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Choosing a Pitching Machine

Now that you’ve decided to purchase a pitching machine. This info will help to determine which option would work best for your needs.

Pitching Machines can be a very important part of a coaches or parents’ practice with their players or children. Choosing a machine is no easy task, this info is provided to assist in making the best decision for this long term investment. Players of all ages use these machines to not just perfect their swing but also allow for defensive drills. Some machines even allow you to throw different pitches (sliders, curveballs, etc.) aside from the standard fastball. Younger players will develop much faster using pitching machines as it gives them an opportunity to work on the proper mechanics without the fear of wild pitches. Learning the proper mechanics is the most important part of a player’s development and the correct machine can allow for repitition that reinforces the correct techniques. Buying a pitching machine should be a long term investment, so you want to make sure you take the time to pick the right machine.

YOUTH LEAGUES

Pitching Machines are popular in youth leagues because they deliver consistently safe and reliable pitches. This helps young players develop skills with consistency and without fear of being hit by an errant pitch.

  • The pitch speed is the most important factor for youth players. Look for a machine that has a pitch speed around 45 to 50 MPH.
  • You don’t need a machine that can throw breaking balls necessarily as younger players will want to focus on contact as the primary use.
  • Look for a lightweight model that is easy to set up, and offers the features you will need in a typical practice.
  • A single wheel machine.

HIGH SCHOOL / COLLEGIATE / PROFESSIONAL

A machine for these groups should focus on speed as well as offer a variety in pitches that can be thrown.

  • These machines should throw at minimum around 75 MPH.
  • Machines with 2 wheels which allow to multiple pitch types to be thrown.
  • A machine that can throw real baseballs or softballs.
  • Portability – the ability to quickly and efficiently move the machine.

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

These are additional features you may want to look for in a machine for added function.

Wheels

  • Most pitching machines function with one or two spinning wheels that project the ball upon contact.
  • Wheels can be either hard rubber or pneumatic (air filled).
  • Pitch speed is determined by revolutions per minute.
  • Pitch types, such as curve balls, are affected by variations in wheel speed.
  • Handedness (right and left) is determined by spin direction.
  • Machines with 2 wheels have independent speed controls on each wheel to control the different pitch types. This works in conjunction with the tilt of the machine to allow different pitches to be thrown.

Swivel

  • The head turns on a horizontal plane within a specified number of degrees.
  • Allows you to pitch within a range of space, rather than to a fixed spot every time.

Vertical Pivot

  • The pitching machine head rocks front to back, changing the angle of the pitch.
  • Simulates fly balls, ground balls, and pop ups for defensive drills.

Feeder

  • A feeder holds a quantity of balls and lets them into the machine one at a time.
  • Feeders are usually sold as a separate item or add-on to the pitching machine. Not all machines have feeders available.
  • Make sure you buy a machine that is feeder-compatible if you plan to use it without addtional human help (someone manually putting the ball in the throwing source)

Power Source

  • Most pitching machines operate on 110vAC/1000 watts.
  • This means that you can plug them into a power source if available, or power them using a generator.
  • If you plan to use a generator, find out what kind the manufacturer recommends before buying.

In-Line Switch or Remote

  • An in-line switch is a box on the cord that allows the player to turn the machine on and off from the batter’s box.
  • Some machines offer a wireless remote to control pitches as well.
  • These options is a must if you use the machine alone.

Balls

  • Most pitching machines are compatible with any type of baseball or softball, but some are designed to work with specific balls.
  • Check that machines intended for youth league use are compatible with RIF or other training balls.
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