For ages, Sports Attack has been the go-to brand for people who want a top-tier pitching machine. Their pitching machines have a spot in most professional training centers.
The Hack Attack pitching machine by them has been widely regarded as a beast of a machine. And I have had the good fortune of playing around with one a while back.
However, the Junior Hack Attack is their humbler offering, giving you many of the same wonderful features at a much lower price tag. It is also focused more on a younger age group. But at the hands of an adept coach who knows what he is doing, this can be a fantastic tool to train young hitters and fielders.
If you’re struggling to get your Little League ballplayers into shape, the Hack Attack Junior can give them the push they need.
Even though it is cheaper than the standard Hack Attack, its sub-2000-dollar price tag is still going to take a swipe at your savings. So naturally, if you were to shell out this much money, you would want to know exactly what you are getting out of it. And that is where I come in.
I am going to share my experience with the Hack Attack Junior pitching machine review so that you can have a hands-on idea of everything that this machine brings to the table. So, you will be able to decide whether this machine is worth the big moolah or not.
Hack Attack Junior Pitching Machine Review : First Impressions
When I first got my Junior Hack Attack, having done extensive research on it beforehand, I was naturally a bit intimidated before opening it up. Assembling a pitching machine has never been my strong suit. So, I wasn’t really looking forward to putting together an advanced three-wheel machine.
However, thanks to the way all of it is arranged, it did not take me more than an hour to get it up and running.
Wheel-style pitching machines are almost always considered superior choices if you are trying to get a wide variety of pitches out of the device. But a single-wheel pitching machine is rarely enough for throwing breaking balls like curveballs and sliders.
With the three-wheel design of the Hack Attack Junior, you will be able to set it up to throw almost any pitches you would want. At this price range, finding a three-wheel pitching machine is hard enough. And when its performance is as good as this one, it seems like an absolute bargain.
Using the Hack Attack Junior is pretty straightforward. You get three separate speed knobs to control the pitching velocity and an elevation control lever to set the pitching height. You can also use an automatic ball feeder with the unit if you want a completely hands-free experience with it. There’s a reason I call it one of the top youth pitching machines. And you’re about to find out why.
Here is a closer look at some of the essential aspects of the Hack Attack Junior pitching machine.
The first thing that I want to talk about with any pitching machine is its accuracy. To me, that is the element that either makes or breaks your entire experience with a pitching machine. If the machine does not hit the strike zone after set up, there is absolutely no point in using it.
With the Hack Attack Junior, I had no complaints when it came to accuracy. Whether I used it to throw curveballs, sliders, or knuckleballs, the ball consistently hit the target zone after leaving the wheel of the machine. Sure, there was a small bit of deviation, but that is not a bad thing.
Because of the slight deviation of the ball’s trajectory after each pitch, you could simulate the feel of playing against real pitchers. This will allow you to teach your hitters how to adjust their strike and also teach them to look at the travel of the ball to hit their mark successfully.
The Hack Attack Junior pitching machine is also one of the most versatile options out there at this price range. Its three-wheel design is what makes it such a fantastic option. You can pitch a wide variety of balls with this pitching machine – something you can never do with a one- or two-wheeler.
On the speed chart that the manufacturers conveniently attached to the body, you can find the wheel adjustments settings for seven different types of pitches. They are fastball, right-handed curveballs, left-handed curveballs, left-handed sliders, right-handed sliders, split fingers, and knuckleballs.
However, you can also experiment with the three knobs to get a lot more flexibility in pitching with the machine. Again, the speed chart serves as a helpful guide. But if you are willing to mess around, this pitching machine gives you plenty of options right at your fingertips.
Pitching velocity might not be the most important thing when you are buying a pitching machine, but it still holds some importance, especially if you are working with young players. With the Hack Attack Junior, your maximum velocity caps out at 60 miles per hour, which is pretty respectable.
You can use lighter plastic balls if you want to throw faster pitches with the machine. Personally, though, I felt the 70 miles speed cap gives you enough velocity to work with, especially if you are working with newbie players. And up to 14-year-old, most pitchers would still struggle to pitch past 60. Even high-school kids average out at 75-85 MPH.
