If you’ve got some backyard space, it doesn’t take much to turn it into a great little pitching practice area. There isn’t a ton you really need to get started, but there are plenty of add-ons you might want to make practice more and more productive. But if nothing else, it’s just fun to have a target to throw at and really let it loose. Especially when you’re a kid with infinite energy and maybe dad doesn’t want to crouch and dig out spiked curveballs for 3 hours.
1. Backstop pitching nets
The first thing you’ll need if you’re going to be practicing pitching in the backyard/garage/wherever you have space is a big net.
And it’s got to be big to corral the wild ones.
A note on pitchback nets/rebounders: the name is kind of deceiving. These shouldn’t be considered for pitching practice. The rebound can get fierce when you throw at these rebounders too hard. They’re good for fielding drills, but not meant for pitching practice. Stick with a bigger sock-style net for pitching.
Rukket 7×7 Baseball & Softball Net
This 7’x7’ practice net is a great all-around choice that’s priced reasonably.
The concern with nets like this is always durability. Reviewers seem pleased with the quality for the price, so I’d be comfortable with this one.
I’d be willing to bet this is the best choice for most people and it’s probably not worth tearing your hair out over it.
Rukket 5×5 Baseball & Softball Net
If you’re space-limited and/or very confident in your accuracy, the 7×7 model might be overkill.
This 5’x5’ version of the same net above will also do the job but give you a little less room for error. I’d say it could be worth it if you have zero plans to use as a batting net with a tee. That extra space might be useful for BP but utilized much less when practicing pitching.
LIBERRWAY Baseball and Softball Practice Net
If you’re like me and insist on tearing your hair out over every purchase, you’re still looking for different options after that last thing I said about tearing your hair out a couple sentences ago.
Here’s another option. Same 7×7 size but this one comes with a tee and a handy little ball caddy pitchers can pull from more easily than reaching into a bucket or bag on the ground between every pitch.
Costs a bit more than Rukket 7×7 but it might be worth it, especially if you plan on using this for hitting practice.
20ft Enclosed Baseball Batting Cage Net
This is a bit much for the average backyard.
But hey, if you really want your kid to feel like a pro…? This would be pretty cool. It’s not actually as expensive as I though it might be. This one I’m linking to is just north of $200 as I write this.
Obviously this is a big waste if you don’t also plan on practicing hitting as well. But with something like this you could pitch to your kid and vice versa – or they could invite a buddy over and have a ball in there. If you’re really gung ho you could even rig up a pitching machine in something like this.
2. Pitching pockets/target nets
This will likely be the centerpiece of your setup and probably the most important item you buy (unless you try to get by strapping a strike zone over one of the prior large nets).
Out of everything else on this list, this is the thing you don’t want to go cheap on. They will take a beating and you don’t want to have to buy these things every couple of months due to wear and tear.
Pitcher’s Pocket Pro
This is the standard style for pitcher’s pockets – 9 holes/pockets simulating each major part of the strike zone, which is sized properly here. The pocket design gives you instant, measurable feedback on how well you’re able to hit your spots.
If you’re a weirdo like me, you might keep a log of your progress over time and make a cool heatmap on the computer after a few weeks’ worth of reps. Then you could review that and determine where you need to improve the most.
I remember pitching in middle school and having a terrible time trying to place my 4-seamer on the inside corner.
Just kidding. Every strike I managed to throw was a miracle.
Anyway. If you are good enough to be able to hit a spot, a training aid like this can help you cement the habit.
This model is industrial-grade and available in a bunch of different colors if black isn’t your thing.
TONGMO 9 Hole Baseball Pitching Net
If that price tag is too much, you could consider this alternative from TONGMO. It’s not as durable, but it may be perfectly sufficient for younger kids who aren’t throwing all that hard yet.
There aren’t many reviews right now, but all of them are positive.
Better Baseball Pitcher’s Pocket Training Aid
This one is really similar to the first pitcher’s pocket linked above. Similar size and colors available.
Including this one just because I know prices can change over time and this one might be a better deal by the time you read it. Right now it’s a little more expensive, but that can change. Make sure you click around a bit and check for better values.
