Using A Pitching

Machine for Ground

& Fly Balls


Pitching Machine Versatility
Carl Fogle

While pitching machines are most often thought of as tools to aid
in batting practice, there are other situations in which the
right pitching machine can be an invaluable tool for the
results-oriented coach or manager. Many modern pitching machines
can be set to throw groundballs and fly balls which can be a
great help in many situations ó two of which we discuss below.


From little league to high school ball, tryouts are a necessary
but sometimes overwhelming process where literally hundreds of
hopefuls must be evaluated in seconds apiece. Most tryouts are
set up in stages ó a groundball stage, a fly ball stage, a
batting stage, and a pitching stage ó where characteristics such
as arm strength, running speed, agility, fundamentals, and power
are judged. How best to judge all of these elements quickly and
accurately? Consistency.

As any coach who has tried to hit hundreds of fly balls or
grounders with a fungo can tell you, consistency is not something
easily achieved by a person. Thatís where a pitching machine like
the Jugs Lite-Flite or Jugs Combo Machine comes in. By setting up
a pitching machine like these two at each of our hypothetical
testing stages, each individual can be consistently judged by the
same set of criteria as everyone else. Letís take the groundball
stage as an example. By setting the Jugs Combo Machine to throw
grounders instead of pitches (a snap given its 360 degree swivel
design), each player can be sent the exact same grounder. This
allows for quick and accurate evaluation where it is easy to
judge a playerís speed, reflexes, and mastery of baseball
fundamentals. How is this playerís hand speed versus that
playerís? Does this player properly set his feet and position
himself well to take the grounder? With the right pitching
machine, these questions become simple to answer with some basic
observation and your draft picks will become obvious.

And the same technique can be used at all of our tryout stages.
Throwing the same fly ball repeatedly quickly reveals which
players can properly read the ballís flight path and who has the
best foot speed. And a pitching machineís presence in the batting
stage goes without saying. Do you want to throw 2,000 pitches in
a tryout to evaluate bat speed, rate of contact, and power? We
didnít think so. A pitching machine in a tryout is a tremendous
asset in determining who is a natural outfielder or infielder, a
power hitter or an Ichiro because of their consistency and


As in any sport, repetition is the key to mastery for the young
baseball player. To properly teach the fundamentals of fielding
groundballs, for example, it is largely a matter of numbers and
familiarity. The player who has fielded 10,000 groundballs has an
advantage over the player that has only fielded 1,000. And
because of a pitching machines consistency, speed, versatility,
and flexibility, achieving these numbers is much easier than
trying to hit all those grounders and fly balls yourself with a
bat. Furthermore, just like in the tryout situation, being able
to throw the same grounder at every player on your team allows
you to quickly evaluate strengths and weaknesses and where your
knowledge of fundamentals can best be applied. Is that player
afraid of the ball? Is that player standing flat-footed and
waiting for the ball instead of attacking it? With the right
pitching machine and techniques, these questions are soon
answered and your team is that much stronger because of it.

This article is just an overview of how a versatile pitching
machine can help a team go from pretender to contender. We will
discuss drills and more specific techniques in forthcoming
articles, but if youíve just been thinking as a pitching machine
as a tool in batting practice, we hope that this article has
given you some ideas as to the many applications of a great
machine like the Jugs Combo Machine for any municipal league,
team, or individual player.

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.

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