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697 Views 18 Replies Latest reply: Jan 17, 2010 7:44 PM by HudsonBlue RSS 1 2 Previous Next
rthompson08 Rookie 3 posts since
Nov 11, 2009
Currently Being Moderated

Jan 15, 2010 8:31 PM

Machine pitch

Our little league is thinking about changing our minor league division 7-9 to machine pitch. I am looking for some feedback. how has this worked in you town and what are soem pros and cons that you have noticed? i think this will be good. At 7 and 8 it is a real chore for kids to throw consistant strikes and it really compromises the other aspects of the game. Please let me know how this has worked for you.

  • Lou_B Community Moderator 1,319 posts since
    May 25, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Jan 16, 2010 6:25 AM (in response to rthompson08)
    Re: Machine pitch

    Most of the leagues around here use either machine pitch or coach pitch for their 7-8 programs.

    It's very difficult to have a 7-8 program with kid pitch, for the reason you stated (hard to get pitchers that young to consistently throw strikes).

    Some like machine pitch (consistent pitch locations).  Some don't like machine pitch (kids don't get used to seeing the "arm" motion of a pitcher.

    Some like coach pitch (hitters get used to seeing the pitcher release the ball).  Some don't like coach pitch (inconsistent pitches and the "angle" of the ball is different than if it was thrown by a kid pitching).

    Personally, I favor machine pitch for 7-8 year olds.

  • NathanQ Legend 378 posts since
    Nov 12, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Jan 16, 2010 7:45 AM (in response to Lou_B)
    Re: Machine pitch

    Our 7-8 division uses a machine. I think it's a great league and the kids and parents really  love it. That said, it's not baseball - there's no fielder at F1 and the catcher is more target than fielder. We do not keep score. Each side bats until they make 3 outs (not counting K's) or bat through the order.  Speaking of K's, during the first half of the season, each batter gets 5 pitches from the machine, then hits off the tee if s/he fails to strike the ball. During the second half of the season, there is no tee; the player either hits the ball or is retired.

     

    This division does get boring for advanced 8's, but most of those get pulled up to the 9-10 division, which is player pitch. I would definitely not include 9's in a machine pitch division. Players of that age should be playing by regular LL rules.

  • Mark_S Pro 70 posts since
    May 25, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Jan 16, 2010 8:08 AM (in response to NathanQ)
    Re: Machine pitch

    My local league has used pitching machines for 7-8 yr olds for as long as I can remember.  In general it works very well.  We used to keep standings and have post season play, this created OVERLY competitive parents.  A couple of years ago we eliminated standings and post season play and things calmed down for the most part.

     

    We played three srikes and your out.  We actually saw a lot better hitting and more balls in play then we did at the AA level (1st yr kid pitch).

     

    A couple of items for your consideration:

    - When it gets damp make sure you have dry baseballs, our machines got a little erratic with wet baseballs.

    - We did play with an F1, but they needed to stay behind the outlet of the machine until after the ball was hit.

    - Make sure you know how you are going to deal with a ball that hits the machine. We played it as a live ball, just like a defensive player.

    - Any ball that settled UNDER the machine was a dead ball, you don't want kids climbing under the machine.

    - The ADULT feeding the machine shouldn't take the ball from players until all play has stopped.

     

     

  • DA33 Amateur 34 posts since
    Feb 21, 2002
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Jan 16, 2010 11:27 AM (in response to Mark_S)
    Re: Machine pitch

    Several leagues around here use a combination of machine pitch and kid/coach pitch. Early in the season they use machine pitch and about the half way mark they start having the kids pitch.

    The league vary as to how much kid pitch they allow some do as few as 2 innings some do the whole game.

    Kid/Coach pitch usually works in this manner any time the count reaches 4 balls to the batter that batter's coach comes out and finished the at bat assuming the count at that point. The batter can't walk but he can strike out or put the ball in play.

