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Pitching Machines and Softball

May 7, 2008
Sometimes the 2 wheel machines are programmed to throw a rise ball, I haven't seen a 1 wheel that can, though. If it is a baseball machine that can throw some breaking ball stuff, that is fine too.

I use a machine very little for batting practice, but I know what you are trying to accomplish, here. A machine can be an excellent tool for working on mechanics.

One drill you might try is the "tennis ball bounce." I like to do it in a gym. I toss the ball so that it bounces about 3 feet in front of her and comes up into the zone.
Jan 14, 2009
Atlanta, Georgia
I can't stand pitching machines. Hitters that perform an upper body negative move and a rear hip cock generally don't do well against pitching machines because there is nothing to time. Trying to simulate the arm circle helps some, but is still not ideal.

My daughter's mechanics always break down when she hits off of a machine. The girls that do well off of the machine are the ones that don't load. They just get in their stance and do the traditional FP gate swing.

I do a full arm circle and pitch most of the batting practice for our 12U team. However I think my pitching days are numbered. I normally pitch from about 30 feet and the girls are getting to big for me to stand that close. If it were up to me I would hire some older pitchers to throw batting practice. I also prefer baseball size wiffle balls over a pitching machine.

I also don't like soft toss.


Abby's Dad
Jan 23, 2009
Collegeville, PA
When we use a pitching machine we sometimes start by 1)showing the ball and have the hitter load, then 2) circle the arm (with a ball in the hand) and bump the ball held by the other hand by the feeder to pitch that ball. I think this works OK since it lets the hitters practice loading, but I still prefer live pitching.

Ken Krause

May 7, 2008
Mundelein, IL
We've actually had a lot of success this year using a pitching machine mixed with me throwing live from about 20 feet from behind a net. (I would never consider doing it without a net.) Also a lot of tee work.

I use the same technique as FJRGerry -- circle with one hand, drop the ball in with the other. My assistant coach uses a different technique.

As with anything, the key is how you use it. Our girls were perpetually late and would tend to rush their swings. We worked with them on making their negative move and going to toe touch in a more relaxed fashion, and it has made a huge difference in our success rate. They're a lot more confident at the plate too.
Jan 14, 2009
Atlanta, Georgia
When we use a pitching machine we sometimes start by 1)showing the ball and have the hitter load...
I agree with this. I know Epstein stresses that anytime a hitter hits off of a machine or does soft toss that they start from what he calls the "Number 1" positon. front shoulder turned down and in with the hitter on the ball of the front foot and heel off of the ground. From that position the hitter just drops the heel and swings. It works ok, but it is very difficult to develop proper weight shift from this static position.

I'm experimenting with balancing on the back leg with the front foot off the ground. As the coach gets past the 12 o'clock position the hitter starts their stride in a very slow and controlled glid. It's a slight variation of the tee drill that Manny reportedly does before games. Cal Ripkin Jr. also does a similar drill off of a tee. It's basically the "you have to go back to go forward" TW approach, or "One Legged" hitting approach at HI.com.

Same thing said different ways.
Aug 4, 2008
When ever doing over hand pitching or under hand just give them a motion that gives them timing and rhythm...for example if overhand in the T position have them load and step as we release....in the under hand load on the K position and step on the release. Keep in mind each athletes amount of athleticism and understanding of when to load and when to step. A parent trying to help can screw up a hitters sense of timing and rhythm very quickly while trying to help and without truly understand the hitters data base can be affected by what they are doing.

This becomes even more critical when using lite flight or pitching machines and the person feeding the machine is fumbling trying to get the ball in the feeder chute after the hitter has stepped and is still waiting on the ball to come out of the wheel. This is why we hold a ball in the left hand at the feeder chute and do an arm circle with a ball in the right hand and feed the ball into the chute when we are in the top of the K position.
Jan 19, 2009
I have some really lite foam 12 in balls that REALLY rise coming out of a 1 wheel machine-I am talking 2-3 feet if you turn the speed up to 60
I agree- the Jugs Lite-flite machine will often throw rise balls, especially newer balls.