Everyone knows why pitching machines are important.
They are used for solo practice and also in the little leagues.
But, the main question is,
What is the best little league pitching machine for 2020?
Before buying, it’s important to check:
- The pitching speed of a machine
- Auto ball feeding functionality
- Wheeled or compressed air machine
- Runs on electricity or manual
- And a few more things
In this article, I tried to include each and everything that you want to know before buying, so you don’t have to go to the web and search for anything else.
This is a big article, so grab a cup of coffee.
If you don’t have enough time, then reading the next section will give you enough information to choose the best machine.
My Favorite Pitching Machines
Pitching Machine for Little Leagues
In the little leagues and other baseball organizations that handle baseball games for kids allow pitching machines instead of real pitching.
The most common pitching machine that is used in the little leagues is Louisville Slugger UPM 45 Blue Flame Pitching Machine.
You may have seen it in various leagues because it is perfect for such purposes.
In most of the youth baseball leagues, 25mph to 50mph is the pitching speed range and only an adult is allowed to operate the pitching machine in the league.
The Louisville Slugger UPM 45 Machine is perfect for the Little League because it throws pitches up to 45 mph which is the desired maximum speed in the leagues.
In the youth leagues, a lot of pitches need to be thrown and therefore spring-loaded manual models are more common as compared to the battery-powered. The battery-powered machines can run out of the power during the game and you don’t want to use wired machines with a wire spreading in the ground.
The manual pitching machine provides so much flexibility that most of the leagues prefer spring-loaded Louisville Slugger UPM 45.
So, my personal recommendation for little & youth leagues, Louisville Slugger UPM 45 Blue Flame Machine is the best option because it follows all the major rules that are defined by various leagues for the use of pitching machines.
If you take a look at this short video, you’ll see that they’re using UPM 45.
I know the machine is not very much visible, but it’s UPM 45.
I suggest you that before purchasing this or any other product make sure to look at the customer reviews of Louisville Slugger UPM 45. You’ll see that there are a lot of reviews about using it in the little leagues.
If the solo practice is important for you, then HEATER SPORTS Baseball Pitching Machine is perfect for you.
It is similar to Louisville Slugger UPM45 Pitching Machine.
So, why I’m calling it an alternative?
It’s an alternative because it runs on power, and it has auto ball feeding functionality.
Solo practicing is possible with this machine at an affordable price.
Pitching Machines Rules for Little League Baseball
But before using a pitching machine you should know about the rules for little league baseball. Here is the comprehensive list of rules.R
- The pitching machines should be in good order for little league baseball. They should be well maintained and operation-friendly. Before any games, the speed should get along with the managers of both side teams. And the speed can be increased with the consent of both teams prior to the commencement of an innings.
- An adult can only feed the ball into the pitching machine. For teenagers, this work is strictly prohibited. They cannot even stand in the middle of the diamond and feed the machine.
- The person has to be alert every time so that he can save himself from any kind of damage. Here the balls should be thrown back and forth all across the infield.
- You have to place the machine and the operator behind the pitching screen always. In this way, you can guard the person operating it as well as the pitching machine.
- In case of unavailability of the screen, the league has to mark an area around the pitching machine along with a circle and prohibit the entry of any player. The batted ball can be dead in case of hitting the pitching screen along with the person feeding the machine. In this case, the batter should be awarded a single and in many cases, all those dead balls are known as non-pitches.
- The pitching position should be inside the defense area and any player staying in the pitching position should not stay in front of the pitching machine screen. He has to stand on the side of the pitching machine as per his wish and should start from that position only every time soon after the pitching.
- There should not be any balls and strikes in pitching machine baseball as there will not be any pitcher. In such a case, the hitter earns a finite number of pitches for putting the ball into the game.
- As per the little league baseball, there is not any finite number of pitches but it can vary from three to five mostly.