Plus, I could always set it up closer to the hitter if I want a higher relative pitching speed.
For best results, however, the manufacturers recommend setting up the machine about 43 feet away from the hitter. At that distance, you will be able to throw any sort of pitches at the perfect velocity. And because of the three-wheel design, the hitter will be able to properly trace and react to the movement of the ball through the machine.
Note: However, pitching speed is the Achilles heel of the Hack Attack Junior. It’s not the maximum or minimum speed. It’s the *settings*. Basically, you have 9 different speed settings. However, the true pitching speed of each setting isn’t mentioned anywhere. So, you can switch between them any time you want – but you won’t know what the ACTUAL speed is at any given moment. That’s a major design defect. You have two options left A) calculate the velocity using a speed gun and B) get a feel for the speed by A/B split testing. I hope by the time you’re reading this – Sports Attack fixed this issue, and all is right with the world!
Having the option to adjust different features of the pitching machine while setting it up is definitely handy. But the Hack Attack Junior takes it one step further by giving you unprecedented control over the different settings without having to stop and reset the machine.
You will be able to control the pitch elevation and also the pitch type while the wheels on the machine are running. This gives you the ability to keep your players on their toes and lets you introduce a new level of flexibility in setting up drills for your hitters.
So, your hitters won’t become susceptible to bad hitting habits because of repetitive pitches. You can always add more variety – surprise your hitters – keep them engaged and focused – and get the most out of the drills.
Not only does it open up a lot of possibilities for the hitters, but it also allows you greater flexibility in setting up defensive drills. You will be able to keep two or more of your fielders engaged at once because of how easily you can switch between ground balls, fly balls, or line drives.
The quality of the frame is always an important factor to consider whenever you are buying a high-end pitching machine. If the frame is not made well, you will not get a lot of use out of it. Nobody wants their pitching machine to break down after a couple of months of use.
Thankfully, the Junior Hack Attack frame is made of sturdy materials giving it a strong foundation. There is virtually no recoil between each shot, meaning each pitch will be on target. The ball is gripped between three contact points, which further improves its throwing accuracy.
The frame also pivots instantly for pop-ups, and you can set the elevation to fire flyballs up to 250 feet high. You also get a conversion kit included with your purchase that lets you set it up to fire softballs. The quality of the frame is pretty much the same as what you would get with the standard Hack Attack (something I’ve covered extensively in a separate article.
The Hack Attack Junior can work with almost any pitching machine balls out there. You can easily set it up to throw baseballs or softballs with the help of the conversion kit included with your purchase. It can also throw regulation baseballs or softballs, though I would strongly advise against that.
With a total weight of around 75 pounds, the Hack Attack Junior pitching machine is not exactly lightweight. However, it is still lighter than a lot of the other pitching machines out there. Since it comes with built-in transportation wheels, you can easily reposition it around the field. So, the weight really doesn’t matter because you don’t have to carry it anyways.
Is the Hack Attack Junior Worth the Money?
The Hack Attack Junior is one of the sought-after pitching machines out there, and I have used it extensively over the course of my career as a coach. It offers a lot of training flexibility because of how versatile it is. As long as the money is not an issue, this is a fantastic option out there.
The three-wheel design of the Hack Attack Junior gives you access to a lot of different pitching variations. In addition, the ability to pivot or send high flyballs within moments is also a good feature to have.
However, even though it is a cheaper option than the standard Hack Attack, it still demands quite a bit of investment.
If you are going for the absolute lowest investment possible, something like the Black Flame Louisville Slugger might be more to your liking.
But when trying to maximize value out of the investment, it is hard to beat what the Hack Attack Junior offers. So, you end up choosing between giving your little leaguers the most intensive hitting and fielding drills or a simple no-variety machine to get them in the groove.
I’m not saying that getting the Hack Attack Junior will somehow magically turn all the young ballplayers into Babe Ruth. But this machine can surely guide them – train them – prepare them – for what’s to come. Cheers!