Effective Batting Technique

Joe Mauer uses a pitching machine to perfect his swing.

Even Joe Mauer can benefit from using a pitching machine to time his swing.


Even an ultimate pitching machine with all of the bells and whistles can't shape you into a strong batter. Knowing basic batting technique is crucial to your success at the plate. Those who best understand where to place their feet, how to hold the bat, and when to swing on a pitch are those most likely to benefit from using a personal pitching machine. After all, Derek Jeter, Joe Mauer, and other professionals certainly don't hit well just because they're friendly with a local pitching machine.

To hold the bat properly, you need to grip the bat with your fingers, not your palms (this is a common rookie mistake). Knuckles will need to be properly aligned, and your hands need to be the appropriate length down the bat's handle. You'll also need to acquire a solid batting stance, which is just as important as bat handling. Where you place your legs isn't set in stone.

As you'll see in the Majors, many players adopt many different types of batting stances. Find one that feels comfortable for you that also provides you with the most contact effectiveness and swinging power. Making sure you don't stand differently every time is key. Finally, follow strong swing technique, and always follow through.

Make sure to swing on time, as different pitches will come at you at different speeds. If you can at least get down the basic mechanics of how to hold your bat, how to stand, and when to swing, you can use a pitching machine to begin practice swinging.

Did you know…

…that there are many different baseball hitting drills you can perform at batting cages? If you or someone you know is learning how to play baseball, get in front of the nearest ATEC or JUGS pitching machine and test bunting, slugging, and contact hitting to diversify those baseball skill sets.

Different Types of Baseball Pitches

Throwing a Curveball isn't tough to do if you hold the ball right.

Want your curve ball to break like a pro? Hold the ball right!

Understanding the different types of pitches seen in baseball will help you know how to practice swinging at them. Fastballs are the most common and potentially most powerful. Most pitching machines only throw fastballs, as these are the types of pitches most rookies need to train on just to get the basic mechanics down.

The most powerful arms in Major League Baseball can throw fastballs upwards of 100 MPH, making these throws dangerous weapons in any pitching arsenal.

Other types include breaking balls, which have some added movement to them not seen in fastballs. Knuckleballs, screwballs, and curveballs are all various types of breaking balls, and you can even buy curveball pitching machines and such if you want to practice on them.

Changeups are another major category of pitches, and instead of focusing on added movements, changeups rely on speed changes. Since they are often thrown like fastballs, one of the greatest advantages of changeups is their deception angle. A batter prepares for a fastball, and swings far too early, as the ball arrives at the plate much more slowly.

As soon as you're able to discern between different pitches, you'll have a better eye for what to prepare for at bat.Rich Text AreaToolbarBold (Ctrl / Alt+Shift + B)Italic (Ctrl / Alt+Shift + I)Strikethrough (Alt+Shift+D)Unordered list (Alt+Shift+U)Ordered list (Alt+Shift+O)Blockquote (Alt+Shift+Q)Align Left (Alt+Shift+L)Align Center (Alt+Shift+C)Align Right (Alt+Shift+R)Insert/edit link (Alt+Shift+A)Unlink (Alt+Shift+S)Insert More Tag (Alt+Shift+T)Toggle spellchecker (Alt+Shift+N)▼
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Want your curve ball to break like a pro? Hold the ball right!

Understanding the different types of pitches seen in baseball will help you know how to practice swinging at them. Fastballs are the most common and potentially most powerful. Most pitching machines only throw fastballs, as these are the types of pitches most rookies need to train on just to get the basic mechanics down.
The most powerful arms in Major League Baseball can throw fastballs upwards of 100 MPH, making these throws dangerous weapons in any pitching arsenal.
Other types include breaking balls, which have some added movement to them not seen in fastballs. Knuckleballs, screwballs, and curveballs are all various types of breaking balls, and you can even buy curveball pitching machines and such if you want to practice on them.
Changeups are another major category of pitches, and instead of focusing on added movements, changeups rely on speed changes. Since they are often thrown like fastballs, one of the greatest advantages of changeups is their deception angle. A batter prepares for a fastball, and swings far too early, as the ball arrives at the plate much more slowly.
As soon as you're able to discern between different pitches, you'll have a better eye for what to prepare for at bat.
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3 Reasons Softball is Greater than Baseball

Softballs are literally softer than baseballs so they dont travel as far.

Here is a great size comparison for softballs, baseballs and golf balls.

OK, so this is water that's been tread often, over and over again. But there are two inevitable questions you'll face as a softball player in a baseball player's world. They are:

1) Is softball or baseball the better game?

and

2) Is softball or baseball the harder game to play?

There are no easy answers for that, but seeing as you're on the softball page, let's go with reasons where softball's on the winning side instead of focusing on the negatives:

1. Softball games are notoriously shorter than baseball games. They're already shorter in terms of innings played, but that really means nothing, as there's no time limit on either softball or baseball games. But certain aspects of softball make it more prone to finishing quickly. For example, as runners can't lead off on first base, there's less time wasted on trying to pick off runners. The field is also smaller, meaning there's less space for the ball to wander off to, and shorter distances to run.

2. Another big factor in favor of softball: greater flexibility. Games can really change up because there are few specific rules guiding every function of the game. Most softball rules allow a player who's already been playing to come back into a game after he/she has been taken out already. This alters the dynamic, and adds an air of unpredictability about what move the team will make next. While baseball has moved astoundingly toward the predictable, some freshness makes softball a more exciting spectacle of a sport. The inclusion of a person known as the ‘Designated Player' also adds some intrigue, though trying to explain that one would take more pages than you'd want to read.

