How to Make a Mechanical Tennis Ball Launcher

Updated February 21, 2017

Capture the Flag and other war-type games often require supporting fire as the soldiers advance on the field. Make a mechanical tennis ball launcher to use as a “mortar launcher” to aid your team. You will need a few household items and some supplies from a hardware store but no special skills. Adult supervision is necessary if you are underage since a power tool must be used.

Stand the PVC pipe on a table. Measure up two inches from the bottom of the PVC pipe. Drill a hole through the sides of the PVC pipe with the portable drill at the 2-inch mark.

Measure up 4 inches from one of the holes just drilled and drill a second hole through the sides of the PVC pipe.

Drop the metal spring into the open end of the PVC pipe. Place the point of a nail into the first hole drilled in the side of the PVC pipe (2-inch mark) and push it through the coil of the spring and out the other side.

Bend the point of the nail down with the pliers to lock it in place.

Drop a tennis ball into the open end of the PVC pipe, so it sits on top of the spring. Push the tennis ball down towards the bottom as far as you can with an end of the wooden dowel.

Push the tennis ball down until it has gone past the second set of holes in the PVC pipe. Push a nail through the holes in the PVC pipe to hold the loaded tennis ball and spring in place.

Take the launcher outside and place it on the ground with the open end facing up. Aim it at your target and remove the upper nail from the 6-inch mark to fire the tennis ball.


This mechanical launcher can also fire ping pong balls.


Firing a tennis ball launcher at a person or animal from close range can result in injury. Keep your face away from the opening of the launcher when loading the tennis ball.

Things You'll Need

  • 4-inch diameter PVC pipe, 10 inches long
  • Ruler
  • Portable drill
  • 1/2-inch drill bit
  • Pliers
  • 6-inch nails
  • 3-inch diameter metal spring, 6 inches long
  • 2-inch diameter wooden dowel, 10 inches long
  • Tennis ball
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About the Author

Marshal M. Rosenthal is a technology maven with more than 15 years of editorial experience. A graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography with a Bachelor of Arts in photographic arts, his editorial work has appeared both domestically as well as internationally in publications such as "Home Theater," "Electronic House," "eGear," "Computer and Video Games" and "Digitrends."