Pitching machines for Softball: Pros and Cons of using them


In outfitting your young fastpitch softball player, you’ve probably spent some time considering the right type of softball bat, glove, and other softball equipment she needs for enjoying the sport. However, you may be wondering if she needs anything else. Would a softball pitching machine give her extra practice?  Here are some tips on the pros and cons:

Cons of Using Pitching Machines for Softball
The biggest problem with a young softball player practicing using a pitching machine is that often the machine is not used correctly. Here are some of the cons:

  • If the pitching machine gives the same pitch over and over, the player doesn’t learn to make swing adjustments.
  • If the machine is set to pitch at the same pace each time, a player’s timing becomes unrealistic.
  • Often beginning players will miss so many pitches from the machine that they will just swing at anything and reinforce poor habits.

Pros of Using Pitching Machines for Softball
However, if a young female player has been outfitted with a good softball bat just right for her size and ability, and the pitching machine can vary the pitches, using a machine can be a great way to get in extra practice, even on her own. Here are the benefits:

  • More time to improve than is available when the whole team is practicing.
  • Can help hitters who have a fear of the ball gain confidence.
  • Better than tee work for getting a feel for the game.
  • Pitching machine can be slowed down from game speed to increase a hitter’s confidence.

Tips for Using Softball Pitching Machines
Using the softball pitching machine at home or with the team will work better when doing the following:

  • Adjust the machine to pitch at different speeds and different pitches.
  • Hitters should start using a no-stride approach so that they will concentrate on seeing the ball and getting in tune with the rhythm of the machine.
  • Hitters should move around inside the batter’s box to get a bigger variation in pitching which will be similar to pitches in a game.
  • Players should hit the ball in the direction of where it is pitched, just as you would in a pitcher thrown practice.
  • For beginning players or players who lack confidence, start the pitches at a slower speed, or move the machine further away until the hitter is consistently hitting.  Then slowly increase the speed or move the machine closer until the hitter is able to contact the ball at a speed close to the average pitcher in the league.
  • Just as in a game, make sure that players wear helmets for protection and use the same bat for practicing that they will be using in games.

Is a Softball Pitching Machine Right for You?
As with most tools, a softball pitching machine can be terrific if used correctly. If you need help choosing a pitching machine, composite bat or any other fastpitch softball equipment, be sure to consult the experts at Longstreth Sporting Goods who specialize in outfitting female fastpitch softball players with equipment that fits their unique needs.

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