Complete Guide to Age Appropriate Baseball Pitching Machines


Key Points

  • Pitching machines can be used in batting practices to improve a hitter’s hand-eye coordination, timing and bat control
  • Most pitching machines can also be used to conduct fielding drills
  • Price is a good indicator of available features, quality and durability
  • In-depth review of critical factors that should be considered prior to making a purchase
  • List of recommended pitching machines for the 2021 season

Main Table of Contents

Introduction

Before making a purchase, you need to first think about where your child is in their “career”. Are they just starting out with T-ball or have they been playing for few years? Are they excited about practicing and can’t wait until next game?

As a father and coach, I have purchased and maintained many pitching machines for my league as well as for personal use over the years. Matter of fact, I still own Louisville Blue Flame, ATEC Rookie Baseball and Hack Attack Jr machines), I can help you to:

  • Understand the purpose of a pitching machine
  • Explain why you may or may not want to train your child with it
  • Suggest an age appropriate pitching machine for your child

What is a pitching machine?

A pitching machine is a mechanical device that throws a baseball (or softball) to a batter.

The very first pitching machine was developed as a gun-powder driven machine called “baseball gun” by Princeton University’s math professor Charles Hinton in 1897

At first, Hinton tried using a catapult design but realized it “…failed altogether in point of accuracy of aim” and was incapable of throwing a curve. He goes on to say that “….it then occurred to me that practically whenever men wished to impel a ball with velocity and precision, they drove it out of a tube with powder.”

With this realization, he devised a machine that was even scarier to face than Aroldis Chapman’s 100 mph+ fastballs: a breach loading smoothbore cannon!

Some historians say that after a few Princeton players got injured by this machine, it was soon discarded along with Hinton who was supposedly dismissed from the university.

Despite the initial failure, pitching machines quickly went through design iterations in the early 1900’s, resulting in two distinct types that are commonly found today:

  • One and two-wheel machines (officially called the “Automatic Baseball Pitching Machine”) were patented by Bartley Marty in 1916
  • Rotating metal arm machine was designed by Paul Giovagnoli in 1952
baseball-pitching-machine-marty-1916-sm-fl
baseball-pitching-machine-giovagnoli-1952-sm-fl

Pitching machine is somewhat controversial in that many baseball traditionalists believe the use of it will be detrimental to batter’s growth because of a lack visual cues from facing a live arm in game situations.

Other folks (including me) believe that if used properly, a pitching machine can be very helpful to quickly develop a batter’s hand-eye coordination and bat control through repetitive hitting sessions (but the actual batting mechanics will still require a batting tee and a coach).

Why do I need (or want) it?

Over the course of many years, I see two things that are consistently repeated:

  • Coach’s lack of pitch control ends up (unintentionally) hitting their kids (i.e. bean balls)
  • Frustrated young batters who simply are not getting enough good, hittable pitches from their coaches (this problem gets worse as kids move up to playing on larger fields, including playing on a big field, a.k.a. 60’x90′; if you want to learn more about different size fields, read my post Complete Guide to Baseball Field Layout).

I implore you to honestly assess your skills in the next section to see if you NEED to buy a pitching machine for your child.

Coach Pitching

For those of you with kids who have not yet played in the 6-7 year old division, this is where the fun begins for kids when they start to swinging their bats with coaching pitching from about 25-30 feet away (on his knee).

Unfortunately, this is also where some players develop a bad habit of upper cutting their bats before making contact with the ball.

Although coaches throw baseballs overhand, the trajectory of the ball is more akin to slow-pitch softball with high arcs.

A decision to buy a pitching machine for your child has a lot to do with your own abilities as a parent and/or coach and the amount of spare time that you can dedicate to training of coaching your child/team:

  • Can you consistently locate your pitches (i.e. inside, outside, high, middle, low)?
  • Do you have a full command and control of your pitches (i.e. curveballs, sinkers, sliders, etc.)?
  • Are you able to throw pitches from the mound (i.e. actual pitching distance used in your child’s games)?
  • Are you physically able to throw hundreds of pitches per practice session?
  • Are you able to simulate game speed pitches?

