Best Batting Cages

Updated October 2020
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Buying guide for best batting cages

Even in Little League, a fastball may be hurtling at up to 60 miles per hour. The batter meets that ball while swinging at close to the same speed, and the collision takes place in a fraction of a second. At that moment, everything must be perfect — the bat must be at the proper location in its swing and at the precise height to keep the ball in play. And, to make it even harder, the batter has about 200 milliseconds to decide to swing.

Batting practice is essential if a player wants to learn how to hit a ball with anything other than luck. A batting cage allows a player to spend as much time as they need to master the mechanics, technique, and timing that turn luck into skill. The best batting cage is designed for the space the player has, is durable, and fits within the allotted budget.

To learn more about the qualities and features that make an exceptional batting cage, keep reading. If you're ready to purchase, consider one of the models we've spotlighted in this article.

In 1907, a catcher named Wellington Titus from Hopewell, New Jersey, invented the first batting cage because he was tired of chasing wild pitches and foul balls.

Key considerations

Size

The one make-or-break element of a batting cage is size. You need a model that fits safely inside your available space. The typical cage is shaped more like a tunnel than a cage: long, 10 or 12 feet wide and 10 or 12 feet high. The length is where the greatest variance in size occurs. Some models are 25 or 35 feet long, while others are 70 feet (the standard length).

Because the netting needs to have some give to decelerate the baseball (instead of ricocheting it back), you must also plan for a buffer zone around the batting cage as well, a minimum of 5 feet of clearance on all sides.

To install the smallest batting cage, you need a space that is at least 20 feet wide and 35 or 45 feet long. Additionally, the land where the batting cage is installed must be level and predominantly dry.

Portable net

If you don’t have the space to install a batting cage, there is another option. For considerably less money, you can purchase a large, portable net. The batter hits a ball off a tee into the 7 foot by 7 foot (or larger) net. Though not ideal, this option is a more affordable way for a dedicated batter to train.

Caution
If a company doesn't use standard ratings for twine size in its product description, proceed with caution because the number or code is arbitrary and won’t convey the true durability of the twine.
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Features

Frame

The frame is the skeleton of the batting cage. It needs to be well built of strong, weather-resistant material, such as powder-coated steel, fastened together securely, and tough enough to withstand high winds. One area many people fail to consider is how the frame will be secured to the ground. There are three main ways this is accomplished: trapezoid, bolt-down, and in-ground frames.

Trapezoid frame: This more affordable design features a trapezoid shape that anchors into the ground, making it ideal for backyards and events where the cage is temporary. Because of its design, this is the least durable type of frame.

Bolt-down frame: This special type of frame needs to be installed on a concrete pad because the feet bolt directly into the pad. This model is permanent, but it doesn’t require digging concrete footers. However, this kind of frame will not hold up well in high winds.

In-ground frame: Serious players will want a batting cage with a frame that’s installed using concrete footers, so it holds up in windy conditions. Many of these frames also come with sleeves so the frame can be taken down during the off-season months and stored.

Netting

The netting is what stops the ball. This is the part that withstands the most wear and tear in a batting cage. It’s very possible that the frame will last longer than the net, which means at some point you’ll need to purchase a new net. Removing the net and storing it safely when the cage isn’t in use is a good way to extend the net's lifespan.

Three materials are commonly to make batting cage netting: nylon, polyethylene, and KVX200.

Nylon: Nylon resists abrasion and initially is very strong, and remarkably durable. The downside is that nylon absorbs water, even when treated with a bonding agent, and it doesn’t stand up well to direct sunlight. It’s possible for nylon to lose more than 15% of its strength each year. It’s also the most expensive material used for batting cage netting.

Polyethylene: Polyethylene is the most affordable netting option. The material doesn’t absorb water, so there are no problems with shrinking or rotting. Unfortunately, even after being treated with UV inhibitors, polyethylene deteriorates when exposed to direct sunlight.

KVX200: This is a commercial polymer that is strong, lightweight, doesn’t absorb water, and is highly resistant to direct sunlight. The strength and performance of KVX200 are comparable to nylon, but it costs less, which makes a KVX200 net the best value.

Twine size: When purchasing a batting cage net, it’s also important to consider the twine size. Twine sizes range from #18 to #96. As a general guide, #18 is the minimum size twine that can be used for batting cage netting (it may only last two seasons); #36 is a light-duty commercial-grade netting (it may last six or more seasons); #62 is considered heavy-duty commercial twine that is suitable for use in extreme weather conditions.

Mesh: Diamond and square mesh are the two types of netting. While diamond mesh is more affordable, it doesn't hold up as well as square mesh. Square mesh is more expensive to produce, but it holds up far better and offers a neater, cleaner, more professional appearance, with no bunching or pulling.

Did you know?
Sunlight, rain, abrasion, and tension can cause batting cage netting to deteriorate.
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Accessories

A batting cage is a designated safe area where players can practice hitting techniques. However, in order for it to be useful, you need a few accessories.