3. Dummy batters & props
Practicing pitching is about repetition and muscle memory, but it’s also about visualization. While many pitchers of legend had to get by on chucking rocks at squirrels or rabbits, that kind of thing can be frowned upon in a 21st century suburb.
These few items can help a young pitcher get reps with a slightly better picture of how it will look in the real game.
AOLIGEIJS Batter Dummy Pitching Target
Here’s one option for a batter dummy. Strap it in right into your pitching net.
Keep in mind there’s no way to stand this thing up on its own. It must be attached to a net.
This dummy goes well with this orange pitching net from GoSports, which you can get for a pretty good price as pitching nets go.
GoSports Baseball & Softball Xtraman Dummy
This one costs a bit more but I think it’s worth it since it stands up on its own. Feels a bit more realistic.
Plus, you can use if you have a catcher.
And it’s reversible, so you can use it to simulate both a right-handed or left-handed batter.
Franklin Sports Thrown Down Baseball Bases with Home Plate and Pitcher’s Rubber
The idea is to replicate a real-life environment as much as possible. You can get nets with bullseyes and targets.
But in an actual game, all you’ve got is the glove and home plate.
You can drop down this rubber base to be the visual reference as you practice. You can use the pitcher’s mound to at least give you an easy point of reference to throw from.
No need to break the bank on anything fancy here. These are 10 bucks as I write this today.
VANTA SPORTS Vinyl Backstop with Strike Zone and Catcher
This one simulates the image of the catcher holding up a glove as a target.
This is a bit on the pricey side but I will say when I was a kid throwing baseballs into a net at home – I remember using it for golf too – the thing didn’t survive very long and wound up with a bunch of holes in it.
The vinyl backdrop here will protect the net and help with the wear and tear…assuming you are relatively accurate.
4. Pitching strength training aids
VPX Softball Training Harness
The VPX harness is a set of resistance bands designed specifically for strengthening softball pitching & hitting muscles. For pitchers – you can attach this to either your anchor or drive leg to work on each side of things.
A nice tool to have for drills, BP, bullpens, long toss, and whatever else you’re working on.
This thing advertises adding 4-6MPH within 3 weeks or less. I’m sure your results will vary.
VPX Baseball Training Harness
Here’s the baseball version of the same resistance bands.
Arm Pro Baseball/Softball Resistance Training Bands
These resistance bands aren’t quite as specialized to specific baseball movements but can be used to build strength for all sorts of different throwing motions.
Any resistance bands will do. But these are nice because they have wristbands for both arms and a loop on the other end you can attach to a fence or some other hook around the house.
5. Radar guns & speed readers
I know when I was a lot younger I always wondered how hard I was throwing at different ages. This would be a great gift idea for a young pitcher. I could see myself out in the backyard obsessing over hitting that next record well past dark.
But man alive. You can spend a lot of money on radar guns. I’ve got a few listed below, but I’m betting the first cheapest one is more than enough for most people.
TGU Baseball Speed Sensor
I’m listing this one first here since it seems like one of the cheaper options but still has decent reviews.
This one is hands-free and comes with a tripod, so you don’t need a second person to use it. Make sure you set it up in the recommended distance zone. You can put this on the ground in front of the net (or catcher) or put it on the tripod right behind the net.
Bushnell Velocity Speed Gun
Here’s the classic gun-style speed reader you’ll see scouts using.
It’s a bit more expensive and requires a second person to operate it. But it’s got greater capability. It can read up to 110MPH up to 90 feet. You can use this for auto racing, tennis, running, child tricycling, and many other fun things you want to quantify in terms of MPH.
Pocket Radar Smart Coach – App Compatible
Here’s where the price really jumps up.
But this thing is pretty cool. It can capture videos and share them with coaches/recruiters. It can work hands-free. You can export data to CSV if you really want to dig into the data.
This might be overkill if you’re a dad who wants to find out how hard your kid throws. Especially given the $400 price tag (as I write today).
This might be really useful for coaches of several pitchers who want to track progress over time and maybe communicate some of that progress to other coaches or recruiters.
Stalker Pro IIs Sports Radar
Want to see spin rate, too? You’ll have to pay for it.
Thank you for reading.
I hope this helps you get started learning how to practice pitching better and have more fun playing baseball. Please have a nice day.
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