Best Pitching Machine For Little League (Reviews & Comparison)

best pitching machine for little league

Is the “little” in little league throwing you off? Well, I was in the same boat once. I thought little league is all fun and games. But with the Little League World Series, Babe Ruth League, and other major/minor tourneys – the competition is intense.

You can get tons of training done from the academy and with the help of a coach – true. But if your up-and-coming champ wants to become the star of the show, you should give some thought to getting the best pitching machine for little league.

Why? Because if you have one at your home, your little soon-to-be baseball rockstar can put some extra training hours in that others can’t. So, your kid will have a leg up. And if you’re not a parent but a coach like me, you should know how tiring it gets just to keep pitching. I’m not complaining. But the exhaustion affects the consistency of pitches – not helpful for the hitters.

Plus, pitching machine practice will help your hitters ace the machine pitch in the minor league division.

So, I’m going to shed some light on the top little league machines that are popular amongst coaches, parents, and little league tournament managers. You should get a complete idea of what each machine has to offer by the end. Let’s get rolling.

Top 6 Best Pitching Machine For Little League

The point is – if you’re not using the batting tee to hone your swings, you should definitely look into a pitching machine. Even if you have a batting tee, getting a pitching machine can be both entertaining for your players and helpful for improving their swing mechanics.

That’s why I’m going to go all Sherlock on the pitching machines I’m about to showcase. The machines listed here are my personal favorites, and I use them all the time to train all the MLB aspirants under my wing. So, let me show you whether the best kid’s pitching machines I have here are worth their salt.

Louisville Slugger Black Flame Pitching Machine
Louisville Slugger Black Flame Pitching Machine
  • Speed: 18-50 MPH
  • Weight: 25lbs
  • Compatibility: Baseball and Softball
  • Adjustable: Yes
  • Type: Manual operation
Jugs BP1 Baseball/Softball Combo Pitching Machine
Jugs BP1 Baseball/Softball Combo Pitching Machine
  • Speed: 15-75MPH
  • Weight: 75lbs
  • Compatibility: Baseball/Softball
  • Adjustable: Yes
  • Type: Battery/Generator Operated
Franklin Sports MLB Electronic Baseball Pitching Machine
Franklin Sports MLB Electronic Baseball Pitching Machine
  • Speed: 20MPH
  • Weight: 3.5lbs
  • Compatibility: Aero-Strike balls (plastic balls)
  • Adjustable: Slightly – 3 degrees up or down
  • Type: Battery operated
Sports Attack Junior Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine
Sports Attack Junior Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine
  • Speed: 70+MPH
  • Weight: 75lbs
  • Compatibility: Baseball
  • Adjustable: Yes (more pitch variations than any other machine)
  • Type: Battery/Generator Operated
Jugs Small-Ball Pitching Machine
Jugs Small-Ball Pitching Machine
  • Speed: Up to 75MPH
  • Weight: 23lbs
  • Compatibility: Only Jugs Small-balls or other 5-inch balls
  • Adjustable: Yes
  • Type: Battery/Generator Operated
Heater Sports Heavy Duty Baseball Pitching Machine
Heater Sports Heavy Duty Baseball Pitching Machine
  • Speed: 10 – 50MPH (real baseball) 20 – 80MPH (lite baseballs)
  • Weight: 5.4lbs
  • Compatibility: Baseball
  • Adjustable: Yes
  • Type: Battery/Generator Operated

1. Louisville Slugger Black Flame Pitching Machine (Coach’s Favorite)

Louisville Slugger Black Flame Pitching Machine

In a world dominated by automatic pitching machines, it’s hard for a manual machine to its head above water. More often than not, manual pitching machines don’t make it after clashing against the automatic titans.

But the Louisville Slugger Black Flame is different. It has become a staple. The popularity of this machine has soared to the extent that this manual machine can give even top-tier automatic ones a run for their money.

Anyways, as you can already tell – the Black Flame is a manual pitching machine. So, the biggest upside here is – you’ll be free from tangled webs of electrical cords, free from having to use a generator or power outlet required, and free from electricity bills piling up.

