Repetition, pinpoint accuracy, total control of speed, mastery of pitch type… these are areas that coaches typically struggle with when throwing batting practice. Players take their time in the cage serious, so why only allow 75-80% of the pitches thrown at them to be hittable?
Baseball players get better through repetition in the cage, ripping pitch after pitch, day in and day out at practice. Atec pitching machines make batting practice more efficient, which is better for your players and your coaches, especially in terms of your BP coach avoiding Tommy John surgery.
Atec (Athletic Training Equipment Company) is based out of Sparks, Nevada, and makes pitching machines and accessories that can take your team’s practice to the next level. The company is part of Amer Sports, which also owns Wilson, Demarini, and Louisville Slugger brands of baseball equipment.
Atec pitching machines are designed to train professionals. With a high quality, durable product, comes a cost. When you first look at the price range of their array of pitching machines, you will see dollar signs—in large amounts. In comparison with other pro-level pitching machines, the cost is quite comparable, and in some cases, less expensive. Consider the following four models of their devices.
The M3 pitching machine is the top of the line device offered by Atec, built to train players who are at the professional level. The M3 has a 3-wheel design which allows for hitters ready to crush the ball, total visibility of the ball through the pitch cycle. There are no surprises coming out of this machine, so players can improve their timing and focus on pitch recognition. The 3-wheel design also increases the overall surface contact on the baseball, which assists in top notch pitch speed, accuracy, and ball spin per pitch type.
The M3 is equipped to throw the ball up to 105mph, which gives you the ability to train against big league speed and determine if you can hang. This model of pitching machine also pitches curveballs, sliders, splitters and knuckleballs. There is a really nice guide on the ball feeder side showing the adjustments necessary to change pitch type.
The M3 is compatible with leather, dimple and foam balls depending on what the training situation calls for or the location demands. It comes with a 5-year warranty and it designated as the Official Machine of Major League Baseball.
Atec’s M2 baseball pitching machine is geared to train those players at the collegiate level. In contrast to the M3 professional model, the M2 is a 2-wheel machine, but can still hold its own. The M2 can crank it up to 90mph, and deliver collegiate level fastballs, curveballs, and sliders to any spot you desire. Atec is proud to state that the M2 baseball pitching machine is used and trusted by many nationally ranked college baseball programs to train their elite players, developing their hitting abilities into next level talent.
The M2 pitch speed ranges from 30mph-90mph, a little less than the M3, while also losing a few pitch selections. The level of device includes a quick change tilt system to simulate the change in throwing hand and rotation of the pitched balls. Once again, this device is compatible with leather, dimple, and foam balls, depending on your location and need.
The Atec M1 baseball pitching machine is the lowest level pitching simulation device Atec offers. Although being the lowest, the M1 is rated as the highest performing and most durable in the 1-wheel pitching machine category. It uses many of the same parts as the higher level devices, including the concave spinning wheel. The wheel is designed to increase the grip on the baseball which in turn, like the other devices state, maximizes both the speed and accuracy of the pitches thrown. This device is more suited for work on the field and in a batting cage due to its portable nature.
The M1 can throw fastballs, as well as right or left handed curveballs. Like the other devices, the minimum pitch speed is 30mph, but the maximum you get out of the M1 is 70mph. This model appears to be good for typical batting cages and those in travel baseball up to 15 years. Once you hit 16+ years old, the speed may not be adequate for a realistic batting practice sessions for those playing baseball at a high level. You can change the distance from which you pitch balls to simulate higher speeds. Reaction time decreases the closer the machine is, so you can get the feel of Major League speeds with a little finagling. Atec M1 series also accepts leather baseballs, dimple, and foam balls for hitting action.
Even though this article was focused on Atec pitching machines, I could not help but include the R3 and R2 baseball training machines in the review. Both of these models by Atec are designed to work on players’ defensive skills. The devices throw balls with the ability to simulate grounders, line drives, fly balls, or pop flies with great recovery time to launch the next ball, thus increasing the efficiency of defensive practice.
Let’s face it, everyone likes hitting cage bombs off the machine, but a good/solid defense if a pitcher’s best friend. With the R3 or R2, there is an increase in consistency of hits and give the coaches an opportunity to be in the field with their players, instructing, and not hitting fungos from 70-90 feet away. These devices are obviously geared toward professional and college level programs, but none the less, are a great addition to the Atec line of machines and a phenomenal opportunity to increase efficiency in your practice.
As with any device, the manufacturer can recommend what accessories to use to “best” enable the device to meet the specifications listed. Atec has three sets of pitching machine balls which are designed to be used with their line of pitching machines.
The Hi.Per Pro Leather Flat Seam Baseballs are designed to maximize the efficiency of any Atec pitching machine. The balls have high quality leather, like any other baseball, but have seams made out of low-profile high-tensile-strength Kevlar. This design will increase their lifetime of usage and create an increased accurate throw to ensure your hitters are maximizing their time in the cage.
Atec’s Hi.Per X-Axt Dimple Baseballs are designed like typical batting cage balls seen at many batting cages. These balls, however, are designed from proprietary anti-sting material, allowing your players to work through the bad hits in the cage and not have their hands constantly feeling the sting. Another key to these dimple balls is that they are safe for all performance bats and are the regulation weight and size of a baseball. There is nothing worse than coming home from a batting cage with a banged up, dented baseball bat.
Atec’s line of pitching devices are carried by many of the larger retailers across the United States. You can order them directly from Atec’s website, but may find a little better prices if you hunt around some of the resellers. If you keep watch on eBay, there will be machines that are used and definitely available at a large price reduction. Many of the parts are replaceable on the Atec device, so you might be able to get a deal on a partially functioning device and order the parts for repair directly from the Atec site.