The best pitching machines on the market today bring convenience and affordability to the young (or older) player looking to get some swings in before dinner or for a convenient workout. Utilizing modern technology, pitching machines have become versatile for players of all ages with adjustable speeds and settings that offer tailor-made hitting sessions.
How to Choose a Pitching Machine
Finding the right pitching machine comes down to finding the features that fit your skill level. Becoming a quality hitter of the baseball, or softball, is about learning the proper mechanics of swinging the bat and then repeating them again and again. As simple as it sounds, it is indeed not easy.
The best professional hitters are only successful 30% of the time, and they spend hours each day honing their craft. With all of their resources, professional ball players have access to helping their game year round.
So how can the amateur player get ahead? The answer is by purchasing a pitching machine that can be accessed, anytime and anywhere, regardless of weather or time of year.
Finding the Right Model for You
The best pitching machines vary from high-quality models with an assortment of professional features to the old-school single rotating arm equipped with a strong spring that slings the ball forward. Entry-level machines offer easy-to-use instruction with dependable performance and a minimum of moving parts. Complicated models feature multiple spinning wheels, digital readouts that give the speed of pitch and the ability to throw vicious breaking balls.
Machines that utilize multiple wheels are terrific for the advanced player. The wheels will work in unison to increase the speed of the pitch as well as create spin for authentic sliders and curveballs. The wheels can also manufacture high-speed ground balls and fly balls for replicating tough defensive situations.
Single arm machines are typically lightweight and deliver portability although they usually come with limited options. That doesn’t mean that single arm machines aren’t useful. For the beginning player, these machines provide repetition without the hassle of a lengthy setup process.
Know the Setting of Your Practice Before Buying
Knowing the location of your hitting workouts is crucial to finding the right pitching machine for you. If you are looking to use the device at home and at the ballpark, then you must put an emphasis on portability. Lighter machines are readily available and easily transported from location to location.
If you are planning on creating a batting cage at your home, then a sturdier and more dependable machine is where you should start your shopping. These machines have a variety of advanced options that will flourish as your development as a hitter grows.
Remember most machines need electricity, so understanding where you can access power is vitally important. If you are in an area that does not have readily available electricity, then there are machines available to purchase that operate on battery power.
If you follow these tips, you’ll find the best pitching machine to begin your backyard workouts.
Pitching Machines Reviews
JUGS Lite-Flite Machine for Baseball and Softball
Specifically designed for younger players, the JUGS Lite-Flite Machine is one of the best pitching machines for the learning novice in your family. Compatible only with specialized JUGS Lite-Flite baseballs and softballs, this pitching machine can dial up fastballs ranging from 30-to-50-mph.
Children can learn to hit comfortably and without fear due to the softness of the Lite-Flite balls. For older players, the Lite-Flite machine can safely teach them to learn the proper fundamentals in their introduction to hitting breaking balls.
With the softness of the JUGS balls, older players won’t have to worry about getting hit as the machine sends curveballs, sliders, and knuckleballs their way. Players can focus solely on the spin of the ball and how to make the proper adjustments to hit with solid contact.
The Lite-Flite does more than act as just a pitching machine. It can also help with fielding drills by also doubling as a machine that can quickly churn out fly balls and pop-ups.
Another feature that separates the Lite-Flite from other beginner machines is that it is compatible with the JUGS battery pack system. This means the machine can go anywhere without the need for extension cords and a fixed power source.
Louisville Slugger UPM 45 Blue Flame Pitching Machine
With an emphasis on being lightweight and portable, the Louisville Slugger UPM 45 Blue Flame Pitching Machine can be transported anywhere for immediate use with no setup time involved. Weighing just 25 pounds, the UPM 45 is an excellent option for coaches looking for a mechanical machine that doesn’t require electricity. The Blue Flame works with a lever that accurately repeats location and speed with each pitch.
The Blue Flame also accommodates real baseballs and softballs, so there’s no added expense for specialized dimpled rubber balls. Speeds with real balls range from 18-to-45-mph with the UPM 45.