3. Finally, baseball is a gender exclusive sport, while softball is enjoyed by men and women alike (even if women make up the majority of more professional and high-level players). It's true that women play baseball in many different scenarios, but in most cases where it's an official game, it's a men-only club. In this day and age, it's refreshing to see a sport where men and women both can play it, play it well, and brag about their victories with equal cheer.

Softball Players Need to Train Differently than Baseball Players

Women train differently for softball than men do for baseball.

This woman is in the middle of a circuit training routine for for her softball workout.

Though their similarities are clear to crowds in the stand, the differences between softball and baseball are far more distinct to those playing each game. Whereas most baseball games last 9 grueling innings, a softball game is timed at a slightly more tolerable 7 innings. For this reason alone, there's a difference in the endurance required of the athletes.

Softballs themselves are also 11-12 inches around, versus the more tightly packed and denser 9-inch circumference baseball. Bat sizes, baseline lengths, and many other factors also differ between the two sports.

If you're training for one, you're not necessarily gaining skill in the other. While you may have better power, a stronger throwing arm, and other major advantages, a skilled baseball player is not necessarily going to perform well on a softball field, or vice versa.

In fact, because of the intricacies of each of the sports, knowing one might put you at a steeper disadvantage for the other, because tricks you learned in one may be counterproductive in the other. So when you begin training for either softball or baseball, you'll need to practice at a pitching machine designed specifically for training in the one you play.

5 Fun Ball-Color Combinations for a Pitching Machine

different color combination for the pitching machine balls.

1. Green & Red. Perfect for getting the kids outside to practice during the holidays, especially if it’s bitterly cold outside!

2. Red, White, & Blue. If the 4th of July holiday is right around the corner and your children are feeling just a bit of the summer laziness, stoke their excitement with the colors of the flag.

3. Purple & Orange. A truly zany color combination that’s certain to get everyone asking, “why do you guys have purple and orange baseballs?” The answer to that question is entirely up to you.

4. Black & White. Going for the classic look? You really can’t top the simplicity and suave styling of black and white baseballs.

5. Team Colors. Pick the team colors your family’s favorite baseball team wears. If you’re family’s split down the middle, get the colors for both, and compete against each other in some friendly challenges.

Training for Team Play

Training for team play is an important part of team building.

You don't have to train WITH your team to train for team play.

Kids who aren't yet practiced enough to just sign up for Little League or other hometown baseball options can really benefit from practicing with a pitching machine. Pitching machines for kids essentially provide the same services adult-oriented pitching machines do, except at a height and speed better developed for a younger set. After all, no one wants their seven year-olds facing off again heavy, dense baseballs flying at them at 80 MPH.
From playful wiffle ball pitching machines to straightforward conventional pitching machines that have been modified for use amongst younger players, there is a diverse enough field of options available for you to find a pitching machine that fits the needs of your kids. Children in softball leagues should practice with softball pitching machines, while of course, those playing baseball should certainly practice with baseball pitching machines.

If you have more than one child and they play a mix of softball and baseball, you're even able to invest in a dual-function pitching machine, which is capable of pitching both baseballs and softballs at a variety of different speeds.

Sometimes, taking the kid down to the batting cages can be too daunting, so having your own pitching machine set up in the backyard, pre-tuned to the exact specifications that will fit your child, will make practice for him or her so much easier.

Benefits of Owning a Pitching Machine

Most Pitching Machines are Mobile

Pitching Machines are Great for Little League Coaches

When you have your own children to look out for, it suddenly becomes blatantly obvious that not everything in the real world is designed in their best interest. Batting cages are no exception. Besides the expenses you can save by purchasing a used pitching machine over visiting the cages daily for years on end, avoiding batting cages can also save you from dealing with additional stressors. Long lines at some batting cages can be a real hassle, particularly if you're waiting in line for just one kid to bat, while you're towing along others who are all restless and not getting anything out of being there with you. For many, instead of roping everyone into a task with no payoff for anyone except that one child, utilizing your own backyard pitching machine can be a godsend.

You'll be able to directly supervise any child using your own personal pitching machine, and you can find ways to turn off high speed options and other potentially dangerous functions that you may not be able to disable at public batting cages. If you have five kids and just one plays baseball, you certainly won't have to haul the whole pack around town just so you can support one of your kid's dreams. Now, you can make everyone in the household happy.

Other benefits to owning your own pitching machine include: more frequent practice times, longer practice times that never have to be cut short by anything from anxious children in line to stingy batting cage managers to running out of change to put in the machine. With so many benefits to owning your own personal pitching machine, it can be a breeze for you to help your child achieve his or her athletic dream.

5 Critical Pitches to Practice Batting Against

1. The Fastball. This one’s straightforward, but practice batting against fastballs at a range of speeds. Not every pitcher has the same fastball speed, after all.

2. The Curve ball. Differing in trajectory, the curve ball’s essential to learn to hit against because it doesn’t follow the usual path to the plate, and is a commonly thrown pitch.

3. The Slider. Faster than a curve ball but slower than a fastball, the slider can be tough to judge. Learning how to bat well against these pitches will give you a huge advantage as a hitter.

The knuckle ball is one of the hardest pitches to hit.

Tim Wakefield is notorious for throwing one of the hardest knuckle balls to hit in MLB

4. The Knuckle ball. There are among the hardest to predict pitches thrown in baseball. If you want to be able to face pros like Tim Wakefield, you’ll need to master hitting knuckle balls.

5. The Change up. This one’s a trickster. It’s thrown by a pitcher as though it’s a fastball, but it’s speed is significantly lower in the end. Practice batting against this pitch will help you improve your pitching speed judgment at the plate.