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Thread: Pitching Machine Speeds and Distance

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    I can talk softball all day Hoover's Dad's Avatar
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    Default Pitching Machine Speeds and Distance

    I was watching a local high school practice yesterday. They had some girls taking turns in the cage hitting off a machine. You could see the 43' rubber and a home plate plainly marked. The front of the machine was right at 34-35' by my best guess and the assistant coach had it set on 55mph.( could see the knobs very plainly)

    To me it seemed to close and to fast, the girls lookd to be struggling and maybe even forming bad habits just trying to make contact.

    Coaches, what speeds do you use and what distances do you set the machine up at?

    This would be for JV and Varsity age girls.

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    Certified softball maniac chinamigarden's Avatar
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    Don't confuse the machine settings with actual MPH. Its not always the same, in fact with a long extension cord, with a lighter gauge then recommended I think it could be significantly off.

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    I eat, sleep and breathe softball starsnuffer's Avatar
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    As mentioned, the speeds generally are NOT what's listed on the indicator, and if you're feeding balls every few seconds, the machines spin down and pitch slower (so you often get a high first pitch).

    Machines are generally closer then the rubber because a pitcher does not release the ball from the rubber, they leap and release it about 5-7' closer to the batter.

    That said, the techniques for feeding a ball into a machine do require training and should be done in such a manner that offers the same timing queues as a real pitcher. The best hitter will struggle to hit off a machine run by a boneheaded or inexperienced operator.

    -W

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    I'm a fan Immortal1's Avatar
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    Will add my 0.02 to the mix - we are in the same situation as you Hoover's Dad (14u girls and H.S. girls). Because of cage restrictions I can only get about 38-40' from the machine (ATEC Power Hummer) to the plate. I used a radar gun to figure out how fast speed setting "5" was on the machine - approximately 50-51 MPH. For the less experienced girls I will dial it down to "4" which is about 42-43 MPH. For the H.S. girls that can hit I dial it up to almost "6" which is about 58 MPH. Have not found ANY of our girls that can consistently hit when it is above "6". And most complain when its set below "5". Hope this helps.

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    I can talk softball all day Mrek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoover's Dad View Post
    I was watching a local high school practice yesterday. They had some girls taking turns in the cage hitting off a machine. You could see the 43' rubber and a home plate plainly marked. The front of the machine was right at 34-35' by my best guess and the assistant coach had it set on 55mph.( could see the knobs very plainly)

    To me it seemed to close and to fast, the girls lookd to be struggling and maybe even forming bad habits just trying to make contact.

    Coaches, what speeds do you use and what distances do you set the machine up at?

    This would be for JV and Varsity age girls.
    Think about it. A pitchers release point is about 3-4 feet in front of the rubber thus pitching distance is now 39-40 feet. If the machine was at 35 feet then pitch timing was reduced by about 12% which means the balls looked like 61-62 MPH. Depending of the strength of your program, this sounds like a bit much for JV but not unreasonable for HS Varsity. And yes the machines do slow down based upon how quickly you feed. So I would say you were probably looking at 58-62. If they wanted to give JV a taste of what they would face out of an above average (not Elite) Varsity pitcher, it is reasonable.

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    I'm a fan Immortal1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by starsnuffer View Post
    As mentioned, the speeds generally are NOT what's listed on the indicator, and if you're feeding balls every few seconds, the machines spin down and pitch slower (so you often get a high first pitch).

    Machines are generally closer then the rubber because a pitcher does not release the ball from the rubber, they leap and release it about 5-7' closer to the batter.

    That said, the techniques for feeding a ball into a machine do require training and should be done in such a manner that offers the same timing queues as a real pitcher. The best hitter will struggle to hit off a machine run by a boneheaded or inexperienced operator.

    -W
    LOL, your first paragraph is EXACTLY what our machine is like. I have to remember to air it down on the first pitch, then aim it back up for the rest "or" wait atleast 10 seconds between pitches (does not sound like a long time but the girls WILL complain).

    Have to agree with you 100% on the machine operator!! Had to tell one of the other coaches "it is not a machine gun! You don't just chuck the balls in as fast as you can pick them out of the bucket!!"

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    Softball Junkie NVfishing's Avatar
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    The machine placement and settings sound about right. Sometimes it's good to have two machines going. One a touch slower than the other. Does the coach show the ball to the girls before they are fed into the machine? Usually takes about ten seconds between pitches. Batter needs to load up, coach needs to grab a ball. Also coaches tend to talk about what they like or didn't like about the last swing and how to make an adjustment if needed.

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    Certified softball maniac PEPPERS's Avatar
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    Safety first always the person feeding the machine stands behind a good net. The machine has to be feed correctly for timing for the hitter. A good arm circle with the right hand holding a ball and the left hand hold the ball to the hopper and release when the arm reaches the ball in the left hand. It has to be timed right to simulate real timing from a pitcher.

    If a kid has problems timing the ball, I have them work on bunts and this usually helps the kids get a sense of timing. I start out slow and gradually increase the speed, once everyone is hitting the ball well I increase the speed.

    I learned this thanks to Hitter who used to post here; we do what he called the Bonds Drill, named after Berry Bonds. I have the hitter hit 10 balls from the plate to warm up, then the hitter takes up position as far back in the cage or batter’s box as possible, then a successful hit and the hitter takes a step closer to the machine until they get about 15 feet, no farther due to safety, then the hitter starts back until they get to where they started. You can make a game out of it giving points for each step.

    This drill can really separate the kids with good mechanics and good crisp swings; the distance simulates different pitching speeds. We also do in and out at the plate, working on hitting outside and inside pitches by stepping closer to the plate and farther away every pitch to work on different pitch locations.

    With new kids I work on building confidence first and then increase speed as confidence and ability increases. My daughter, who has been doing the Bonds Drill for around a year, can hit off a 70 MPH baseball machine doing the drill and never miss a ball, sometimes, it has made a difference in her average.

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    Administrator Ken Krause's Avatar
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    One thing you often find with inexperienced operators is that they watch the hitter instead of the chute. If you're going to make an arm circle and feed the ball with that hand, you have to watch the chute. Another good reason to have a good screen to stand/hide behind.
    Ken Krause
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    Ken,
    Funny you mention that....I was working the maching for during my daughter's hitting lesson and was so focused on watching her swing that I misfed a couple of balls. My daughter of course let me know about it .

    -Tom

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