How To Pick The Right Batting Cage For Home Use - A Buyer's Guide
There are so many considerations for gear when it comes to baseball. You have to find the right glove, test different types of baseballs, try on different styles of cleats, and choose the perfect bat. These are all crucial elements contributing to the development and performance of any player. But what about batting cages? It may seem far-fetched to think about putting a huge batting cage in your backyard, but rest assured there are many options out there that are perfect for any size yard.
How Big Should Your Home Batting Cage Be?
This is probably the greatest concern when you start to look at batting cages for home use. There are many different sizes, styles, and materials to consider when choosing the right one for your home. Let’s start by looking at the elements that go into the design of a batting cage.
Different Batting Cage Sizes
When deciding on which size batting cage to buy, it’s important to consider what stage of player development the batter is at. Professional baseball players will require a longer, wider, and taller cage, while amateur players often won’t have as demanding of requirements and can effectively practice with a smaller cage. Here’s a quick overview of batting cage specifications:
- Rule of thumb when it comes to cage length is 70-feet for the majority of players, though cage lengths can range from as little as 20-feet to as long as 80-feet. A 70-foot cage length will provide optimal room between the batter and the pitcher (or pitching machine). It leaves them enough space to perform while remaining close to regulation mound-to-plate distance. It also allows pitching machines, pitching mounds, balls, batters boxes, and other primary equipment to fit with ease. When considering age, youth players may find 50-feet to be adequate, while college and pro-level players are better off with 80-foot long cages.
- Width is also an important specification to consider when comparing your options. The standard width for most batting cages is 12 to 14 feet. 12-foot wide tunnels are better suited for younger, shorter players who are under 6-feet in height. For the majority of players, a 14-foot-wide tunnel will be comfortable. Keep in mind that tunnel width may vary depending on a player’s wingspan and the length of bat used.
- The average batting cage will be 12-feet in height. Taller batting cages will allow for optimal room to better analyze the ball velocity of hits, but it may not be by any significant margin. Another important element to consider when choosing cage height is the overflow netting. You’ll typically want around a foot of netting to sag on the ground to contain balls as they are flying around the cage. In many situations, an 8-foot cage height will suffice. Just like width, this depends on the player’s level of development as well as their wingspan. It’s important to remember that the smaller the batting cage is, the quicker the netting will wear out due to the decreased distance between batter-ball impact and the net itself.
Batting Cage Tunnels: Short vs. Long
It may seem sensical to think that the longer a batting cage’s tunnel is, the better, but this is not always true. The age, size, and level of development of a player are all contributing factors when determining the right tunnel length, and there are advantages to using both sizes:
- The primary advantage with short tunnels is the space it occupies. Shorter tunnels will take up less space, as they aren’t as long. This is a great option if you don’t have much room to spare or if you don’t want to take up a lot of room. The other benefit is cost efficiency. Short tunnels are always more inexpensive when compared to long tunnels, so if you’re on a budget, a shorter tunnel may be a good solution.
- Long tunnels may seem overwhelming from the start, but they are certainly the better option. Younger players who are still developing will grow into the added length and it will pay off in the future. The extra length will also provide ample room for equipment storage, as mentioned earlier in this article. Lastly, bigger tunnels will allow better assessment of ball flight tracking, meaning you can better analyze the quality of the batter’s hits. If space isn’t an issue, it is recommended that you choose a long tunnel with 70-feet in length.
Other Things to Consider When Purchasing a Batting Cage
Most people don’t have 70-feet of extra space to install a batting cage, so the alternative is usually a length of 30 or 40-feet. Going with a 70-foot cage may be better and will provide regulation distance to help the batter practice for in-game situations, but opting for a shorter length is fine. There may even be a benefit to it, too; batters will be required to react quickly to pitches since the distance between the pitching machine and the plate is significantly shorter. This will help increase reaction time and decision-making.
It’s also necessary to consider the ropes that hold the batting cage down, acting as an anchor. These will require even more space as they extend from the cage, typically at 6-feet on each side.
Batting Cages and Pitching Machines
It’s quite difficult to practice hitting if there isn’t a pitcher, so the size of the batting cage needs to include room for a pitching machine or a pitcher. Even further, the pitcher or pitching machine will need a pitcher’s screen to shield balls coming off contact from the batter. Some cages even come with a hole in the back wall of the netting for a pitching machine to shoot balls through, so if a shorter tunnel is the best option for you, consider looking for this feature.