The speed the Louisville Black Flame can dish out is 50MPH fastballs. The recommended distance is anywhere between 40-54 feet. If you look at the Little League chart, the max speed of this machine has you and your kid covered for minor and major Little League divisions. Only in the Intermediation (50/70) division, the speed can go up to 60-70MPH, and the Black Flame’s speed will fall short.

Plus, in the Cal Ripken Baseball from Babe Ruth League, this machine’s speed is enough to hone the batting skills of Major 70 little leaguers. It’s not just the max speed that matters. The Black Flame has an excellent low speed of 18MPH. So, this machine is great for tee ballplayers as well.

The other good thing about the Black Flame is that it has dual compatibility. You’re not just stuck with using regulation baseballs once you get this machine. You can switch and use it for softball as well. So, you don’t have to spend any extra bucks even when you have players of two different sports.

And it’s not just about getting the hitting drills right. You can change the Black Flame’s setup and prepare it for flyballs and groundballs. So, you can train your infielders and outfielders by simply changing a few things. However, read the instructions carefully before you attempt installation or any changes.

The Louisville Slugger Black Flame is an incredible all-around pitching machine. That’s why it’s on top. The only problem is that somebody needs to man the machine because it’s not automated. But for coaches who want to train kids or parents looking to spend quality time, it’s amazing.

After all, it’s the official machine for Pony League and Cal Ripken Baseball (Babe Ruth League).

If you’re sure about the Black Flame, there’s always the budget-friendly Louisville Slugger Blue Flame. It’s almost $50 cheaper than the Black Flame, with a few downgrades in speed settings and construction. But both these machines can stand toe-to-toe in quality against most automatic pitching machines. I’ve already covered it in the Louisville Slugger Black Flame review.

From where I stand, it’s pretty safe to say that the Louisville Slugger Black Flame deserves to be called the best youth pitching machine due to its performance, price, and durability.

Strength
  • No additional power requirement = less hassle + more game
  • Speed settings suitable for tee ball and little league
  • You can perform hitting and fielding drills by simply changing the setup
  • Sturdy construction – will last for years if maintained properly
Weakness
  • A person – preferably an adult – needs to supervise the machine
  • The push-and-pull can get exhausting for the supervisor/coach/ or anyone who's operating the machine for long hours

2. Jugs BP1 Baseball/Softball Combo Pitching Machine

Jugs BP1 Baseball/Softball Combo Pitching Machine

The Louisville Slugger Black Flame is an amazing pitching machine, but at the end of the day – it’s manual. Most people get a pitching machine because they want automated training because they can’t find a pitcher to practice with. Now, the Black Flame fails to deliver on that end. If you want convenience and quality packaged and delivered to you in a machine, I’d say it’s the Jugs BP1.

Before I move into the details, I should tell you that automatic machines are a big investment. Even the low-end models can take a decent chunk out of your wallet. However, you have to consider these machines as a long-term investment. Most automatic machines like the Jugs BP1 last for 7-10 years.

With that said, Jugs BP1 has everything you need to get your little leaguer in shape for the upcoming major/minor. The lowest speed you get with this machine is 15MPH. So, you tee-ball rockstars would have a wonderful time with the machine, and so would you as a coach/parent.

Plus, the speed can go as high as 75MPH. That’s an important feature. The Black Flame is capped at 50MPH. Now, if your kids are about to go into Little League’s Junior League or Major 70 in Cal Ripken Baseball, the 50MPH cap will hurt their practice sessions.

Kids around 12-14 will have a pitching speed of 55-75MPH. So, your hitters will get trashed with fastballs if they aren’t ready. That’s why the wide and high-speed settings of Jugs BP1 is really helpful if you have a lot of kids of different ages training under you.

The speed and accuracy you get from this machine are quite consistent. Pitch consistency should be on the priority list of anyone who’s looking for an automatic machine. Why? Because pitching machines are vulnerable to a machine-walk condition. It means the entire thing will keep moving after each pitch. That’s not what you want.

