It is a fact that some batters have a natural talent that makes them very skilled at swinging the bat and hitting balls. However, just like most other aspects of baseball and softball, batting will require a lot of continuous practice.
Your coach will be very helpful when you want to improve your batting skills, but a high-quality pitching machine is even more efficient. Unlike a human being a machine will never tire, and so you can use it for as long as you want and at any time of the day. But, finding the best pitching machine is the only way to ensure that you get all the benefits that come with using one.
Features and Design
- Mode of Operation: The manual mode is one of the things that set this machine apart from others because it does not require electricity or charging which means that you can use it anywhere.
- Ball Types: This pitching machine does not cause any damages to the ball which makes it possible to use any ball types from softballs to waffle balls.
- Pitch Types: UPM 45 is not just a machine for throwing level pitches because it can throw others like fly balls and grounders to help with fielding practice.
- Speed: It can throw the regulation fastpitch softball and baseball at a maximum speed of 45 mph and throw the practice balls at a top speed of 60 mph.
- Control and Adjustability: The control is straightforward even for individuals without prior experience as it is all about putting a ball on the arm, stepping down on the spring lever and releasing the handle for the ball to strike. It is also possible to adjust both the speed and height when using this pitching machine by moving the spring lever.
- Louisville Slugger UPM 45 can throw any ball type including fastpitch softballs and hard balls which make it the best pitching machine for all ages.
- The speed controls are very easy to adjust, and it can throw hard balls up to 45 mph and 60 mph for plastic ones.
- This machine will throw a level pitch to help teach players the proper swing mechanics.
- It is also very accurate when it comes to throwing fly balls, strikes and grounders.
- You do not have to worry about charging or buying batteries as it is completely manual.
- This pitching machine is lightweight and hence easy to move from one field to the other.
- It is easy to set up when you want to use it.
- The ball will not always be in the strike zone because it will creep out sometimes.
- Louisville Slugger UPM 45 does not have the ability to throw sliders and curveballs.
- This pitching machine is a little pricey, and this is more so because of its manual operation.
- The 18-45 mph speed for regular baseballs means that it will not work well for experienced players.
- Height and speed adjustments might be hard when using it for the first time.
- 0.1 2. JUGS Lite-Flite Machine For Baseball And Softball
- 0.2 3. ATEC Power Streak Baseball / Softball Training Machine
- 0.3 4. BSN Bulldog Baseball/Softball Pitching Machine
- 0.4 5. First Pitch Baseline Pitching Machine
- 1 Batting Practice With Pitching Machines
- 2 What To Look For In The Best Pitching Machine
- 3 Tips For Using Pitching Machines Effectively
- 4 Conclusion
2. JUGS Lite-Flite Machine For Baseball And Softball
Features and Design
- Speed: It can simulate speeds of between 15 and 85 mph which make it perfect for use by both young players getting into the game and adults.
- Ball Types: It throws softballs, Bulldog Baseballs and the Lite-Flite balls that the manufacturer makes for use with this device.
- Power: This pitching machine uses electricity, but it is also very convenient because it gives you the option to plug it in (110-volt AC) or use a portable and rechargeable battery pack.
- Quick Change Feature: The Switch and Play Knobs make it possible to go from softball to baseball or vice versa in a few seconds.
- Swivel-Design: It provides a 360-degree movement for pop-ups, ground balls, and fly balls.
- It is a versatile machine that can throw different pitch types.
- This pitching machine is easy to set up, and it will only take a few minutes.
- The powerful motor gives it an ability to throw balls up to 85 mph.
- It supports a full range of movement.
- You can be sure of using it for a long time as it is sturdy enough and very durable.
- The lightweight makes it a very portable device
- It has a quick change feature that makes it possible to switch from one ball type to the other in seconds.
- The Lite-Flite will throw both right and left-handed slider and curveballs.
- It comes with a convenient carry bag to make transportation easy.
- It has numerous settings, and so it will take a while to get used to them.
- You have to do some calibration so as to get the particular pitch that you want.
- Unlike other modern ones, it will only throw certain ball types.
- It is an expensive pitching machine
3. ATEC Power Streak Baseball / Softball Training Machine
Features and Design
- Speed Range: This pitching machine will give you a speed range of between 30 and 60 mph which is ideal junior players, and it also has a variable speed control.
