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The Five Best Pitching Machines For Backyard Use

By Daniel | Baseball

The Five Best Pitching Machines For Backyard Use

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Many baseball players are looking to increase their batting skills daily but getting someone to pitch to them or rent out a facility isn’t always possible.  More and more players today are having nets installed in their backyard to perfect their hitting skills. Today we will be looking at five of the best pitching machines for backyard use.

**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

Why Invest In A Pitching Machine?

Pitching machines are certainly not a cheap investment.  Whether you are a coach or a parent, you can get a lot of productive use from a pitching machine.  Investing in a pitching machine will save you money from having to go to a facility and rent cage time and, in some instances, a pitching machine can pitch to your ballplayer consistently without the aid of an adult.  A good pitching machine can also be used for defensive purposes, especially and shooting fly balls into the air.


How To Choose The Right Pitching Machine

The choice that you will make in selecting a pitching machine will come down to how much you want to spend and what do you want to use it for. If you are hoping to allow your player to head outside on their own, you will be looking at a self-automated pitching machine, which will cost significantly more. If you are looking to be outside working with your ballplayer, you can get a cheaper version that you can feed the balls directly into. The age of your ballplayer will also be a factor because you will want a machine that can deliver accurate speeds.

It is also important when considering the age to also consider the type of pitches they will be facing. The older they are, the more likely they are going to face change-ups, curveballs, and sliders. You will want to invest in a pitching machine that can offer the ability to send offspeed pitches their way.


Benefits Of A Pitching Machine

There has always been some debate over using a pitching machine versus live pitching. Many critics of pitching machines have commented that it doesn’t give the batter a real-life look at what they can expect to see from a pitcher. The pitch is always delivered at the same speed in the same spot. When you are facing a live pitcher, you never know what kind of pitch is coming and where it is going to be delivered. There is some truth to that but pitching machines have just as many merits.

Using a pitching machine can allow ballplayers to really focus on their mechanics. They can adjust the machine to fit their needs. If they are working on high and outside pitches, they can adjust the machine to accommodate that request. By doing so, the ballplayer will be able to receive an unlimited amount of swings focusing strictly on that need. It is difficult to get a live pitcher to consistently hit the spot the ballplayer wants to practice hitting. A pitching machine can give you the live repetitions that a live pitcher just can’t do. A pitching machine can be available for work at any time, where it is just not as easy getting someone to throw to you at any time of the day.


Prerequisites To Using This Product

Using the pitching machine

If you plan on just using the pitching machine for defensive purposes, you will not need to purchase anything else other than just a long extension cord, if needed.  If you are using it for hitting purposes, there are several things you will need to have in place before using the machine.

The first is an L screen protector.  For the protection of the machine and the operator, you will need to purchase a screen protector.  There are many different shapes and sizes that you can choose from. Check out Amazon.com for a breakdown of different available screens and typical prices that you can purchase them for.

If you plan on building a backyard batting cage, you will need to design the cage.  It will be important to measure out the correct distance (based on the league that the ballplayer is participating in) and put up the proper netting. AllThumbs DIY provides a very detailed, step-by-step process for building a backyard batting cage.  You can also check out the following YouTube videos for a visual representation of what you will need to do: Backyard Batting Cage or DIY Backyard Batting Cage.

Finally, you will need to have baseballs or dimpled batting cage baseballs.  Many of the newer batting cage machines allow for real baseballs to be used, but there are others that still require the dimpled, pitching machine safe balls.  Amazon offers a wide selection of choices to use with your pitching machine.  They also have buckets for sale to hold all of your batting cage baseballs.

The initial start-up to putting in a batting cage in your backyard will take some time and money.  But, the rewards and benefits that your ballplayer will receive as a result of this investment will be well worth it in the end.

5 Best Pitching Machine Options

In this section, we will be taking a look at some of the best pitching machine options available to you. The goal in this will be to provide you with a variety of options depending on what you are looking for and usage plan.

1

The Louisville Slugger UPM 45 Blue Flame Pitching Machine should be mainly used for younger players (speeds up to 45mph) or for defensive purposes (this is the PERFECT machine for defensive drills). With a name like Louisville Slugger attached to it, you know you are going to get a quality product.


Pros

  • No electrical cords needed
  • Ideal for defensive drills--very easy to work on fly balls and ground balls
  • Hitting wise, great for younger kids
  • Use any type of ball: hard, fast pitch softballs, dimple balls, Wiffle balls, soccer, and even volleyballs
  • Weighs less than 25 pounds so it is easy to move
  • Reasonably priced
  • Easy assembly

Cons

  • Can’t use by yourself
  • Shouldn’t be operated by anyone under 14 due to the torques
  • Takes about five minutes to calibrate the pitch (becomes very accurate after that, however)
  • No curveballs

This is a great start pitching machine that will not destroy your budget. The pitching machine really offers a solid variety in what it can do and the fact that you don’t need to plug it into anything is a huge added bonus.