The tri-pod base of Jugs BP1 remains stable after tons of pitches. So, you wouldn’t have to keep readjusting this heavy 75lbs machine every other time. It’s a heavy machine but moving it around is way easier than you’d think. Just turn it upside-down – use the pitching wheel to roll the machine away – so simple and elegant.

This youth baseball pitching machine is great for fielding drills as well. If you’re doing some fielding drills for youth, you just need to use the 360-swivel base for a pop-fly and groundball. So, it’s hitting two birds with one stone twice – you get hitting and fielding drills for both baseball and softball.

Jugs BP1 is one of my favorite pitching machines. I’ve used it for a long time, and I’m never tired of using it. The Black Flame is an incredible machine, but once you get the hang of using an automatic machine – life is simpler, easier, and – to a certain extent – better. You can look into the Jugs Pitching Machine review if you want more in-depth analysis.

A lot of coaches and academies use the BP1 for their machine pitch baseball league – I did it as well. So, the Jugs BP1 is one of the best pitching machines for the little league – hands down. The only issue I have is the price. But think about it as a long-term investment. Remember, it does come with a sweet 5-year warranty.

Strength
  • Wide speed range is helpful for all players aged between 4-14 years old
  • Portable machine – just flip the wheel and go
  • Sturdy base doesn't result in a machine walk after every pitch
  • The 360-swivel design makes fielding drills a breeze
Weakness
  • Comparatively expensive
  • Needs a power outlet – generator/battery

3. Franklin Sports MLB Electronic Baseball Pitching Machine

Franklin Sports MLB Electronic Baseball Pitching Machine

The two pitching machines mentioned above can help tee ball players and little leaguers. But a lot of parents want something smaller for their rising tee ball player. If you’re not keen on spending north of $1000, the Franklin Sports MLB Electronic Baseball Pitching Machine should be just the perfect gift for your kids.

Despite being a really cheap machine, the Franklin MLB has a lot of good stuff under its belt. For starters, I love the ball feeder attached to the machine. If you look at the Jugs BP1 or even Louisville Black Flame, you’ll see that there’s no ball feeder. You can purchase a separate carousel feeder for BP1, though.

Anyways, the Franklin MLB has a built-in feeder that holds up to 9 balls. The pitch gets delivered every 10 seconds. The timing isn’t super precise. It can be anywhere between 8-10 seconds. Plus, the speed is capped at 20MPH. So, you won’t have to worry about your kids hurting themselves.

You can adjust the height a bit – 3 degrees exactly. All you have to do is tilt the machine forwards or backward. The adjustment doesn’t allow it to do groundballs. You’ll still keep getting flyballs.

Plus, you neither have to man the machine yourself nor do you need a power outlet. It’s battery-operated. You simply place 6D batteries, and the machine is all good to go.

That’s all there is to the Franklin MLB – nothing shiny or fancy to point out. It’s a simple children’s pitching machine. Also, the price point is more than reasonable. A sub-$50 machine is a rare breed these days, and Franklin MLB is one of them.

However, calling it a pitching machine is somewhat unfair to the other top-notch machines. It’s a glorified toy turned into a pitching machine for toddlers. If you compare it to a standard machine, you’ll see the difference.

For instance, it can only use Aero-Strike balls – nothing else. There’re no speed adjustments – it’s locked at 20MPH. Only flyballs – no groundballs or even straight fastballs. The entire machine is plastic. If you drop it from a certain height, it’ll come apart.

But you can’t look at this pitching machine from the standard perspective. It’s nowhere near a standard pitching machine. It’s a toy. But it’s a toy that’ll get your tee ball player into baseball/softball. They’ll slowly learn the game, love it, and maybe you can get a better pitching machine down the line.

It’ll help your tee ball star put some practice hours in without your or a coach’s supervision.