- Design: It has an innovative and patented design that allows for easy adjustment and simple switch from baseball to softball. It also includes retainers and chutes for softball, baseball, and mini ball.
- Power: ATEC Power Streak is an electric pitching machine that operates at 110V-AC or a quarter horsepower DC generator.
- Adjustment: You can adjust the height easily because it comes with a unique C-arm design
- Extras: When you buy this machine you will get ten mini balls and three each of Tuffy SFT baseballs and softballs which are more than enough for your practice.
- It has a modern and innovative design that makes adjustment quick and easy.
- The durable steel and composite material construction mean that you will use it for many years.
- ATEC Power Streak has a 270-degree rotating head that allows fast and prompt adjustments.
- It comes with enough balls for your practice, and so most players will not need to purchase extra ones.
- This pitching machine makes all weather training possible because it is suitable for use both outdoors and indoors.
- Converting the machine from baseball to softball is easy thanks to the innovative design of the legs.
- It is a quiet machine but with plenty of power.
- The 6-8 seconds recovery time is very impressive.
- It can only use specific types of balls.
- The balls that come with the machine tend to wear out fast.
- Sometimes the balls will get stuck even when they are still new.
- It is not always very accurate.
4. BSN Bulldog Baseball/Softball Pitching Machine
Features and Design
- Speed: BSN Bulldog can feed easily at speeds of between 30 and 60 mph. The speed is also variable to ensure that players get optimal and efficient practice.
- Adjustability: It uses a unique leg design to make it easy to adjust it from baseball to softball. Also, the adjustment is very fast as it will only take a few seconds.
- Power: Power is one of the things that you should always consider when looking for the best pitching machine. This modern one gets it from 110V-AC, but you can also use a quarter horsepower generator.
- Ball Types: It throws standard baseballs, but it is also possible to use 12-inch softballs and 11-inch ones for baseballs.
- Urethane Wheel: The urethane wheel in this machine is also an important feature because it helps to deal with and eliminate air pressure issues.
- The heavy duty legs are convertible or adjustable for baseball or softball.
- It has a durable urethane wheel to eliminate air pressure issues.
- The BSN Bulldog is a lightweight machine and hence very portable.
- Apart from the standard size baseballs, it can also throw 12-inch softballs and 11-inch balls (for baseball).
- The easy to use settings make control easy for players and coaches.
- It has an impressive pitch interval of 6 seconds which eliminates delays when practicing.
- You can use it to practice both indoor and outdoor.
- Despite its usefulness, this machine is quite expensive.
- It would be more convenient if it were possible to use any ball type.
- Lack of a rechargeable battery pack makes it difficult to use when you do not have a generator or somewhere to plug in.
5. First Pitch Baseline Pitching Machine
Features and Design
- Speed: It can throw baseballs at a maximum speed of 70 mph, and for softballs, the top speed is 60 mph. Also, the speed is easily adjustable.
- Power: This pitching machine has a quarter horsepower motor that can run on the regular AC power at home.
- Ball Types: You can use it with most types of baseballs and softballs which make practice easy for you because you will not need to buy any special balls.
- 360-Degree Adjustment: 360-Degree Adjustment makes sure that the machine can cover the entire field for optimal fielding practice.
- Adjustable Legs: The reversible legs make it possible to switch from baseball to softball, and you will not even need any tools to do this. Also, the steel legs have capped feet to ensure that you can use the pitching machine on any surface.
- Pitches: It can throw changeups, fastballs, fly balls, pop-ups, and grounders.
- You can easily adjust the pitch angle which makes covering the entire plate possible.
- The speed ranges between 0 to 70 mph, and you can also change it quickly.
- Reversible legs make it easy to switch from baseball to softball.
- It will work well with any softball or baseball type.
- This machine also includes a skin plate to improve the accuracy of the pitch and ball longevity.
- The electric motor is in a steel case for extra security when using it around kids.
- Sturdy and welded steel body increases the durability of the pitching machine.
- It will operate on the standard AC power in your home.
- The machine is quite noisy, and the wheels tend to vibrate a lot.
- It does not have as many features as you would get from most other machines at the same price tag.
- The wheel does not have any protection which makes it very dangerous.
- The rotating wheel causes a backspin on the baseballs and softballs.