    This is a compromise between those that say it is not a real baseball game (with a pitching machine) and those that don't want to see walk-a-thons.

    clay

  • oldhardballer Legend 787 posts since
    May 25, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Jan 17, 2010 9:43 AM (in response to NA_Umpires)
    Re: Machine pitch

    I am not a big fan of machine pitch unless the batter can identify with some kind of arm movement?  I know at this age it is tough getting a machine that has arm motion to it, but it significantly helps the batter as they matriculate to older leagues.  Don

  • HudsonBlue Amateur 11 posts since
    Jan 14, 2006
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. Jan 17, 2010 7:44 PM (in response to DA33)
    Re: Machine pitch

    We've been using Machine Pitch for about 10 years for our 7 & 8 yr olds. 

     

    The benefits we saw between coach/pitch and machine pitch were more consistant "pitching", less time between hitters resulting in shorter game times, and an increase in defensive play.

     

    We initially had some resistance about this change, most of which were on the lines of "this isn't real baseball".  We even had a couple of parents initiate a petition to ban the machine pitch league.  After the first season, we got a letter of apology from one of the dads stating that machine pitch was a much better experience for his son than the previous year's coach-pitch league.

     

    We play with an F1.  We lined a circle around the machine where players were not allowed to enter.  F1 is positioned on either side of the circle, even with the machine.  A ball hitting the machine was declared a dead ball, with the hitter being awaded 1st base.  A ball going through the circle an not hitting the machine was simply played as a normal hit ball.

     

    Hudson Blue

  • Manny_A Legend 841 posts since
    May 25, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. Jan 18, 2010 5:46 AM (in response to oldhardballer)
    Re: Machine pitch

    there's no fielder at F1



    Why not? There's no reason why the league can't put a player near the machine to act as the "pitcher." As long as you implement some local rules that keep F1 from tangling up with the machine and staying out of the line of fire, you can have a kid at the position.

    and the catcher is more target than fielder.



    I don't understand this opinion either. If you put a kid behind the plate that wants to become a catcher, then he/she learns a few things about the position--catching the pitch, making throws on runners, catching throws to home to retire would-be scorers, etc. etc. Yeah, if you put some poor child that has no business wearing the gear back there just to get in the way of the pitch, that's a problem. But it's a coaching problem, not a machine-pitch problem.

    Speaking of K's, during the first half of the season, each batter gets 5 pitches from the machine, then hits off the tee if s/he fails to strike the ball.

     

    To each his/her own, I suppose.  But to me, this just slows the game way down.  These kids, in theory, have already played two seasons of tee ball.  It's now time to learn how to hit a ball that is pitched into the zone.  Personally, I would do away with this practice and make the kids either hit the ball or go back to the dugout for failing to do so.  If they can't put the ball in play after three strikes, better luck next time.  There's no need to give him/her two MORE strikes, and then bring out the tee.

  • NA_Umpires Community Moderator 350 posts since
    May 30, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Jan 18, 2010 8:11 AM (in response to Kyle_)
    Re: Machine pitch

    Coach-pitch advice on getting that proper angle:

     

    A Work Of Stunning Geenyus





    NABCLL VP 13-18 Baseball, Umpire-in-Chief http://www.nayouthbaseball.org
    NAVYU (youth umpires) - http://eteamz.active.com/naumpires

    Merrimack Valley Umpires Association Board of Directors - http://www.mvua.org

  • TG. Legend 954 posts since
    Jul 25, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Jan 18, 2010 10:11 AM (in response to HudsonBlue)
    Re: Machine pitch

    Both my kids went through machine pitch. One thing not mentioned so far is if there is an F1 the adult working the pitching machine has to ready to protect the kid from the wheel.

  • NathanQ Legend 378 posts since
    Nov 12, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    10. Jan 18, 2010 9:05 PM (in response to Manny_A)
    Re: Machine pitch

    +there's no fielder at F1

     

    Why not? There's no reason why the league can't put a player near the machine to act as the "pitcher." As long as you implement some local rules that keep F1 from tangling up with the machine and staying out of the line of fire, you can have a kid at the position.+

     

    I hear you, but this was instituted years before I came along, and I see the point. The machine operators are parent volunteers of varying experience, focus, and skill, and all it would take to cause a world of trouble would be one kid diving or stumbling into the machine and having the wheel take an inch of skin off his face.