If you are in your 30’s and you played baseball in high school or college, you probably answered “yes” to most of these questions and don’t need a pitching machine (yet)

However, if you answered “no” to many of these questions, you should definitely considering buying one for your child.

How Good Is YOUR Bat Control?

Another aspect of a dad/coach is that your child needs to practice being an infielder AND outfielder.

If you (still) have a good bat control, you can “fungo” baseballs (i.e. hit grounders, line drives, pop-up flyballs, etc.) but like pitching, most coaches are not consistent hitters, resulting in wasted time.

I pride myself as being a decent hitter but when I turned 45, I developed a wicked lower back pain after each practice session (I usually hit around 10-15 buckets of baseballs).

To compensate, I started to adjust my hitting forms slightly and before I knew it, my usual my crisp grounders turned into a dribble, solid line drives started to look more like bloopers and deep pop-up flys that consistently hooked/shanked into foul territory. Needless to say, I wasted a quiet a bit of time until I started using my ATEC Rookie machine.

Training to be a catcher?

Oddly enough, buying a pitching machine will benefit greatly if your child wants to be a catcher!

TIP

Becoming a catcher is a great way to play into the upper level baseball (i.e. high school and college) because not too many kids want to play this position.

In order to become a proficient catcher, they need to train for fast reaction time, block baseballs in the dirt and catch popup flyballs.

One of the most difficult task for young catchers is catching Pop-ups in foul territory. These towering balls tend to have extremely high backspins which will cause a ball to “banana curve”) on the way down. It is very common for young catchers to misjudge and not catch these foul balls so they need many hours of practice (there is a reason why big league catchers practice this everyday).

You can try to fungo these foul balls but it is extremely difficult to induce that kinds of backspin on purpose (and demand)

On the contrary, it is very easy for your do all these types of drills with a properly equipped pitching machine (and eliminate a lot of stress on your lower back!).

The Bottom Line

If you are a coach, and you do not have a good command and control of your pitches and/or good fungo skills, having a pitching machine will be like having an experienced assistant.

By alleviating your workload, you can focus on providing instructions and save your lower back and throwing arm. I can confirm from my own experience that your child will be happier!

Word of Caution

  • You must vary the pitching speed to hone your child’s timing; throwing consistent speed pitch after pitch will trap your child into being a great batting practice hitter but a poor hitter in game situations
  • Pitching machine is NOT a toy and can cause serious injury. That means you cannot leave it with youngsters to operate on their own.

Types of Pitching Machines

There are three types of pitching in the market today:

Manually Operated Pitching Machines

Manual pitching machines are great for kids who are just learning to play baseball.

Constructed from a metal frame and powered by heavy-duty springs, manual pitching machines usually weigh around 15-25 pounds so it is fairly easy to move around, although you will need a larger vehicle as the unit is not designed to be disassembled prior to transport.

Most manually operated pitching machines can easily pitch baseballs, softballs and a wide range of other balls.

You can set the speed range for hard balls to anywhere between 18 mph and 45 miles per hour, accommodating hitters with different challenge requirements.

When throwing lighter-weight balls, such as softballs or plastic balls, the machine can throw at speeds all the way up to 60 miles per hour.

They are by far the lightest machines when compared to battery- and electrically-powered machines.

PROS

  • Can throw any types of balls that will fit in a ball holder (cradle)
  • Easy to operate with no complex adjustments
  • Batter can see the ball from cradle to launch, allowing players to develop timing
  • Least expensive of all pitching machines

CONS

  • Can only throw 20-45 mph from limited distance
  • Inconsistent pitches depending on balls and seam position
  • Limited types of pitches (mostly fastballs and some sinkers)
  • Needs a person to feed and release the balls
  • Awkward to use with L-screen protection

^ Return to Types of Pitching Machines


Battery-Powered Pitching Machines

A battery-powered pitching machine is designed to operate with a battery first and foremost with option to plug into an outlet.

Electric motor driven pitching machine can also run off of battery packs but these batteries are expensive and heavy so they are not discussed in this section. Instead, they will be covered in the latter section.

Machines in this category tends to be heavier than the manually operated pitching machines but sill lighter than most electric motor pitching machines.

Some can only throw baseball sized balls (Zooka) and some can only throw plastic or wiffle balls (MaxBP).

