Let me start this off with a tip. The checklist to becoming an MVP hitter is this-
- Get your fundaments straight with a top-shelf batting tee
- Use a pitching machine to practice hitting different flyballs
- Go up against a good pitcher regularly or host practice matches
- Have the will and courage to keep going forward
It’s as Babe Ruth once said, “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.“
However, I’ve seen a lot of aspiring hitters waste more time on maintaining a pitching machine instead of putting time into swinging the bat. It happens when you don’t have the best pitching machine to help you hack the downtime.
Plus, a pitching machine can help you improve your fielding as well. So, it’s a two-for-one deal.
Now, a pitching machine is a considerable investment. If you’re not getting a machine for young players, you’d have to shell out a lot of moolah. However, a lot of people don’t have the finances to afford a top-of-the-line pitching machine.
That’s why I’m here – your very own coach! So, the list I have here for you features pitching machines of different sizes, speeds, age compatibility, and budget. Once you read through the breakdown, you’ll have a clear idea of what to expect from a high-end machine and a budget alternative.
Nevertheless, the reviews here will help you avoid running into a brick wall by investing in the wrong pitching machine. Note: A pitching machine is not a replacement for live-hitting practices. Instead, you should consider it as a medium to help you get warmed up. Also, you’ll get to improve your swing basics. One more thing- it’s always better to have a coach/guide to show you the best way to use a pitching machine. It’ll help you avoid what we call “bad muscle memory practice”.
Top 10 Best Pitching Machine Reviews
I know what you’re thinking – who in their right mind would list 10 pitching machines, right? I get it. But listen – pitching machines can go from around $25 to a whopping $5000. So, I can’t – in my right mind – just pick a handful of machines and call it a day. I’ll highlight pitching machines that cater to a certain set of players/coaches. I’ll not only glorify the goodies, but I’ll also outline the drawbacks and a workaround to the drawbacks if there are any.
1. Jugs MVP Combo Pitching Machine (Best Overall)
As I said earlier, a lot of people don’t want to shell out big bucks for a pitching machine. And that’s understandable. However, if you want a pitching machine that’ll be useful for different drills, supports both baseball and softball, easy to use, move, and set up – there’s no better alternative than the Jugs MVP Combo.
There are so many things to love about this machine that it’s hard to just pick one. All the little annoying discomforts you could think of are already taken care of thanks to the design of the Jugs MVP. For instance, the machine supports both baseballs and softballs.
So, let’s say you’re a coach who – because of unavoidable circumstances – has to guide baseball and softball players. The Jugs MVP has got you covered. Whether it’s professional baseball or softball, I’ve used both to get the most out of my hitting and fielding drills.
Plus, the speed is adjustable. You can set it up from 20 to 60 mph depending on the hitter’s age, preference, and drills. With little leaguers, I don’t have to go beyond 35-40. You can go higher for high schoolers or even adults.
I loved that the height was adjustable as well. I could easily use this pitching machine to target high or low strike zone areas to help the batters understand different pitches. There’s another advantage of the height adjustment that goes unnoticed. You can actually use this machine for rising tee-ball stars.
One more thing- I’ve had no trouble carrying this pitching machine to and from work. The 56lbs weight didn’t pose a challenge that my body couldn’t handle. In fact, if you break it down into different pieces, you can stash it in the trunk without any trouble.
The only issue you might have in this otherwise incredible pitching machine is the price point. I know it doesn’t fall in the oh-so-comfortable territory. However, the investment can be worth it depending on what you want to do with the machine.
Also, you have to attach it either to a power outlet or portable generator to make it work. It’s a bother – true. But once you take the time to set it up, you’ll be really happy with the results.
If you’re a coach like me, definitely get one for your school/trainees. If your family has two or more baseball/softball aspirants, the money spent would be worth it. And before I end this Jugs pitching machine review, I should mention that your dough’s safe with a 5-year warranty from Jugs.
