I owned a baseball academy for many years that used pitching machines where hitters could work at hitting without fear of being hit by the ball. Pitching machines consistently threw strikes, and hitters often built confidence by using them. Confidence is always good, but I’m ashamed to say that the consistency of the machines may have been detrimental in helping hitters. “What was that for?” you ask. The launchers are not consistent for the most part, and each launch is done at a different speed and location. The problem is that the throwing machines are usually very consistent, which is not like a game. Pitching at the same speed with nearly the same location each time can negatively affect a hitter when playing games. Rarely are two pitches exactly the same in a real game.
I have seen a lot of changes and / or times of the hitters “spoiled” due to the hitting machines. Hitting a ball continuously with the same speed and pitching location for 10 minutes or more can cause a batter’s swing to be wrong and create timing for just that speed pitch. As mentioned, when hitters later go to games and are faced with pitchers not throwing anywhere near the same pitch that they threw in the batting cages, this can turn their use of the batting cage into negative practice. Does this mean that I don’t recommend that players practice going to the local batting cages? Of course not, but with the potentially damaging issues mentioned above, there are certain things players should do when doing hitting practice with pitching machines. Following these guidelines will help hitters use their time in the batting cages in the most effective way.
1. If there is a faster-slower setting on the controls, then they should be used frequently. Likewise, if a coach can change gears relatively easily, they must do so often.
2. Batters should always start with a strideless approach to avoid jumping to the ball. This will help players get used to speed without launching, because it’s hard to get a rhythm without the arm action of a real pitcher.
3. Similarly, as long as the hitters know the correct hitting technique, they should start with a few taps to get an idea of the consistency and speed of the machine.
4. Batters must move around the batter’s cage frequently (even for every pitch).
to. To work in low tones, they may have to go further into the batter’s box or get closer to the machine to receive higher tones.
B. Along the same lines, batters should move closer to home to work on inside pitches and away from home to have balls on the outside of the plate. As with any batting practice, it is recommended that batters always try to hit the ball in the direction the ball is thrown.
5. It is further recommended that the speed batters face be changed each time they go to the cages; remember to work on slow pitches when they have trouble waiting for the ball in games and face faster speeds when they are continually late in games.
6. Finishing at slow speeds is always recommended because it is generally easier to “hit the bat” in a game than to wait for the balls when a batter’s time is too early on the pitched ball.
Of course, this is all based on taking on consistent pitcher machines. Inconsistent machines can be more game-like and useful, but care must be taken from getting hit by the ball with inconsistent machines. Finally, hitters should be careful not to use their playing bat in the cages too often, as wear and tear can damage aluminum bats.