Consistent timed delivery allows for rhythm in practice. Easy assembly. Extremely reliable and durable.
On the more expensive end of the spectrum, but you are paying for construction quality and durability.
Throws anything from hardballs to volleyballs. Batteries or electricity not required. Sturdy and solid. Anchors easily.
Assembly instructions are confusing. Handle is prone to failure.
Compact and easy to assemble machine lobs balls at 10-second intervals. Indicator light and height adjustment are nice features.
The machine only works well with after-market balls. Accuracy is an issue if machine is not steady.
Stable pedestal allows for hitting and fielding practice. Generates plenty of velocity. Is well-rated for younger children.
Occasionally inaccurate and inconsistent. Feels cheap and is made with a lot of plastic. Balls are flimsy.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
For many baseball and softball players, perfecting their hitting mechanics and timing is one of the most frustrating parts of the sport. That’s why a pitching machine can be such an effective training tool. It allows you to react to sharp, consistent pitches, so you can work on all aspects of your game as a hitter.
But not all pitching machines are the same. You need to know what type of machine to get, as well as ball type, pitch speeds, and other features the machine should have to really help you become a successful hitter. The wide variety of pitching machines on the market can make choosing the right one a serious challenge.
Here at BestReviews, our goal is to take the frustration and confusion out of shopping. We don’t accept promotional products, which means you never have to worry about our recommendations being biased. We discuss the product categories we’re evaluating with trusted experts and consumers to figure out what features are most important, and then we run some of the top contenders through field testing to get an even better sense of how they perform. That means we’re able to provide you with all the facts you need to make shopping a breeze.
Ready to choose a pitching machine? Consider our top five recommendations in the product list above. If you want general pointers on shopping for a pitching machine, continue reading our shopping guide.
A pitching machine is a device that automatically throws balls for the purpose of batting practice and hitting drills. As a result, most pitching machines are geared toward baseball and softball players, though some machines can also accommodate other balls, such as soccer balls or volleyballs, for drills related to those sports. There are several different types of pitching machines to consider.
This is the most common style of pitching machine. It features an arm that rotates to pitch the ball to the batter. This type of machine is the one most often used by professional hitters because it allows the hitter to see the ball for a longer period, which can help with timing.
However, these machines can only throw fastballs. They also can be hard to move and tend to be more expensive.
This type features one to three wheels that spin in order to throw the ball at the batter. The more wheels, the more types of pitches the machine can throw, such as fastballs, curveballs, and sliders.
This type of machine is easy to move and store, but it doesn’t usually offer the same top speeds as armed models. This type is usually less expensive than armed pitching machines.
This pitching machine is completely manual. When the lever is pulled, the springs propel the ball to the hitter. This type of machine doesn’t allow for different types of pitches, so it works best for younger players.
Spring-loaded models require a second person to feed balls to the machine and pull the lever. This type of pitching machine is fairly inexpensive.
This type of pitching machine pushes air through the device so a strong spring can then pitch the ball to the batter. Like a spring-loaded model, some compressed air pitching machines require a second person to press the button to pitch the ball.
These pitching machines are highly portable and usually battery operated, so they can be used anywhere.
Consistent Pitches: With a pitching machine, the pitches always come at the hitter at the same angle, so you always get good pitches to hit.
Specific Speeds: A pitching machine allows you to set the velocity of the pitches, which you can’t always do if a coach or friend pitches to you.
Accurate Location: A pitching machine can send pitches over specific locations on the plate, which is nearly impossible with live batting practice.
Improved Mechanics: Because a pitching machine delivers accurate pitches, specific speeds, and accurate locations, you can concentrate on your mechanics when you bat. This means you can pay attention to whether you’re turning and squaring your hips properly as you swing.
For the most versatility, you should be able to adjust the pitching machine height (to accommodate hitters of all ages), flight angle, and throwing distance in order to use the machine for defensive drills in addition to batting practice. On many machines, you simply turn a knob to adjust the height, distance, or flight angle, allowing for fast, user-friendly operation.
It’s important to consider the type of balls that are compatible with a pitching machine before you purchase it. Some machines only work with practice balls, while others work only with regulation baseballs or softballs. You’ll need to invest in a large number of practice balls to start with, but they typically last longer than baseball or softballs.
You can also find some pitching machines that work with volleyballs and soccer balls, which may be helpful if you want to use the device to help train for multiple sports.
Most pitching machines can throw the balls at a various speeds, but they have a maximum speed, which is important to consider before buying.
A machine with a maximum of 45 miles per hour is usually sufficient for Little Leaguers and other youth players.
A machine with a maximum speed of 75 miles per hour or more is suitable for high school and college players.
A machine that allows for both slowpitch and fastpitch play is suitable for softball players.
Some machines have different maximum speeds depending on the type of ball that is used. Because regulation softballs and baseballs are heavier than practice balls, the machine may not be able to throw them as hard.
For the most comprehensive batting practice, it’s important to choose a pitching machine that can throw all the pitches you want to work on. All models can throw fastballs. There are even some machines that can throw screwballs and knuckleballs. However, many don’t throw curveballs or sliders. You’ll pay more for a machine that can throw a greater variety of pitches, but experienced players often consider it worth the investment.
Automatic pitching machines pitch balls at certain intervals, so hitters can practice batting on their own. The machines can pitch a ball every seven to 15 seconds, but the frequency usually isn’t adjustable.
An automatic pitching machine throws balls at high speed, which can be dangerous. If the batter isn’t ready for a pitch, it’s easy to get injured. Look for a model that has some type of indicator light or other means of alerting the batter that a ball is about to be pitched.
Pitching machines vary greatly in price based on the type of machine, what skill level the machine is designed for, how fast it pitches, and the types of pitches it throws. In most cases, you can expect to pay from $30 to $3,500.
Beginner Youth Machines: A low-speed automatic pitching machine that throws only fastballs and is suitable for new Little Leaguers and other young players usually costs between $30 and $75.
Advanced Youth Machines: A mid-speed automatic or manual pitching machine that throws only fastballs and is suitable for advanced Little Leaguers and other older youth players usually costs between $75 and $200.
High School/College Machines: A mid- to high-speed automatic or manual pitching machine that throws fastballs and curveballs and is suitable for high school and college students usually costs between $200 and $500.
Q. Can pitching machines be used for both softball and baseball practice?
A. It depends on the model you choose. Some machines are designed for both softball and baseball pitching, while others are meant solely for one sport or the other. It’s important to consider your needs and select a model with product specifications that explicitly state it can be used for the type(s) of pitching you need.
Q. What types of balls work best in a pitching machine?
A. Some pitching machines are only compatible with practice softballs and/or baseballs, which are lighter and may have a textured surface. Other machines only work with regulation softballs and/or baseballs. Some machines can use both practice balls and regulation softballs or baseballs. In that case, it’s a matter of personal preference.
Some hitters like using regulations balls in a pitching machine because practice can better mimic actual game play. But practice balls are usually less expensive. They can also be thrown more consistently by a pitching machine. Whatever you decide, use balls that are all the same type and in the same condition to make sure that the pitches are as consistent as possible.
Q. What age should kids be when they start practicing with a pitching machine?
A. In general, children under the age of six shouldn’t practice with a pitching machine. For extremely young hitters, it’s best to use a tee or let the coach throw the pitches for practice.