PROS

  • Easier to transport than a regular, electrically powered pitching machines
  • Can throw up to 60+ mph
  • No exposed moving parts (safer to operate with young children around)
  • Consistent pitch location (with the use of tripods)
  • Easy to operate with no complicated setup adjustments

CONS

  • Practice time limited to couple of hours per battery charge
  • Ball is hidden before launch (no visual cues)
  • Can only pitch fastballs (no breaking pitches)
  • Most pitching machine in this category need a person to feed the balls (unless self-feeder attachment is used)

^ Return to Types of Pitching Machines


Electric Motor Powered Pitching Machines: Non-portable

Non-portable machines like “Iron Mike” are very large, bulky and super heavy so they are pretty much a set-and-do-not-move type of machines.

I probably would include the two-wheel Jugs pitching machines as being non-portable because this thing is an absolute beast to transport in a car and set up on the field (maybe one can classify it as being portable only if you have to move less 50 feet from a storage shed to the mound?)

The current Iron Mike Pitching Machine design closely matches the patented design by Giovagnoli I mentioned earlier in the post.

Found mostly in commercial batting cages (though I have known few people who installed in their backyards), it is a favorite machine used by high schools, colleges and MLB teams because it is the only machine that simulates the throwing style of a pitcher’s arm.

PROS

  • Arm-style throwing action allows batters to work on their timing from release point
  • A large hoper holds 600+ balls allows continuous BP session before balls must be picked up
  • Can practice alone (w remote)

CONS

  • Can only throw fastballs
  • Large, bulky, heavy so it is not practical to transport
  • Must use dimpled training balls which may void your composite bat warranty
  • Must buy a different hand to throw fast pitch softball

^ Return to Types of Pitching Machines

Electric Motor Powered Pitching Machines: Portable

This category is where the bulk of pitching machines belong so there are lots of manufacturers competing in this crowded space.

Everything from from one wheel to three wheels, to tires to rubber wheel pitching machines are available.

One-wheel Pitching Machines

One-wheel pitching machines are usually the least expensive ones you can buy out of one, two, three wheel pitching machines.

They consists of a single wheel (tires or composite rubber) and a guide to place the ball into contact with the wheel. Some units have a short tunnel or chute to increase the accuracy of the ball , others just shoot the ball upon contact.

The quality of a tire or rubber determines the pitch accuracy (and they are expensive to replace) so it is worthwhile to pay attention to this part.

Single wheel pitching machines are very easy to setup and use but they usually can only throw fastballs and in certain models, curveballs and sliders (though not really accurate)

How Can a Single Wheel Pitching Machine throw breaking Pitches?

In order for breaking pitches like curveballs and sliders to work, a baseball must be thrown with a high rate of spin. Two and three wheels pitching machines accomplish this by spinning wheels at different speeds. So how can a single wheel induce this spin?

Few machines like BATA-1 and JUGS Lite-Flite can throw breaking pitches by following these steps:

1) First invert the friction plate and wheel assembly (spinning wheel positioned on top and a stationary friction plate positioned on the bottom)

2) The entire assembly is pivoted left or right to simulate a left handed or right handed pitcher

3) When a ball is inserted into a chute, the rotating wheel on top will create a topspin on the ball

4) Increased rotational speed on a ball combined with pivoted angle can produce curveballs and sliders

Just keep in mind that breaking pitches produced by a single wheel pitching machine will not be as effective as or accurate as those thrown by two- or three-wheel pitching machines

For more detailed information, you can watch a BATA-1 setup video here (external link to YouTube)


Two-wheel Pitching Machines

Most quality machines in this category uses two-motor setup which increases the overall weight, limiting portability and increasing setup time.

One benefit over the single wheel pitching machines is that two wheels allow you to vary the rotation speed of a ball.

That means it can better simulate curveballs and sliders and can also produce more breaking pitching variety (i.e. verhand curveballs, side arm curveballs, left-hand/right hand slider).


Three-wheel Pitching Machines

Three-wheel pitching machines is very popular with middle school, high school, college and professional ball players.

The primary benefit of having three wheels is the pitching machine’s ability to throw a complete arsenal of pitches (fastballs, split fastballs, sinkers, curveballs, sliders, knuckle balls).

