We take a deep dive into Zooka pitching machines and review their two main products in this article.
Scroll down to read more about these unique and incredibly usable pitching machines…
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Zooka Pitching Machines: An Overview & Review
A Bit About Zooka The Company
Zooka, who's formal business name is Zooka Partners LLC, is a small business based in North Bend, Washington, in the U.S.
Their sole business is designing, building and selling Zooka pitching machines and accessories.
The company was officially started in 2000, though its roots go back to 1990 when they first started working on crafting a new type of pitching machine, which eventually became the Zooka we know of today.
What Makes Zooka Pitching Machines Unique?
The name Zooka is a play on words of the word bazooka.
You know, the old school weapon known for having a long cylinder that launches out a projectile super fast.
Zooka pitching machines look kinda like a bazooka. They are long, fully enclosed devices that shoot baseballs out of the end.
No other pitching machines look anything like Zooka's.
But it's not just how they look that makes them unique. Pitching machines by Zooka are also unique in that they are fully battery powered - meaning they do not have wires and they do not need to be plugged into an outlet or a generator.
Sure there are some small pitching machines - such as this wiffle ball one - that run on batteries. Yet Zooka runs fully on battery power while throwing real balls super fast.
That's unique in this market.
They also utilize digital displays on the control panel rather than the more common setup of knobs for adjusting things like speed and spin.
Additionally, they don't use wheels to launch a ball but compressed air - another unique aspect of this machine.
Lastly, many high quality pitching machines have some part of their motor or wheels exposed to the operator of the machine.
That can be dangerous if a hand or hair (etc.) gets caught in it.
Zooka's are fully enclosed - there's no risk of getting anything caught inside of it.
In short, these are the main differences that make Zooka’s unique among other conventional machines out there.
Our Review of Zooka Pitching Machines
As of the date of publication, Zooka makes just two pitching machines: the ZS740 and the ZS720.
Each is designed primarily for youth players.
We reviewed the ZS740 and ZS720 and in the following paragraphs we give our thoughts on these two machines.
Model #1: The ZS740
The ZS740 is Zooka’s flagship and most popular product. It's the more "premium" version of Zooka's youth pitching machine options.
Here’s some of the key highlights of this pitching machine.
Zooka pitching machines have that unique design (bazooka anyone?) that differentiate themselves from other conventional pitching machines on the market.
The ZS740, in particular, is completely enclosed in a hard blue plastic that measures 36 inches end-to-end.
Balls are loaded in the front instead of the back like many machines out there.
Basically every last detail of the ZS740 (and ZS720 for that matter) was intentionally designed by Zooka to be easy and functional.
Someone without a lot of prior knowledge operating pitching machines will be able to use this one within minutes of unpacking it. It’s simple to use.
The Zooka ZS740 is powered completely by battery power.
That’s unique, as I mentioned above in that pretty much all other pitching machines that can throw fast require electrical or generator power.
This means there’s no cords or anything like that to worry about with the Zooka.
The internal 12v battery on the ZS740 is able to throw about 800 pitches at a speed of 40 mph; 700 pitches at 50 mph; and 500 pitches at 70+ mph before running out of charge.
If you run the power down during practice, it takes around 10 hours of charging to bring the battery back up to full charge.
So after practice is down, take it home and plug it on overnight. It’ll be ready to go the next day!
The machine comes with a steel tripod to sit atop, and you can either order the ZS740 with a small tripod or a large one.
The decision to get a small versus a tall tripod depends largely on the age of the people planning to use it. For younger kids, you may want to get a small tripod in order to simulate a lower release point, such as how a smaller kid might throw. And vice versa for older ages.
The actual pitching machine slides pretty easily into the tripod support, and it can be adjusted laterally and horizontally by turning two different adjustment knobs near the base.
One of the first things I noticed out of the box about the machine is how lightweight it is. It weighs somewhere between 20 and 30 pounds, and I can hold it in one arm by holding onto the handle at the top.
It actually reminds me of my battery powered leaf blower – super easy to carry around and load or unload from a car.
When the ZS740 is powered on and a ball is dropped into the front of the tube, two things happen. First, the air compression engine inside the Zooka activates and you can hear it.
The sound reminds me of one of those big air compressors being powered on.
