Pitching Machine Safety
While pitching machines are a proven safe and effective tool for
hitting and fundamentals development, there are a few safety
precautions to keep in mind. What follows is a summary of simple
and safe pitching machine practices we have used in our past
experience, but ALWAYS read the manual that came with your
machine for full safety and maintenance guidelines.
Batters should always wear the necessary protective gear when in
the cage with a machine or on the field for grounders or fly
balls. Helmets and protective cups are a must. Do not allow any
player into the cageif they are not wearing an officially
sanctioned batting helmet.
The person feeding a pitching machine should always stand behind
an L-screen or similar barrier and should wear a helmet themselves
as a precaution against batted balls hitting the ceiling of the
cage and falling down.
If using a pitching machine after rain, or on a dewy morning,
balls will pick up the moisture and can behave unpredictably on
feeding through the pitching machine. Make sure your hitters are
extra vigilant as a pitched ball may come out of the
Visually inspect batting cage and L-screen netting regularly and
patch when necessary. A hole in the netting can quickly lead to
accidents. As a part of this, always use high quality, thick
netting material. In the long run, this will prove safer and more
cost effective than using cheap material in the beginning.
In the batting cage, only two people should be present at any
given time — The batter and the feeder behind their screen.
Use good judgment in setting the pitching machine’s speed to a
player’s ability. Just because a pitching machine can throw a ball
at 102 MPH doesn’t mean your player is ready for that speed.
Before any batter enters the cage, always feed a fewest pitches
into the pitching machine to ensure that the pitching machine is
accurately aimed and so that the batter has an idea of what to
expect. Perform the same procedure when any adjustment is made to
the machine, i.e. a new type of pitch or a different speed.
When setting up the pitching machine, make sure the machine is
level and the legs properly stabilized.
Any power cords running to the machine should be firmly plugged in
and should be regularly examined for fraying.
Damaged, sliced, or cracked balls may behave erratically and
should be replaced as soon as possible.
The person feeding the pitching machine should always let the
batter know to expect a pitch. Generally this is done by holding
the ball up over your head and then placing it in the feeder.
Regularly check your pitching machine for wheel damage or other
problems that may impact its ability to perform properly.
Never operate a pitching machine under the influence of drugs or
alcohol. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but simply some
of the important safety tips we have collected in our many years
of using pitching machines safely, effectively, and enjoyably. A
pitching machine is a tremendous tool for improving your baseball
skills, but like any machine, it can be dangerous if not used
properly and with care. So get out there and enjoy all the
benefits of your new Jugs or Atec machine, but remember that
safety always come first. For the final word on any safety or
maintenance issue relating to your pitching machine, please
consult the manual that came with it.
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Carl Fogle is a longtime baseball coach at the high school and
community college level. He is also the webmaster of
and a leading expert in the use of
pitching machines in the development of young baseball players.