So, people who want their kids to take their game to the next level should invest in the Jugs MVP Combo.
- Speed: 20-60 MPH
- Weight: 56lbs
- Compatibility: Baseball and Softball
- Adjustable: Yes
- Type: Battery/Generator operated
2. Louisville Slugger Blue Flame Pitching Machine (Best Manual)
I’ve already covered a pitching machine that can put a dent in your wallet – it’ll be worth the dent, though. So, I thought I should balance it out by talking about an excellent budget machine. Even I wasn’t always able to afford high-end machines at first. The Louisville Slugger Blue Flame was my go-to before I moved on to the big-boy pitching machines.
Unlike the Jugs MVP, this pitching machine has a smaller speed adjustment range. However, the 18 to 45 MPH it gives you is more than enough to train youngsters and high schoolers. Adults who aren’t really going into MLB can also hone up their batting skills to impress friends and colleagues in the next weekend match with this speed as well.
And yes – the 45 MPH speed limit only applies if you’re using professional balls. If you’re using something lightweight like plastic, the speed goes up to 60 MPH.
What I didn’t expect from a budget machine is dual compatibility. I thought it would either be a dedicated baseball or softball pitching machine. Well, I was glad to be proven wrong because this little cheap (in a good way) beast can do both.
Plus, the Blue Flame weighs less than the Jugs MVP. So, you’d have an easier time moving it around. However, setting it up the first time is quite complicated. Sure, the instruction manual will guide you. But it’s not simply – place, fasten, and go.
You need to take the time to understand how all the little pieces come together. But once you get the hang of it, it’ll not be a major problem anymore.
A lot of people get the Louisville Blue Flame over any other high-end machine. And there’s a good reason for it. You don’t need a consistent supply of electricity to run it. That’s huge. You can use the power level to throw the pitches manually.
However, the no-power wonder is a double-edged sword. An adult has to be there to supervise the entire process. You can leave it to the kids. But I wouldn’t recommend it because the lever’s kickback is dangerous.
Judging the Louisville Blue Flame from the price point, it’s a sweet not-to-be-missed deal. It’s a combo pitching machine. The 25lbs weight is more than manageable. You don’t need an electricity supply.
If you’re still skeptical, you should know that this machine has made its way to being the official pitching machine for Babe Ruth Baseball and Softball league. So, that alone is a testament to its performance.
- Speed: 45-60 MPH
- Weight: 25lbs
- Compatibility: Baseball and Softball
- Adjustable: Yes
- Type: Manual operation
3. Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine by Sports Attack (Best Premium)
The pitching machine I’m about to highlight now isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Why? I’ll get to it.
All four pitching machines I presented are only good for junior players and high schoolers. These machines don’t have the needed speed, pitch variety, and consistency. Adult baseball players need a lot more features to improve their game. And that’s exactly what the Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine offers.
Before I dive in – this machine is really expensive. Not a lot of people who want a machine for simple drills or just want some weekend fun can afford it. And I think that’s okay. The Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine isn’t meant for casuals. It’s a professional pitching machine preferred by MLB pros. So, that’s how the price point is set as well.
The Hack Attack has three-wheel pitching mechanics. If you’ve looked at the pictures of Jugs BP1 and Jugs MVP, you’ll see that they have one wheel. Now, that makes a huge difference. The one-wheeler pitching machines can only throw rising fastballs or sinkers. Even these pitches won’t be perfect.
However, the three-wheel gives you so many pitching options. Whether it’s a cutter, a slider, a curveball, or a splitter, the Hack Attack has got you covered. The many pitching options coupled with a 100+ MPH speed is what makes it a favorite of professionals.
A common problem of high-speed pitching machines is the unstable base. The force from the machine can be a bit overwhelming at times. But the leg claps keep the machine rooted in place.