BatSince the whole purpose of a batting cage is to allow a player to practice the mechanics of swinging a bat, the first accessory you will need is a quality bat. Aluminum, composite, and wood models each have pros and cons. Choose the material that you prefer.

Baseballs or softballsWhether you are playing baseball or softball, you will need something to hit. Look for brands that offer a lower price for buying in bulk.

Batting helmetTo help protect the batter's head from injury, you will need a well-fitting batting helmet that offers unobstructed vision.

Batting gloveWhether it's manufactured using durable leather or comfortable synthetic material, you need a batting glove that helps absorb impact and offers a secure, nonslip grip.

Pitching machineIf your batting cage is not designed to accommodate a human pitcher, you will need to purchase a pitching machine. The best models have a variety of settings to help the player develop a greater array of batting skills and techniques.

"If your team or league is spending $40 per hour renting batting cage time, purchasing even a top-quality batting cage can pay for itself within a single season."
STAFF
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Batting cage prices

Inexpensive: If you need to stay within a budget, the most affordable batting cages use a tee with a large net positioned directly in front of it. You can get this type of a batting cage for under $100.

Mid-range: For around $200 to $500, you can get a fully enclosed outdoor batting cage that may be as long as 40 feet. These models are fine for most Little League players and will even work for older players.

Expensive: To get a model longer than 60.5 feet (the distance from the mound to the back of home plate in major league baseball), you need to spend between $500 and $1,000.

Tips

For safety reasons, there are a few elements of your batting cage that you’ll need to inspect before each batting session.

  • Check the perimeter. Make sure there is nothing within 5 feet of the outside of the cage, including people. For a batting cage to be effective, it needs to have a significant amount of give. Anything within a few feet of the cage is in a danger zone.
  • Check the netting. Inspect the entire batting cage, looking for any signs of damage or worn spots in the netting that could allow a ball to slip out.
  • Check the frame. Inspect the cables and poles to be certain they’re sturdy, undamaged, and securely fastened to the ground.
  • Check the structure: Inspect the integrity of the entire structure, making sure there are no areas where the net isn’t secured to the frame the way it should be. Remember, for the cage to function properly, it can’t be attached with too much tension because this will prevent it from absorbing the impact of the ball. Additionally, the tighter the netting, the more quickly the batting cage will wear out.
  • Define the batter's box. Make sure the batter's box is clearly marked so the batter knows precisely where to stand. This is most important when using a pitching machine because the batter could be injured if they’re standing in the wrong place.
  • Check the pitching machine. If you’re using a pitching machine, make sure it’s functioning as expected and positioned properly so the batter won’t be injured. Do this before the batter steps into the box.
Nearly any area that’s large enough and level enough for a baseball field has room for a strategically placed batting cage.

FAQ

Q. Does an initial high break strength mean the net will last longer?
A.
Not necessarily. It would seem that netting with a break strength of 300 pounds would be twice as durable as netting with a break strength of 150. However, that’s only the initial break strength. There are many factors, such as direct sunlight, water, and tension, that can diminish the break strength over time. Once the netting drops below a break strength of 60 pounds, it will fail. If you use low-quality netting, it could reach this point in as little as two seasons. If the 150-pound netting was manufactured to be sunlight and water resistant, you might get five or even seven seasons out of it. It’s more important to consider the long-term break strength over the initial break strength of the netting when purchasing a batting cage.
 

Q. Is it better to use a pitching machine or human pitcher in a batting cage?
A.
Not all batting cages are designed to be used with human pitchers. If safety is a factor because of the cage’s design, never use a human pitcher. If you have a large, long batting case in which the pitcher can safely stand 60.5 feet away (closer for kids), and the owner's manual states that this is a safe practice, it’s better to use a human pitcher. (A protective L-screen would be a good investment if you opt for using a human pitcher.) A pitching machine can be too consistent with speed and accuracy, which can create technique and confidence issues in some batters when they transition to a live game situation.
 

Q. I've heard that you can ruin your bat in a batting cage. Is this true?
A.
There’s a philosophy that every bat can only endure a finite number of impacts. Additionally, some of the higher-quality, more expensive bats may be more prone to damage when exposed to colder (off-season) weather. Some manufacturers go so far as to issue a disclaimer stating that higher-density baseballs may damage higher-end bats. While these would all seem to caution you against using your favorite bat in a batting cage, there are a few other factors to consider. A composite bat needs to endure roughly 200 impacts before it’s broken in and functioning at peak capacity, so a batting cage can be a benefit initially. When practicing your batting for technique and timing reasons, you want to simulate the live game experience as closely as possible, which requires using your favorite bat. In conclusion, the risk of damage increases with every impact on a bat, so it’s up to your discretion how much risk you’re willing to accept during a practice situation.

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