Batting Practice With Pitching Machines
Some baseball and softball players still prefer to practice their batting using live pitching which is where they get someone to throw pitches as they hit. But, a pitching machine is a modern and more fruitful way of practicing batting. If you are one of those baseball players that are not certain whether to use it or not here are the merits and demerits of this machine to make the decision easier for you.
- It delivers consistent pitches which are what batters need to improve their game.
- A pitching machine will help you improve your body mechanics because you can get as many pitches as you want without the pitcher’s arm getting tired.
- This device makes it possible to practice hitting pitches at certain locations because it can throw the ball to the same place over and over.
- It helps a batter to develop or improve timing and avoid the jitters that come with being first at bat.
- These machines are very useful for boosting the player’s confidence.
- Hitting pitches at a constant speed can interfere with a batter’s timing.
- This machine makes the pitches predictable, but they are not when facing a live pitcher.
- They can be quite expensive, and this is a huge drawback for most softball and baseball players.
What To Look For In The Best Pitching Machine
A pitching machine has many benefits for both softball and baseball batter, but it is important to know that all machines are not the same. And so to ensure that you get maximum benefits you should aim to get the best pitching machine. For this to be so, you should always look for the following important things when shopping for one. (Check out here to read Best Fast Pitch Softball Bats – Best Slowpitch Softball Bats Buying Guide.)
The design should always be the first thing that you consider when shopping for a pitching machine because it will affect everything else. And when it comes to design you will have two general options which are compressed air and wheel operated devices. The wheel machines are the most common, but there is still an option to choose between single and dual wheels.
The dual wheel is the best for professionals because of its accuracy, fast speeds, maximum ball control and the ability to throw different types of pitches. Single wheels are suitable for youth players that are just learning the game because they make it possible to vary the speed. The compressed air machines are safe as they do not have any moving parts on the external body and they use compressed air to throw the balls.
2. Types Of Ball
Pitching machines will also differ regarding the ball types that they can throw and most work with practice balls for softball or baseball and not real ones. There are still some modern ones that will allow players to use what they use in matches and others that are adjustable to make it possible to use both training and actual ones.
Although most players will like to use real balls when practicing, it is important to know that exercise balls are more durable and hence a machine that uses them might be the best for you.
3. Ball Speed
Speed is a vital factor for your practice sessions, and so you should consider how fast the machine can throw balls. However, this will also depend on your level of playing because a youth pitching machine should throw at speeds that are less than 65mph while the fast ones are perfect for senior players and professionals. The best for pro players are those that can reach ball speeds of up to 100mph.
4. Power and Portability
Power is an important factor that you also have to keep in mind when shopping for a pitching machine. Here you get to choose between manual and electric machines, and it is important to know that both have merits and demerits. The manual ones are very portable, and you can take them anywhere without worrying about the power source, but most will only let you adjust the speed and pitch height within a limited range.
Electric pitching machines, on the other hand, will offer more options when it comes to speed, ball control, and pitch types but you have to carry a battery pack or generator which affects portability. To ensure maximum portability, you should go for a lightweight machine that has some design features that make its movement easy.
5. Price and Customer Reviews
You should be ready to spend a lot of cash if you want to get the best pitching machine because it will not be cheap. However, the price will vary according to things like features and brands. To make sure that you get enough value for your money you should understand your needs and the features that you want and go for something that is within or close to your budget.
Also, pitching machine reviews will be very helpful because they will give you firsthand information on the experiences of other baseball or softball players with the pitching machine.
Tips For Using Pitching Machines Effectively
- Always try to approximate the speed of an average live pitcher so that the pitches that you get are realistic.
- Batters should start with a few bunts because this will help them estimate the speed and consistency of the machine.
- Try to focus on the fundamentals of the swing by breaking down your swings and reactions to different pitch types.
- Make use of the faster/slower controls on the machine as often as possible.
- The batter should always move around the box as often as possible to make the practice session more realistic.
- It is an excellent idea to have the coach or a swing consultant nearby so that you can get immediate feedback.
A pitching machine is one of the most helpful tools for a batter that want to improve his skills. However, to get the benefits that come with these modern pitching machines you should make sure that you get the best one. And for this, you should always consider the important points above. Also, make sure that you understand how to use it effectively.