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So you’ve bought your first pitching machine and you’re excited to try it out.
Whether you’ve bought one of the high-end mechanical pitching machines or one of the simpler sling pitching machines, you’ll need to set it up properly before you start using it.
If you want to avoid injuries and practice batting properly, you’ll need to set up your pitching machine correctly.
It usually takes less than a few minutes and ensures that your pitching machine will be ready to throw out as many balls as you want at any speed that you need, without sacrificing your personal safety.
Steps to Setting Up a Pitching Machine
The first thing you have to do when setting up your pitching machine is to read the manual.
Most pitching machines come unassembled in a box, and you’ll need to read the manual in order to learn how to assemble it.
Make sure you have all of the parts and no spares are leftover, except if the manual calls for it. Using a pitching machine with missing parts can lead to catastrophic failure and injury.
The trickiest part can be assembling the legs, and each pitching machine has a different way of setting up the machine legs.
Make sure that your pitching machine is stable and the legs don’t wobble, as this can affect your machine’s performance and accuracy.
Once you’ve read the manual and assembled the pitching machine, you can set it up on the field.
Once you’ve gotten your pitching machine to wherever you’re practicing, you’ll need to plug it in and calibrate it.
Before you even turn your pitching machine on, you have to make sure that nobody is in the line of fire, even if there are no balls inside the machine.
Once you’ve tested the machine and have confirmed that it works, your next step is to calibrate and adjust it.
Depending on the type of machine that you have, there are a couple of ways you can calibrate it.
Some machines are simple and can only calibrate for height, but some machines are a bit more complex and you can adjust it for curveballs, splitters, sliders, and even knuckleballs.
The most important thing, however, is to make sure your machine is actually throwing balls into the strike zone, so adjust accordingly.
Once you’ve done all the set up for your pitching machine, you’ll be ready to load it up and take swings.
PITCHING MACHINE SPEEDS
This may be common knowledge to anyone who owns a pitching machine, but you can control the ball speed on most pitching machines.
Most machines have a variable speed dial which you can use to adjust the speed that the ball comes out of the machine.
Whether you’re setting the pitching machine up at a Little League standard of 46 feet, or the full MLB regulation 60 feet, the ball will come out of the machine at whatever speed you set it to, and will reach your batter at the same speed.
However, having the pitching machine closer to the home plate can make it seem like the ball is traveling way faster than it should be.
In reality, the ball is always coming at your batter at the speed you set it to.
What actually happens is when you place the machine closer to home plate, it gives your batter less time to react to the ball flying towards them, making it seem a little bit faster than it actually is.
Remember to always set your pitching machine to a good speed relative to the batter.
If you’re training kids for a Little League game(more info on the best pitching machines for kids here), keep it at around 30-40 MPH. If you’re training an MLB pro, feel free to go all out, and use some of the other pitch settings while you’re at it.
PITCHING MACHINE GUIDELINES
As with most other machines with fast-moving parts, there are a few guidelines you’ll have to follow in order to avoid injury or malfunction of your machine.
Make sure you stick to these guidelines so that you don’t suffer any unfortunate incidents.
- Always wear a batting helmet if you’re going up to bat (guide on best baseball bats here). Head protection is paramount.
- Before you plug in your pitching machine, make sure that it 1) is turned off, 2) has all the dials set to the “0” position, and 3) is not pointing at anyone. Make sure that nobody is in the way of the machine when you turn it on.
- Make sure that your machine is stable and is set up on the level ground.
- Once your pitching machine is on, make sure that nobody is directly in front of the machine or the backstop.
- Make sure to calibrate the settings of your pitching machine; such as the speed of the ball and the aim of the machine. Make sure to do this BEFORE anybody steps in front of it to bat.
- Make sure to set all dials back to the “0” position before turning the machine off.
- Never touch the wheels of the pitching machine before they have come full stop.
If you follow all these steps to setting it up, then you’re ready to enjoy your new pitching machine!
As long as you follow the safety guidelines and take note of its calibration and speed, then you should have a safe and enjoyable time with your training. Batter up!