Discount Pitching Machine Q & A
How is speed measured?
Manufacturers typically list the top speed of their machine or a range of MPH. Of course, the pitch will be faster just as it leaves the machine than when it reaches the strike zone. So pitching machine speeds are measured when it reaches the home plate traveling at the regulation distance from the pitching mound. If a pitching machine is typically used for little league, for example, the speed measurement will be based on a shorter distance. The type of pitch also makes a difference. Pitching machine top speeds are typically given for fastballs, which have just a backspin and no curve.
For 1 wheel machines, that's usually the only pitch possible! For 2 and 3 wheel machines, the pitch speed will be based on the average speeds of all the wheels, but the fastball, of course, will be the fastest pitch. So the fastball pitch speed has come to be the standard measure of top speed. There are a few pitching machines from Heater Sports that also factor in the type of ball. "Lite-balls" have the same size as a regular ball but have a lighter weight. Therefore, it takes less wheel speed to get the same pitch speed.
What difference does the number of wheels make?
The more wheels, the more pitch variety, precision and accuracy you get.
1 wheel machines can pitch fastballs, and they do it well. The ball is fed just over the wheel and gets a nice realistic backspin. Our 1 wheel pitching machines are very accurate. If you want to send to another part of the strike zone, you can't rely on curves. Instead, some models might let you change the release point up or down, or you can move the whole machine.
2 wheel pitching machines open up more pitch variety. Based on each wheel speed and the tilt of the head left or rigth, you can pitch not only fastballs but breaking pitches. The greater the difference in wheel speeds, the more curve you get. The ball will always tend to curve in the direction of the faster wheel. You're also going to get more power with 2 wheels and 2 motors. Say you want to pitch a fastball. Just like with a 1 wheel pitching machine, the ball will have a backspin. You can use a 2 wheel machine to do the same thing. You just align the head so that the wheels are vertical. Unlike a 1 wheel machine, you can control the level of backspin. For more backspin, you would make the speed ratio of the bottom wheel to top wheel larger.
3 wheel just take these concepts one step further. They are the most powerful, versatile and accurate class of pitching machines. There are 3 motors and 3 points of contact with the ball. Pitches can have even more curve and speed.
How do you convert from baseball to softball or vice versa?
Many pitching machines can come as baseball, softball or even cricket! The difference is basically the hardware that you use and simple configuration of the wheels. Baseball legs are longer, and softball legs are shorter, so they are swapped one for the other. The size of the balls are different, so you typically need to use a different chute where balls are fed. The wheels should come closer together for baseball and farther away for softball. If you have purchased one style, you can purchase an upgrade kit at a later time.