In this article we will look at some of the best pitching machines on the market today and attempt to help you choose one for your baseball or softball team. Use of a pitching machine can be very helpful to both players and coaches at all levels of play. Many styles and models are available to be used either as a solitary tool to hone your skills or to assist in a full team practice session. In some cases the machine is designed to be used specifically for baseball or softball. Other machines can be used for either kind of ball. Variable price points are also available and one can be found to fit most budgets.
Why Should You Use A Pitching Machine?
Many teams use a pitching machine as an aid during practice. Though there are some purists who prefer to only have batters hit against live pitching, the pitching machine is here to stay. Inexpensive units are available that make it possible for a player to practice fielding by themselves. They come in many varieties although the most popular use a circular wheel or arm action machine to propel the ball. Innovation in machine design now allows some high-end models to be programmed to throw different pitches in sequence to more closely simulate game conditions. You can get machines to throw 90 mile an hour fastballs and 70 mile an hour curveballs and changeups to fully test your team’s batting skills.
Players and coaches can both benefit from the use of a pitching machine. From the players perspective, batters can get unlimited repetitions in the batting cage. They can also work on specific kinds of pitches that are giving them trouble when facing live pitching. The ability of the machine to consistently hit a spot over the plate surpasses that of a human pitcher. You can set it up to pitch outside to that pull hitter you have on your team to help him learn how to hit to the opposite field.
Pitchers on the team gain an advantage by not being forced to throw as much batting practice. This will let them devote more time to perfecting their craft. Coaches will also save their arms and be able to fully concentrate on the hitter and his potential issues rather than worrying about throwing a strike.
Fielders will also benefit from working with a pitching machine. Many models can be set up to throw ground balls, pop ups and longer fly balls. This again saves the coach or other players from hitting numerous balls during fielding drills.
These advantages can be critical for all skill levels. Youth teams with a minimal number of coaches as well as major league teams can all use a good pitching machine to augment live pitching batting practice.
Some Of The Best Pitching Machines
Let’s take a look at some of the best pitching machines out there.
The Junior Baseball and Softball Pitching Machine by Jugs is a versatile unit. Its speed ranges from 15 to 60 MPH which is why it is best for youth baseball and any kind of softball. It has a digital speed readout so you can fine tune the pitches and it swivels 360 degrees. A wide variety of balls can be used with this machine including baseballs, softballs, tennis balls and a number of specialty balls made by Jugs to assist younger players.
The circular wheel mechanism features a pneumatic tire that will not mark your balls. It needs a power source that will deliver 110V AC. Two sets of legs are included to allow the proper height for softball or baseball. It weighs 75 pounds but with the removable legs can be set up and broken down by one person. Reviews are positive for this machine and it can be a great help to your team.
First Pitch makes a number of pitching machines. The Baseline model is another unit designed primarily for youth baseball and softball. Its speed maxes out at 70 MPH. It will throw pitches, pop flies and ground balls. Adjustable legs are included for changing height for softball or baseball use. The Baseline weighs in at 50 pounds making it very portable. A full size pitching tire delivers the ball. A 1/4 HP motor and 360 degree swiveling capability round out its features. First Pitch includes a 5 year warranty with this product. Highly recommended by youth coaches.
The two wheel pitching machine by Mount Yeti is designed to throw balls at speeds from 30 up to 100 miles per hour making it useful for higher caliber players. You can adjust the machine to throw fastballs, curveballs that break in either direction, sliders and knuckleballs enabling your players to practice against varied pitching. It can be used with softballs or baseballs with legs appropriate for either sport.
This unit is heavier than some others coming at 100 pounds but has sturdy transport wheels giving it some portability. Angling thread of the machine enables it to be used for grounders and pop flies. It employs two wheels to deliver its pitches. It is one of the least expensive machines on the market that will deliver this level of pitching speed. Dimpled balls are recommended for use with this machine but it can be used with stock baseballs and softballs as well.
Sports Attack manufactures the Junior Hack Attack Softball Pitching Machine. As its name implies this machine is designed to be used solely with softballs. It uses an exclusive three wheel system of delivery that allows the batter to clearly see the pitch to better simulate live pitching. It is very portable at 75 pounds and breaks down to easily fit in your car. Its throwing head pivots in all directions for ground balls and fly balls up to 175 feet.
The Junior Hack can throw fastballs 43 feet at 60+ MPH and can also throw risers, drops, right- and left-handed curves, screwballs, knuckleballs and changeups. Three adjustment dials allow for you to make quick changes of speed and location within the strike zone. A very versatile machine that can be used for drills with any level of softball team up to and including a professional or college team. This is a top notch piece of equipment for your softball team.
Sports Attack also makes top of the line baseball pitching machines. The Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine delivers superior performance and is suitable for any level of play including professional teams. It is a heavy unit at 145 pounds so is not as portable as some other models but can still fit in a standard size SUV. It can throw fastballs up to 100 MPH in addition to curveballs, sliders, split finger fastballs and knuckleballs.
You can easily change the breaking pitch plane or speed using the simple dial controls and a new inside/outside adjustment handle lets you quickly change the pitch location. Using a three wheel design it gives the batter a clear view of the ball being pitched simulating live pitching and allows the batter to work on stride timing. It easily pivots for use with grounders and fly balls that travel over 350 feet. Optional ball feeding accessories enable you to load up to 150 balls at once for extended practice time. There is an optional converter available for softball use.
What Is The Best Pitching Machine For Your Team?
We have briefly looked at some the best pitching machines available for your baseball or softball team. We have concentrated on machines that are durable and feature-rich. The cost involved with purchasing a quality pitching machine is not trivial and must be considered along with other expenses for your team. While there are some machines out there that are extremely inexpensive they do not offer the flexibility and features of the products we have reviewed. All of the pitching machines above will do a good job of augmenting live pitching batting practice and assisting in fielding drills and help your team improve its overall performance.
If cost is no object then the Hack Attack line from Sports Attack are excellent machines and should be considered if you are dealing with a serious softball or baseball team. They will test your players thoroughly with their speed and location adjustments.
The Mound Yeti 2 offers a very nice combination of price point and features. Its ability to pitch fast makes it appropriate to use with any level of play as does its flexibility in the types of pitches thrown. This pitching machine will fully test your players’ hitting and fielding skills. The fact that it can be used with both baseballs and softballs makes it a good choice for a school setting where it can possibly be used for both sports.