Batting Cage Portability
If you don’t have a lot of space to keep a batting cage up in your yard year-round but you want to opt-in for a larger size, definitely go with a temporary set up. Temporary cages, especially fiberglass designs, can be set up and torn down in minutes, which will justify the purchase of a larger cage and save you from committing to a permanent set up.
A disadvantage of temporary batting cages is their structure. Many are unable to withstand weather conditions. Winter weather is critical when considering this, especially with fiberglass material. High winds can take out portable cages even if they are heavily secured, so be sure to consider what the weather is like where you live before making this decision.
Permanent cages are cemented into the ground; therefore, they take significantly more work and time to set up. They also can’t be torn down once the support poles are in place since they are permanently secured into the ground. They do, however, provide a strong foundation which is very difficult to disrupt, even with intense weather like high winds or winter blizzards.
Whether you choose to go with a portable and temporary set up of a permanent set up, think about where you live, space you have available, and what your priorities are. If you prefer the flexibility of setting up and tearing down the cage whenever you want to, go with a temporary one. If you want a secure cage with a strong and sturdy design and have ample space for it, you’ll probably want to go with a permanent structure.
Batting Cage Material
Batting cages are comprised of two primary elements: the frame and the net. Frames come in many shapes and sizes, but the material used in the frame will ultimately judge how sturdy and how long the cage will last. The three different types of materials that make up a cage’s frame are fiberglass, fiberglass with steel rods, and steel. When it comes to nets, the three most-used twine sizes for are #24, #36, and #42 netting. Let’s break down what these elements have to offer:
Picking the Right Batting Cage Frame
Cages made with all fiberglass material are the least durable. Something as simple as a hard-hit line-drive can affect the strength of the frame, and may even break the fiberglass poles. Winter weather also weakens the durability of the fiberglass and will almost always crack. They’re also the lightest and most portable, so this is the ideal choice for those who don’t want to commit to a permanent structure.
Fiberglass Frames With Steel Rods
The benefit of the added steel poles to the fiberglass frame is the durability. The vertical poles are reinforced with a steel structure that prevents damage or cracking from line-drive hits. They can also be set up and torn down with ease thanks to the lightweight and portable fiberglass framing. Even with the steel rods, these frames are still susceptible to weather-related damage as they do have fiberglass make up. The hybrid design is a bit pricier than full fiberglass frames, but they’re still significantly cheaper than full steel construction.
Steel is the strongest material used in batting cages. It can withstand inclement weather conditions, holds up against direct hard hits to the frame, and lasts the longest of the three types. Its strong construction will come at a price of nearly double that of fiberglass, but it’s worth it. The effort required for set up and tear down is greater, too, and will require the use of tools and more time.
Just like the other materials used, steel frames aren’t exempt from high winds. It will still need to be moved or taken down in the case of heavy storms or increased wind speeds, but if secured tightly and correctly, it can hold its ground quite strong. Steel frames are the most durable but are also the most expensive.
Choosing the Right Batting Cage Net
A tough netting that can withstand most weather conditions and a decent amount of hits. This net twine is thinner which makes it ideal for younger players at a moderate level of use. The lifespan of #24 netting is between 3-5 years depending on the number of hitters using it and the number of hits.
A good middle-ground net twine that can be used by most ages and player levels. The thicker net increases durability and will last up to 5 years depending on how many players are using it and how often.
The strongest and thickest netting. Its commercial-grade make up allows it to stay firm even against the heaviest of use and by the most advanced and powerful hitters and stands its ground against the toughest of weather conditions. The lifespan of this net twine can last over 5 years.
Choosing the Right Batting Cage for Your Budget
Size and Prices
- Cheaper: The smaller the cage, the more inexpensive it will be. Cheaper models will typically be around 55 to 60-feet in length, 12-feet in width, and 10-feet in height, but can come as small as 12-feet in all measurement. This size cage will come with a price tag between $130 to $700.
- More Expensive: The more you’re willing to invest in a new batting cage, the more space you’re going to get. At the recommended length for regulation size, these cages will often start at $900 and can cost as much as $2,000, depending on other variables. The dimensions of more expensive sizes are normally 70L x 12W x 12H, leaving plenty of space to perform.
