The best athletes are not born, they’re made. With years of training, practice, and perseverance, they become the kind of players they’ve always dreamed of being.

However, everyone has to start somewhere. Whether your child has big-time dreams of playing in the MLB someday or they just want to beat the other team and taste the sweetness of victory, they’ll probably start on a little league baseball team.

During their time in little league, they’ll learn to value teamwork, practice, and patience. While your child probably works hard, spending hours on the field, they may still fall short sometimes. The disappointment may motivate them to advance their skillset.

While they can always spend more time with their coach, as a parent, you can get involved, too. The two of you can enjoy some quality parent-child bonding time and help your child become a better baseball player with a pitching machine.

These machines send out flawless pitch after flawless pitch so your child can practice for longer without anybody’s arm getting tired. With adjustable speed ranges, your little league slugger can be ready for fast balls, curve balls, and everything in between.

We’ve found five fantastic pitching machines that can help your child finesse their skills in their off-time.

What to Look for in Little League Pitching Machines

  • Speed range: A kid will get bored if each ball flies at a slow five or 10 miles per hour. However, if the balls whiz by their heads, any young player would be discouraged. A good pitching machine should have an adjustable range so a player can find the right speed for them.
  • Versatility: These pitching machines should mimic realistic throws. A pitcher won’t always throw straight, but will sometimes pepper in fastballs, split fingers, and curve balls. The machine should be versatile and able to pitch balls at different angles.
  • Weight: You’ll probably be carrying the machine around the backyard and other places for your kid to practice. If the pitching machine is heavy, this becomes much more difficult to do. The machine should be lightweight and maybe even include collapsible parts for easy transportation.
  • Batteries: If the pitching machine is designed to travel, it shouldn’t come with cords. Instead, it should run on batteries. These may even be rechargeable so you never have to stress about the machine dying in the middle of an intense practice.
  • Types of supported balls: Yes, your child plays little league baseball, what if they’re also involved in softball or wiffleball? A good pitching machine should be compatible with these balls, too.

Here are our five picks for the best pitching machines for little league players based on performance, value and overall user experience.

  1. JUGS Lite-Flite Baseball/Softball Machine
  2. Sports Attack Junior Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine
  3. Louisville Slugger UPM 50 Black Flame Pitching Machine
  4. BSN SPORTS Bulldog Baseball/Softball Pitching Machine
  5. JUGS Junior Baseball Pitching MachineEditor’s Choice

Editor’s Choice

JUGS Lite-Flite Baseball/Softball Machine

Best Pitching Machines for Little League Success

JUGS has always been in the pitching machine game, no pun intended. Founded in 1970, the company started with a curveball pitching machine and grew from there. They don’t just cater to little league players, but all baseball players who want to improve their hitting speed and accuracy.

Their Lite-Flite Baseball/Softball Machine is also noteworthy. If you like the BSN Bulldog (below) for its striking red color, you’ll love the Lite-Flite, which is a retro teal blue. You can even use it to play pickleball.

If you already have JUGS’ Complete Practice Battery Park or the Rechargeable Battery Pack, both are compatible with the Lite-Flite. It can also be powered by a Powerhouse Portable Generator-2000 or 110-volt AC.

This machine can turn 360 degrees if necessary, allowing it to propel more ground balls, pop-ups, and fly balls. Feel like doing something different? Put down the softball bat and pick up the baseball bat (or vice-versa) with the Switch-and-Play Knobs and Quick-Change design. How easy is that?

Of course, you will have to use JUGS Bulldog polyballs, Lite-Flite baseballs, and 11-inch and 12-inch Lite-Flite softballs with this machine. All other types of balls are not compatible.

That said, when a ball comes out, be ready. It could fly up to 25 feet as it goes 85 mph at its fastest. The player will also hit sliders, curveballs, fastballs, and other pitches for hours. This machine is intended for children ages six to 15 and even includes a five-year guarantee.

