body background

Choosing a Pitching Machine

Now that you’ve decided to purchase a pitching machine.  This info will help to determine which option would work best for your needs.

Pitching Machines can be a very important part of a coaches or parents’ practice with their players or children.  Choosing a machine is no easy task, this info is provided to assist in making the best decision for this long term investment.  Players of all ages use these machines to not just perfect their swing but also allow for defensive drills.  Some machines even allow you to throw different pitches (sliders, curveballs, etc.) aside from the standard fastball.  Younger players will develop much faster using pitching machines as it gives them an opportunity to work on the proper mechanics without the fear of wild pitches.  Learning the proper mechanics is the most important part of a player’s development and the correct machine can allow for repitition that reinforces the correct techniques.  Buying a pitching machine should be a long term investment, so you want to make sure you take the time to pick the right machine.

YOUTH LEAGUES
Pitching Machines are popular in youth leagues because they deliver consistently safe and reliable pitches. This helps young players develop skills with consistency and without fear of being hit by an errant pitch.

  • The pitch speed is the most important factor for youth players.  Look for a machine that has a pitch speed around 45 to 50 MPH.
  • You don’t need a machine that can throw breaking balls necessarily as younger players will want to focus on contact as the primary use.
  • Look for a lightweight model that is easy to set up, and offers the features you will need in a typical practice.
  • A single wheel machine

HIGH SCHOOL / COLLEGIATE / PROFESSIONAL
A machine for these groups should focus on speed as well as offer a variety in pitches that can be thrown.

  • These machines should throw at minimum around 75 MPH.
  • Machines with 2 wheels which allow to multiple pitch types to be thrown.
  • A machine that can throw real baseballs or softballs.
  • Portability – the ability to quickly and efficiently move the machine.

TECHNICAL ASPECTS
These are additional features you may want to look for in a machine for added function.

Wheels

  • Most pitching machines function with one or two spinning wheels that project the ball upon contact.
  • Wheels can be either hard rubber or pneumatic (air filled).
  • Pitch speed is determined by revolutions per minute.
  • Pitch types, such as curve balls, are affected by variations in wheel speed.
  • Handedness (right and left) is determined by spin direction.
  • Machines with 2 wheels have independent speed controls on each wheel to control the different pitch types.  This works in conjunction with the tilt of the machine to allow different pitches to be thrown.

Swivel

  • The head turns on a horizontal plane within a specified number of degrees.
  • Allows you to pitch within a range of space, rather than to a fixed spot every time

Vertical Pivot

  • The pitching machine head rocks front to back, changing the angle of the pitch.
  • Simulates fly balls, ground balls, and pop ups for defensive drills.

Feeder

  • A feeder holds a quantity of balls and lets them into the machine one at a time.
  • Feeders are usually sold as a separate item or add-on to the pitching machine.  Not all machines have feeders available.
  • Make sure you buy a machine that is feeder-compatible if you plan to use it without addtional human help (someone manually putting the ball in the throwing source)

Power Source

  • Most pitching machines operate on 110vAC/1000 watts.
  • This means that you can plug them into a power source if available, or power them using a generator.
  • If you plan to use a generator, find out what kind the manufacturer recommends before buying.

In-Line Switch or Remote

  • An in-line switch is a box on the cord that allows the player to turn the machine on and off from the batter’s box.
  • Some machines offer a wireless remote to control pitches as well.
  • These options is a must if you use the machine alone.

Balls

  • Most pitching machines are compatible with any type of baseball or softball, but some are designed to work with specific balls.
  • Check that machines intended for youth league use are compatible with RIF or other training balls.
This entry was posted in Pitching Machines. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

2 Comments

  1. Dave Cunningham
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    How far from home plate should I put the machine?

    • Posted April 21, 2016 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Hi Dave,
      The pitching distance can vary. It will all depend on the pitch speed compared to the distance to the hitter. Here are the steps to calculating the real speed:

      Step 1

      Measure the distance from where the ball will be thrown to home plate with a tape measure. It’s 60.6 feet to the plate from the pitcher’s mound on a Major League diamond, but the distance varies between leagues and playing levels.

      Step 2

      Clock the pitch’s travel time with a stopwatch. This is the time that it takes for the ball to travel from the pitcher’s hand to when it reaches home plate — a half second, for example.

      Step 3

      Calculate the average speed of the pitched ball with the equation S = D / T. The speed in feet per second is represented by S, the travel distance is D, and the time it took for the pitch to reach the plate is T. The pitch’s speed in this example is 60.6 / 0.50 = 121.2 feet per second.

      Step 4

      Divide the seconds in an hour (3,600) by feet per mile (5,280). The conversion ratio is 0.682. Convert the pitch’s speed per second into miles per hour using the formula M = S x (3,600 / 5,280). M represents the ball’s speed in miles per hour, with S being its speed in feet per second. The speed in this example is formulated as 121.2 x 0.682 = 82.65 miles per hour.

      Step 5

      Figure the pitch’s speed in miles per hour directly from its travel speed in seconds and the distance. Though slightly more involved, it’s a bit quicker. In the equation M = (D / T) x (3,600 / 5,280), M represents the speed in miles per hour, D represents the distance in feet and T represents the travel time in seconds. This formulation for the pitch’s average speed is (60.6 / 0.50) x (3,600 / 5,280) = (121.2 x 0.682) = 82.65 miles per hour in this example.

      If you’ve ever watched a Little League World Series game, they usually have the pitch conversion info in the corner showing the speed the kids throw converted to a major league mound distance. If you search “pitching mound distance speed conversion” online there a plenty of handy sites where you can simply insert the distance and speed and it will give you the pitch speed converted to a normal mound distance of 60’6″.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Thanks,
      Cory Schneider

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>