If you don’t have kids above 10, you don’t need a mid-tier or high-end pitching machine. Machines like the Franklin MLB are fine. It’s all you need. I have no hate towards this pitching machine. In fact, I think Franklin did a wonderful job at helping kids get into the game. So, I’ll go as far as to title the Franklin MLB as the best pitching machine for a 6-year-old.

Strength
  • Really cheap – one of the cheapest pitching machines available
  • Has a built-in ball feeder – less manual intervention required
  • Slight adjustments can be made to add some variety to the pitches
  • No external power outlet/generator required – runs of batteries
Weakness
  • The construction is not sturdy comparatively
  • The balls inside the feeder can get stuck at times

4. Sports Attack Junior Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine

Sports Attack Junior Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine

All the pitching machines I’ve talked about until now are good. But they aren’t what I’d call – at the top of the pitching machine mountain. The BP1 is close, but it’s a one-wheeler. So, it lacks pitching variety.

Anyways, I wanted a pitching machine that’s suitable for little leaguers of all ages – from tee-ball league to senior league. The hunt for such a machine led me to the Sports Attack’s Junior Hack Attack Pitching Machine.

For starters, you should know that Junior Hack Attack is a three-wheel machine. Unlike the Jugs BP1, it has two extra wheels. Now, what does that have to do with the increased price and overall performance?

Let me explain. Three-wheelers can add pitching variety that a one-wheeler can never do. For instance, a one-wheel machine can only throw a straight fastball. On the other hand, a three-wheeler can use either the left or the right wheel to add some curve to the fastball and turn it into a slider.

So, that’s one of the biggest upsides of having a three-wheeler. You can do so many different pitches and keep your hitters on their toes when practicing. You can’t get such a level of readiness in hitters with a one-wheel machine because, after a couple of hundred shots, they can nail down the rhythm and speed of the pitch.

With a one-wheel pitching machine, you can only adjust the elevation – no curves. But the Junior Hack Attack will allow you to combine both – elevation and curve, keeping your hitters alert because they can’t predict what you’re cooking up on the machine.

Plus, the base remains rooted even after hundreds of pitches. There’s no movement at all. Once you set the machine up, you just need to change the settings to add pitch variety.

Similar to the Jugs BP1, this pitching machine also weighs 75lbs. Both pitching machines have wheels. So, you don’t have to worry about carrying it. All you have to do is – tilt, use the wheels, and go. Plus, the legs come apart in a snap. So, you can store the pitching machine in the trunk of your car.

It’s not just the pitching variety that the Junior Sports Attack excels at. The fungo work you get is also on a whole other league compared to other pitching machines. It can throw flyballs up to 250ft. This height is more than enough to build up your young outfielders.

Also, you can add curves to the groundballs. The infielders will get a real-time experience because of the erratic groundballs.

And the pitching speed is 70+MPH. That’ll be more than enough to train little leaguers. However, speed settings are the one dent in the seemingly impenetrable armor of Junior Hack Attack. You’ll find three dials to adjust the speed, and none of them specify how fast the ball is going. That’s a design error from Sports Attack.

You need to do some field-testing and try out the three-speed settings from different distances to get a feel for what’s happening. Sports Attack committed to fixing this issue in the newer iterations of the Junior Hack Attack. Maybe this error won’t even exist by the time you’re reading this. If you can work around this mistake, the Junior Hack Attack is definitely one of the best youth pitching machines.

And if you’re looking to get some intense drills done for college students and above, you can always have a look into the Hack Attack Pitching Machine review– the one Sports Attack designed for adults.

Strength
  • Three-wheel machine gives you maximum pitching variety
  • Fungo work is excellent with a 250ft flyball capacity
  • Portable pitching machine – attached wheels for easy transport
  • Sturdy and reliable performance - perfect for intense drills and machine pitch leagues
Weakness
  • Way expensive than other ones- or two-wheel machines
  • Doesn't support softball – baseball only

5. Jugs Small-Ball Pitching Machine (Best Budget Pitching Machine for Little League)

Jugs Small-Ball Pitching Machine

When I was preparing this list, I was all shrouded with confusion and indecision. There are so many good pitching machines. But I can’t keep everyone in the top three. Just know that when I put the Jugs Small-Ball Pitching Machine in the 5th position, I did it with a heavy heart.