Plus, you can do a lot of different and difficult fielding drills using the Hack Attack. Usually, one-wheel machines are only good for pop-fly or groundballs. But in a real game – the ball can come at you with a lot of swerves and swings due to the unexpected bat-to-ball contact. So, this machine can give you true fielding experience.
I used to do a lot of swerving flyballs, super-fast groundballs to get my fielders ready for the game.
Also, the machine has a Hulk-buster build. And if you’ve followed up until now, you probably realized that it’s not a compliment I bestow often. The machine’s body can resist a lot of elemental damage. And if by any chance, you find a performance issue – you can always fall back on the whopping 5-year warranty.
In short, Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine is for serious players only. It’s expensive – yes. It has a ton of features – hell yeah. So, if you want to reach the heights of MLB pros, the investment you make on this machine will pay huge dividends.
- Speed: 35-100 MPH
- Weight: 135lbs
- Compatibility: Baseball
- Adjustable: Yes
- Type: Generator Operated
4. Franklin Sports MLB Electronic Baseball Pitching Machine (Best Pitching Machine for the Money)
Pitching machines don’t always cost more than $100. Some come at a price point of only $30-$40. The Franklin Sports MLB Electronic Baseball Pitching Machine falls in the latter group. Fair warning – a super cheap machine like this will have faults that you need to contend with. So, if you’re not the person who loves a little bit of DIY tweaking, you better not go for pitching machines under $50.
For starters, this machine is suitable for young and coming baseball players. If you’ve got a tee-ball superstar in your family or a little-league champ, the Franklin Sports MLB will be an excellent addition to their daily hitting drills.
The machine can hold up to 9 balls. And unlike the Louisville Slugger Blue Frame, you don’t need anyone standing next to it. It’ll keep throwing a ball at you every 7 seconds. Plus, 6 balls are already included in the basic package – a sweet deal.
Before the balls zoom in your way, there’ll be a red flash. So, if your young tee-ball star is practicing, there won’t be any unwanted surprises. No additional power source is needed like the Jugs MVP Combo. However, you need six batteries. So, be prepared to spend a few extra bucks.
The Franklin Sports MLB has three pitch settings. However, the adjustments aren’t lateral. It’s vertical. So, you can emulate some slow-pitch deliveries. But you can’t really get the cutters or sliders with the settings present in this pitching machine.
The price point of this machine is incredible. But there’s a catch. It’s a starter pitching machine meant for kids. If you want to have some fun with it as an adult, you can. I mean the plastic balls are safe for windows. So, you’ll get to knock yourself out in the backyard.
Still, the 20MPH speed limit without any adjustments, limited angles, 7-second predictable interval holds the Franklin Sports MLB pitching machine.
Despite the drawbacks, I am still a big fan of this pitching machine. Let’s face it – there aren’t many cheap pitching machines out there. The handful available are either complete trash or somehow manageable – nothing amazing.
Compare the other cheap youth pitching machines to the Franklin MLB, and you’ll see that it’s a clear winner.
- Speed: 20 MPH
- Weight: 3.5lbs
- Compatibility: Only lightweight plastic balls
- Adjustable: Limited
- Type: Battery Operated
5. Jugs BP1 Baseball/Softball Combo (Best Combo Pitching Machine)
All the four machines I’ve talked about till now are really good but they lack versatility to some extent. That’s why I’ve added another Jugs machine to the party. If you want a semi-pro machine to practice both hitting and fielding drills, you should look into the Jugs BP1.
A lot of Jugs BP1’s features are similar to the Jugs MVP. However, there are a few key distinctions that justify the extra buck you spend. For starters, the MVP Combo has the highest speed of 60 MPH. In contrast, with the BP1 you can get 70 MPH top speed with ease.
Even the low-speed setting is better in this machine. The MVP’s 20 MPH is topped by the 15 MPH you get from BP1. So, if your little champ is struggling with 20 MPH or higher, you can just set the speed down to 15 MPH and work your way up. There’s a digital readout display that helps with setting the speed a bit.