All three-wheel machines come with composite rubber wheels so the size is not much bigger than two, rubber wheel pitching machines.

^ Return to Types of Pitching Machines

Factors to Consider Before Making a Purchase

A decision to buy a pitching machine should not be done haphazardly. You need to carefully identify your child’s skills and your willingness to spend time and money.

So consider these factors in mind before making a purchase:

  • New or used?
  • Manual or electric?
  • Needs vs wants
  • Budget constraints
  • Durability and Warranty

New Pitching Machines vs Used Pitching Machines

You can score some fantastic deals buying used pitching machines from Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, OfferUp, eBay (local pickup), etc. but it will take time to find one and you need to know enough to separate junk machines from good ones.

If you just want have to own one right now, buying a new is the best way to go.

What to Watch Out for When Buying a Used Pitching Machine

Before handing over your hard-earned cash, I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to personally test the machine, ideally out on the field.

If you have never used a pitching machine before, it will be helpful to bring along someone who has used a similar machine (ask around your local baseball league).

I would NOT recommend that you purchase a used pitching machine from eBay, unless you are doing the local pick up (no shipping).

If you don’t know of anyone, here are some things to watch out for:

  • Examine the wheel (solid rubber) – besides the motor, a wheel on a pitching machine is the next most expensive item to replace.
    • The rubber surface should be relatively clean; if it has lots of white streaks (from using synthetic baseballs), it means the owner really did not take good care of his machine.
    • Also examine the are between the rubber and wheel for any gaps (delamination problem).
    • Rotate the wheel by hand to see if there are any wobbles (damaged from being dropped)
    • With a bright flashlight, check the rubber wheels from top and side to detect any cracks or missing chunks of rubber (rubber may have a dry rot and is about to fail)
  • Examine the wheel (pneumatic tire) – pneumatic tires are mostly found on JUGS machines. Unlike solid wheels, these pneumatic tires must have correct tire pressure work (usually around 17-20 psi). Over- or under inflating the tire can severely damage the tire.
    • With the tire properly inflated (check with a tire pressure gauge), press down on the middle of the tire with your thumb. The tire should depress slightly and you should feel the thickness of the tire wall (thin tire means it has been scuffed up many times and it should be replaced)
    • I’ve seen lot of these units sitting outside with plastic cover so check to make sure that dry rot has not set in.
  • Examine the wheel (friction discs) – friction discs were mostly used in the older ATEC Rookie machines
    • Check to make sure the inside of these friction wheels (contact points) do not have any rips, cracks or lots of build up (owner neglect)
    • Wheels should be fairly straight without too much “waviness” (wobbly discs will not throw accurately or very far)
  • Motors – if the motor(s) is weak, do not buy it. They are the most expensive items to replace on a pitching machine.
    • Bring a bucket full of balls that are recommended to be used with your pitching machine
    • From the mound, the machine should “pitch” various types of pitches at varying speeds; you should also crank up the speed to maximum and attempt to throw fastballs to see if the balls stay straight
    • For machines that can use real baseballs, fungo baseballs from the home plate to the outfields. Crank up the speed to max and see how far a ball can travel. On 46/60 or 50/70 fields (read my post Complete Guide to Baseball Field Layouts for more info), you should be able to reach outfield without any issues.
    • Listen to the machine when the balls are thrown. Any kind of funny sounding loud clank (recoil) or motor slowing down may mean the motor has a high mileage.

My ATEC Rookie Pitching Machine

I scored my used ATEC Rookie Baseball pitching machine and tripods from Craigslist on a cold day in November for $200 after looking it for one for about 3 months

The unit was bit worn down (made in 1982) so I replaced the friction discs ($100 for both) and it was as good as new (absolutely no trouble launching 300+ ft. pop flyballs).

You can read more about it in my post, Best Inexpensive Pitching Machine for Fielding Drills

Manually Operated or Electrically Powered Pitching Machine?

I own a manually-operated Louisville Blue Flame pitching machine (as well as bunch of others) so I know firsthand that the Blue Flame (or Black Flame with slightly higher pitching speeds) is awesome.