Jugs Small-Ball is one of my favorite pitching machines of all time. It’s a completely different take from what we come to expect from a pitching machine. The design, performance, and portability make this machine stand out from the crowd.

Alright – so why do I sound so excited? Let me break it down to you one feature at a time. The Jugs Small-Ball doesn’t support regulation baseball or softballs. As the name suggests, it can only be used with specific Jugs small balls.

You can consider it a drawback – yes. But that’s the beauty of this machine and the biggest feature that sets it apart. A regulation baseball is around 10-inches. But the small balls are only 5-inches. What does that have to do with you? Well, if you can hit a smaller target with precision, think what you’ll be capable of when the target is double the size.

Once you start practicing with the Jugs Small-Ball, you’ll realize that playing with a regulation baseball or softball has become way easier.

Also, this pitching machine has a ball feeder. It can hold up to 25 balls with a delivery interval of 5 seconds. So, that’s a straight-up 125 seconds or 2 minutes of hitting drills you or your kids can get before you collect the balls and go for round two.

The speed is around 75MPH. That’s great for a 23lbs pitching machine. Most pitching machines that have a speed setting of 70MPH or higher weigh around 75lbs. So, you can carry this pitching machine around yourself – no wheels attached because you don’t need any wheels.

Plus, this machine has pitch variety. I never expected pitching a variety of any sort from a sub-$400 pitching machine. You just get two variations, though – curveballs and fastballs. However, the curveball can keep the hitters on guard because they won’t know whether the pitch’s going to be straight or dive down.

You can even use this machine for fielding practice as well. Just readjust it according to the instructions, and you’re ready for some fungo work. It doesn’t shoot as high as the Junior Hack Attack, but it’s good enough for ages 6-14.

The construction isn’t as sturdy as the Jugs BP1, Black Flame, or Junior Hack Attack. It’s mostly plastic. But that’s beside the point. You have to look at the Jugs Small-Ball from a budget user’s perspective. I’d say this machine is a budget hunter’s dream come true.

A lot of people want a good pitching machine that they can use in the field and at home. But the price stops them. The Franklin MLB I have listed here isn’t suited for some serious practice. However, the Jugs Small-Ball will help you with drills – it’s not a glorified toy like the Franklin MLB.

And you can use it in your garage or even inside your house. As long as you don’t hit the balls super hard, nothing will break. It’ll get toppled at best. So, if you’re on a monetary leash but still want some to get some serious hitting/fielding drills done, the Jugs Small-Ball is the way to go.

Strength
  • Will improve accuracy and precision in both batting and fielding
  • Built-in ball feeder makes solo practicing easy
  • Lightweight pitching machine can be carried by hand
  • Pitch variety keeps the drills fresh and unpredictable
Weakness
  • Not a premium machine – the curveballs can be inconsistent
  • No proper speed adjustments – only two options

6. Heater Sports Heavy Duty Baseball Pitching Machine (Cookie-cutter Pitching Machine)

Heater Sports Heavy Duty Baseball Pitching Machine

After using the Jugs Small-Ball, it’s pretty hard to move to other pitching machines unless you get a high-end model. However, the Jugs Small-Ball’s unique design of pitching only small balls doesn’t sit right with everyone.

That’s why I’ve included the Heater Sports HTR6000BBC. It’s kind of similar to the Small-Ball in some aspects. But the primary difference is – this machine supports regulation baseball. So, if you want to perform batting and hitting drills with real baseball but can’t go beyond $500-$600, the Heater Sports HTR6000BBC will have your back.

If you’re using a regulation baseball, you can get 52 MPH max from this pitching machine. It’s not incredible per se. But for a sub-$500 machine, I have to give it props for having a 50MPH+ speed.

