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Learn to Hit With Pitching Machines and the Right Ball

Sep 16, 2008
The controversy surrounding what type of ball to use when taking batting practice has been around for years. Coated baseballs, also called pitching machine balls or dimple balls, are often thought of in a negative manner with the argument that they do not provide the same feel as a real baseball when struck by the bat. In my opinion the pitching machine balls are superior for their durability, longevity, cost benefit. Coupled with the fact that they do not scuff and pick up moisture like real baseballs so the flight from the machine is much truer leading to better pitches and more consistent swings during batting practice makes them a great choice. This article describes those points in great detail.

Color - When hitting in the batting cage the color of the pitching machine ball becomes very important. As you work to train your hitting eye a yellow ball is easier to pick up than a white ball. The yellow color is designed to give you the best overall visibility in several different lighting conditions.

Consistency and Durability - The durability of a practice baseball is probably the most important factor. A regular baseball is required for game use. If used regularly, the regular baseball will absorb moisture, become scuffed and wear out at a fast rate. Pitching machine baseballs, with their unique design, will last much longer. A pitching machine baseball can be expected to be used for 2-3 years before needing to be replaced. Many hits can be had over the course of 3 years. The plastic coating will not allow moisture to penetrate the ball. A regular baseball will act like a sponge for any water nearby. Damp fields or dew filled lawns will soak a baseball. As the baseball adds weight from the moisture it becomes very heavy. When a wet baseball is used in a pitching machine the throws can then become erratic due to the weight. The fun-filled task of taking batting practice with a pitching machine can become outright dangerous. Many crazy-aimed pitches will be thrown by the pitching machine. Pitching machine baseballs provide a much more true throw to the strike zone with each and every use.

Like New Quality - The high durability of the pitching machine ball makes the balls very easy to clean. You don't have to worry about getting them wet. The pitching machine balls will easily clean using water and a mild cleaning detergent. I have had good luck simply wiping them dry after each use. This simple task, much like a golfer wipes their clubs clean after each use, helps to keep the color bright and the balls in great shape to last to their full life expectancy of 2-3 years.

Terrific Value - The long term cost of using pitching machine baseballs is lower than using real baseballs despite the fact that the balls are a little more expensive to purchase. Baseball equipment prices have risen recently and baseballs have not been excluded from the increase. Sixty dollars is the approximate cost for a good box of baseballs. Most teams will need to purchase two boxes each year for batting practice purposes. The pitching machine baseball we have been discussing are a little more expensive, costing about $72 per box. These balls will last for a 2-3 year period and end up costing less than half of the real baseballs.

The smart choice between using pitching machine baseballs and real baseballs for batting practice with a pitching machine is an easy one. Load up the pitching machine and start taking batting practice, it is time to play ball!
About the Author
Coach Chuck Stewart operates a web site offering pitching machines and batting cages . A pitching machine for every level of play, from little league to major league, can be found at his online store. He has coached baseball for the last 8 years and enjoys spreading his love for the game of baseball to his players.
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