Secondly, you can hear an audible three beeps in a row, which is a type of warning to the operator and the hitter that the ball is about to be thrown.
It’s a super helpful feature considering you can’t see the ball pop up or drop down before being pitched like some other pitching machines.
Another thing to mention about the machine’s operation is that it’s very flexible. If I make just a few adjustments to the knobs, I can pivot it up to launch fly balls in excess of 120 feet high or tilt it down to shoot out ground balls for some defensive work.
The Zooka ZS740 can throw three types of balls: real baseballs, dimpled balls and tennis balls.
Yes, tennis balls.
On the back end of the machine is a digital display to use to make adjustments to the pitch. On the bottom left of the display is a meter that displays battery life, just like you’d see on your cell phone.
In the middle of the display – when you first turn the machine on – you will need to type in an access code, then you adjust the pressure for the air cannon to tweak pitch type and placement.
Speaking of pitch type, the ZS740 can throw both fastballs and changeups.
It can throw up to 70 mph for real baseballs, up to 76 mph for dimpled balls, and up to 93 mph (!) for tennis balls.
At the time of publication, a brand new Zooka ZS740 costs around $900, regardless of whether you get the one with the small or large tripod.
Of course if you get it used or if there’s a sale going on, the price could be less.
To check out the current price of a Zooka ZS740, click the buttons below.
Zooka ZS740 Demo
Model #2: The ZS720
The ZS720 is the other pitching machine that Zooka makes.
It's literally just like the ZS740 except for the following few distinctions:
ZS720 and ZS740 Differences
The ZS720 is the same machine as the ZS740 with the exception of the following:
Size. The ZS720 is slightly smaller than its big brother, the ZS740. Also, the standard tripod for this one is the small version (although a large tripod can be ordered) at 24 inches above the ground, to simulate a lower release point.
Speed. The ZS720 throws slower than the ZS740. When using real baseballs, the ZS720 throws a maximum speed of 50 mph; for dimpled balls, it’s 50 - 57 mph; and for tennis balls, it’s 70 mph.
Launch Distance. The ball can be launched up to 75 feet vertically with the ZS720 and up to 130 feet when thrown at full speed from a horizontal angle. Both distances are slightly less than the ZS740.
Color. The ZS720 uses gray instead of blue for its protective shell.
Cost. While a new ZS740 costs around $900, a new ZS720 currently costs around $725.
Other than these differences, the ZS720 and the ZS740 are the same exact machine!
Other Pictures of the ZS720
The AL-1 Autoloader Attachment
The primary accessory that Zooka sells is the AL-1 Autoloader Attachment.
It has about a 30 degree angle and uses gravity to drop balls into the Zooka’s tube.
The Autoloader can hold around 16 baseballs at a time and even more tennis balls. It’s designed to drop a ball once every 7 seconds.
This means that a hitter can see 16 pitches in a row in about 2 minutes off of one full load of baseballs in the Autoloader.
The attachment hooks onto the top of the pitching machine pretty easily, and of course it is designed to work exclusively with Zooka pitching machines.
If you’re going to invest in a Zooka, we highly recommend buying the AL-1 Autoloader Attachment as well. It’s useful for kids to take BP on their own, and for coaches to let the machine do its things while they can focus on, well, coaching.
Some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: Where can I buy used Zooka pitching machines?
Answer: The top place we recommend buying used Zooka pitching machines from is eBay.
They typically have a variety on their site to pick from.
Occasionally, you can find used Zooka’s at other places like SidelineSwap, OfferUp, or Facebook Marketplace.
Question: I need the manual for my Zooka. Where can I find it?
Answer: You can find manuals on Zooka’s website. A direct link to the ZS740 manual is here.
Question: Can I use 11 or 12 inch softballs in a Zooka pitching machine? Or is it only used with baseballs?
Answer: You can’t use softballs with Zooka pitching machines. They’re only designed to be used with leather baseballs, dimpled pitching machine baseballs, or tennis balls.
Question: Where can I get a charger for my Zooka?
Answer: If you buy a new Zooka, it comes with a battery and a charger. If you’re ever in need of a new charger, you can get a replacement from Amazon. Here’s a good replacement option.
That's A Wrap!
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