It’s very simple to transport and use right away on the field so if you kid is fairly young, this is the most logical machine to buy. After all, why splurge on an expensive, motorized machine when your kid doesn’t know if they want to play baseball or not?

However, if you have an older child who has been playing baseball for few years, you want to go directly to an electrically powered pitching machine.

Baseballs start to come off the bat lot quicker as they get older so you NEED to use an L-screen to protect yourself.

These manually-operated pitching machines are not really setup to be used in conjunction with an L-screen.

Needs vs Wants

No one needs a pitching machine even if you are not a good hitter or pitcher as a coach.

Like your child, you can practice and become proficient at throwing fastballs or fungo grounders and pop flys.

But if you want to help your child and your time is rather limited, buying a pitching machine can make a world of a difference.

Budget $$$ / Durability / Warranty

The axiom “you get what you paid for” seems to hold true when it comes to pitching machines.

Over the years, I and many other parents have owned many different brands and they all seems to have a common theme: an unknown brand with fancy marketing and “lifetime warranty” means nothing.

Many of these brands either disappear (so much for a lifetime warranty) or when they break, manufacturers do everything possible to NOT honor their warranty claims.

But does that mean you need to buy the most expensive pitching machine for your 8 year old child in anticipation of their middle school and high school baseball careers? My answer to that question is a big NO. By purchasing a piece of expensive equipment that your child is not ready only adds pressure to you and your child.

Most electrically powered pitching machine manufacturers offer 1 year warranty (some have 2 year warranty on wheels), excluding any damages caused by batted balls. Most are expected to last anywhere between 5-10 years with the expectation that wheels will need to be replaced at least once during this life time (depending on usage).

The only right thing to do for your child is to buy a machine that will stretch your child’s current ability and upgrade to more advanced pitching machine as your child advances to older leagues.

^ Return to the Main Table of Contents

Age Appropriate Pitching Machines

Now that we have a good idea of different types of pitching machines, let’s dive into specific pitching machines that are appropriate for your child’s age group. Just remember that if your child’s skills are more advanced than other kids in their age group, you probably should take a look at pitching machines for the older age bracket.

Ages 3 through 4 (Pre-Kindergarten)

At this young age, you want to absolutely make sure your child is having fun. No complicated batting mechanics. Just have some fun!

After “graduating” from hitting off a plastic tee, Franklin Sports MLB Kids Pitching Machine is a perfect way to stretch your kid’s ability by focusing on hitting a moving ball. The ball movement helps your child develop hand-eye coordination and timing.

On a side note, you can play an awesome catching game with your child. We used to turn our backs to each other with the device in the middle and when we heard the pop notice, we quickly turned around to see who can catch the ball. We didn’t catch too many because we were laughing so hard but it is a great way to bond with your child and improve their hand-eye coordination at the same time!!

Few things to remember:

  • Even if an adult smacks the ball, it doesn’t go further than 80-90 feet so it’s perfect for backyard use
  • If you have a small back yard, I recommend using it with practice hitting net and have some extra replacement balls on hand (ASIN # B07TXGXTG5)
  • The diameter on the included plastic bat is fairly narrow for this age group. I recommend substituting it with this one (Franklin Sports MLB ids Jumbo Plastic Bat, https://www.amazon.com/Franklin-Sports-Kids-Jumbo-Baseball/dp/B0007DHT7M/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=large+plastic+bat&qid=1616179735&s=toys-and-games&sr=1-1)

For service or warranty request, you can contact Franklin Sports at 781.344.1111 or 1.877.377.6787 or [email protected]

PROS

  • Fun way to move up and hit moving balls by themselves
  • Develops hand-eye coordination to prepare them for coach pitching
  • Perfect for backyard use (buy extra balls in advance)
  • Inexpensive

CONS

  • No AC adapter
  • Batteries drain quickly so use rechargeable batteries!

^ Return to the Age Appropriate Pitching Machines

Ages 4 through 5 (Kindergarten T-ball)

Now that your child has some experience under their belt hitting moving balls, it’s time to graduate to a pitched ball (although still considered to be a soft-toss / short toss) while still keeping it fun. I still recommend using a jumbo bat when hitting.