More importantly, the speed and accuracy are quite consistent. The seam won’t be a problem, especially if you lose lite baseballs. And you’ll get 80MPH if you’re using a ball lighter than regulation baseballs. So, you can adjust the speed as your kids grow up because players after the age of 12 will slowly outgrow this machine.

The lowest speed setting is something I really dig about this kid’s baseball pitching machine. It goes as low as only 10MPH with real baseballs. So, if you have a child around 4-6 years, you can help them get a grip on the game by using the low-speed setting.

And you have 10 different speed settings. So, you get a good range of options to choose how you want the speed to be.

Also, there’s a built-in ball feeder just like the Jugs Small-Ball. However, the Small-Ball can hold 25 balls, whereas the Heater Sports HTR6000BBC can carry 12 at a time. 12 balls maximum is still pretty okay. These are real baseballs that the HTR6000BBC is holding. So, that’s twice the size of Jugs small ball.

The auto-feeder has an 8-second interval. So, 12 * 8 = 96 seconds of practice time before you go collect the balls. It helps you or your champs train solo without having a coach/parent supervise them.

You can readjust the machine and get it ready for infield/outfield drills as well. A simple knob adjustment will give you the option to do both flyballs and groundballs. Given that there won’t be any curves to make it more challenging for the trainees. But it’s still going to help with their fundamentals.

I’d like to end the discussion about Heater Sports HTR6000BBC by saying that it’s a really simple and no-flashy-stuff baseball pitching machine for youth. It only supports baseballs – no softballs. So, there’s nothing to write home about this machine. It delivers consistent pitches at a decent speed, with decent accuracy, and has a decent overall construction.

The word of the day here is – it’s decent. As I said in the opening, if you can’t break through the $1000 budget barrier but still want a machine that throws real baseball, your go-to has to be the Heater Sports HTR6000BBC.

Strength
  • Consistent speed and accuracy
  • Built-in ball feeder helps players practice alone
  • Supports real baseball – you get a true seam and feel
  • Can be used for hitting and fielding drills with simple adjustments
Weakness
  • A very average machine – nothing special
  • Motor can get really noisy at high speeds

How to Choose the Best Little League Pitching Machine (Buying Guide)

I still use the pitching machines I’ve highlighted on my list. Some get more love than others because I keep changing machines for different drills. For instance, when I want to focus on honing and getting better at understanding the dimensions of incoming balls, I’ll go for the Jugs Small-Ball. And I keep changing machines based on what I want to achieve from it.

The point is – before getting a pitching machine, you have to think about these questions –

  • How often will you use it? Will you use it once or twice a week? Once a day?
  • How much time will you need to get comfortable using the machine?
  • How will you use it? What’s the purpose? Casual garage training? Intense academy training? Or machine pitch league?

It’s a hefty investment. So, you’ll want to get the maximum return for your money. That’s why I’ve decided to give you some helpful pointers here.

Speed Settings (Higher Doesn’t Mean Better)

The first thing I’d look into if I were searching for a pitching machine is the speed range. If I want a toddler pitching machine, I’ll likely go for something under $500 with a speed range of 20-40MPH. But if you want to train 13-year-olds, you’ll need a pitching machine that can go as high as 50-75MPH or more.

A general middle-ground would be to get one that has a wide range of speed settings for you to play around with. Let’s take the Jugs BP1, for example. It can go anywhere from 15 to 75MPH. That’s some range if I say so myself. You can use it for hitting drills and fungo work without an issue.

But as I said, higher doesn’t mean better in the case of speed settings. You need to know where you’ll be using the machine and for what purpose. This should determine the speed range you need. Still, if you have more range, you have the flexibility to change things around as you feel like. A flexible pitching machine is more future-proof than a restricted 20MPH one like the Franklin MLB.

Pitching Variety (One vs. Two vs. Three Wheel)

The next consideration on my plate while choosing the best pitching machine for kids was pitching variety. Now, a lot of parents, even coaches, won’t agree with me here because they think it’s better to get kids used to fastballs before bringing in curves and sliders. However, I don’t see how that could be useful once the child internalizes the machine’s speed and rhythm.

