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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 protective
gear when in the cage with a machine or on the field
for grounders or fly balls. Helmets and protective
cups are a must. Do not allow any player into the cage
if they are not wearing an officially sanctioned
batting helmet.

The person feeding a pitching machine should always
stand behind an L-screen or similar barrier and should
wear a helmet themselves as a precaution against
batted balls hitting the ceiling of the cage and
falling down.

If using a pitching machine after rain, or on a dewy
morning, balls will pick up the moisture and can
behave unpredictably on feeding through the pitching
machine. Make sure your hitters are extra vigilant as
a pitched ball may come out of the machine
erratically.

Visually inspect batting cage and L-screen netting
regularly and patch when necessary. A hole in the
netting can quickly lead to accidents. As a part of
this, always use high quality, thick netting material.
In the long run, this will prove safer and more cost
effective than using cheap material in the beginning.

In the batting cage, only two people should be
present at any given time — The batter and the feeder
behind their screen.

Use good judgment in setting the pitching machine’s
speed to a player’s ability. Just because a pitching
machine can throw a ball at 102 MPH doesn’t mean your
player is ready for that speed.

Before any batter enters the cage, always feed a few
test pitches into the pitching machine to ensure that
the pitching machine is accurately aimed and so that
the batter has an idea of what to expect. Perform the
same procedure when any adjustment is made to the
machine, i.e. a new type of pitch or a different
speed.

When setting up the pitching machine, make sure the
machine is level and the legs properly stabilized.

Any power cords running to the machine should be
firmly plugged in and should be regularly examined for
fraying.

Damaged, sliced, or cracked balls may behave
erratically and should be replaced as soon as
possible.

The person feeding the pitching machine should
always let the batter know to expect a pitch.
Generally this is done by holding the ball up over
your head and then placing it in the feeder.

Regularly check your pitching machine for wheel
damage or other problems that may impact its ability
to perform properly.

Never operate a pitching machine under the influence
of 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.

Carl Fogle