Unlike the previous model, Franklin Sports MLB Electronic Baseball Pitching Machine has a flashing indicator showing when the ball pitches. The height of this machine is adjustable which is great feature to vary pitching distance.

This unit uses the same extra replacement balls as the MLB Kids model (B07TXGXTG5)

PROS

  • Straight ball flight develops hand-eye coordination from a different angle
  • Can practice on their own
  • Perfect for backyard use (buy extra balls in advance)
  • Fairly inexpensive

CONS

  • No AC adapter
  • Batteries drain quickly so use rechargeable batteries!
  • Can use a longer ball ramp to hold additional balls

^ Return to the Age Appropriate Pitching Machines

Ages 6 through 8 (1st &2nd Graders)

If you see your child progressing above their peers, you may want consider using a manual pitching machine like the Louisville Blue Flame (pitch speed is approximately 18-45 mph) Black Flame (pitch speed is approximately 23-50 mph) pitching machines.

Either units are light (~25 pounds) so a person can easily transport it. You will need a large trunk space or have a minivan because the way the arm and the shield is fixed to the main frame, it takes up a lot of room.

Unless you like driving yourself bonkers by trying to figure out why the ball is randomly shooting all over the place, plan on replacing the spring every 2 years or so (every year if you are using it for your team under heavy practice schedule).

PROS

  • Easy to transport
  • Quick setup time
  • No electricity required
  • Consistent pitch speed
  • Moderately expensive (Blue Flame around $160; Black Flame around $200)

CONS

  • Spring may fail imperceptibly, resulting in inconsistent pitch locations
  • Pitching surface has to be flat
  • Must be able to drive stakes into the ground to stabilize the unit (or plan on using heavy buckets)
  • Awkward to operate in conjunction with an L-screen

Where to Buy?

Click here to check the latest availability and price on a Louisville Slugger Blue Flame Pitching Machine or a Louisville Slugger Black Flame Pitching Machine

^ Return to the Age Appropriate Pitching Machines

Ages 8 through 10 (third/fourth grades)

Kids in this age group are excited about anything motorized and that holds especially true for an electric motor pitching machines.

But you do not want to buy something that will intimate or scare your young players so I highly recommend JUGS Lite-Flite Machine that you can use for both baseball and softball

Used as a light weight pitching for honing swings of young ball players, it throws 9, 11 or 12 inch Lite-Flite baseballs and softballs as well as JUGS Bulldog polyballs, the machine can simulate speeds up to 85 mph at 25 feet pitching distance.

It can throw fastballs, left and right handed curveballs and sliders (must invert the unit so that the spinning wheel in on top).

Weighing at just 35 pounds, the unit is very easy to transport (legs need to be removed)

PROS

  • Easy to transport
  • Quick setup time
  • Consistent pitch speed
  • Least expensive at $450 when compared with two or three-wheel pitching machines
  • 2 year warranty

CONS

  • Cannot use regulation baseball or softball; also cannot use with JUGS dimpled balls as the motor cannot handle the weight of those balls
  • Need an outlet (or use with a battery pack)
  • Must be able to drive stakes into the ground to stabilize the unit (or plan on using heavy buckets)
  • Awkward to operate in conjunction with an L-screen

^ Return to the Age Appropriate Pitching Machines

Ages 11 through 12 (fifth / sixth grades)

If your child is still excited about playing baseball as they approach this age group, you need to start thinking ahead (most 12 year old players in a fall league play on big fields).

Ideally, that means you want to buy a pitching machine that is powerful enough to be used on both 50/70 and 60/90 fields.

99baseballs-pitching-machine-portable-three-wheels-hack-attack-jr-fl

I ended up purchasing a three-wheel Hack Attack Jr. pitching machine from SportsAttack.

Junior Hack Attack is actually a smaller version of Hack Attack machine used by colleges and MLB teams.

This thing is a solid beast packed in a small package, built right here in the USA. Although it requires a power source, it’s three wheel setup throws very accurately and switching from fastballs to curveballs is a simple task of adjusting three knobs.