With its 35-pound frame, reviewers who have used the Lite-Flite mention how installation is simple. Others prefer it for its solid pitches. The only complaint with this pitching machine is that it may move slightly as it sends balls out for pitching.

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Best Upgrade Pick

Sports Attack Junior Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine

Sports Attack Junior Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine

If you don’t mind spending a little more money, the Sports Attack Junior Hack Attack Baseball Pitching Machine is a fantastic investment. In fact, we’re calling it the best upgrade pick.

Intended for what Sports Attack calls “serious young players,” the Junior Hack Attack mimics a real pitcher, albeit a pitcher who throws balls perfectly every time. With its three-wheel vision, it’s possible to get an eye for the ball before it comes at the player. Those are real skills your kid can use on the field.

Forget about instruction manuals the size of novels. The Junior Hack Attack comes out of the box ready to use. You don’t have to install or connect a single component.

Sports Attack’s pitching machine is streamlined and meant to fit in the backseat of everything from a Mini Cooper to a truck or van. The manufacturer is so confident in this product that they even offer a five-year limited warranty.

Your little leaguer can sharpen up their fly balls, pop-ups, line drives, knuckle balls, split fingers, sliders, left-handed curves, and ground balls due to throwing pivot heads in the machine. These allow the ball to sail 250 feet. That’s quite a distance! The machine has speed too, shooting out balls at 70 mph.

Since 1995, Reno, Nevada’s Sports Attack has made sports training equipment for games like rugby, soccer, tennis, football, volleyball, softball, and baseball. Cofounders Doug Boehner (the company’s vice president) and Amanda Pratt (its president) want to see athletes improve themselves through the brand’s equipment.

Many users of the Junior Hack Attack love it, with one even calling it the “greatest pitching machine ever.” The general consensus is this is an ideal pitching machine for kids to early teens.

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Best Budget Pick

Louisville Slugger UPM 50 Black Flame Pitching Machine

Louisville Slugger UPM 50 Black Flame Pitching Machine

With a name as cool as the machine itself, the Black Flame from Louisville Slugger is quite an impressive choice. While the JUGS Jr. Baseball Pitching Machine is a powerhouse, it’s quite heavy compared to the Black Flame, which weighs only 25 pounds. That’s so lightweight that little league players can almost move it themselves.

Feel free to use softballs, hardballs, restricted flight, dimple, and even plastic balls on this Louisville Slugger machine, as it’s compatible with all of these. This can even be used for soccer, volleyball, cricket, tennis, and softball! That gives your child plenty of versatility so they’ll always want to practice.

Louisville Slugger mentions how easy it is to install the Black Flame, and you can even customize this pitching machine. By adjusting certain components, you can change the way the balls are thrown. Achieve longer and higher flying balls this way. This machine can also naturally throw out straight pitches, slow pitch softballs, fly-balls, and ground balls. It can reach speeds of up to 50 mph.

Is it raining out? No problem! One of the coolest features of the Black Flame is how it’s intended for indoor use, too. Of course, just make plenty of room and look out for windows, china, and other breakable items.

Since it’s made to travel, the Louisville Slugger Black Flame runs on regular batteries and comes free of cords and charging packs. That contributes to its slim shape and low weight. Not only that, but it’s affordable, too, which is why we call it our best budget pick.

The Black Flame comes from a company that’s existed for nearly 140 years. Louisville Slugger produces everything you need to play baseball, including bats, gloves, and gear. John A. “Bud” Hillerich founded the company in 1884 after he got good at making his own bats. The company says it’s retailed 100 million bats and counting.

Not only do MLB players use Louisville Slugger products, but the Babe Ruth League officially endorses the Black Flame. Those who have used the pitching machine can see why. They laud the Black Flame’s accuracy, pitching variation, and easy, fast installation.

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BSN SPORTS Bulldog Baseball/Softball Pitching Machine

BSN SPORTS Bulldog Baseball/Softball Pitching Machine

Just take one look at the Bulldog’s bright red exterior and you know there are hours of fun ahead.

