Coaches and players have long recognized pitching machines as the quickest means of developing skill and confidence. Kids have a natural fear balls thrown at them and this robs them of confidence when they're up to bat." Pitching machines instill confidence by simulating hits and pitches in a controlled, systematic manner. A pitching machine can belt out hundreds of pitches at a relatively slow speed until the player no longer flinches. The speed can then be progressively increased as the player gains skill and confidence.

Pitching machines also improve team practice. Batting drills are no longer hampered by pitching inconsistencies. Unlike humans, pitching machines can deliver on demand exactly what a hitter or fielder needs to improve his or her game.

In 1990, we began developing a personal pitching machine. It had to be affordable, light enough for the average person to carry with ease, quick to set up and take down, powerful enough to pitch real baseballs at fastball speeds and free of electrical cords. These parameters led us on a search for the most efficient means of projecting a ball. With the concerted efforts of an engineer and a physicist, we set out to solve the portable pitching machine riddle in two years tops. But each step revealed a new challenge. Unable to find a ready-made air compressor fit for the task, we resorted to building our own. And when off-the-shelf rechargeable battery units failed under the recoil of launching balls, we turned our expertise to crafting batteries. Ultimately, 10 years later nearly every aspect of the machine, including its quick-set-up tripod, was custom-made. And in 2000 Zooka Sports was officially launched.

The Zooka ZS740 doesn't look like conventional pitching machines because it doesn't work like them. While other machines depend on external wheels to pinch and propel the ball, the Zooka harnesses the power of compressed air. While conventional machines need a spool of extension cord, the Zooka draws power from a rechargeable battery. The Zooka also does away with confusing analog knobs in favor of an intuitive digital keypad and display. The resulting machine is powerful, streamlined and self-contained.

Zooka Sports has no intention of cornering the institutional pitching machine market. There's no shortage of heavy machines for use at college facilities. But a need does exist for a powerful pitching machine that a team, parent or grandparent can easily tote between the backyard and ballpark, one that isn't dependent on a pile of extension cords or a gas generator. In coach-pitch leagues, for instance, the Zooka is gaining popularity for its ability to throw balls at consistent speeds and heights. After a one-minute setup, the Zooka can deliver an entire game of perfect pitches, making the game fair and more fun for kids. "When you think of all the situations where industrial pitching machines are impractical or prohibitively expensive, that's our market. And it's the lion's share.