You can use a number of different ball sizes and types. I use the BP1 for both baseball and softball. It’s a combo pitching machine similar to the Jugs MVP. So, if your cohorts want softball and baseball action, there won’t be a problem.
Apart from the speed settings, what truly puts the Jugs BP1 above the Jugs MVP is the 360-swivel design. Some people have a misconception that pitching machines are only for hitting drills. Well, that’s far from the truth.
You can get a lot of infield and outfield training done with the right pitching machine. That’s the power of the 360-swivel design. All you have to do is – adjust the height, rotate the wheel for either flyball (outfield) or groundballs (infield), and swivel the machine – voila.
I’ve used the BP1 for a long time. And the only drawback I can think of is the price. It’s almost $400 higher than the Jugs MVP. And you have to get a Jugs battery pack or a compatible portable generator if you don’t have a 110V power outlet nearby – putting more dent in your wallet.
However, the swivel design, the added speed options, and the ease of adjustment more than makeup for it.
Plus, the 75lbs weight isn’t for everyone. It can be a bit difficult to move unless you know how to roll it away using the wheel.
Still, the Jugs BP1 – despite a few shortcomings – is an amazing pitching machine. You can take this and use it for the machine pitch baseball league. So, it doesn’t just have to be for the fielding and hitting drills. It’s a multipurpose tool with a 5-year guarantee – worth every green you spend on it.
- Speed: 15-70 MPH
- Weight: 75lbs
- Compatibility: Baseball and Softball
- Adjustable: Yes
- Type: Battery/ Generator Operated
6. Zooka ZS740 (Best Portable Pitching Machine)
I get that the Hack Attack pitching machine I just covered above isn’t for everyone. And that’s alright. I’m not asking you to go all-in on Hack Attack machines if you’re not dealing with high-end adult professionals.
So, if you’re more into casual baseball drills, but with a slight competitive touch, the Zooka ZS740 should be right up your alley. It’s not as cheap as the Franklin pitching machine, but it’s cheaper than all the other pitching machines I’ve mentioned above. So, your wallet can breathe a sigh of relief.
If I had to use two words to define this machine, I’d say it’s a “glorified airgun”. Yes – you’ve heard it right. Unlike the one-wheel, two-wheel, or even three-wheel machines, the Zooka ZS740 pitching machines burst air out of a long pipe, propelling the ball forward.
Now, you might think that the air-propelled pitching machine would lack the necessary force to generate speeds over 50 MPH. Well, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The ZS740 has enough punch to actually dish out 70 MPH.
Another huge perk of this budget-oriented machine is the automated changeups. We all know that zero variations in pitches can create bad batting habits. However, with the ZS740 I was able to program the delivery timings. And this kept the hitter on their guard because they won’t know when the ball is coming towards them.
Also, the entire system is password protected. Not a feature I’ve seen in any other pitching machine, to be honest. It can be redundant if you keep it safe inside the practice room. But when you’re outside, it’s nice that the kids can’t mess around with the machine unless they have the password.
The Zooka ZS740 has a few issues that you need to workaround. The biggest is that you can’t (more aptly put you shouldn’t) use leather baseballs. The compressed air damaged the leather, ruining the exterior of leather baseballs.
Apart from that, the battery directly affects the machine’s performance. As the battery power goes down with time, the pitches will start lacking power.
Still, the rechargeable battery that’s included lasts for 3-5 years. So, you’ll get a lot of use from it before it starts to show signs of weakness.
Plus, you can get an automated ball-feeder, and let the ZS740 roll by itself as you stand by, browse through the latest news, while your kids do their hitting drills. A neat machine overall.
