Kids’ pitching machines these days can do everything a live pitcher can – from fastballs and curveballs to fly balls and grounders.
They are one of the best ways to improve your little league player’s batting skills on and off the field. True beginners who want to improve their confidence, reaction time, and consistency without a coach or pitcher present can gain a lot from these machines.
Take a look at the best kids’ pitching machines on the market today and help your little tyke become the player of his dreams.
- The Best Kid’s Pitching Machines
- More About Pitching Machines
- What is a pitching machine?
- Why should my kids use a pitching machine?
- Can a kid’s pitching machine aid with softball and baseball practice?
- What kind of balls can you use with a kid’s pitching machine?
- How does a pitching machine work?
- How do you hit off a pitching machine?
- How old should my children be before they start practicing with a pitching machine?
- What are the best pitching types for my little league player?
- How fast can a pitching machine go?
- Does a pitching machine need to be portable?
- How much does a typical kid’s pitching machine cost?
- How do I clean the pitching machine’s wheel?
The Best Kid’s Pitching Machines
JUGS BP1 Pitching Machine Review (Our Top Pick)
If the price isn’t a top concern, the JUGS BP1 is the best pitching machine a little league player can get their hands on. As the most popular choice for youth leagues, the JUGS BP1 creates noticeable hitting improvements.
Should You Buy This?
Do you need a pitching machine that works for many kids at different ages or skill levels? The JUGS BP1 is an excellent choice. Realistic delivery height and “always see the ball” pitching makes your kids feel like they’re practicing with a teammate.
The JUGS BP1 has an increased pitching speed, with throws anywhere between 15 and 70 mph. The digital readout display allows you to set the ideal pace for your kid.
Coming just under 75 pounds, the JUGS BP1 is relatively easy to set up, break down, and transport as needed. Just remove the legs and load the pieces into the trunk of a car.
Versatile enough for little guys up to high school and college players, this pitching machine is an investment that can follow your kid through their amateur baseball or softball career.
As long as the ball you’re using is an 11″ or 12″ softball or baseball, you can be confident that your JUGS BP1 can handle it. Everything from a sting-free softball to a Lite-Flite baseball is good to go.
A swivel-designed base allows for 360-degree movement so kids can vary their hitting practice with fly balls, pop-ups, and ground balls.
It is not entirely mechanical, which means it relies on generated power of some sort to use. If you’re planning to spend most of your time hitting outdoors, you’ll have to purchase either a portable generator or the JUGS Complete Practice battery back.
A generator or battery pack is a significant cost added on top of an already expensive hitting machine, making it inaccessible to some.
If money is no object, it’s hard to find a better pitching machine than the JUGS BP1 Baseball/Softball Combo Pitching Machine. With precision-controlled speeds up to 70 mph and a realistic pitching delivery, it’s the closest option to practicing with a real pitcher.
Black Flame Pitching Machine Review
The Black Flame Pitching Machine from Louisville Slugger is a popular option for players from the major leagues to the little league because of its portability and accuracy.
Should You Buy This?
If you’re in the market for a portable children’s pitching machine that can handle a wide assortment of balls, look no further than the Louisville Slugger Black Flame. Its interchangeable components easily switch between ground balls and high flying balls to vary your practice.
As the official pitching machine of Babe Ruth and Pony League baseball, the Black Flame is undoubtedly a top pick – especially at its accessible price.
There’s no need to worry about electrical outlets or batteries. Its fully mechanical construction and 5-pound total weight make it easy to pack up and set up for practice wherever you are.
Throwing speeds up to 50mph provide excellent practice for little hitters of all ages. Plus, interchangeable components let the machine switch between throwing strikes, high fly balls, and ground balls.
Whether you’re working with plastic, hard, soft, dimpled, or restricted flight balls, you’ll get a consistent pitch with the Black Flame.
Though the machine is lightweight and portable, it’s not the easiest to transport. A carry handle would have made for a less awkward process. As long as you’re not carrying it for long distances, it’s manageable.
Its lightweight nature can also make it a bit shaky, depending on the ground beneath it. It seems to work better on the field than it does on a hard surface like a batting cage floor.
Once you transport it to your practice location and get it set up, you might also find that it takes a while to calibrate proper pitching distance, angle, and speed.
The Louisville Slugger Black Flame is a solid choice for someone who wants a reliable, versatile pitching machine that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Junior Hack Attack Pitching Machine Review
The Junior Hack Attack Pitching Machine’s unique style and design allow the batter to see the ball through the whole process – feeding motion, speed, and release. Emulate the feeling of a live pitcher with the Junior Hack Attack.
Should You Buy This?
For little players who take their game seriously, the Junior Hack Attack pitches real baseballs with varied delivery techniques. If you want to see noticeable improvement through a game-like experience, don’t miss the Junior Hack Attack Pitching Machine.
The visible arm signals the timing and placement of each pitch, giving the hitter a strong sense of what’s to come. This timing and vision aid help young hitters develop the fundamental skills they need.
The throwing head can pivot in any direction to deliver game-like spin, deep line drives, long fly balls, infield flies, grounders, and more with real leather baseballs. Pivot back and forth between pitching techniques by adjusting the speed knobs.