So, for me, it comes down to what types of pitches I can throw, and I can only do so many with a one-wheeler. A three-wheel machine is the best option for kids over 10. You can get fastballs, curveballs, changeups, and even knuckleballs in select high-end machines. Some machines allow for more than just one pitching style, but you may need to buy a couple of additional attachments to make that happen.

However, three-wheel machines like the Junior Hack Attack are going to cost you an arm and a leg. They’re really expensive. But you have to take this route if you want to help your kids climb the MLB ladder. Still, if you want some variety within a reasonable price point, I’d say the Jugs Small-Ball should do the trick.

Look – I’m not saying one-wheel pitching machines are not worth the shot – they are. In fact, I use the one-wheel Jugs BP1 all the time. When I had a budget leash, I couldn’t afford to spend more than two grand on a pitching machine. That doesn’t mean I stopped practicing.

You can use one-wheel or two-wheel machines to help your young players build up their swing fundamentals. And with a good speed range, you or your kids will get a feel for changeups as well.

Manual vs. Automatic (What Should You Choose?)

Now that I’ve talked about automatic wheeled pitching machines, it’s time to look into the manual side of things. If you’ve checked my list, you’ll see – despite talking big about automatic machines – I’ve kept the Louisville Slugger Black Flame on top.

Why? Simple – it offers the best value for the money. It also allows you to get a feel for the machine by hand and get some practice in before you take the plunge into an automatic model. Even coaches who want to observe the progress of their underlings love this machine.

Anyways, the consideration you should be making here is whether you’re willing to shell out big bucks or can handle some grunt work while saving money? That’s the core difference between a manual pitching machine and its automatic counterpart.

  • Tight on money?
  • Not used to pitching machines yet?
  • Don’t have a generator or power outlet to use an automatic machine?
  • Thinking of getting your first pitching machine?
  • Don’t have a partner/coach/parent to control the machine?

If any or all of these apply to you, a manual pitching machine is the road you’d want to take.

Any Convenience-Boosting Feature Helps

When you’re hunting for a top-shelf pitching machine, you’re probably running into giant price tags – apart from a few exceptions. So, if you’re going to pay top dollars, there’s no harm in looking for quality-of-life features that’ll make operating, maintaining, and moving the pitching machine easier.

Let’s look into the convenient features of the pitching machines I have on this list.

  • The Jugs BP1 and Junior Hack Attack are heavy machines. But you can use the attached wheels to move around – quick and easy.
  • Jugs Small-Ball, Franklin MLB, Heater Sports HTR6000BBC have built-in ball feeders. You don’t have to purchase feeders separately. So, you can keep practicing even when you don’t have a partner.
  • All the automated pitching machines on this list – except the Franklin MLB – are multi-purpose machines. You can get both fielding and hitting drills done by using them – two birds with one stone.
  • And some of the machines like Jugs BP1 and Black Flame are compatible with baseball and softball. Doesn’t matter if your kids play baseball or softball – or maybe both – you can use any balls you want.

So, these are a few features that I like to keep in mind when I look at a machine. If I’m spending some big moolah, I want to make sure I rake in all the benefits possible.

FAQ

Let me say it one more time – pitching machines can be a significant investment. So, it’s quite natural to have plenty of questions. While I can’t answer all the questions revolving around a little league pitching machine, I can give you a hand by answering a few important ones.

How fast is a pitching machine for Little League?

The speed varies from one model to another. Most little league pitching machines are anywhere between 10-75+MPH.

However, if you want to know about the speed limit of a machine pitch minor league, it’s around 40-50 MPH for both Cal Ripken and Little League. And if I’m talking about Tee Ball league, the speed will go even lower – as low as 20-30MPH.

What is a good baseball pitching machine for little league?

There’s no right answer here. It would depend on

  • Your budget
  • Your kid’s age
  • What you expect from the machine

A general recommendation would be to go for either the Jugs BP1 (automatic) or the Louisville Slugger Black Flame (manual). However, high-end machines like the Junior Hack Attack or unique machines like the Jugs Small-Ball are also in the mix. You just need to understand how the pitching machine can help you or your young champs improve their game.