- Speed: Up to 70 MPH
- Weight: Around 30lbs
- Compatibility: Baseball
- Adjustable: Yes
- Type: Battery Operated
7. Jugs Small Ball Pitching Machine
If you’re already knee-deep into this review, you’ve already seen a whole heap of different pitching machines. What if I tell you that there’s still more? I know – it can sound overwhelming. But bear with me. The Jugs Small-Ball Pitching Machine isn’t designed as one of Batman’s suits. So, unlike the Hack Attack, you’ll have an easy time understanding what this machine has to offer.
Romeo once said – “what’s in a name?” But with the Jugs Small-Ball, it’s actually all in the name. This machine throws specific balls manufactured by Jugs only. And you’ve guessed it – they are smaller than the average-sized baseball or softball.
So, you’re probably wondering – why on earth would I want something that throws small balls? Well, the thing is – a lot of skilled hitters try to work on their depth perception. If you’re not familiar with the lingo, it’s actually observing and assessing the whole dimension (height, width, and depth) of an object.
Hitting a smaller ball helps you improve depth perception. Simply put – your accuracy numbers will soar once you take this baby out for a day or two.
Plus, it has four different speed settings – two for fastballs and the other two for curves. I never expected a pitching machine under $500 to throw curveballs. Although the pitch consistency is nothing to write home about, the curveball feature being there is way more than I could ask for in a budget machine like this one.
And it’s really the best small ball pitching machine. It weighs 23lbs only. So, you can carry it around easily without putting any stress on your upper-body muscles. Setting the pitching machine up takes a few mins as well.
The top speed of the machine is about 30 MPH. A lot of people misread the “simulated 75 MPH” portion. When the word “simulated” is attached to a speed metric, it doesn’t give you the entire story. “Simulated” speed accounts for the hitter’s reaction ergo the speed isn’t actually 75, but it feels like it because of the machine’s distance.
Still, I don’t mind the low speed. It’s a cheap machine. And low speed is a drawback I can live with.
I think the Jugs Small-Ball Pitching Machine is a bang for the buck. You pay around $300 to get a machine that can do curveballs. Also, it’s easy to move around, perfect for basic fielding drills, and there’s an auto-feeder to boot.
If you want to surprise your baseball/softball fanatic kids for their birthday, the Jugs Small-Ball is the perfect gift to get.
- Speed: 30 MPH (Simulates 75 MPH)
- Weight: 23lbs
- Compatibility: Only manufacturer approved polyurethane foam ball
- Adjustable: Yes
- Type: Battery/Generator Operated
8. First Pitch Baseline Pitching Machine
The pitching machine, which I’m going to talk about right now, is not the cheapest out there nor is it the costliest. This one falls into the mid-range category and is a value purchase if you are planning to use it for youth or high school baseball players. So, without further ado, let’s jump into the details of the First Pitch Baseline Pitching Machine.
I will start off with the build quality of the product. Unlike other pitching machines this one is made up of 1/8″ heavy gauge steel. So, you can already guess the durability of the unit. Yes, it is quite durable and strong enough to withstand accidental impacts.
Before talking about the motor casing, let me brief you about the power system of the pitching machine. It is automatic and runs 110V. So, you’ll need a power outlet of 110V or a generator to run the unit.
It is a little risky to use an electrical unit when you are surrounded by teenagers or kids. However, with the First Pitch Baseline Pitching Machine, you don’t have to worry because the motor is sealed inside a tough steel casing. The control panel also comes with the same steel housing for further security and protection.
Apart from that, the machine can throw both softball and baseball of 11 or 12-inches. The reversible legs allow you to adjust between softball and baseball mode without the help of any tools. It has a swivel base, meaning you can rotate the machine around 360-degree. Hence, you can train catchers as well.
With the pitching machine, you can throw softballs at 0-60 mph and baseballs at 0-70 mph. You can also adjust the machine to throw fly or ground balls. Thus, you have complete control of what type of ball you want your strikers or catchers to receive.
One last, yet the best thing about the product is that it comes with a 5-year limited warranty. So, you are always backed up from accidental damage.