You can read more about my personal experience with Junior Hack Attack pitching machine here ( LINK TBD)

PROS

  • Accurately throw various breaking pitches
  • Throws up to 70 mph (you can simulate a faster pitch by shrinking the pitching distance)
  • The unit sits on a swivel so it is very easy to fungo to different parts of a field
  • At 65 pounds, it’s fairly easy to transport
  • Pitching machine can be leveled using the angle adjusting screw
  • Can be used for both baseball / softball (with minor adjustment)
  • 2 year warranty on wheels and motors and 5 year warranty against defects and workmanship

CONS

  • Expensive (~$2,000+)
  • Needs on-site power source
  • Additional fungo wheel legs are expensive
  • Angling screw needs to be longer (to throw higher angled pop flys)

^ Return to the Age Appropriate Pitching Machines

Ages 13 through 15 (seventh / eight grades)

If you already own a Junior Hack Attack machine, you can continue to use it for this age bracket and do not have to buy a Spinball Wizard pitching machine.

If you are making your first purchase, I would bump up the budget a bit and buy a Spinball Wizard 2021 3 Wheel pitching machine.

This unit can throw the same types of pitches as a Junior Hack Attack machine but at higher speeds

Spinball Wizard machines are also built in USA and comes with a longer 5 year warranty

PROS

  • Accurately throw various breaking pitches
  • Throws up to 100 mph (you can simulate a faster pitch by shrinking the pitching distance)
  • The unit sits on a swivel so it is very easy to fungo to different parts of a field
  • 5 year warranty

CONS

  • Expensive (~$3,000+)
  • Needs on-site power source
  • Heavy at 120 pounds (not easy to transport)
  • No wheel protection

Where to Buy?

Click here to check the latest availability and price on Spinball Winzard 3 Wheel pitching machine


^ Return to the Age Appropriate Pitching Machines

Ages 16 through 18 (ninth / tenth/ eleventh / twelfth grades)

If you already own a Junior Hack Attack or Spinball Wizard pitching machines, you can continue to use it for players in this age group. You do not need to purchase another one!

If you are making your first purchase, I would bump up the budget a bit and buy an ATEC pinball Wizard 3 Wheel pitching machine.

The M3 pitching machine is the top dog in ATEC’s pitching machine produce line.

This thing is built from ground-up to train professional level baseball players.

It has a tradtitional 3-wheel design with an exposed ball ramp, providing excellent unobstructed view of a baseball from drop to pitch.

Due to high quality rubber, there is virtually no recoil when a ball is thrown. As is the case with most quality three wheel pitching machines, the ATEC M3 model throws fastballs and breaking pitches with speed up to 105 mph with pinpoint accuracy.

The M3 can be use with regulation baseball, foam balls or dimple balls depending on your unique training situation.

The M3 is compatible with leather, dimple and foam balls depending on what the training situation calls for or the location demands. It comes with a 5-year warranty and it designated as the Official Machine of Major League Baseball.

PROS

  • Accurate pitch location for both fastballs and breaking pitches
  • Quick recovery
  • Consistent pitch speed
  • Pitch speed up to 105 mph
  • 5 year warranty

CONS

  • Very expensive ($3,200+)
  • Must purchase a tripod with wheels to roll it around
  • It weighs 130 pounds so you definitely need a truck and couple of high school players to move this thing
  • Partially exposed wheels (subject to being hit by a batted baseball)
  • Did I mention that ATEC M3 is REALLY heavy?

^ Return to the Age Appropriate Pitching Machines


Pitching Machine Accessories

Depending on where you plan on using your pitching machine, you may want to consider buying some of the following items:

  • Batting Cage
  • Backstop (you should use it along with batting cage if possible)
  • L-screen (portable)
  • Power cords (12 ga. or better)
  • Training balls, baseballs
  • Buckets with labels
  • Cones
  • Portable generator
  • Portable home plate
  • radar gun / pocket radar

^ Return to the Main Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

I strongly believe that a pitching machine is an essential baseball training equipment that should not be overlooked by parents with limited experience.

By practicing together in a private setting, you will help develop your child’s hitting and fielding skills and grow his confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • Two wheels or three wheels?
  • How accurate are these machines
  • Can Iron Mike Pitching Machine Throw a Breaking Pitch? No, Iron Mike pitching machines uses an arm-style throwing mechanism so it can only throw fastballs up to 85 mph

Leave a Comment