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 protectivegear when in the cage with a machine or on the fieldfor grounders or fly balls. Helmets and protectivecups are a must. Do not allow any player into the cageif they are not wearing an officially sanctionedbatting helmet.
The person feeding a pitching machine should alwaysstand behind an L-screen or similar barrier and shouldwear a helmet themselves as a precaution againstbatted balls hitting the ceiling of the cage andfalling down.
If using a pitching machine after rain, or on a dewymorning, balls will pick up the moisture and canbehave unpredictably on feeding through the pitchingmachine. Make sure your hitters are extra vigilant asa pitched ball may come out of the machineerratically.
Visually inspect batting cage and L-screen nettingregularly and patch when necessary. A hole in thenetting can quickly lead to accidents. As a part ofthis, always use high quality, thick netting material.In the long run, this will prove safer and more costeffective than using cheap material in the beginning.
In the batting cage, only two people should bepresent at any given time — The batter and the feederbehind their screen.
Use good judgment in setting the pitching machine’sspeed to a player’s ability. Just because a pitchingmachine can throw a ball at 102 MPH doesn’t mean yourplayer is ready for that speed.
Before any batter enters the cage, always feed a fewtest pitches into the pitching machine to ensure thatthe pitching machine is accurately aimed and so thatthe batter has an idea of what to expect. Perform thesame procedure when any adjustment is made to themachine, i.e. a new type of pitch or a differentspeed.
When setting up the pitching machine, make sure themachine is level and the legs properly stabilized.
Any power cords running to the machine should befirmly plugged in and should be regularly examined forfraying.
Damaged, sliced, or cracked balls may behaveerratically and should be replaced as soon aspossible.
The person feeding the pitching machine shouldalways let the batter know to expect a pitch.Generally this is done by holding the ball up overyour head and then placing it in the feeder.
Regularly check your pitching machine for wheeldamage or other problems that may impact its abilityto perform properly.
Never operate a pitching machine under the influenceof 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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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carl Fogle is a longtime baseball coach at the high school and community college level. He is also the webmaster of http://pitching-machines.us and a leading expert in the use of pitching machines in the development of young baseball players.