- Speed: 0-70 MPH with baseball and 0-60 MPH with softball
- Weight: 50lbs
- Compatibility: Softball and baseball
- Adjustable: No
- Type: Automatic/Power-operated
9. Louisville Slugger Black Flame Pitching Machine
If you are running short on budget, yet still plan on continuing the training sessions with your students or kids, then you should have a look at the Louisville Slugger Black Flame Pitching Machine. It is very cheap, yet performs decently. The product is an excellent entry-level pitching machine. Therefore, if you are planning to start somewhere, you can start with this one.
First of all, the Black Flame is a manual pitching machine. There is no need for generators, power outlets, or charging. Everything is right there with the pitching machine, just place the ball, use the foot peddle and the handle to launch the perfect pitch.
No, electrical cords or motors mean less weight as well. Yes, you guessed it right, the Black Flame pitching machine weighs only 24lbs. Moreover, it is compact and can be carried anywhere easily. So, you of all will never be late for a practice session. However, no automatic mode means that you’ll have to manually control everything, which sometimes can get a little annoying.
Apart from that, the machine allows you to pitch, fly, ground, fast, slow balls. It is compatible with almost any type of ball. You can use it to pitch baseball and even softballs. Hence, if ever for some reason you need to pitch softballs, don’t worry because the Black Flame pitching machine got it covered for you.
As for speed, the machine can throw a ball at a rate of 18MPH to a maximum of 50MPH. It is quite durable and can last for a couple of years with proper maintenance and care.
While using the pitching machine, I’ve noticed that it has a hard time locking down to the ground. If you don’t lock or secure the machine to the ground, it will move a bit when you are using it to throw fastballs.
In any case, it is an excellent product when you compare it to other pitching machines of the same price range. Usually, budget-friendly pitching machines come with poor quality material; so, they don’t last more than a few months.
Judging by the price, the machine is worth the deal. Think of it as something for the young kids and not for professional players.
- Speed: 18 to 50MPH
- Weight: 24lbs
- Compatibility: Almost all types of balls
- Adjustable: No
- Type: Manual
10. Sports Attack Junior Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine
Finishing off my list of the best with another pitching machine of Sports Attack. If you have checked out the previous reviews, then you already should have an idea about the performance, quality, and price range of their pitching machines.
As mentioned before, the units of Sports Attack are not at all budget-friendly. However, the features and performance you get with the price are unrivaled. The same goes for the Sports Attack Junior Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine. Yes, it is a little costly but totally worth the deal.
If I start talking about all the features and benefits, it is going to feel a little overwhelming. Therefore, I’m only going to talk about the aspects that matter the most.
So, the first thing you need to know about the Junior Hack Attack pitching machine is that it is a three-wheeler unit. It means you’ll have a better vision of the ball while practicing, better overall accuracy, and better speed control of the ball.
Due to the three-wheel system, the machine can pitch split fingers, knuckles, sliders, curves, and fastballs that go up more than 70MPH. It also provides excellent spin control, which makes the strikers feel like they are playing against actual pitchers.
Hence, the machine is suitable for training sessions of all levels, starting from high school to professional league. Apart from that, the product comes with throwing wheel guards for safe operation. It also features pitch elevation control (adjustable handle), which you can use to move the pitch up or down.
The machine comes with three-speed knobs or dials and a pitch selection chart. You can take the help from the chart and adjust the pitch using the knobs for the perfect pitch.
A few things I like about the machine are that it is lightweight, compact, and portable. You can carry it in the trunk of your car, but make sure to place it on its side. The machine is also easy to set up and it is because of the quick release legs which allow you to set the machine in a few seconds.
Overall, the pitching machine comes with everything you need to guide youngsters or even senior-level players to learn how to hit the perfect shot.
