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How To Buy A Pitching Machine

Pitching machines are powerful and versatile training tools for all ages and levels of play. Experienced baseball and softball players use these machines to refine their swing technique and to practice hitting high-velocity and trick pitches. Developing players benefit from the ball's predictable course, which allows them to work on mechanics under consistent conditions and alleviates fear of errant balls. Players also report that pitching machines prevent the development of a loopy, upward hitting style after years of coaches' lobbed pitches.

  • Type of Play
    • Backyard
    • Youth Leagues
    • High School/Collegiate/Professional
    • Softball
  • Features
    • Wheels
    • Swivel
    • Vertical Pivot
    • Motor
    • Peripherals

Type of Play

You'll find pitching machines everywhere from a neighbor's backyard to little league practice to the major league fields. Why? These machines come in an array of shapes and sizes to address all types of training needs.

Backyard

Different machines are suitable for different types of recreation and home training.

  • Tossing machines
    • Lightweight and compact
    • Tosses balls at regular intervals and a fixed speed
    • A consistent, convenient tool to improve hand-eye coordination and practice batting drills
  • Pitching Machines
    • Full-sized with a range of pitching options
    • A single-motor, one-wheel machine may suffice for new players and casual home practice.
    • If you're a dedicated player, a two-wheel, dual motor machine with features that match your personal training needs is well worth the investment.

Youth League

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

  • A single-motor machine capable of pitching at 60 mph or more is usually sufficient.
  • Choose a complete machine that is either portable or compatible with a movable cart for transport.
  • Look for a lightweight model that is easy to set up, and offers the features you will need in a typical practice.
  • Many machines work with both RIF and standard balls, so check for this compatibility before buying.

High School, Collegiate, and Professional

At this level, pitching machines should deliver fast pitches and a variety of pitch types.

  • Two-wheel, dual-motor machines are most appropriate.
  • Choose a machine with many pitching options (left, right, curve, fastballs, etc.) and a maximum speed of 90 mph or more.
  • Keep portability in mind if you'll need to set it up in a new place for each practice or training session.

Softball

Pitching machines used for softball should come equipped with options specific to the sport. It's helpful to acquaint yourself with the pitching machine features that are intended for softball play.

  • A softball pitching machine should be built to release underhand throws.
  • Look for a machine that will accommodate fast and slowpitch play, as well as risers and drops, depending on your skill level.
  • Some machines are convertible, using a differently shaped chute for baseball and softball.

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Features

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.

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.

Motor

  • Most pitching machines are equipped with 1/4 hp motors.
  • One or two motors are standard, and the total horsepower determines maximum pitch speed.

Peripherals

  • Feeder
    • A feeder holds a quantity of balls and lets them into the machine one at a time.
    • Feeders are usually purchased separately from the machine.
    • Make sure you buy a machine that is feeder-compatible if you plan to use it without human help.
  • 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
    • 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.
    • This option 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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