Defensive drills are also easy to do as the Blue Flame machine serves up high, soft fly balls as well as tough ground balls. With the ability to be quickly loaded, the Blue Flame makes for streamlined practices and saves the arms of coaches from throwing hundreds of practice pitches per week.
JUGS Junior Baseball and Softball Pitching Machine
For beginning players, the JUGS Junior Baseball and Softball Pitching Machine will last beyond their first years playing baseball and long into their intermediate days. With adjustable speeds from 15-to-60-mph, the Junior gives the beginning player a chance to slowly grow their understanding of the game.
With a digital readout display, players can monitor the perfect speed for the pitches of their hitting workouts. With a five-year guarantee, the Jugs Junior is built-to-last, accommodating real baseballs and softballs.
The JUGS Junior uses the “always-see-the-ball” method for feeding balls through the machine to the hitter. Players can work on their timing and adapt to identifying pitches as they come toward them.
Weighing 75 pounds and employing a 1.25 horsepower motor, this single wheel machine can move 360-degrees with its’ swivel base design. The flexibility of the JUGS Junior makes for advanced defensive workouts with the device creating a limitless supply of ground and fly balls, plus the ability to produce pop-ups.
BSN Bulldog Baseball/Softball Pitching Machine
Affordable as well as portable, the BSN Bulldog Baseball/Softball Pitching Machine is one of the best pitching machines for the intermediate player looking for all-around flexibility in their workout. With speeds that reach 60-mph and the power to send fly balls into the air at a few hundred feet, the player in your family will be able to work on hitting and fielding within minutes of setting up the machine.
The BSN Bulldog is capable of using both dimpled rubber balls as well as real baseballs and softballs when in action. The rubber balls do have a tendency to fly higher in the strike zone when contrasted with the authentic baseballs that seem to move lower around the knees when hitting. That said, the single-feed machine is consistent during focused workouts where the hitter is working on specific sections of the strike zone.
Sports Attack Junior Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine
The Sports Attack Junior Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine is a tri-wheel machine that specializes in breaking balls and dynamic pitch speed specifically designed for the advanced player. With a throwing head that pivots in any direction, the Junior Hack Attack is perfect for defensive drills from anywhere on the field. This machine eliminates the boring and typical one-line-only style of defensive workout and transforms it with tremendous flexibility.
With speeds that exceed 70-mph, the Junior Hack Attack can angle itself to mimic not only right-hand pitchers but southpaws as well. The machine can quickly throw an assortment of sliders, curveballs, diving split-finger fastballs and knuckleballs. Speeds and pitch type are dialed up using the three knobs that serve up the precision necessary for any productive workout.
The batter will always have his eye on the ball as the single feeding motion mimics a live pitcher with corresponding pitch acceleration and release just like in a live game. With an easy-to-reach elevation adjustment, coaches can move the ball throughout the strike zone for an unpredictable at-bat.
The unit is portable and can comfortably fit into any small compact car. It uses not only dimpled machine balls but is compatible with authentic leather baseballs. With a five-year limited warranty, the Junior Hack Attack is one of the best pitching machines for the player looking to make the jump to a higher level of baseball.
Mound Yeti Two Wheel Pitching Machine
With one of the longest warranties available on a pitching machine, the Mound Yeti 2 Wheel Pitching Machine is a stunner dialing up speeds on fastballs that exceed 90-mph. This affordable machine, with a six-year warranty, covers all skill levels with simplified settings that are available at the turn of a knob.
Not only can the Mound Yeti simulate both right and left-handed pitching but it can create breaking balls with moderate-to-professional level speed. For amateurs looking to learn how to hit curveballs, the Mound Yeti 2 can begin the learning hitter’s workouts at levels as low as 30-mph and then dial it up as the player grows with possible pitch speeds exceeding 100-mph when working at its’ maximum strength.
As with most multi-wheel machines, the Mound Yeti 2 is an asset when it’s time to break up for defensive drills. Quick angle adjustments can have the coaches alternating between grounders for the infielders and deep fly balls to the gap for the outfielders without delay.
Urethane wheels assure that you’ll never be fixing a flat when you need to be running batting practice. The machine also comes with a softball conversion kit that will effortlessly change the machine for drills with the larger ball.
