Replies sorted oldest to newest
Rough situation. Can't do much about it, the Coach loves his new toy.
Hitters need to see as much live overhand pitching velocity as possible.
A few things...
Heavy use of the machine, at least during some parts of the year, isn't uncommon at many colleges as well so he would be wise to figure out how to not hate it and make good use of it. Machines do have their place, at least for some aspects of hitting. Machines can have advantages as far as location consistency and good break if set properly, maintaining velo, etc. You can provide a steady dose of lefty and righty breaking balls with them. You can get unlimited bunting practice without wearing out the staff's live arms, and on and on. Depending on the capabilities of the staff, they can be anything from useful at times to an absolute necessity. And, ideally, a hitter will always have the attitude that he will kill any pitching, live or otherwise.
That said, your son is not alone in that opinion and, as 3and2 said, hitters definitely need to see live arms as well. Perhaps if there are others on the team besides just the one that already said something who feel the same, they can respectfully ask the coaching staff to mix more live with machine. Sometimes it is a timing issue as far as how the ball is fed. If this is the primary hangup, the players can ask for a more consistent "arm raise - then drop" type of feed so that it better simulates live.
I know I am over-simplifying the solutions - not easy for a soph hitter to address something like this with the HC, particularly if it has already come up and not received well. But there are strength in numbers, particularly when they include the 4 hitter. Also, the "mix" suggestion may be better received than something like "I can't hit off this machine". Lastly, your son probably didn't get to where he is at currently by relying on just team practices. Just shift some of his extra workouts to include cagework with a live arm.
Meanwhile, like every other challenge that is baseball, make the adjustment and have a positive approach.
I know a guy whose son was on a team that did no live, simply because there was not a single coach on the team who could throw it. It was an uncomfortable conversation but he volunteered and was eventually accepted. Maybe that's the problem here? If so, maybe you could try to help out.
... or you could throw to just your own kid after practice. If you have access to the school cage, it might make a statement.
The coach can provide some rhythm by using his other hand to simulate a throwing motion. Put it in and at the same time wave down with the other hand that you have raised before.
Maybe he can ask him to do that for him.
CABBAGEDAD makes a very good point about many college programs using machines as part of their training. The top travel team in our state uses them, too. They set the machines up at 70mph from 35-40 feet away to help the kids learn to hit higher velocity.
Do you think it's messing up his timing more because he doesn't get to see a human throwing the ball, or because they have it set up wrong? If they're shooting 80 mph at him from 45' away, that kind of defeats the purpose of simulating real pitch velocity. Tough spot. How would a request for post-practice live BP from one of the ACs go over?
We used them to simulate fast pitching and to get a lot of swings in a short amount of time. Some loved it and some hated it. I have found that the guys that hit well hit live and pitching machine. The ones who struggled against fast pitching struggled against both. We did not use it exclusively but did it mixed in with live pitching. We had no one but our ace who threw fast and did not want to use him so we used the machine. I'm not a fan of coming in closer and throwing live fast because I think that messes with your timing more than the machine. All of us as coaches like our new toys when we get them. I loved the pitching machine but I also know coaches who hate them.
Road Warrior posted:
@JCG that is not necessarily the case in the situation, we have three former college PO's on the coaching staff.
There's his angle. As Mid and JCG noted, those college PO's like to throw. The player group appealing to that group is likely to produce results sooner or later. Or, at the least, they should ask one or more of those guys to throw live outside of team practice time. Meanwhile, conquer the machine.
In baseball, I used both. I find it hard to believe that machine alone is destroying a machine. I would suggest that the feeder can help the hitter by showing the ball just above the feeding chute and then, when the ball moves, the hitter start that load so that they are simulating a pitch in progress. Of course the best scenario is to have live arm. However, it is harder than one thinks to find someone who can really throw live BP that is beneficial. I've seen countless former college players suck at throwing BP. As mentioned, machine BP is a staple in college as well. Get used to it.
I hate the machines if they take the place of live pitching, but they are great for working on breaking balls, IMO, as someone pointed out above....assuming that you have a machine that throws somewhat repeatable curves. It's hard to get a BP thrower who throws a consistent, hittable breaking pitch from 35' away.
I coached with a 6'7" former Milb/D1 pitcher last year. My 14 yo's team was terrified of BP. It wasn't so much the speed, but his breaking stuff, and the weird angle that his ball came from at close distance. The kids preferred my BP.
In general, though, if he isn't seeing enough BP with "arms", then take him to the cages and either throw to him or get a buddy to, if you aren't capable.
My son has trained on all machines, and they all have their benefits. But using anything exclusively is a bad idea. We knew they used a 2 wheel Jugs machine at the High School level and for the tryout. So he practiced hitting off one during the winter. But we would always compliment that practice with live arm throws as well as using a local Iron Mike, which is much more similar to timing live pitching. We used a ProBatter PX2 on the weekends to simulate live game at bats. You should do the same. Have your boy get in extra swings outside of practice from a live arm or the other machines I listed. Use the time on the coaches machine to work on a specific aspect of the swing, and don't treat those swings as live at bats.
One of the problems with regular pitching machines is a kid will tend to start timing his swing rather than reacting to a pitch. My son was fortunate to have access to a Pro Batter in high school and college. He would program it for twenty pitches that varied in speed and pitch type. Even then, whatever kind of pitch it was always came to one location for that pitch. He still did a lot of in cage, live pitching BP.
One of the best things we've done recently for my HS Soph kid's hitting is found a former D1 pitcher in his mid 20's who throws him Batting Practice twice a week (for a very reasonable minimal fee).
This guy used to cruise in the low 90's, still throws mid 80's easy, can spin a good tight curve and throws 2 seams, 4 seams, changeups etc... My kid then has me videotape the BP on my IPad and looks at his swings in between BP Rounds.
Anything you can do to face good overhand velocity is going to help you tremendously as a hitter. Obviously it can be tough finding time for extra BP outside of practice, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
One of the best things we've done recently for my kid's hitting is found a former D1 pitcher in his mid 20's who throws him Batting Practice twice a week (for a very reasonable minimal fee).
My sons 2 travel coaches would pitch live AB's in the winter to the team indoors from regulation distance. Both old D3 players from a top level program. One was a righty and one was a lefty. They sat in the low to mid 80's and threw a great cb and slider. It was priceless practice. If you can't find that, look for a Probatter PX2 in your area. I would drive almost 2 hours both ways so my son could use one.
I recently tried to convince our HC to use Juggs machine to better develop our hitters. However, I think your son's coach is making a mistake if that is all he is doing to prepare them for hitting in game situations. It is a tool and should be treated as such. A good program is going to incorporate tee, soft toss, coach-pitch BP, and a machine. They are all valuable and provide opportunities for hitters to focus in different ways.
Our HC has not incorporated machine yet but maybe that is why our guys struggle against velo!