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Can You Put Real Baseballs in a Pitching Machine?

Written by: Coach Neil



Time to read 3 min

Pitching machines can take your hitting practice to the next level. With a pitching machine, you can overcome many of the challenges of relying only on human pitchers, such as:

  • Needing another person to practice with

  • Increased risk of injury for everyone involved

  • Higher variance in pitches that makes for inefficient practices

In this blog, we cover how to find the best baseball pitching machine and how to keep it in great condition.

Can You Use Regular Baseballs in a Pitching Machine?

You should always be cautious before using regular baseballs or real softballs in a pitching machine. That’s because many machines—including more advanced models—can experience increased wear and tear from throwing balls that have seams on them.

For example, you shouldn’t use any baseballs or softballs that have seams in a wheel-powered machine. Over time, the seams will eat away at the wheels and create an uneven surface. This will reduce the accuracy of your pitches, which can result in less effective practices and even dangerous pitches.

To maximize the life of your equipment, and to help rocket your batting skills to the next level,  MaxBP reaction training machines  are specially designed to work with  training balls and bats . When you practice with MaxBP training gear, you can trust that your equipment will last longer than the competition, thanks to durable training balls (6 grams +/- 0.1 grams) with consistent dimensions (41mm diameter). 

Can You Use Real Softballs in a Pitching Machine?

Just like with regular baseballs, you usually shouldn’t use real softballs in a pitching machine. The best pitching machines for most players are two- or three-wheeled models because these machines offer the best in both reliability and customization. However, the seams on real softballs and baseballs can damage the wheels over time.

The alternative is to either use a mechanical or arm pitching machine or use training balls that are specifically designed for pitching machines. Because mechanical and arm machines can’t pitch curveballs or other pitches that require spin, it’s usually best to invest in a wheel-based machine with the appropriate training balls.

Can a Pitching Machine Throw a Curveball?

Wheel-based machines can throw curveballs, but arm and mechanical machines can’t. That’s because operators can spin the wheels at different speeds to apply a certain rpm to a pitch. Other types of machines can’t apply the necessary spin for curveballs, sliders, and many more pitch styles.

Can a Pitching Machine Throw a Knuckleball?

Pitching machines have difficulty replicating knuckleball pitches. Knuckleballs depend on a combination of a pitcher’s grip, release, and the positioning of the seams on the ball. Pitching machines can’t replicate the grip of a human pitcher, and it’s usually best to use training balls that don’t have seams when working with advanced pitching machines.

Can Pitching Machines Throw Sliders?

Just like curveballs, pitching machines need to be able to change the RPMs of the ball to throw sliders, which is why you need a two- or three-wheel machine to practice hitting these pitches.

When acquiring equipment for perfect hitting practice, pitch variety is key. With MaxBP reaction training machines , you can customize the exact style of pitch you want to practice, whether that’s sliders, curveballs, sinkers, breaking balls, and more! Our machines also give you control over pitch velocity and interval times.

How Fast Can a Pitching Machine Throw?

Pitching machines can replicate a wide variety of pitch velocities. Often, your machine won’t throw pitches at the exact speed you’re practicing for. Instead, you can emulate the desired speed through a combination of pitching distance and machine settings. For example, you can use the MaxBP Pro Machine to replicate a 146 mph pitch by combining a distance of 20 ft. with the high + turbo + super settings.

Looking for a pitch speed equivalent calculator or a pitch speed distance calculator? Visit our FAQ page !

Do Pros Use Pitching Machines?

Yes—absolutely! Professional baseball and softball players use pitching machines to practice hitting during spring training all the way through playoffs. The reasons why are the same for professionals as it is for college, high school, and youth players:

  • Consistency: Fundamental skills are as critical for professional players as they are for youth players, and pitching machines increase both the quantity and quality of reps.

  • Availability: Players don’t have to wait for an available human pitcher to practice hitting.

  • Reliability : Players can customize machine settings to throw the pitches they need to practice most, rep after rep.

  • Safety: Pitching machines allow human pitchers to rest their arms, and they reduce the risk of injury for both hitters and pitchers.

Supercharge Your Batting Practice with MaxBP!

If you want to get better, you need to put the reps in. When working only with human pitchers, you’re limited by their time, consistency, and endurance. After all, you don’t want to wear your pitchers out before gameday. Pitching machines give you the opportunity to keep the batting practice going.

With a MaxBP pitching machine in your arsenal, you have total control over which pitch styles you practice, along with pitching velocity and interval time. Explore your options today !