, has an automatic and manual mode, and has a memory recall feature so you can review your last collection of 25 serves. Additionally, it works within a 120 feet range, is powered by 2 AAA Batteries and comes with a 2-year warranty, such is the quality of the product.
Did The Ball Coach Deliver On Its Promise? How Accurate Was It?
I still remember my first experience with the Ball Coach extremely vividly. I was quite simply blown away…
Having tested some of the seriously expensive speed radars out there, like PlaySight and an ATP level Radar at a Challenger Tour event, I found it difficult to believe that Pocket Radar’s Ball Coach lined up almost exactly with these readings!
In order to get these results without camera tracking, the technology must be extremely sophisticated. I actually spoke to the product owner a little while ago and he informed me that the device is able to differentiate between ball exit speed and racket head speed. Too often, speed radars frustratingly pick up the speed of the swinging racket (which is always slower) as opposed to the ball speed. If we looked at that example in baseball, a cheap radar might pick up your body movements before you release the ball. Imagine how frustrating this is – or maybe you’ve experienced it first-hand!
You have no need to worry with the Ball Coach. The only reading you will receive is that of the actual ball exit speed. I say “actual” as you will receive the true reading before the ball has started to slow due to air resistance, as we previously discussed.
I hope you’re excited! You can get access to this product for just the price of a birthday present or Christmas gift. It represents enormous value for money and is at the absolute pinnacle of affordable professional speed radars out there right now.
On some of the ATP level radars I have tested, I’m normally over 120mph for my fastest serves for the day and I was delighted to experience the same readings with the Ball Coach.
The only downside is that you must get the radar to line up exactly with the flightpath or direction of your shot in order to get the most accurate reading, so it’s important to find a target and stick to it. In tennis, this is sometimes a little tricky, as aiming that precisely is quite difficult. In baseball this is much less of an issue, however. I hate to use the word “issue” as someone people may misinterpret that as a problem. It definitely isn’t! It’s just something to be aware of during your experience when using the device. All radars that aren’t camera-based use a laser beam, so always try to keep everything as lined up as possible to get the best results.
Conclusion – 9/10
In our opinion at TheTennisBros.com, Pocket Radar’s Ball Coach is one of the best speed radars out there. When you consider how cheaply priced the product is for the incredible quality you receive, I’d even go as far to say that it offers the best combination of price and quality out of any sports radar in the world.
I don’t often give 9/10s in my reviews. In fact, a 9/10 would probably be more like 9.5/10 or a 10/10 for some of the other reviewers (Will and Lawrence) on this site. I tend to mark a little harder! In this case, I had no hesitation rating the Ball Coach so high as it is a superb product in all aspects.
You may want to check out some of our other speed radar reviews, so you can see how the ball coach compares. We’ve reviewed pretty much all the mainstream brand radars and the Ball Coach absolutely came out on top.
It can incredibly frustrating and honestly, a little depressive to see such a low, inaccurately slow reading come up on some of the cheaper, less sensitive and quite frankly, inferior radars out there. As I touched upon earlier, the ball slows down a lot after its initial exit from the racket in tennis or the bat in baseball due to air resistance. In tennis, a “Pistol” Pete Sampras serve that left the racket at 130mph would only be travelling around 70 mph by the time it reached the opposite baseline. Even in the initial couple of feet from the racket, the ball would have already slowed an awful lot!
However, the Ball Coach does have that ability to read the initial exit speed and fastest, true velocity. It made me feel elated and excited about the prospect of measuring my improvement. Knowing I was getting a true reading of my ball speed really motivated me to get out there and practice to try and better my mph.
You really must get out there and try this one!
Review by: Tom