Looking for a new pitching machine? You’ve seen them being used by other teams or even heard of them being used in the MLB. You might be wondering if your kid or your team would benefit from using a pitching machine. But there’s so many brands and different types of machines out there it’s really hard to tell which one is best for you. You don’t want to buy the wrong one or have your kid grow out of it in a few years - You want your investment to last!
That’s why we’re here - We want to show you which machine is right for you so you can make an intelligent purchase that will last you and your team many seasons to come. Let’s start with the basics...
History of Pitching Machines
It all started many years ago, when the founder of Master Pitch, Paul Giovagnoli, started toying with the idea of creating a machine that could launch baseballs at a swinging batter. Then, in 1952, he came up with the first pitching machine, now known as the Iron Mike. Today, Master Pitch is the top manufacturer in arm style pitching machines and commercial pitching machines. If you have ever been to a batting cage, you have most likely seen an Iron Mike in action!
As time progressed, so did the technology behind the machines. Soon, we started seeing other manufacturers pop up, offering new and innovative technology, to create more powerful and effective pitching machines.
Engineers started creating machines that used spinning wheels, instead of arms, to propel the baseball forward. This new technology allowed the user to throw fastballs, curveballs, sliders, cutters, split fingers, and more. This changed how people used pitching machines and helped players of all ages and skill levels drastically increase their batting averages.
Let’s take a look at how each of these arm and wheel pitching machines work so you can decide which one is best for you!
Different Pitching Machines and How They Work
Arm Style Pitching Machines - What Are They and How Do They Work?
Being the first type of pitching machine on the market, arm style pitching machines have been around for the longest and utilize the most simple pitching machine technology there is.
Arm style pitching machines basically catapult the ball into the strike zone at speeds of up to 80+ mph. This works great because the batter can see as the pitching machine arm comes up and flings the ball forward. Being able to see the ball being delivered is beneficial to the batter because this emulates a real life situation - As the pitcher winds up for a pitch, the batter makes himself ready to swing. This is an advantage over some wheel pitching machines, as the batter sometimes cannot see the ball before it is pitched.
The downside to arm style pitching machines is that they can only throw fastballs. Since they do not have spinning wheels, they cannot throw any type of breaking ball or cutter. Some players don’t mind, as they only care to work on their swing and hit fastballs, but other young players that are beginning to see breaking balls for the first time may want a more advanced machine.
One Wheel Pitching Machines - What Are They and How Do They Work?
One wheel pitching machines were the first advancement in pitching machine technology since the arm style pitching machine was introduced. Instead of an arm catapulting the ball, the baseball is moved through a chute, passing a spinning wheel. As the ball touches the spinning wheel, the wheel passes energy to the ball, and propels it forward. The result is a baseball accurately pitched to a batter within the strike zone.
Much like arm style machines, one wheel pitching machines can usually only throw fastballs. However, there are some new one wheel machines that can actually throw a decent curveball.
Beyond that, a one wheel machine is usually hundreds of pounds later and hundreds of dollars cheaper than an arm pitching machine. For this reason, many parents and coaches of youth players decide to buy one wheel machines. They won't break the bank and they are easy to bring on and off the field.
The next step up from one wheel machines would be the 2 and 3 wheel pitching machines!
Two and Three Wheel Pitching Machines - What Are They and How Do They Work
The most technologically advanced pitching machines are the 2 and 3 wheel pitching machines. Made for players of all ages and skill levels, 2 and 3 wheel machines come in a variety of technological levels and price points.
2 and 3 wheel machines work in the same way that 1 wheel machines do - The user passes the ball through the chute and the ball makes contact with the spinning wheels. The energy is passed from the wheels to the ball as it propels forward into the strike zone. The difference though, is that these machines have more spinning wheels, and each wheel is spinning at a different speed.
As the ball passes through the wheels that are spinning at different speeds, spin is transferred onto the baseball. This is how we can replicate breaking pitches, cutters, and virtually any kind of pitch.
This is why 2 and 3 wheel machines are considered the best pitching machines, and are used by virtually all age groups and skill levels. Even MLB teams are known to use these!
Finding the Right Pitching Machine for You
This sums up the main differences between each type of machine and what they are designed to do. If you are still unsure of which machine is right for you, feel free to check out our pitching machine buyer's guide or our top 10 pitching machines articles for additional information. And, as always, feel free to contact us for expert help!