The path to greatness consists of a burning desire to be the best, unwavering purpose, and good company along the way. For baseball and softball players who want to take their game a notch higher, a backyard batting cage can be a vital training aid. Thankfully, there are plenty of inexpensive batting cages on the market today. We’ve slogged through the numerous options to bring you the 5 best batting cages on the market today.
Best Batting Cage to Buy in 2021 – Our Top 5 Picks
Factors to Consider When Buying The Best Batting Cage
Much like looking for a pitching machine to buy, shopping for the best backyard batting cages can be an arduous task. There are a ton of options in the market, and sorting through all of them can be quite overwhelming.
Making sure the batting cage you choose is right frees you from spending even more to the right the wrong.
You need to make several considerations when buying a batting cage, namely:
Because the best batting cages are quite inexpensive. Pricier batting cages are sturdier though, likely to last longer and have fewer issues compared to the cheaper ones. That said, however, you may not be ready for a 60-foot-long batting cage. They cost too much, and take up too much space. Buy a smaller, cheaper one if you need to. You can always upgrade later!
Indoor or Outdoor Use
Most batting cages are suitable for use either indoors or outdoors. Few cages designed for exclusive use either outside or inside. Before you buy a batting cage, however, measure the space set out for cage sessions. Ensure you leave some wiggle room between the net and the walls. Also, beware of any lighting features that may get damaged by the occasional errant ball.
Backyard Batting Cage Dimensions
Batting cages come in several different sizes, but most cages typically measure at 55 feet long. Because most people don’t have big enough backyards to house 60-70 feet batting cages at a regulation distance, they’ll likely settle for 30 or 40 feet long batting cages.
While longer batting cages allow you to track the full ball flight, space isn’t too big a concern. With the batter closer to the machine, reaction time to pitched balls needs to be quicker. For this reason, people often buy pitching machines that throw about 50-60 MPH, and the shorter distance makes it seem as if the pitches are twice as fast.
On top of the cage’s length, some batting cages have anchor ropes (typically 6 feet long) tied to the ends of the cage to keep them stable. The anchors make it such that a 40 ft batting cage would mean a 52-foot long footprint on your lawn.
Widthwise, these anchor ropes take up about 5 feet on either side of the cage, so a 12-foot cage is going to take up 22 feet of space.
Space for your batting cage isn’t the only concern though. If you’re thinking about building a batting cage in your backyard for pitching machine use or live pitching, consider buying an L-Screen. L-screens are vital for keeping the pitching machine and the pitcher protected from batted balls.
Permanent vs Temporary Batting Cages
Temporary batting cages are great because they are easy to set up or take down, and don’t become permanently affixed on your lawn. If you want a temporary/removable batting cage, buy a residential steel frame or a fiberglass batting cage.
Fiberglass batting cages take about 15 – 20 minutes to set up and take down once you get the hang of it, while residential steel frames can take you about an hour or so to set up and remove.
The downside, however, is that temporary batting cages are susceptible to prevailing weather conditions. Winter, for instance, is particularly harsh on fiberglass cages and strong gusts of wind will take down any residential cage, despite it having steel or fiberglass frames.
Permanence isn’t a concern for commercial frames that are cemented to the ground though. They take much longer to set up ( about three days), but once they’re set up, commercial batting cages become a permanent fixture in your backyard.
Best Batting Cage Material
While more robust materials are better, in most cases, exceptions can be made for t-ball players and little-leaguers who have yet to start producing powerful hits. Older, more experienced players need more durable materials.
There are two types:
- All Fiberglass Frames
- Fiberglass Frames with steel rods
Fiberglass batting cage frames have several benefits. For starters, putting up a fiberglass frame is quick and easy – You don’t even need any tools. Insert the poles into each other, bend them to form an arch, and cover it up with a net. Taking it down is just as easy. Furthermore, fiberglass frames are inexpensive, which makes them the ideal choice if you’re on a tight budget.
Unfortunately, fiberglass is the least durable frame type. Fiberglass batting cages don’t hold up well to abuse and can break from powerful line drives. Moderate gusts of wind will likely bring them tumbling down, and they do not do well in cold weather. If left out during winter, for instance, they become brittle and crack.
Fiberglass cages with steel rods are slightly more expensive than all fiberglass cages but endure cold weather better than all fiberglass cages. Also, because the support poles have steel inside of them and are padded, they hold up much better against line drives.
Steel makes some of the best batting cages in the world. These batting cages can stand up to a fair amount of abuse, from hard-hit balls to cold temperatures. However, steel batting cages have a couple of downsides:
They cost considerably more than fiberglass batting cages. They cost about 50 – 100% more, owing to their durability, additional weight (higher shipping costs), and the fact that steel generally costs more than fiberglass does.
Steel batting cages need to be secured to the ground; else even moderate winds will topple them over. So unless you own a commercial batting cage frame that’s cemented to the ground, always take your residential steel batting cage down on windy days.
They take far longer to set up and take down – It takes about an hour to set up a steel batting cage. The set up also requires simple tools such as a hammer, wrench, and screwdriver.
Batting Cage Netting – What Are The Differences?
Your needs should ideally guide the netting material you choose, budget, the weather in your location, and the league your player is in (which ultimately affects the durability and strength of the net).
Batting cage nets come in two types of twine: nylon and polyethylene.
Polyethylene nets, (also known as poly nets) are plastic, and are inherently water-resistant. They are typically best suited for outdoor use in the wind, rain and sun.
Nylon nets, on the other hand, are an excellent choice of netting and are ideal for indoor batting cages. Nylon nets are stronger and more durable than most polyethylene nets for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, nylon’s elasticity makes it great for shock absorption. Secondly, nylon stretches before it breaks. These two factors make nylon nets fantastic for use in batting cages. Despite being more durable than polyethylene nets, nylon nets treatment to make them resistant to water. The best treatment includes using a Varnish Dip or a Latex Dip depending on the type of nylon.
You have several options to choose from when it comes to netting:
This netting is ideal for use in a residential batting cage, and can withstand most weather conditions such as rain for about 3-5 years. However, it is less durable in more severe conditions like snow or sleet. Most residential batting cages come equipped with a #24 poly net, which is ideal for home use by little leaguers. However, #24 poly nets can’t withstand the powerful line drives of older, multiple, more experienced hitters, and may wear out faster.
Is ideal for all players (mostly for moderate use in little league to high school leagues) and can withstand most weather conditions. We believe this to be the most popular batting cage netting material by far.
Best for intense use in high school leagues, and light to moderate use in collegiate leagues. #42 netting is heavy commercial batting cage netting that can withstand powerful hits from players of all abilities. It holds up well to 5+ years of use in varied weather conditions.
Best for heavy collegiate league use, as well as pro leagues.
While you could also find a #96 Nylon, it isn’t viable due to the cost implications.
Settle on the best batting cage, set it up and start practising. Paired with a good pitching machine, and a good baseball or softball bat, your new batting cage is sure to set you on the path to victory.