- Speed: Up to 70+ MPH
- Weight: 75lbs
- Compatibility: Baseball and Softball (Need Accessories for Softball)
- Adjustable: Yes
- Type: Generator Operated
How to Choose the Best Pitching Machine – Buyer’s Guide
Once you read the detailed breakdowns that I’ve discussed till now, you’ll get an idea about how unique each pitching machine can be. So, it’s difficult to just point your finger at one and call it the best pitching machine. That’s just not how it works. You need to understand a few things-
- Why you’re getting it?
- Who you’re getting it for?
- What kind of drills do you have in mind?
- What level of performance are you expecting?
- And what sort of moolah do you have?
So, I’ll give you a quick tour of the factors that’ll help you have a smooth ride. Once you keep in mind the things I mention below, you shouldn’t have a problem choosing what’s best for you.
One-Wheel vs. Two-Wheel vs. Three-Wheel – Which Road to Take?
The first question you need to address – how many wheels do you want in your pitching machine? It’ll be better if I explain the benefits and shortcomings of each. So, let’s get straight to it.
One-Wheel pitching machines are everywhere. Most people usually go for these because it’s cheap and lightweight. So, if you want a pitching machine for tee-ball players or high-schoolers, a one-wheel pitching machine should be just fine.
The biggest perk of getting a one-wheeler is that it’s really cheap. You can move it around with ease. And the pitching variety is decent enough to have some hitting and fielding drills done. So, it’s a well-rounded machine for beginners.
As you can see, most of the pitching machines I’ve reviewed in this article are one-wheelers. Why? Because it’s the most viable option for casuals/mid-tier players.
However, put next to three-wheel machines, one-wheelers pale in comparison. One-wheel machines don’t have a ton of features needed to cater to hitters who want to go pro.
Two-Wheel is kind of like the jack of all trades but master of none. So, you’d get a professional flavor but not the whole dish. A two-wheel pitching machine has some pitch variety. But it’s still quite not in the league of three-wheelers.
Basically, it’s a mid-range pitching machine. It won’t break your bank. And you’ll still get a lot of use out of it. These machines are perfect for high-schoolers.
All professional or MLB-tier machines are three-wheelers. There’s pitching consistency, variety, left-right throw flexibility, fungo work, and a ton of other features that I can keep yapping about.
You can do a lot of advanced hitting and fielding drills. It’s not just for high-schoolers. Three-wheel machines are kind of all-in. Once you invest in a three-wheeler, you know you’re committed to baseball/softball.
Usually, these machines aren’t purchased by a family or a single person. Coaching organizations prefer three-wheelers. The biggest issue with these machines – the features come with a huge price tag. So, know what level you’re currently in, where you want to go, whether you are willing to make the huge investment.
How Important is Speed Settings?
Short answer – speed settings are important. But if a machine doesn’t have the desired speed, it’s not the end of the world. You can always work around it. Let’s say you get 50 MPH from a machine. If you need more, what you should do is bring the machine closer to the hitter.
I know – it’s not ideal. But high-speed machines aren’t cheap. So, if you want a budget machine with speed variety, change the hitter-to-machine distance.
A rule of thumb is to go for something around 30-75 MPH. However, 70-75 MPH isn’t going to cut it for adults. Adult players need speeds of 100+ MPH. So, know who you’re buying it for before thinking about speed settings.
A Combo or a Dedicated Machine
Again, the solution to this dilemma boils down to whether you want something professional or casual. Combo machines support different types of balls – baseball, softball, dimple balls, etc. So, if you get a baseball-softball combo, you can use the machine with both balls.
Alright, so what’s the catch? Why get a dedicated machine when you have hit two birds with one stone?
Simple – dedicated pitching machines are better at what they do. Combo machines are versatile – yes. But when it comes to performance, single-game machines will always triumph over something that’s trying to juggle a lot of balls at once. Get it?
Versatility Can Be a Big Help
This factor can come off as complementary or contradictory when I’ve put it right after praising single-game machines. Well, versatility isn’t all about being compatible with different balls. There’s a lot more.
