Buying a Softball Pitching Machine is not a matter to be taken lightly, as the price tag, $1500 to $5000+, is normally quite cost prohibitive to the individual coach, however, there are times a sponsor will chip in or we may be in charge of purchasing a machine for your baseball/softball association. Regardless of the situation You’d better be sure the pitching machine you purchase fulfills all the requirements you or your association needs.
I’m going to give you a list of requirements to look for and questions to ask the sales people before committing to buy any one machine.
Buying A Softball Pitching Machine
The First thing to remember is a Softball Pitching Machine is Different than one used for baseball, commonly referred to as a “Pitching Machine.” Just because the product sign hanging from the ceiling says pitching machines does not mean you’re in the area.
(1.) Type Of Play: It’s important to identify the type of play the machine will be involved in, as there may be substantial differences in the machines’ quality, options and capabilities, and you don’t want to end up lacking a necessary required feature, rendering the machine useless or at least, inadequate for play.
Is The Usage Mainly For:
(b.) Youth League
(c.) High School
The flexibility required, amount of usage and whether easy transport is essential, will dictate the quality and cost of the machine. There’s no sense in buying a $5000 College capable machine when it will only be used in the back yard for individual or team practice.
Softball Pitching Machines come equipped with options which are unique to the sport, meaning they are not, although some very expensive machines can accommodate softballs and baseballs, normally compatible with any usage other than softball.
(1.) A softball pitching machine must be built to release underhanded throws.
(2.) It’s best to always buy a machine capable of accommodating slow and fast pitch throws.
(3.) Be sure the machine is capable of throwing drops and risers.
Wheels: The vast majority of pitching machines use wheels in which to propel the balls.
(1.) There can be 1, 2 or 3 wheels depending on the particular machine.
(2.) They can be made of hard rubber or air filled (pneumatic)
(3.) Pitch speed is determined by the RPMs of the wheel(s)
(4.) Pitch type is controlled by variations of speed in each wheel.
(5.) Pitch direction, tailing left or right, is determined by the wheel(s) spin direction.
Swivel: The head should swivel a certain amount of degrees in order to pitch to an area or vicinity instead of the same spot pitch after pitch.
Vertical Pivot: The head should also pivot front to back, which allows for different types of pitches to be thrown and increases the versatility as the machine can be used to produce ground balls and fly balls for practices.
Buying A Softball Pitching Machine
Motor: It’s particularly important to know the size and quality of the motor as this is the heart of the machine. The maximum speed a machine is capable of throwing is totally dependent of the speed of the wheels, which are dependent on the size of the motor.
(1.) Most machines are equipped with ¼ hp motors.
(2.) One or Two motors are the standard
Feeder: (a.) A feeder is a devise which holds a number of balls and releases them into the machine on a set time schedule.
(b.) Feeders normally do not come as standard equipment and must be purchased separately.
(c.) A feeder is a requirement if the intended usage is not always intended for human ball feeding.
Power Source: Most all machines operate on 110vAC / 1000Watts, which allows the machine to operate off electricity or a power generator.
(a.) Check for an in-line switch, which allows the machine to be turned on and off from the batters box, a must if private practice use is anticipated.
As a last check, be sure the pitching machine accommodates all softballs, as hardness and sizes vary per age division and producer.