Batting Cage Review:
For baseball fans, there are few sounds more exhilarating than the crack of bat meeting ball. The solidity and satisfaction of connection is what the game is all about. In a game where hitting even 4 of every 10 pitches is more than outstanding and where the outcome of a game can hinge on one pitch, one hit, batting is a crucial skill. Whether you're dreaming of a career in the pros, sharpening your skills for your next school or neighborhood game, or teaching your child to keep his eye on the ball, a batting cage can be an invaluable - and fun - tool. This guide will take a look at some of the best backyard batting cages in the industry. You may not be able to bat 1000, but you will improve your stance, skill, and batting average.
What to Look for in a Batting Cage
- A batting cage is meant to create an area to practice your swing, whether with the use of a pitching machine or not. It keeps the balls contained to the cage, which is convenient for use in practices and in the backyard so unsuspecting neighbors don't get hit with a fly ball. Wise4Living explains it perfectly as a "self contained player development environment that allows you to safely practice hitting techniques." The benefits are many: you don't have to run and retrieve balls, you can practice stances and swings and get instant feedback from coaches, and you can hit a much higher volume of balls either from an in-cage pitcher or a pitching machine. This will allow you to tweak your strategy, and most importantly, practice, practice, practice. To do so, though, you need to ensure that the batting cage will be safe and effective. There are a few factors you need to consider, including size, frame design, net, and price. Let's take a quick look at these:
*Size. This varies greatly both on your budget and your space needs. A small backyard batting cage for your child will, of course, be smaller than one you'll be using with your team. Usually, you will see batting cages that are 12 to 14 feet high and about 55 to 70 feet long. If you want to simulate a real game situation, you'll need one that can run from the pitcher's mound to the plate to provide that realistic experience. On the other hand, a cage more similar to a golf net will be fine for some batters.
*Having a quality frame is essential. Most are made with a light tube material, like plastic or light metal, to create a light and portable design. Look for those with substantial cross beams or members in the upper corners so it will support the net properly. If there are too few cross beams, the net will pull inward or blow outwards, which can compromise its safety and efficacy.
*Indoor batting cages can have nets made of nylon, and these will last for years. If you are going to be using the batting cage outside, you will need to invest in a higher quality, more expensive material so the net doesn't degrade due to UV rays, water, rot, and other outdoor dangers. You will want a net that is made of water and sun-resistant material. Polyethylene, HDPE, or Kevlar are good choices.
*Price. Bigger will cost more, and materials resistant to elements will cost more. Decide what you can spend, and keep your eyes open for value. If you have to go a little smaller to get the quality you need, that may be a good trade-off for you.
Check out the best selling batting cages for home use here
Best Batting Cages for Your Needs:
If you don't have the luxury of a stadium in your backyard, or even a big patch of grass, not to worry. You can still practice your swing. Cimarron is one of the biggest names in the batting cage industry, and their Baseball Softball Sock Net
is ideal for those with smaller yards and smaller budgets. Instead of an enclosed cage, the Sock Net has a 7-foot x 7-foot, 1.5-inch black powdered coated steel frame and a sock net into which you hit the ball. This keeps the ball from flying all over the place, negating the risk of hitting someone as well as the hassle of chasing balls. You do not have the option to work with a pitching machine, but the Sock Net can be a great way to practice your stance and swing. These are also useful for pitchers' practice and teaching your child to hit from a tee. While they don't offer the same type of authentic experience as a large batting cage will, they do allow you to practice in a budget-friendly way. The Sock Net also features UV-treated twisted poly netting and heavy duty construction. You can find the Cimarron Sock Net for $160.
ATEC is another big name in batting cages and is recommended by Baseball-Equipment-Review and BaseballBattingCages. They make a Backyard Cage in both 40-foot and 70-foot models and promise "field quality at backyard prices." This batting cage is portable and suitable for indoor or outdoor use. It is made of #21, 1 3/4-inch black polyester mesh that has been treated to resist weather and UV rays. The ATEC Backyard Cage
doesn't come with tubing, which you will need to buy at a home improvement store. For the 40-foot model, you will need 23 pieces of 1 3.8 fence top rail tubing, and for the 70-foot model, you will need 38. This batting cage is designed to work with pitchers or pitching machines and can give players the room they need to practice. You can find the cage for about $550 for the 40-foot net and $750 for the 70- foot net at ATEC's website. Tack on about another $9 per length of tubing.
If you want a cage that comes complete with tubing, try Cimarron's Junior Batting Cage and Frame Packages. These come with everything you need to set up a batting cage in your backyard, including net, frame, and materials. These cost from about $300 to $370, depending on the size. Because these particular packages are junior size, they are going to be smaller than adult or pro level cages. They are still great for practicing your swing or teaching your child. You can find them at any number of online retailers, including Hitting World, Top Prospect Baseball, Action Sports Company, and Baseball Training Emporium.
While you can build your own customized batting cage by selecting your frame and netting separately, as with the ATEC we mentioned, you can also purchase backyard batting cages that will come with both. This is often a better value, and it will save you the time and hassle of buying elements separately. A good one to try is the Heater Backyard Batting Cage. Each cage measures 12 feet x 12 feet x 24 feet and can be combined to create 48 feet or 72 feet cages, depending on your needs, your space, and your budget. The frame sets up quickly and is made of durable steel, fiberglass, and foam padding. The 1-inch square netting is weather resistant and made to endure tough practice sessions. This is available at retailers like JumpUSA for about $350 (http://www.jumpusa.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=J&Product_Code=HTR6000BC&cvsfa=1182&cvsfe=2&cvsfhu=485452363030304243).
When choosing your backyard batting cage, make sure to get the weather and UV resistance you need, the durability, and the size and design. Because frame and net are often sold separately, make sure you know what you're buying. It can be disappointing when you receive only a net when you thought you were getting the whole package. You can get all-inclusive packages, but you just really need to double check before you buy! These are typically less expensive and perfectly suitable for home and practice use. The most important thing is to use your batting cage. You will be amazed at what a little more practice and a few modifications can make in your average.