Batting Cage Material
- Fiberglass: The least expensive of the three material types. The cheapest batting cages will usually be made of fiberglass material. With a starting price of $130, fiberglass frames are not frequently used in models more expensive than a few hundred dollars.
- Fiberglass With Steel Rods: The middle-of-the-pack frame construction in terms of pricing is fiberglass with steel rods. The steel poles are the primary cost-driver, while the fiberglass framing offers a discounted price from the full steel option. The financial implications of this material will run between $300 to $1,000.
- Steel: The highest quality material will come with the highest price tag, but it’s worth it. Full steel construction will provide increased durability, greater sturdiness, and will last longer, making it a more sensible investment. Considering other variables, the cost of an all-steel make up ranges from as little as $300 to as high as $2,000.
Batting Cage Netting Prices
- #24 Poly Twine: The most affordable choice of netting. It’s the least durable of the three primary types, but may be a good option if you’re looking to allocate more money to the frame.
- #36 Poly Twine: This netting design ranges from the middle to the upper-end of the price spectrum, but it provides greater durability than the #24 poly twine and will last longer.
- #42 Poly Twine: The toughest, strongest, and thickest netting used for batting cages. The value of its long-lasting features will be well worth the added expense. #42 net twine is on the higher-end of pricing.
Batting Cage Portability
- Temporary: Temporary cages are cheaper than permanent ones. This is mainly due to the material used, which is usually a light-weight fiberglass frame and #24 poly twine netting.
- Permanent: Since this type of batting cage can’t be moved once installed, it has added expenses such as the cost of cementing and the higher-end materials for framing. This type of setting is normally priced in the thousands, but it is well worth it if you have ample space.
- $130-$700: In this range, cage size will be smaller and tunnel length won’t be higher than 60-feet. The frame will be either fiberglass or fiberglass with steel rods with #24 poly twine netting. The benefit of the cheaper models is the lightweight, decreased space requirements, and portability.
- $700-$1,250: This price range offers a bit more space to be active inside the cage, and will begin to touch the regulation size 70-feet tunnel length. The net twine can range anywhere from #24 to #42, and the frame will normally be fiberglass with steel rods or all steel.
- $1,250+: The highest-end models will be in the upper-end of price ranges, but the added cost comes with the highest quality. Almost all frames here are made with steel, and netting will commonly be either #36 or #42 poly twine. They will all be regulation size or bigger, and many are a permanent structure.
The Top-10 Best Batting Cages For Home Use In 2020
We’ve covered batting cage anatomy, optimal sizes, materials used, and now it’s time to apply that knowledge. You’ve learned just about everything you need to know about the make up of batting cages, so let’s dive into the ten best batting cages for at-home use in 2020.
One of the simplest yet most effective batting cages on the market. Fully equipped with a galvanized steel frame for maximum durability and strength, this frame can hold its own against the hardest of hits. One of the most unique features here is its freestanding frame. The support poles are outside of the netting and at an angle, so there is no need for anchoring and set up is a breeze. Let’s look at what it offers:
- Frame: Galvanized steel frame offers easy set up
- Steel Material: The steel design offers great support and weather-proofing
- Size Options: Offered in 35-foot, 55-foot, and 70-foot options
- Its unique frame structure makes it susceptible to wind damage
Easily one of the best choices for those on a budget. Though it only comes in a 22-foot length, it’s lightweight fiberglass frame offers a super quick set up. One of the key features is the built-in pitching machine harness. This allows the pitching machine to remain outside of the cage, giving the batter the entirety of its length to react.
- Easy Set up: Shorter set up times thanks to its lightweight and small design
- Pitching Machine Harness: built-in harness allows a batter to use the full cage
- Reaction Time: Increase your reaction time with the shorter tunnel length
- Smaller size makes it more difficult to track ball velocity off of hits
- Fiberglass frame comes with decreased strength and durability
This batting cage comes in four different length sizes; 20-foot, 35-foot, 55-foot, and 70-foot. It’s designed with steel construction and includes the #42 poly twine netting for increased durability.
