Pitching machines deliver consistent pitched balls, allowing batters to develop good mechanics, without tiring out a pitcher having to call to the bullpen after a long day. While many believe that pitching machines are out of their price range, a number of high quality machines that offer speed, power and durability at a low cost to the consumer. There are, however, many features to consider before making such a purchase:
* Beginners machines gently toss balls at regular intervals, and at fixed speeds as low as 10 mph.
* An excellent tool for easily running batting drills with younger kids
* Lightweight and compact, these machines can go anywhere.
* For safe, reliable pitches look for a single-motor machine that accepts RIF balls.
* The maximum pitch should be 60 mph or more.
* Some models may have transport wheels for portability while others can fit into a moveable cart.
* Before buying a cart-compatible model, make sure the cart is included.
High School, College, Pro Machines
* At these levels a machine needs to throw hard, and offer a variety of pitches.
* Look for a machine with pitch speeds of 90 mph or more.
* These machines should have two wheels, dual motors, and a lot of pitching options.
* Most machines can throw left, right, curveballs, fastballs, and sliders.
* Keep weight and portability in mind if you need to move it.
* Certain models have a 360-degree swivel head that allows you to toss to different parts of a field without moving the machine.
* When used with a vertical pivot, your pitching machine can produce fielding pitches such as pop-ups, fly balls, and ground balls.
* Simulate fast and slow-pitch underhand throws with risers and drops.
* Some machines can handle baseballs.
Portability and Ball Control
* Lightweight, highly portable pitching machines typically hold fewer balls than stationary, larger pitching machines.
* If you don't mind regularly refilling the ball carriage or will have a companion when you practice, capacity wont need to be a major consideration.
* Consider buying a feeder-compatible pitching machine and additional feeder if you plan to spend a lot of time practicing by yourself.
* Small feeders usually hold 20 baseballs or 16 softballs, and larger feeders can hold up to 80 baseballs.
* Players who plan to use the pitching machine solo should also look for a model that supports or includes an in-line switch that allows you to turn the machine on and off from the batter's box.
Important Pitching Machine Components
* Wheel-operated pitching machines sit on a steel frame mounted on a tripod.
* They use one or two wheels (made of hard rubber or air-filled pneumatic tires) to rotate a ball and project it toward a batter.
One Wheel Machines:
* Inexpensive single-wheel pitching machines throw straight fastball pitches between 25 and 75 miles per hour.
* Some models also throw curveballs and can change the direction a wheel spins to simulate both right-handed and left-handed pitching.
* They usually weigh between 30 and 60 pounds.
* Casual users only need a single-wheel pitching machine with a single motor.
Dual Wheel Machines:
* Pitch speeds ranging from 25 to more than 90 mph, and they have the ability to throw a variety of pitches.
* They often feature a swivel head that allows the machine to project balls at different angles.
* They usually weigh 60 to 150 pounds.
* Players who plan on using the machine a lot to improve their game will want a two-wheel pitching machine with a dual motor and a variety of features.
Power & Portability
* Heavy machines can remain stationary and plug directly into a power source.
* If you need to move the machine from you'll want a lightweight model with removable legs or transport wheels.
* If you don't plan to set up next to an AC outlet, make sure your pitching machine has a battery pack or works with a 1000-watt generator.
* New pitching machines can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars for a basic portable machine to a few thousand dollars for a heavyweight machine.
* Expect to pay more for a highly-portable pitching machine than you'd pay for a bulkier machine with comparable features.
* Also know that a pitching machines packed with features will cost more than models with fewer features.
* Since you'll likely only buy one pitching machine, look for the features and portability you want when evaluating item listings.