With speeds over 60mph, this junior version of the Hack Attack Professional Pitching Machine delivers serious throws. If that’s too much speed for you, effortlessly slow it down with a quick turn of the dials.
An elevation adjustment handle allows you to raise or lower the pitch as needed to fit the batter. You even have the power to move the pitch up or down within the strike zone between pitches.
Move the machine on or off the field quickly by tilting it, removing the legs, and rolling it using the two transporting wheels. At just 75 pounds, it’s easy for an adult to transport the machine as needed.
This machine relies on a 110VAC generator with inverter technology. Unfortunately, the manufacturer doesn’t include a generator with the product. You’ll need to purchase this separately and add to the cost.
The Junior Hack Attack is one of the more expensive pitching machines on the market, requiring a serious investment for a baseball family.
The three-wheel technology of this pitching machine makes it one of the best batting aids you can buy. If your child wants to perfect their hitting skills with fastballs, breaking pitches, backdoor sliders, curveballs, and more, this is the pitching machine to get.
Franklin MLB Pitching Machine Review
An affordable and fun option, the Franklin MLB Pitching Machine is designed for kids and features multiple batting angles and styles to improve skills fast.
Should You Buy This?
The Franklin MLB Electronic Pitching Machine is ideal for beginning players looking to gain confidence and sharpen their batting skills before getting to the field. By using plastic balls and a plastic bat, your kid can learn the fundamentals safely.
This machine is perfect for pitching drills with young players. Seven-second pitching intervals help them improve their precision and accuracy when they’re on the field. Additionally, a flashing red light warns the hitter when the next ball is coming their way to prepare their stance without being blindsided.
Match the height of your little league player with three pitching angle options. As they grow, you can adjust the machine to their changing skill levels.
The machine includes six plastic aero strike balls designed for this particular model. While the shoot can hold up to nine balls at once, be sure only to use the type of ball included with the product for the best results.
For less than $30, you’re getting an incredible value for your money. Though it’s on the lower pricing end, it’s durability and functionality surpass some higher-priced competitors.
Sometimes the ball will veer off to the right or left about a foot, which can be frustrating for true beginners. For this reason, athletes with a bit more experience might enjoy the challenge more.
Since the machine can only hold up to nine balls, reloading is constant. Some customers recommend buying extra balls to reduce reload time, but there’s still a stop-and-start nature to this machine.
The Franklin MLB machine veers more towards being a fun toy for youth baseball players than serious practice equipment. If you’re just looking for something affordable to bolster your child’s confidence and get them outside to practice more often, this is it.
JUGS Lite-Flite Pitching Machine Review
The JUGS Lite-Flite Pitching Machine is perfect for kids ages eight and up who want to perfect hitting techniques on throws like sliders, fastballs, and curveballs.
Should You Buy This?
If you want a machine you and your kid can use together while practicing hitting sharp-breaking pitches, you need the JUGS Lite-Flite Pitching Machine. High speeds and advanced pitches make it the perfect practice aid for someone looking to grow as a player.
The JUGS Lite-FLite Pitching Machine can stimulate pitching speeds up to 85 mph at a 25-foot distance, making it one of the fastest pitching options on the market. Since the balls fly out at such high speeds, it’s best for kids eight years and older or even adults.
Though it packs a powerful punch, it’s still relatively lightweight and easy to set up whenever it’s practice time. If you ever need to switch from baseball to softball, its quick-change design can make it happen in a matter of seconds.
Practice batting with fastballs, left-handed curveballs, right-handed curveballs, and sliders so that your player is ready for anything that comes at him.
Dollar for dollar and pitch for pitch, this is a high-quality purchase at a mid-range price.
Using any other balls than what comes recommended by the manufacturer can cause severe damage to the machine. As long as you only use JUGS Bulldog poly balls, Lite-Flite baseballs, or 11/12 inch Lite-Flite softballs, you’ll be in good shape.
The Lite-Flite Pitching Machine relies on its 1/8 horsepower, 1.3 amplifier motor, which has caused trouble or stopped working for some consumers after just a few weeks or months of use.
A seriously powerful piece of equipment, the Lite-Flite Pitching Machine is made for anyone looking for some father-son bonding over baseball. As long as you’re willing to stick to the compatible balls, you’ll hone your skills and learn how to react quickly to fast-flying shots.
More About Pitching Machines
It’s common to have questions about pitching machines as you make your buying decision. We went ahead and answered some of the most frequently asked ones in our FAQ section to clear up any lingering concerns.
What is a pitching machine?
A pitching machine is a piece of equipment used in softball or baseball to help players train and sharpen their hitting techniques. A pitching machine eliminates the need for a pitcher, allowing for repeated and consistent throws without the pitcher’s risk of injury.
It can throw the ball at steady speeds and replicate techniques of a real pitcher by pitching curveballs, fly balls, fastballs, grounders, and more.
Why should my kids use a pitching machine?
A pitching machine is an excellent tool for younger players who need to develop their swing and hone their hitting accuracy. The repetition of the device reduces the fear of getting hit and keeps players engaged during practice. It also helps new players understand just how critical their timing is when swinging the bat.