- Strong Net: #42 poly twine offers the strongest netting available
- Easy Set up: Designed carefully for easier installation
- Steel Poles: Reinforced steel poles increase durability and maximize the lifespan
- No door to enter the batting cage
- Some users complain of the net sagging on the top of the cage
The BATCO Foldable Batting Cage certainly differentiates itself from the rest with its open-ended structure. Its design allows it to be used anywhere; on the field, in the gym, or your backyard. With an ultra-wide 18-foot make up, it allows batters to better understand where their hits would go. Here’s a look:
- Extended Width: Creates ample room for ball tracking and movement
- Indoor Use: It’s open design makes it perfect for indoor use
- Easy Movement: Built-in wheels allow ease of movement
- Not sturdy when it comes to outdoor winds
A seriously heavy-duty cage that gets the job done. With a 2-inch thick steel frame and #42 polyethylene twist netting, this cage can withstand some of the toughest conditions, especially its net. It’s also very versatile and comes in multiple sizing options.
- Durable Net: Increases lifespan of netting and withstands tough conditions
- Ceiling Support: A center rope supports the cage ceiling
- Steel poles are not coated and may rust
Coming in at 22-feet in length, the Kapler batting cage is perfect for players looking to save space and increase their reaction time. Its construction is unique as it has fiberglass poles with a steel frame, which allows for durability and keeps it lightweight for portability. Here are some key features:
- Space Saver: The 22-foot length saves you plenty of room in your backyard
- Steel Frame: The steel frame piping maximizes durability
- Shorter Length: The shorter tunnel helps improve your reaction time
- Some users find it less sturdy than other options
- The 22-foot length is easy to grow out of
A great choice for saving money while maintaining quality is the Galileo Portable Batting Cage. With a length of 16-feet, this cage can fit in almost any backyard. It’s sturdy, durable, and its compact size makes it extremely convenient for set up and moving. The steel frame and fiberglass rods attach to a polyethylene net that can withstand brutal wear and tear. Let’s check it out:
- Durable Construction: Steel frame and fiberglass rods create a sturdy structure
- Budget-Friendly: Priced at under $160, it’s easy on the wallet
- Tough Net: Ultra-strong polyethylene netting is tough and lasts long
- The 16-foot cage doesn’t have a hole for a pitching machine
- Netting is not reinforced with UV protection; may degrade quicker from sun rays
If space is your greatest concern, look no further than Kapler’s 13-foot compact batting cage. Its compact size could even fit on some patios and decks, making it extremely efficient. Another hybrid design with steel frame piping and fiberglass poles, it is durable and holds its ground through moderate-level use. It’s the perfect option for hitting off of a tee or hitting off standing pitches. Check out some of its offerings:
- Compact Size: The 13-foot length won’t take up very much space
- Super Portable: Light and compact design easily fits in the included carrying case
- Budget-Friendly: At $100, it’s a perfect choice as a secondary cage for travel
- The lightweight design limits its sturdiness
- Extremely compact; may be too small for some players
With a 40-foot tunnel length, this cage is great for at-home use. It saves space while still providing enough room inside for a batter to practice effectively. A collapsible frame and lightweight design make it easy to set up, tear down, and transport. Skywalker Sports’ cage even comes in at just under 100-pounds, making it one of the lightest cages at this size. Even better is the durability of the netting, which is coated with UV protection to prevent degradation from damaging sun rays. Here’s a glimpse at some key features:
- Mobility: Freestanding and moveable cage allows for quick and easy transport
- Steel Frame: Powder-coated steel tubing strengthens the frame
- Cost-Effective: A price of $800 is a great option for its value
- Lightweight design may affect sturdiness, especially against the elements
- May wear down from excessive transporting
Cimarron is known for creating high-quality batting cages, and they didn’t miss a beat with this one. At regulation length, batters can feel ready for every pitch as if they were playing in a mid-season game. The complete steel construction and permanent setting make it one of the sturdiest cages out there. It also offers a generous width that measures in at 15.5’. The poly twine netting is tough and includes a built-in entry door. Check it out for yourself:
- 70’ Tunnel Length: Regulation size length for precision batter reaction time
- Extra-Wide: An extra 1.5’ of added width creates a spacious environment
- Permanent: Cemented poles and steel frame make it a sturdy permanent choice
- One of the more expensive options on the market
- The permanent structure requires a commitment
The batting cage you choose to go with completely depends on your situation. If you have plenty of yard space and want a high-quality product, go with a 70’ long, steel frame, and permanent cage. If you’re on a budget and looking to save space, opt-in for a cage under 40’ in length that is compact and portable.
No matter what you decide, only you know what’s right for your needs. Pick one that will last long, is durable, and has all of the room required for you or your child to perform efficiently and effectively. Play ball!