Little league teams often work with volunteer coaches and wind up with little to no funding for equipment. Yet, this is the level that batters are first learning to work on their hitting craft.
Pitching machines are a vital piece of the puzzle, but usually aren’t cheap. For many teams, they’re just not in the budget.
Fortunately, pitching machines for this level are also the simplest and can be easily created.
We’re going to show you how to make a pitching machine on your own. You’ll be the talk of the team.
Take a look at our list of youth pitching machines for ideas!
Homemade Little League Pitching Machine
This project is perfect for any family that has a little slugger at home who is eager to practice batting. Infobarrel’s homemade pitching machine is perfect loft balls for little league hitters. And, it can be assembled from materials you likely have around the house.
What You Need
One can build this simple pitching machine with 2x4s, a leaf blower, three-inch PVC pipe, and an extension cord.
Feed the pitching machine with a 5-gallon bucket of Wiffle balls, and you are good to go.
If you have to splurge for a new leaf blower, this project might cost $50 to $60. The good news is that you can usually find inexpensive leaf blowers at a garage sale for $5 or $10.
If you DIY a stand, you will need a few more 2x4s. However, you can always set the pitching machine on a small table instead. As far as tools, you will need a bi-metal hole saw and a power drill.
Steps to Build
Begin by attaching the metal hole saw to the end of the power drill. Measure and mark a centerline about 8 inches from the end of the PVC pipe.
Drill the hole through the PVC pipe, thus creating the chute. Remove the cap on the end of the leaf blower and fit the ball chute on to the leaf blower.
If you have a 3-foot tall table to use as a stand, you are done. If you need to build a stand, it’s time to get busy with the 2x4s and build a table.
Then, use the extension cord to plug the leaf blower in. Place a five-gallon bucket of balls next to the machine. One person can stand next to the machine and feed the balls while the hitter goes to town on batting practice.
Homemade Wheel-based Pitching Machine
If you are a little more advanced than a little league player than this wheel-based tutorial is for you. If you have modest carpentry and mechanical skills, you can put this one together. While it’s not as expensive as a commercial machine, you will probably spend around $75 to build this machine.
A commercial machine can be pretty costly. This machine is good for the average ball player looking for a little more hitting practice on a budget.
What You Need
You will need 2x6s and plywood to build a stand. For the machine, you will need two wheelbarrow tires and two motors and mounts. And, you will need plywood for the base.
In addition to building materials, you will need screws, epoxy, a power drill, and a saw.
Steps to Build
Set each motor assembly on the plywood base so that the wheel (or tire) overhangs the edge of the base. Slide the motors together until the space is wide enough to fit a ball between the motors.
Once you are satisfied with the placement, trace all the mounting holes and remove the motors. Drill the holes. Then place the motors back on the plywood and fasten the mounts.
Place the wheels on the motor shafts and tighten by hand. Test a trial pitch. Make adjustments as necessary before tightening the motor mounts and wheels.
Attach the base of the pitching machine to a stand or table that is approximately three feet high.
This style of homemade pitching machine can throw different types of pitches. By adjusting the motor speeds independently, you can achieve various spins and speeds. This DIY pitching machine is suitable for advanced little league hitters all the way up through high school.
Homemade Arm-Style Pitching Machine
A basic arm-style pitching machine can be built from pine 2x4s for a relatively low cost. This style of pitching machine is like a catapult that launches balls at a set-rate speed for batting. The basic motion of this style of pitching machine is better suited for beginner hitters.
While this one looks like the most complex model on our list, it is also the least expensive at about $25 total to build.
What You Need
The bulk of this machine is constructed from pine 2×4 boards. In addition to lumber, you will need some hardware. A spring, two eye bolts, two hinges, and two ball-bearing sets will get you started. A good supply of nuts, bolts, and wing bolts will fasten everything together. Also, you will need a 12 inch threaded rod with a 15/16″ diameter for the axle.
Steps to Build
Start by measuring and cutting the 2×4 pieces according to the building plans. You will use these to assemble the machine which is large enough to be a free-standing unit. You will not need to build or provide a separate base.
Drill holes for all the attachments according to the building plans. Then, use a routing table to cut a groove for the ball. Sand everything to a smooth finish.
Assemble the pieces of the pitching machine and fasten nuts and bolts firmly. Once this catapult is put together, it will be repetitively launching balls. Loose parts will cause the pitches to be inaccurate and may lead to injury.
Our Top Pick for a DIY Pitching Machine
A good DIY pitching machine is the one that matches the skill level of the batter and is simple to build. An easy DIY pitching machine will not require a workshop full of specialty tools or advanced building skills.
The DIY Wheel-style pitching machine featured on our list is our favorite. It fits a wide range of skill levels and can launch a variety of different pitches, making it a versatile choice. This machine is a good choice if you want one machine that will last most of your child’s baseball career.
The Takeaway on DIY Pitching Machines
It is possible to build a simple pitching machine to launch plastic Wiffle balls. If you are looking for a complex machine that can train older players, a commercial option is best.
But almost all beginners can start with a much less expensive homemade version and get some cuts in on their own.