A pitching machine throws baseballs to a batter so he can work on becoming a better hitter. Baseball players from the high school ranks on up to the pros use pitching machines for batting practice. Batting cages are also available at many recreational facilities throughout the United States. Here, players from the ages of 5 years old and up can make use of the pitching machines. After a batter deposits a coin or token, the machine will toss a pitch about every 10 seconds. These cages are designated with speeds equipped for everyone from slow, medium, fast, to major league--where the pitching machine delivers a ball at roughly 90 miles per hour (40 meters per second).
In live batting practice, a pitcher or coach will throw baseballs to hitters who swing their bats at the thrown balls. Live batting practice is used to supplement the use of the pitching machine and give hitters the feel for live pitching. Pitching machines have advanced to the point where they can throw not only fastballs, but curveballs, sliders and screwballs as well.
Pitching machines come in a variety of styles. However, the two most popular machines are an arm action machine and a circular wheel machine. The arm action machine simulates the delivery of a pitcher and carries a ball at the end of a bracket, much like a hand would. The arm action machine then delivers the ball in an overhand motion. The circular wheel machine contains one or two wheels that spin much like a bike tire. The wheels on these machines are usually set in either a horizontal or vertical fashion. With a circular machine, a ball shoots out towards the hitter after it is fed into the wheel or wheels.
The use of pitching machines allows baseball players the opportunity to get batting practice on their own. Most batting machines are set up in a batting cage, a netted area that will contain the balls after they are hit. By using a pitching machine and a batting cage, hitters can get a huge number of batting reps without having to drag other players out to a baseball field or wear out the arms of team pitchers or coaches. The cost of pitching machines varies greatly. On the high end, the popular two-wheeled, JUGS model is a versatile and durable machine used by colleges and professionals. Low cost Atec models are durable and more cost friendly for families.