Pitching machines can throw at a variety of angles and speeds to prepare little league players for the continually changing action of a real game. With regular pitching machine practice, your player will develop his understanding of just how vital solid contact and swing speed is.
On the other hand, older players can use pitching machines to sharpen their batting skills with sliders or curveballs.
Pitching machines are for more than just hitting repetitions. They also aid in defensive practice by serving pop-flys and ground balls.
An owner of a pitching machine has a significant advantage in nailing the fundamentals of the perfect softball or baseball swing. When your kid hits hundreds of balls within one practice session, they’ll reinforce the skills taught by their coach.
Can a kid’s pitching machine aid with softball and baseball practice?
Yes, most kids’ pitching machines on the market can work for either softball or baseball practice. Some models can pitch more than just these two types. Models like the Louisville Slugger Black Flame can handle plastic balls, restricted flight balls, and dimpled balls.
Determine what kind of balls you’ll need to practice with and double-check to ensure your selection can pitch those balls before purchasing.
What kind of balls can you use with a kid’s pitching machine?
This answer depends on the brand and model you purchase. Like the Franklin MLB Pitching Machine, some machines only work with the plastic balls provided. You can cause severe damage to the device if you try to load it with any other kind of ball.
Others, such as the Junior Hack Attack, can handle real leather baseballs and other types of balls.
How does a pitching machine work?
A pitching machine uses a straightforward procedure to serve balls. First, you’ll feed the ball into the machine. Many pitching machines can hold several shots in their shoot at once. Using the power of spinning wheels or a mechanical arm, the ball is propelled forward at a fast speed toward the batter’s strike zone.
Multi-wheel machines, like the Junior Hack Attack, push the ball ahead using their fast-rotating wheels. They then feed the ball through a chute where the wheel will grab on and serve the ball to the batter.
Other machines, called single-arm machines or arm-action machines, simulate a live pitcher’s motion by rotating the arm, holding the ball for a split second, and then releasing the ball onto the batter.
How do you hit off a pitching machine?
Learning to hit off a pitching machine can be challenging when you’re used to hitting off a real pitcher. To use a pitching machine for the first time, set it up, and create a home plate area at the appropriate distance.
The machine knows to send balls toward the home-plate area to replicate the action of a real game. Standing there in your batter’s stance, get ready for the first throw. Take the first few throws to get a good sense of where the balls are flying and how fast you need to react.
Once you trust the machine, you can increase the pitching speed to practice your bats one after the other.
How old should my children be before they start practicing with a pitching machine?
While this is a decision left to the parents, many pitching machine manufacturers recommend their equipment for players aged eight and above. Some pitching machines, like the Franklin MLB, would be better suited for younger players.
Some devices pitch balls at only high speeds, making it harder for children to keep up. Other brands make their speed variable, so lower-speed players can still utilize the aid.
As your children become more confident and comfortable around your pitching machine, you can slowly increase the pitching speed.
What are the best pitching types for my little league player?
Consider your kid’s skill level and fundamental understanding of baseball pitches. Generally speaking, the best kids’ pitching machines should include training of fastballs, curveballs, and sliders.
Kids at higher skill levels can enjoy the added benefits of pitches like grounders and sliders.
How fast can a pitching machine go?
Pitching machine speeds will vary based on the model you choose. A typical range may fall between 15-75mph. The good news is that most pitching machine speeds are adjustable to meet the batter’s needs at the plate.
Does a pitching machine need to be portable?
Portability is a beneficial feature of any pitching machine, but it’s only necessary if you’re planning to move it around with you. Portability makes it possible to train anywhere at any time. A stationary machine only works in one location.
A portable machine removes all barriers and limitations to training.
How much does a typical kid’s pitching machine cost?
The features that each device offers will determine its cost.
Some machines have motorized inflatable wheels, while others have mechanical arms that snap up to pitch the balls to the batter. Specific devices use electricity or a generator to function. Others rely on battery packs. All of these features play a role in the price of the machine.
You can purchase lightweight machines without too many high-level features for a few hundred bucks. In the case of the Franklin MLB Pitching Machine, you can even buy it for less than $30. These machines have a simple functionality without advanced settings or features, which saves you a lot of money.
High-level machines with multiple wheels, visible pitching, and high speeds come with a higher price tag. If you’re willing to foot the bill, you’ll reap the benefits of defensive drills and serving techniques that emulate a live pitcher.
How do I clean the pitching machine’s wheel?
A pitching machine does its best work when you maintain it regularly. Devices that use wheels need additional attention to ensure the wheels stay inflated.
Machines that are feeding plastic or synthetic balls through constantly will accumulate a residue on the wheels over time. If you want your pitching device to continue serving at optimal levels, you’ll need to remove this residue in between batting practice frequently.
Most of this residue will come off with a cloth and a solvent like water, rubbing alcohol, or acetone. If you find stubborn residue lingering behind, try sanding it down with fine-grain sandpaper to restore your wheel gently.
It’s always good to check your machine’s user manual for specific instructions on how to clean and restore your equipment correctly. Additionally, be sure to store the machine somewhere cool and dry to avoid further damage.