Pitching Machine FAQ’s
How much does a pitching machine cost?
The cost of the best pitching machines are primarily determined by the features of each device. The physical parts of a pitching machine can vary from motorized inflatable wheels to mechanical arms that snap each pitch toward the batter. Some machines need electricity or battery packs to function where as single arm mechanical machines typically do not.
Lightweight machines that do not have several moving parts can be purchased in the neighborhood of a few hundred dollars. The pitching machines in this price range are simple and do not have the advanced features or adjustable settings that come with machines that run in the thousands of dollars.
Higher level pitching machines typically utilize multiple wheels and the ability to see the ball being fed into the machine. These machines can operate at high speeds as well as offer escalating levels of breaking balls. Also, they can also aid in defensive drills by creating ground balls, fly balls, and pop-ups.
Why use a pitching machine?
Pitching machines can help younger baseball players develop their swing through the repetition of hitting pitches provided by the machine. These machines aid in creating an understanding of how critical timing is when creating a swing.
Pitching machines offer a variety of speeds and angles to pitches that prepare players for game action. By using a pitching machine regularly, the player can expect to get a better feel for the importance of swing speed and solid contact. For older players, pitching machines can provide an introduction into sliders and curveballs.
However, pitching machines are not only just for hitting workouts. These machines can also assist in defensive practice by serving up numerous ground balls and pop-flys without needing a coach to hit them toward the fielder.
Owning a pitching machine also gives the amateur a terrific advantage in replicating the correct fundamentals of the baseball or softball swing. By getting to hit a large number of pitches in a short amount of time, the amateur reinforces the lessons learned through coaching.
How do pitching machines work?
Pitching machines work through a simple and straightforward procedure. A ball is fed into the machine, and with the power of spinning wheels or the use of an arm, the ball is propelled forward toward a batter’s hitting zone.
With multi-wheel machines, the ball is pushed ahead with the help of wheels that are rotating at a high number of RPMs or Revolutions Per Minute. The ball is fed into a chute that sends the ball into an area where the wheels grab the ball and move it through an opening and onto the batter.
Single arm machines use what is commonly referred to as “arm-action” to power the ball ahead as it simulates the throwing motion of a pitcher. The ball in these machines are held in a specific spot where the arm rotates around and then as it passes through the ball’s path, it holds the ball for a short moment before throwing it toward the batter.
How do you hit off a pitching machine?
Hitting off a pitching machine is an easy exercise. Most machines are used in batting cages or on a baseball diamond. There will be an area for the pitching mound and a home plate where the hitter stands typically during a game.
Pitching machines are set up to send pitches toward the home plate area to replicate the game-like action of a pitcher. When using a machine during practice, a coach will typically feed balls into the machine one-at-a-time. As they enter the device, the ball will be sent to a specific area above home plate and inside the strike zone.
When hitting off a pitching machine, it is essential that the batter first take a few pitches to gather a sense of where the balls are typically going and if the speed is proper for the workout. Amateurs should never begin a hitting workout off a pitching machine if they don’t trust the machine. All pitching machines must be maintained correctly to send a reliable stream of pitches toward home plate during a workout.
This reliability from the machine will make it easier for the hitter to feel confident and relaxed when hitting the pitches thrown. When the hitter feels comfortable, the pitches released from the machine will be available to hit as long as balls are fed through the unit.
How to clean a pitching machine wheel?
Pitching machines work well when they are frequently and adequately maintained. With machines that use wheels to propel the baseball, the wheels must always stay inflated at recommended levels.
For machines that utilize balls that are made from synthetic or plastic materials, there will be residue that will accumulate on the wheels over time. This residue will need to be cleaned from the wheels so the machine will operate at optimum levels.
Depending upon the type of wheel the machine has, whether it be inflated rubber or hard plastic, the residue will need to be removed periodically. Most residue can be removed with a solvent and a cloth. For stubborn excess residue, fine grain sandpaper can gently restore the pitching wheel.
Always consult the machine’s directions for proper maintenance and restoration. And remember pitching machines must always be stored in a dry and clean location.