Is it good for a kid to hit off a pitching machine?

If your kids are young and you’re not getting them into an academy yet, you can definitely go for a pitching machine. Even coaches in baseball/softball training centers use pitching machines from time to time. The biggest upside of using a pitching machine is that your child will be able to hit balls and develop hand-eye coordination. But make sure they’re at an age when they can swing a bat – I think above 4 years is a pretty good time to let your child use a pitching machine.

Do pitching machines for kids use real baseballs?

Yes, they do, but it doesn’t apply to every pitching machine in the market. You have to check whether the machine supports regulation baseballs. The Jugs BP1, Heater Sports HTR6000BBC, and Junior Hack Attack on this list support real baseballs. However, if your kids are under 6 years, you can use lite balls or get a Jugs Small-Ball machine.

Are little league pitching machines worth it?

I’ve answered this question before. Little League is really competitive now. If you want your kid to have the edge, you need to make sure they get all the practice. Now, training centers and academies will be a big help. But if you can give them a tiny bit of extra push by having a pitching machine in your backyard/garage, it’ll pay dividends in the long run.

How much does a little league pitching machine cost?

The price range (from low to high) is wild. Let me give you a quick example –

  • Franklin MLB Pitching machine is around $30
  • Junior Hack Attack costs around 2.5 grand

So, from $30 to $3000 – that’s a crazy range. But this amount doesn’t give you the true picture. Franklin MLB isn’t a standard pitching machine. So, the real price range would be around $300 to $3000 or more, depending on the brand, features, and performance you want.

Can a kid’s pitching machine aid with softball and baseball practice for youth players?

Yes – both baseball and softball youth players can benefit from a single pitching machine given that you have a combo machine. For instance, the Jugs BP1 is a combo pitching machine. It can accommodate real softballs and baseballs. So, if you get the right kid’s pitching machine, it can definitely aid with softball and baseball practice for youth players.

Do MLB Players use pitching machines?

Not always – but they sure do. When you’re an adult, it’s better to practice with a pitcher. However, even MLB players can’t always find a partner. So, they just go into the batting cage and use a pitching machine to warm up or get their daily swing practice.

How old should my children be before they start practicing with a pitching machine?

In my opinion, a 4-year-old can start practicing with a pitching machine. But you should still be around to monitor the practice sessions. I’ve seen 3-year-old Tee Ball players who love using a pitching machine.

What kind of balls can you use with a kid’s pitching machine?

The type of ball you can use depends on the make and model of the pitching machine. Let me clear it out for you –

  • Jugs BP1 – real baseball/softball, Jugs lite balls
  • Franklin MLB – only Aero-Strike plastic balls/ plastic balls
  • Jugs Small-Ball- 5-inch Jugs small balls

So, as you can see here, it keeps changing – there’s no fixed universal ball. Check the reviews or descriptions of the machine, and you’ll find out what balls you can use.

Let Your Little Leaguer Lead the Pack

I know there’s a lot of debate around practicing with a pitching machine. There are benefits and drawbacks for both kids and adults. Still, I think the upsides outweigh the disadvantages by a mile.

Kids need to get a feel for the game, learn the basics, start loving the game itself – all of it can only happen when they get the chance to play as much as possible. Now, they won’t always find a partner or a pitcher. So, what do they do? Fall back on the best little league pitching machine.

Plus, coaches have to lead machine pitch leagues. So, a good youth pitching machine will help them out as well. And it takes the load off of coaches and pitchers from constant pitching.

As I said, practicing with a pitching machine is not the perfect solution.

You can learn all the basic mechanics and the fundamentals of a game from a machine. But to have complete mastery of the game, you’ll need to learn all the subtleties of the game.

And if you’re like most people, you won’t get there overnight. That’s why you should get a pitching machine to give your kids the boost they need to lead the pack. Cheers!

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