2

The Zooka: ZS740 Pitching Machine with Tall Tripod is definitely one of the most unique pitching machines on the market today. This pitching machine is another easily transferable mechanism that can make both practices and individual hitting sessions lively and exciting.


Pros

  • Battery operated. When fully charged, it can deliver up to 500 baseballs at 70mph while throwing 800 pitches at 40mph
  • Speeds from 10mph to 70mph
  • Throws real baseballs, dimpled baseballs, and tennis balls
  • Digital speed screen to accurately set the speed of the ball
  • Lightweight at only 30 pounds
  • Easy setup and breakdown
  • Safe to use
  • Panning tripod allows you to rotate 360 degrees in real-time

Cons

  • Very pricey
  • Not a well-known brand
  • Durability has been questioned
  • Can’t be used by yourself
  • No breaking balls with real baseballs

The Zooka provides a very eye-catching look that will have people asking you all kinds of questions about where you purchased it. It does not look like your typical pitching machine but offers the versatility that many coaches and players will enjoy.

3

Finding a solid automatic pitch machine can be extremely difficult and really take a bite out of your budget. If you are in the market for an automatic pitching machine, check out Heater Sports Pitching Machine.


Pros

  • Fastball AND curveball pitching machine
  • Pitches balls from 15mph to 95mph
  • Feeds 12 baseballs at a time at eight-second intervals
  • Can remove the automatic feeder for manual use
  • Throws fly balls and ground balls
  • Protective cover to not expose the wheel
  • Great customer service

Cons

  • High valued priced
  • Difficult initial set up with bad instructions
  • Real baseballs don’t work as well as dimpled balls
  • Hard to get access to the wheels
  • Will need to be plugged in to use

The price isn’t necessarily a con as it’s reasonable for the type of machine you are purchasing, but in the grand scheme of things, it is still expensive. This is as good of a machine as you can get for its ability to automatically feed baseballs.

4

JUGS has probably the most recognizable name when it comes to pitching machines and this machine is no exception. The JUGS Lite-Flite Machine comes very highly rated for its durability and name brand.


Pros

  • Lightweight pitching machine (35 pounds)
  • Throws dimpled baseballs
  • Simulates speeds at up to 85mph from 25 feet away
  • Throws fastballs, curveballs, and slider
  • 2-year warranty
  • Swivel-design allows for 360-degree movement for fly balls and ground balls
  • The automatic feeder can be purchased separately
  • Rechargeable battery pack sold separately
  • Easy setup
  • Reasonably priced for a JUGS product

Cons

  • Does not throw real baseballs
  • Adjustments have been reported as sensitive
  • Tough to lug around from place to place
  • Need the use of an extension cord if not using the battery
  • Lite-flite baseballs can get stuck from time to time because of how light they are

Most people were very happy with the JUGS pitching machine, but a few found the lite-flite baseballs to cause some issues and be tricky to use from time to time. The machine is durable and has functions that allow you the opportunity to do multiple tasks with it.

5

This machine has the appearance of a beast. It is the largest and most expensive machine on our list. The Sports Attack Junior Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine delivers a lot of good, but it will come at a cost. The product can seem a little intimidating by the looks of it, but it can be portable with relative ease.


Pros

  • Throws right and left-handed curves, sliders, split fingers, knuckle and fastballs
  • Throws up to 70mph
  • Can pivot for flyball, groundball, and line-drive use
  • Is portable with two transporting wheels
  • Five-year limited warranty
  • Three wheels give the hitter a sense of a live pitcher by giving them an actual live-arm sense of timing and location

Cons

  • Shipping weight of 100 pounds (overall weight is about 65 pounds)
  • Largest price of the five products
  • Many plugs needed to run the machine
  • Regular baseballs can be used, but the machine tends to fray the strings
  • Need to adjust the speed a little to figure out exactly what you are looking for

The Sports Attack machine is of high quality and versatility. It is the largest of the group but can deliver the goods that you need. The only real downfall is that real baseballs tend to get ruined in the machine, but dimpled baseballs work well.


In Conclusion

The JUGS Lite-Flite pitching machine seems to check off all the boxes when it comes to the ideal pitching machine. Using real baseballs is a challenge for almost any pitching machine, so typically if you plan on using a pitching machine, it is assumed you are going to use the dimpled baseballs.

The price is right for a solid machine and has the ability to throw off-speed pitches, which is essential for older kids. The JUGS machine covers a wide range of speeds, which means that this machine can be useful for younger and older ballplayers. It gives you the option to purchase a rechargeable battery pack to prevent you from needing long extension cords. The machine can also help shoot off fly balls and ground balls, making it a great machine for a team practice as well.

All five machines offer something different and unique, but the JUGS Lite-Flite pitching machine seems to deliver everything you would want in a pitching machine.