Different Types of Pitching Machines
Based on how the pitching machines work, generally, we divided them into three categories. These are
- Armed Pitching Machine
- Wheeled Pitching Machine
- Compressed Air Pitching Machine
Armed Pitching Machine
Mostly when players practice in the batting cages, they use the armed pitching machine.
Players used armed machines because they are automatic, and therefore, many professional players also use them.
Another advantage of using them is that it gives the feel like they’re playing with a natural pitcher.
But, for youth, then these may not be good for you because they are not as portable as small wheeled or compressed air machines and they are also costly as compared to other baseball machines.
The main purpose of armed machines is to provide fast pitches because professional pitchers throw at a really high speed.
Wheeled Pitching Machine
The wheeled pitching machines are very popular in the young high school baseball players because they are perfect for them.
They are smaller in size, and they’re very portable. You can easily transport them from one place to another. You can easily open them or assemble them in just a few minutes.
You can use them as your backyard practice machine, and if you want to practice somewhere else, then you can easily take it to that area without any problem.
Along with that, they are also quite affordable. You can easily purchase a good machine without spending thousands of dollars on it.
But, the inexpensive machines aren’t able to pitch a ball at a very high speed. So, for the middle school young players or for high school players, you can buy a good wheeled pitching machine under 300 or $400.
If you want to check, HEATER SPORTS Deuce is the best-wheeled pitching machine you can buy for the adult players.
Compressed Air Pitching Machine
The compressed air baseball pitching machines are also popular among the young high school players.
As the name suggests, the compressed air is used to throw the ball at a fast speed.
They’re portable, and they don’t need the power to run. Along with that, they are affordable, so this is also a good choice. As the price goes higher in this category, the quality & features also start to add up.
But, in compressed, you may need another person for operating it. In that case, you can’t do the practice alone. You’ll always need another person who will handle the machine from that end.
If you want a manual or compressed air machine, then Louisville Slugger UPM45 is the best option for you.
How Power Source Matters in a Baseball Pitching Machine?
This is a very important feature that you can’t ignore when purchasing a baseball pitching machine.
If you are playing outside your backyard, then it can be difficult to find a power source every time & everywhere.
There are some pitching machines for which power source is not required. The compressed air machines are very popular and people buy them because of this special feature.
You can also choose some battery operated wheeled pitching machines. But, the number of pitches they can throw depends on the model of a machine that you purchase and at what speed you are using this it.
So, if you do not want any resistance because of the availability of power source, then compressed air machines & battery operated machines should be your number one choice.
If you take a look at various little leagues, they generally use manual pitching machines because no one wants a power cable in the ground for providing electricity to the machine.
Therefore, manual machines are popular because the parents can also easily use them to help their young kids for the practice. That’s why manual machines are considered as the perfect for the youth.
How Much Does the Little League Pitching Machine Cost?
The baseball pitching machines can range from 40$ to 5000$, or even above that mark.
If you ask, how much does it cost for the high-quality one, then the answer can be a little more than one word because the term “best pitching machine” is different for one player to another.
A pitching machine under 250$ may be good for little league players, but if a college level or professional player plays with that machine, then obviously, it’ll not be good for him. Louisville Slugger UPM50 comes under this budget.
You can find this pitching machine in various little leagues because such affordable machines follow all the rules that are defined by various leagues for the use of these machines machines.
If you are playing in the high school baseball, then 600$ to 900$ machine may be enough for you, but again for the professional players, you need a machine that can pitch a ball at a much faster speed.
Do You Need a Separate Pitching Machine for Baseball & Softball?
Most of the pitching machines can throw both softball and baseball without any difficulty.
But, some machines throw softball or baseball because of their different sizes of baseballs and softballs.
In most of the cases, you do not have to purchase a separate pitching machine for baseball and softball.
But, before purchasing, it is important to take a look at the description of the product whether it is possible to throw a different wall with it or not because with some machines you can pitch a different ball by just adjusting the machine but some machines are not made for pitching other types of balls.
