Pitching Machines

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:

What Kind of Ball Are You Hitting?

* Some use standard-size baseballs, softballs, or both; while others use specialized baseball-sized or softball-sized pitching machine balls. * Some support wiffle balls. * Machines that accept Reduced Injury Factor (RIF) balls are preferable if you plan to use your pitching machine for Little League or Youth League players. * "Dimpled" or "sting free" balls are ideal for players who use dent-prone aluminum bats. Check to see if the machine accepts those before making a purchase.

Beginners Machines

* 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.

Youth League Machines

* 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.

Softball Machines

* 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.