9 Best Pitching Machines | April 2017

We spent 30 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. We all know that practice makes perfect and, once the game is over, the training continues. You can improve your swing, timing, strength and confidence with one of these pitching machines. They are ideal for individual or team practice and enable all sluggers to work on fast balls, curve balls, sliders and split fingers. Skip to the best pitching machine on Amazon.
9 Best Pitching Machines | April 2017
Overall Rank: 4
Best Mid-Range
★★★★
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
★★★★★
Overall Rank: 9
Best Inexpensive
★★★
9
The Franklin Sports Batter and Fielder is a decent training aid for beginners wanting to put in some hours at home or at the park. The ball feeder can hold up to nine balls for maximum efficiency, but you'll need to buy an upgrade once he's ready to hit hard balls.
  • includes ground stakes for stability
  • four different practice settings
  • pitches can be erratic at times
Brand Franklin Sports
Model 14071
Weight 4.9 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0
8
Get ready for the game each week with the versatile BSN Bulldog. It features baseball and softball combination pitching at speeds from 30-60 mph, and can run on 110-volt AC power or a 1/4-horsepower generator, depending on where you decide to set up practice.
  • single-hand-fed operation
  • heavy-duty urethane wheel
  • beats up balls after a while
Brand SSG
Model BBDOG1XX
Weight 48.5 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
7
With its powerful 1/8 horsepower motor, durable steel tripod stand and nylon-fiberglass housing, the Heater Sports PowerAlley Pro can keep up with the most intense training sessions. It delivers real baseball speeds up to 45mph and accuracy you can count on with every use.
  • rubber feet for added stability
  • comes with one dimple ball
  • good for those on a tight budget
Brand Trend Sports
Model HEAS1021
Weight 13.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
6
The Jugs Lite-Flite is a great value considering its features and price point. It can simulate left or right-handed pitchers and the base can swivel 360 degrees to get you ready for real-life situations. When your training is done, it stores away in a rugged carrying case.
  • can throw baseballs and softballs
  • quick and easy assembly
  • must purchase a battery separately
Brand Jugs
Model M6000
Weight 41.2 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0
5
The Zooka ZS740 is powered by batteries and gives you versatility in pitch speeds from 10-70 mph. It can throw leather baseballs, tennis balls, dimple balls and more, plus the electronic screen makes it easy to keep track of each pitch speed.
  • audible and visual pitching alerts
  • reliable and consistent throws
  • simple to calibrate the strike zone
Brand Zooka
Model 10000-00X
Weight 45 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0
4
The First Pitch Baseline is a high-quality choice ideal for backyard batting practice or as a training aid for youth teams. Its rugged, heavy-duty construction can withstand the training of serious athletes for years to come.
  • good for fly ball practice
  • includes a five-year warranty
  • equipped with a full-size tire
Brand First Pitch
Model 713651406014
Weight 57.7 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0
3
If money is no object, check out the Jugs Junior to get your team ready for the majors. It has a patented delivery system, so you always know where the ball is going, and a non-marking pneumatic tire that won't damage your balls with regular use.
  • comes as a set of two
  • ideal for players up to 15 years old
  • has a wide and stable stance
Brand Jugs
Model M1400
Weight 84.8 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0
2
The Louisville Slugger Blue Flame proves you don't have to spend a fortune to improve your game. It pitches with consistency and reliability throw after throw, allowing hitters to increase accuracy, sharpen muscle memory and improve swing mechanics.
  • no batteries or electricity required
  • throws regulation balls up to 45 mph
  • lightweight stabilizer bar
Brand Louisville Slugger
Model L60111
Weight 23.2 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0
1
With its three-wheel design and three speed knobs, the versatile Sports Attack Junior Hack is the ultimate machine to practice like a pro. It throws line drives, pop-ups, knuckles, curve balls and even fastballs at an impressive 70 mph.
  • simple to adjust the pitch height
  • fits into compact cars for transport
  • great for team drills
Brand Sports Attack
Model B-JHABA
Weight 96 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

To Throw Or Not To Throw: That Is The Question

A pitching machine may seem detrimental to playing a game like baseball that involves many natural movements and instincts. But imagine that you're a pitcher for a major league baseball team and you have to prepare for practices on a daily basis. While it's important to develop your game and familiarity with different types of pitches, how do you prevent arm fatigue or injury from setting in before you've even stepped foot onto the field for an actual game?

