How to Teach Hitting Off a Pitching Machine
Teaching hitting from a pitching machine is generally considered beneficial but does have some downsides. The biggest controversy when using a pitching machine is its consistency. Although this is generally a good thing, no quality pitcher will ever throw consistent pitches. As a result, learning solely off a machine may limit a batter's ability to react to different pitches. However, the benefits of using the tool are quite wide and include chances to improve your stance, position and swing.
Set the machine's accuracy to deliver a pitch down the middle of the plate. Position the batter in the batter's box.
Use a consistent speed and have the batter practice his timing. However, this doesn't mean only the timing of the swing. Emphasize when to transfer his weight from the back foot to the front foot, when to move his hips and how to rotate the core of his body.
Practice the swing. Set the machine to different speeds without telling the batter and let her adjust naturally. Teach proper arm posture and swing. Don't forget about the importance of the follow-through.
Reposition the machine so the ball comes across the corner of the plate instead of down the middle. This gives students a chance to try hitting pitches that aren't quite perfect. You can try adjusting the height to place the pitch near the edge of the strike zone.
Teach consistency. Teaching and enforcing positive habits is extremely important with swinging and the pitching machine lends itself perfectly to this goal. Use it to let each player develop a rhythm and hit pitches consistently.
Pitch the ball to the batter. To break away from the pitching machine's rigidity, don't forget to pitch the ball naturally at the end of practice to make sure the hitter is still capable of adapting to different situations and recognizing balls and strikes. Teaching only from the machine could be detrimental to the player's skill set.
Some high-end pitching machines are capable of throwing breaking balls, and can be used to help further the skills of advanced hitters.
Always wear a helmet, even when using a pitching machine.
William Carne started writing professionally in 2009 and has been published around the web, including inTravel Mag, Hack Writers and onwalkabout.net. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in art from the University of Calgary.