How Fast Can a Pitching Machine Throw?
The speed of a baseball pitch depends on the price of the pitching machine.
Generally, the inexpensive pitching machines that cost 100$ to 150$ can throw a baseball at a speed of 20 mph to 50 mph.
I know this is a big range. Even this is not accurate because there are so many brands that manufacture them and you’ll find some that throw a little slower than that. While some in this price range can throw a little faster than that.
But, you’ll get a general idea from this price range.
When it comes to pitching machine for kids, this is the price range that you want to follow. You can go a little higher up to $200, but there is no need to move above that.
While if you spend a little extra money like $250 or $300, then you can expect 60 to 75 mph speed.
These all are general numbers.
But, one thing is for sure, if you want a pitch at a speed of more than 80 mph, then you have to spend much more than $300. Even, you may have to spend $800 or $1000 for that.
What Type of Pitching Machine is good for Young Kids?
If you want to purchase a baseball pitching machine for the younger kids like 12 or 13 years old, then there will be of no need to spend a lot of money.
But, buying a too cheap product is a very bad idea.
The Machine like Louisville Slugger UPM 45 is perfect for the young kids because it throws at a good speed according to their hitting skills.
When you purchase it, make sure it follows the league rules for the use pitching machine. Different leagues generally have slightly different rules, so it’s best to know them.
Buying an expensive $800 pitching machine for youth can also work. But, it’ll not be much helpful for you right now because you can get 40 mph pitch from various affordable machines.
But, if you purchase an expensive one, then it’ll be helpful when the kids become older than 13 years.
How to Buy a Pitching Machine for Little League
Your baseball pitching machine should be portable because you can’t keep it in open all the time. Even, you may not want to place it at one place all the time.
After practicing, you will want to store it in your house or you need to take it somewhere else.
If your machine is not portable or it is too heavy, then it can be a real problem for you every time when you want to move it from one place to another.
If you are looking for your kids, then it is very important to be portable, because kids can’t move a heavy one from one place to another.
As told earlier, there are three types of pitching machines available from which you can choose.
- Armed Pitching Machine
- Wheeled Pitching Machine
- Compressed Air Pitching Machine
In simple words, the armed pitching machines are for professional players or for those who can purchase expensive products.
The wheeled machines are for middle to high school baseball players. These machines throw a ball at a good speed and you can find them at an affordable price depending upon the features & pitching speed.
The compressed air machines are also for middle to high school baseball players because they are affordable and can throw a ball at a good speed.
Generally, players prefer battery powered or manual machines because in most of the fields it is not practical to find a power source.
That’s the reason, why you find manual machines in the little leagues and in the practice fields.
In that case, battery-powered or manual machines are perfect. For that purpose, compressed air machines and wheeled machines are the good options.
Speed is Important
The speed is one of the main features that determine the price.
Generally, the inexpensive or cheap ones can throw a ball at a slower speed.
If you expect 50 to 60 mph pitches, then you have to spend at least $100. As the speed increases, the price also increases.
While, if you are expecting more than 80 mph, then you have to spend a lot more than $100. For a speed of higher than 80 mph, $700 or $800 is a common price or you may even have to pay more than that.
This is also one of the important features that you can’t ignore.
If your new product doesn’t support ball feeding, then you can’t do solo practicing.
This could be a feature that you may not find in some of the inexpensive products.
For solo practicing, you will need a machine that has an automatic ball feeding functionality so that when you are on the batting side, you can alone hit the balls that come from the machine. There will be no need for the second person who stands with the machine to feed the next ball.
So, automatic ball feeding is a really helpful feature that should be present in every machine. But, if your machine doesn’t have that feature then you’ll need an extra person who will feed the ball again and again after every hit.
If you have someone, then you’re good to go. But, if not, then automatic ball feeding feature is necessary for you.
Baseball + Softball
Are you a baseball player or a softball player?
This determines which machine you’ll need.