     

    +and the catcher is more target than fielder.

     

    I don't understand this opinion either. If you put a kid behind the plate that wants to become a catcher, then he/she learns a few things about the position--catching the pitch, making throws on runners, catching throws to home to retire would-be scorers, etc. etc. Yeah, if you put some poor child that has no business wearing the gear back there just to get in the way of the pitch, that's a problem. But it's a coaching problem, not a machine-pitch problem.+

     

    Just based on what I saw when I coached in that division. I only had 2 or 3 kids ready to take the job, and I could have kept them there exclusively, but that wouldn't have been fair - they deserved to spend time at F6, F3, etc. Plus we didn't have the machine to practice with.

    +

    Speaking of K's, during the first half of the season, each batter gets 5 pitches from the machine, then hits off the tee if s/he fails to strike the ball.

     

    To each his/her own, I suppose. But to me, this just slows the game way down. These kids, in theory, have already played two seasons of tee ball. It's now time to learn how to hit a ball that is pitched into the zone. Personally, I would do away with this practice and make the kids either hit the ball or go back to the dugout for failing to do so. If they can't put the ball in play after three strikes, better luck next time. There's no need to give him/her two MORE strikes, and then bring out the tee.

    +

     

    Well, if you say so. But 5 pitches from a machine take about as long as 2 or 3 from a pitcher, so these games move a lot more quickly than kid pitch,  and with registration down again this year, not only in our league but all over, I'm not thinking that we should be looking for ways to toughen up the competition at lower levels and thereby start the escalating process of attrition younger than it already is. We see about 80% of these kids move on to minors. It's hard enough to keep kids after 12. We don't want to lose them after 8!

     

     

  • kal_ Legend 583 posts since
    May 30, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    11. Jan 19, 2010 8:38 AM (in response to TG.)
    Re: Machine pitch

    i'm just sayin...

     

    wanna teach kids how to hit?

     

    get rid of the machine!

     

    go for coach pitch at least.

     

    and if you can't find a coach that can throw strikes...

     

    shame on the organization!

     

    i'm just sayin...

  • TG. Legend 954 posts since
    Jul 25, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    12. Jan 19, 2010 10:07 AM (in response to NathanQ)
    Re: Machine pitch

    I found coach pitch to be less effective than machine pitch. Coaches aim for the bat. They throw from the wrong angle due to their height. The machine throws strikes (keep the balls clean and dry). The machine can consistantly bring a pitch at 45 mph. Coaches tend to throw much slower. The machine places an emphasis on bat speed. Without bat speed kids won't become hitters.

  • kal_ Legend 583 posts since
    May 30, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    13. Jan 19, 2010 12:50 PM (in response to TG.)
    Re: Machine pitch

    bat speed is worthless without...

     

    1.  timing

    2.  getting the sweet spot of the bat to the ball

     

    machine pitch will...

     

    1.  not allow a batter to really time a pitch... but rather 'react' to the incoming ball

     

    2.  generally a machine (general statement here) will put the ball in the zone better than a live arm.  the kids need to be able to swing at high ones... low ones... inside... outside...

     

    i'm just sayin...

     

    i'm also just sayin... generally

     

    and also... just my opinion

     

     

  • SoxFan66 Rookie 3 posts since
    Mar 26, 2006
    Currently Being Moderated
    14. Jan 19, 2010 1:19 PM (in response to NathanQ)
    Re: Machine pitch

    It really comes down to what you are trying to teach at that level.

    After years of "coach pitch" we switched to machine pitch.

    It seems that the kids were spending too much time on pitch selection. That is a skill that they can learn in the upper divisions. Now the emphasis is on :1) a proper swing,2)baserunning,and 3)fielding. Generally the first pitch from the machine is put in play and there is instant action for the fielders. They learn the elementary skills required for success at the next level.

    We don't have the problem of waiting for a coach to throw a strike. Or worse, watching a 7 year old swinging at garbage, which is a bad habit that is very hard to break.

    Get the air driven machine- no cords, no wheel and a very low profile.

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