For instance, the more speed settings you have – the better flexibility you have. Plus, machines that can be separated from the base are useful tools for fielding drills as well. Take the Zooka ZS740 for example. You can take it apart from the tripod base. Point it towards any direction like a gun and shoot flyballs for outfield practice.
So, be sure to check what the pitching machine can do. Is it just for hitting drills? If so, what type of drills can you get? Can you use it for fielding drills? If so, what options do you have?
Ask yourself these questions before deciding.
Go Budget or High-End
This factor is related to the one, two, and three-wheeler questions. While the price of a pitching machine doesn’t entirely depend on the number of wheels, it has a direct bearing. More wheels = more features = more dough spent.
So, the rule of thumb here is – why do you need the pitching machine? If it’s for your kids to practice in the backyard or in the field, a budget machine would do the trick. But if you want to lead and organize a machine pitch league, you need to up the ante.
Finally, you want something on an MLB level, you need to invest a whole lot more. If you look at the price difference between Jugs BP1 and Hack Attack by Sports Attack, you’ll get a clear idea.
Understand what you want from the machine and purchase accordingly. Just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it’ll serve your needs.
Automated or Manual- What’s Better?
If you don’t mind manning the machine, there’s no harm in using something manual like the Louisville Slugger Blue Flame. I think manual machines are perfect to train youngsters. Coaches have to monitor the drills of little leaguers. So, a manual machine gives you the added incentive of being there.
Plus, with a manual pitching machine, there’s no extra cost. Usually, automated machines need a portable generator or battery packs. Almost always none of these power sources are included with the machine. So, you have to spend some extra cash to get it going.
However, automated machines are comfortable and they have tons of options. You can’t get curveballs, splitters, or any advanced pitches from a manual machine. Also, automated pitching machines have higher speed settings.
And manning the manual machine for a long time can take a toll on your body. So, you get to choose – whether you want to shell out more money or use put your body on the line?
A few common questions about pitching machines answered by yours truly.
What pitching machines do MLB teams use?
There isn’t a specific answer. Any three-wheel machine is MLB-tier. The Hack Attack by Sports Attack is used by MLB teams. There’s also the Jugs BP3, the Rawlings Pro Line 3, and a ton of other incredible three-wheel pitching machines.
Are pitching machines worth it?
It’s debatable – but I think pitching machines are worth the money. Yes – if you’re not using it properly, you run the risk of getting into bad batting habits. But with a veteran coach by your side, the automated changeups will make sure you don’t train your muscles the wrong way. So, once you use the pitching machine correctly, it’s worth it.
Do professional baseball players use pitching machines?
Yes, they do. Back in the days when machines were simply overhyped ball shooters, pitching machines were looked down upon. But the story is different now. You can get changeups, curveballs, splitters, and so much pitch variation that it’s impossible to guess when the ball’s coming to you at what speed and swing. So yeah, thanks to the new and improved tech, professional players do use pitching machines.
How much is a pitching machine?
The price range of pitching machines is wild. In fact, the difference is so huge that people often get confused. Pitching machine prices go from $30 to $5000 – crazy, right? Anyways, a decent machine would cost around $1000-$2000. If you want a top-shelf machine, be prepared to dish out around $3000-$5000.
Hit Your Way to Victory
Pitching machines can help you improve your hitting fundamentals and advanced mechanics as well. However, it’s true that nothing beats the practice you get from a real pitcher. The thing is – you won’t always have a pitcher to tango with. That’s where the pitching machine comes in handy.
You just adjust the settings and go to town without the help of anyone. And if you’re a coach, youngsters have an easier time hitting machine balls. So, they become motivated to face real pitchers over time. So, time for recommendations. If you’re on a budget leash, you can try either the Jugs MVP Combo. If it’s still too expensive, take a look into the Louisville Slugger Blue Flame.