BSN SPORTS’ pitching machine includes strong, heavy-duty legs that can switch stances depending on if the machine is pitching softballs or baseballs.

Forget about excess air pressure with an included urethane wheel. The machine has a generator ¼ HP D.C. motor and 110-volt AC power. That allows the Bulldog to pitch baseballs or softballs between 30 and 60 mph.

BSN’s pitching machine is made to move, so feel free to bring it from the pitching mound to the backyard and back again. It’s no surprise, since BSN SPORTS has made athlete-preferred equipment and apparel since 1972. Starting as a factory-direct brand, today, major companies like Under Armor and Nike rely on BSN to make durable sports apparel.

When you buy the Bulldog pitching machine from BSN, you’re almost buying a part of sports history. Reviewers call it amazing and on-point. Some even say it’s comparable to JUGS pitching machines.

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JUGS Jr. Baseball Pitching Machine

JUGS Jr. Baseball Pitching Machine

The JUGS Jr. Baseball Pitching Machine is intended for younger players. It weighs less than 100 pounds (75 pounds total), so you can feel free to bring it from your backyard to the baseball field and anywhere else your kid wants to practice. With a non-marking pneumatic tire, this machine is a beast.

Does your young player want to get better at pitching at certain speeds? Don’t second guess the speed at which the balls are traveling since this JUGS machine includes a digital readout display. Players will know exactly what speed they’re hitting at with each swing.

The straight legs and baseball chute ensure perfect pitches every time, which is part of why the JUGS Jr. Baseball Pitching Machine is our best overall pick. No matter which speed a player can hit, this machine can accommodate. It starts at 15 miles per hour and can send out balls at up to 60 mph.

It has a three amp motor that runs on 110v AC power. The machine also has an optional remote switch, optional automatic feeder, optional pitching machine cover, and 360-degree swivel. Choose from the Complete Practice Battery Pack or Powerhouse Portable Generator-2000 to charge the pitching machine.

Whether players want to better their defense or offense, JUGS specializes in “realistic” pitches that will help a young little leaguer improve their skills over time. Does your child play other sports? No problem. This machine supports JUGS BULLDOG baseballs, JUGS Pearl baseballs, SOFTIE baseballs and softballs, Lite-Flite baseballs and softballs, all tennis balls, and seam or dimpled baseballs.

JUGS suggests that children ages six to 15 practice on this durable, powerful machine, which even includes a five-year warranty.

The reviews for the JUGS Jr. Baseball Pitching Machine are positive, with users agreeing that it’s an accurate, strong machine that hooks up fast. The only con is that one user found that sometimes the balls shoot out lower or higher than intended. However, they suggested this may be an issue with their machine wheel.

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5 Tips for Staying Safe When Using a Little League Pitching Machine

  1. Use the machine as intended: Place the pitching machine flat on the ground. Don’t put it against any hills or slopes, and avoid rocky, sandy, or uneven terrain. These can all alter the power and angle of the pitches.
  2. Don’t reuse fraying balls: Some wear and tear is okay, but as soon as the balls begin fraying or otherwise falling apart, throw them out. These may not act like a normal ball and could cause injury.
  3. Start slowly and work your way up: Don’t immediately use the machine to pitch balls at the fastest speed possible. This could also cause injury. Instead, start slowly and gradually increase the speed. This is especially essential to do the first time you use the pitching machine.
  4. Don’t play indoors unless allowed: While the Louisville Slugger Black Flame is intended for indoor use, not all pitching machines are. If the instructions say to use outdoors only, don’t ever bring the machine inside. If playing inside, do so in an empty room. Avoid windows.
  5. Don’t ignore machine issues: The wheels, chutes, and other parts of the pitching machine may become misaligned. These may also be broken. If the machine is making strange noises or pitching slower than usual, turn the machine off and inspect all parts. If something is broken, contact the manufacturer.

Sources & Further Reading

  1. JUGS Sports
  2. Louisville Slugger
  3. Sports Attack
  4. BSN Sports
  6. ‘JUGS’ machine making an impact on football fields