In general, your machine will be able to throw both baseballs and softballs, but before purchasing it is important to see the details.
There are some machines that are designed for only softballs or baseballs, so before doing the final payment make sure it is for baseball, softball, or you can throw both types of balls with it.
The warranty period depends on the product to product.
It is one of the most important factors that you should consider before purchasing, but still very few people consider it.
You can guess the durability by just looking at the warranty period of a product.
The manufacturers are not going to give you a 5 Years of warranty if they already know their product can’t even last for 2 years.
So, if you see a product that comes with 5 Years of warranty, then you can guess it is going to last for much more than 5 years.
Along with that the warranty period also gives you security in case if you get some defective product or you get some problem with the product.
The price increases as the features increases.
If you are expecting a machine that can throw a ball at a very fast speed, then you have to pay more money for that.
A machine that can throw a ball at a speed of more than 85 mph, then you can expect it’ll cost more than $1000.
While if you need a machine that throws at only 40 to 60 mph, then you can buy it at an approximately $100 or $200.
Best Pitching Machines for 2020
Louisville Slugger UPM45 Blue Flame
This is one of the most popular baseball pitching machines on the field, and it should be because it is really worth the price you pay.
It can throw hard balls like baseballs and softballs at a speed range of 18 to 45 mph, while it can throw lightweight practice baseballs & softballs up to 60 mph speed.
You can throw any type of ball with it, whether it is hard ball or softball, or even you can throw soccer & volleyballs with it because you just have to place the ball on it, and it’ll throw.
This is also very accurate. You just have to do micro adjustments to change the speed, length, flight of the ball. With some changes, you can easily throw strikes, fly balls, and even grounders.
With this ability to throw multiple types of balls, you can conveniently use it for the practice session. There will be no need of hitting the ball just to provide practice balls to the fielders. You just have to do some micro adjustments and it’ll throw perfect balls for any type of player whether it is a catcher, hitter, infielder or outfielder.
So, along with batting, it also helps in catching drills.
Another thing that makes it popular is it’s completely manual. There is no need of any power source or batteries. This is a really important feature because players can’t use many pitchers for a long time because they have to recharge the batteries or they didn’t find the power source in the field. But, there is no problem with this machine, and you can use it without thinking about any such problem.
Along with that, it is very lightweight, just 25 lbs, so you can easily transport it from one place to another.
But, if you want to practice with it, then you need someone who will load the balls one at a time, and handle the machine to throw a ball by pressing the lever.
This is not a big deal for most of the players, but if you mostly do solo practice, then this is a big thing for you. You can’t do solo practice with it.
- Lightweight, just 25 lbs
- Completely manual, no electricity or batteries
- Throw hardball at 18 to 45 mph, while lightweight balls up to 60 mph
- Any type of balls can be used
- Can throw multiple types of balls like flyers, grounders, strikes etc
- Accurate throw
- Easy to assemble
- Not for solo practice, one person required to control the machine
- Auto-ball feeder not present
Who Should Buy This?
This baseball & softball pitching machine is perfect for young players. As a general rule, it is good for kids who are 11 or 12 years old or younger than that, because for players who are older than that may not find it a little challenging.
For players above that age, they need a machine that can throw a little faster than that. This may not be a good product for them.
But, for young players, there is no doubt about that it is one of the best.
That’s why, this pitching machine is authorized to use in the majority of young leagues including Babe Ruth Baseball & Softball League, Pony League Baseball & Softball, and in many more.
I highly recommend that you take a look at the customer reviews of Louisville Slugger UPM45 Machine and see how parents & coaches are using it to help the young players in their practice.
HEATER SPORTS Deuce Pitching Machine
The HEATER SPORTS Deuce is one of the best pitching machines for high school & college baseball players.
The biggest problem with the pitching machines is that they can’t throw a ball at a fast speed, but this throws at great speed that makes it perfect for big boys & girls.