Now imagine that you're up to bat and ready to hit one out of the park during a practice, but the pitcher is too tired to throw the ball with enough accuracy and speed to meet its mark and give you the best chance to hit the ball when it's in the strike zone. In either situation, a pitching machine can be a great help for preventing fatigue and ensuring an improved degree of in-game accuracy for the batter.

A pitching machine automatically delivers the ball to a batter in a variety of styles and speeds. The two most common types of pitching machines are the arm and circular wheel machines. With its overhand motion, the arm-action machine uses a bracket to mimic the natural movements of a live pitcher as he throws the ball to the plate. With its 1-3 wheels that spin in much the same way bike tires do, the circular wheel machine can be set up either vertically or horizontally, and allows the baseball to shoot out directly towards the hitter after being fed through its spinning wheels. The more wheels available on the machine, the easier it is to adjust it to mimic the different pitching styles.

Pitching machines accomplish several goals, including giving a batter the freedom to practice on their own. Many pitching machines are also set up within indoor or outdoor batting cages so that the hitter can teach their muscles to recognize patterns over time and through repetition of movement, while focusing on their skill without having to involve other members of the team. Think of a pitching machine as an extra coach. While the machine doesn't replace the live coach, it does assist in honing and developing one's skill over time.

The pitching machine supports a range of skill levels, including youth, high school, collegiate, and professional leagues. For youth leagues, it's a safe and effective training tool to familiarize young players with routine on the field. Pitches up to 50 mph are usually sufficient for those starting out. Portability and lightweight design are also important when traveling to different practice locations.

For the remaining skill levels, speed and variety are important as players develop their abilities and become more clever in their approach than at the basic level. Lite ball and combo pitching machines have also gained popularity with both baseball and softball players. The lite ball machine is more heavily focused on developing one's swing and hand-eye coordination through the use of lightweight balls, whereas the combo machines include detachable legs and adjustable plates to be used for both baseball and softball purposes.

The Right Pitch For A Homerun

Speed and accuracy will assist you in investing in the right pitching machine. For professional players, a top speed of 100+ mph is pretty close to what you'd actually experience from a real pitcher on the baseball diamond. That's valuable to have, but make sure the speed is adjustable.

While baseball is a game of speed and precision, using a pitching machine only for its speed won't reflect a real-life, in-game experience. Strategy is equally important, so the machine must have a useful targeting system for training the batter to recognize pitch types and understand how best to approach the swing. Although a batter isn't going to have much time to stop and think about a 100-mph pitch, the machine can help to train their eye to recognize a pitch and develop an instinct to hit the ball appropriately when the time comes.

Professional-quality, multi-wheel models also have adjustable legs, pitch angle controls, pivoting heads, and throwing wheel dials for programming the unit to deliver a variety of pitch styles ideal for hitting fly balls, ground balls, and pop-ups.

A Brief History Of The Pitching Machine

The original pitching machine was invented in 1897 by Charles Howard Hinton, a mathematics instructor and science fiction writer at Princeton University. While its gunpowder-fueled power raised concern for its safety level with players, it was still capable of throwing pitches at variable speeds to mimic realistic field scenarios. Hinton also introduced the device to the University of Minnesota where he worked as an assistant professor until 1900.

The arm-type pitching machine was designed by Paul Giovagnoli in 1952. Its use of a metal arm mounted to a large gear would simulate the motions of a real pitcher. The mass production of this design began in 1976, with the founding of Master Pitching Machine.

Over the course of several decades, the pitching machine became more sophisticated and attuned to different pitching styles. With sophistication also came the ability to propel a baseball in different ways, including by mechanized arms, using compressed air for additional speed, and spinning wheels. These different techniques get players accustomed to those kinds of pitches they are likely to see in the game so that they're ready for almost anything.



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Last updated on April 26 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.