With this machine, you can throw a baseball at a speed range between 15 to 75 mph, while it can throw lite-balls up to 85 mph. This is a really good range because most of the machines can’t throw at this range, and if you just come forward for feet then it’ll feel like you’re facing an 85 mph ball.
The dual pneumatic tires are able to throw curve-balls, sliders, and fastballs easily.
When it comes wheeled pitching machines, they could be dangerous because of the fast-moving wheel. Therefore, to enhance the safety and durability of the wheel, the wheels are enclosed in the metal covering that gives extra safety and helps them to last longer.
The pivot head design is also a good feature because with that you can tilt the machine at any particular angle that you want that enables you to throw pitches at certain angles. This functionality gives you the feeling like you’re playing in the natural game.
The 12 balls automatic ball feeder is an extremely helpful feature that is a game changer. With this feature, it can throw 12 pitches after every 8 seconds which is enough for the hitter to adjust and prepare for the next pitch. With the auto ball feeder feature, there is no need for the second person which will control the machine to throw the pitch again and again. You can do the solo practice without any problem.
As the weight is 75 lbs, you can easily store it in the backseat or trunk of a truck or car, and transport it to the field.
When it throws a ball, it should be stable, and for that strong steel legs are present.
But, to make it work, you’ll need A/C power supply. This could be a problem if there is no power source in the field where you want to practice.
This machine is perfect for the high school baseball players and adults because it throws at a fast speed.
Another thing that gives a reason to purchase it is the company offers 30-Day Money Back Guarantee, and One-Year Warranty. If you don’t find it good enough, then you can the full money back depending upon the condition.
- Throws baseballs at 15 to 75 mph, while the lite-balls up to 85 mph
- Wheel coverings for safety
- Auto ball feeder throws a pitch after every 8 seconds
- Lightweight & portable
- Ability to throw a ball at a certain angle
- One-Year Warranty
- 30 Day Money Back Guarantee
- Constant power supply required, but a manual machine can’t throw at this speed
Who Should Buy This?
The HEATER SPORTS Deuce is perfect for the high school or adult baseball players.
If you look at the cheap machines, then they are not good for the high school players because they can’t throw balls at such a high speed with stability.
As the high school or adult players need a lot of high-quality practice due to the tough competition, therefore, this machine is perfect for them because it can throw high-speed balls at a certain angle which you can’t find in common machines.
For the high school players, I highly recommend that taking a look at this.
HEATER SPORTS Baseball Pitching Machine
This is a great machine that is affordable and throws a ball at 10 to 45 mph, while the lite ball at 15 to 60 mph.
The automatic 12 ball feeder is the facility that you can’t get at this price range. By just feeding it 12 balls at one time, you can do the solo practice, and it’ll throw a ball after every 8 seconds.
This is lightweight and highly portable so you can easily take it where you want.
But, you need a power source for it to work. For that, you can simply plug it and you can enjoy for hours without any problem. A standard wall outlet can also work for it.
The metal covering is also present that provides safety from the fast-moving wheel.
- Throw real baseballs at 10 to 45 mph
- The metal covering for protection from wheel
- Lightweight & Portable
- Auto-ball feeder
- Need power source
Who Should Buy This?
If you want an affordable baseball pitching machine for the youth then this is perfect for you.
This throws in a range of 10 to 45 mph, so for 6 to 12 years, old players will love to play with it.
This is a good alternative for the Louisville Slugger UPM45 because it throws at a similar speed but it offers the auto ball feeding functionality which is not present in Louisville.
So, if the solo practice is important for you then HEATER SPORTS Machine is the best option.
If you buy a good one, then you don’t need another one for a few years.
So, make sure to spend as per your budget, and buy the best one according to that.
If you’re buying it for a baseball league, then make sure to check all the rules before purchasing.
I hope that you had found all the answers to your questions.
If you have any questions, then leave them in the comment box, I’ll try to answer them as soon as possible.