What Is The Best Backyard Batting Cage For You?
If you are in the market to buy a batting cage for your backyard, choosing the right one for you can be a bit overwhelming. Batting cages come in many shapes and sizes, netting comes in different lengths and weights, and frames are generally plastic or metal. Each variation has its own pro’s and con’s. But it all depends on what you plan on using the batting cage for. Will you be primarily using it to hit baseballs and softballs off of a tee? Will you be using it for soft toss before a game? Do you want it to be portable so you can bring it to the game or do you want something more permanent that will stay at home? These are just a few of the many questions you should be asking yourself when considering purchasing a batting cage.
We’ll break down the main ways a batting cage is generally used below. This should help you figure out exactly what types of cages you should be looking at.
Hitting Off A Tee
Hitting off a tee is a great way to continually improve your swing. You will learn to keep your head down on the ball at all times and to drive your hands down to hit line drives, among many other hitting skills. Repetitive work can be tedious, but if you are serious about becoming a great hitter, then it is absolutely necessary. You are able to work on hitting the ball on the inside or outside part of the plate, work on giving the ball top spin to hit ground balls, and whatever other type of scenarios you can think up.
Most of the time, if you have a fence at home, you can set up a tee in front of it and hit balls into the fence. The problem with this is that eventually the fence is going to end up bending and will need to be replaced. You will generally see this at most baseball and softball fields that have a free-standing mesh fence that is primarily used for tee work or soft toss. A batting cage will solve that problem and prevent any fences from being replaced.
So let’s get into what types of batting cages would be best for hitting off of a tee:
The first thing you need to ask yourself is whether or not you want it to be portable. If you are looking for a simple net to take with you to the game, the park, or your backyard, then something similar to the PowerNet Baseball & Softball Practice Net is the way to go. It can be assembled and disassembled very easily and transporting it is a breeze. These types of nets are perfect for hitting off of a tee and even soft toss. Although you may want something a bit longer for soft toss which we’ll talk a little bit more about later on.
Alternatively, if portability is not a necessity and you don’t mind keeping a cage in your backyard for tee work, then we would recommend the Fortress Soft Toss & Tee Hitting Net. You can read our full review of the Fortress Soft Toss and Tee Hitting Net here. This batting cage stands 8′ x 8′ x 8′ and is great for watching line drives fly off the bat. This particular cage has an open front to allow you to stay as far back as you’d like when hitting into the net.
Soft toss drills are important if your plan is to become a great hitter. It helps you with hand-eye coordination, seeing the ball come in at both sides of the plate, and focus on hitting the ball deep in the zone or out in front of the plate. Soft toss is also a not a one-person drill. Anyone is able to help toss you the ball while you visualize hitting homeruns into the net, unless you have your own soft toss machine, of course. Jugs makes a great one that will last you for years. Definitely worth checking out.
As we mentioned above, similar to hitting off of a tee, the ball needs to be hit into something. Most of the time a mesh/wire fence is perfectly fine. But overtime, the stronger you get, the more the fence will begin to bend and will eventually need to be replaced. That is where a net specifically for soft toss is perfect. In this case, we would recommend the Fortress Soft Toss & Tee Hitting Net. This particular batting cage has an open back so you are able to stand as far back as you’d like and have someone feed you baseballs or softballs from the side. Some players don’t like baseballs or softballs being fed in from the side though, which is why an L-Screen by Louisville Slugger would be a great investment so someone can feed them in from in front of you while still being protected.
Most of the time there will be a batting cage or fence you can hit into at the field, so this is the type of cage that would be best fit for finding a home in your backyard. Most of the other soft toss nets on the market are light and portable. So if you ever did want to bring the net along with you, you’d be easily able to.
Sometimes your primary goal won’t only be soft toss though. You may also want to have someone throw batting practice to you. We’ll show you some of the best batting cages for your backyard for BP in the next section.
Now, if your goal is to become the best hitter you can be, then a batting cage for your backyard is for you. Not only can you have batting practices with friends, but you can also soft toss & hit off the tee in there as well. It will allow you to do anything you want in terms of hitting. If you have a soft toss machine, you can use it in a batting cage. If you have an L-Screen, you can use it in a batting cage. Even if you have your own pitching machine, you can use it in a batting cage!
Did you know that some MLB players have their own batting cages at home? They obviously need to stay on top of their game during the off-season (and in-season, of course!), and what more convenient thing is there than being able to walk 20 feet away to your backyard and get some cuts in? Not many.
So what is the best backyard batting cage for you? There is no right answer. We suggest you read through our reviews and make the most informed decision you can. You should be considering a couple different thing when purchasing a batting cage.
One of the most critical features to consider, and it should go without saying, are the dimensions of the cage you are looking for. Think about what the purpose is for purchasing a batting cage… Is it for soft toss? Tee work? Batting practice? The purpose should determine the length, along with how big your backyard is or where the batting cage will eventually be set up. If soft toss or tee work are your primary goals, anything 20-35 feet and up will be more than enough length. Will you be using a pitching machine or an L-Screen inside? If so, you’ll probably want something around 50 feet and up.
As mentioned above, you should think a lot about the purpose of buying a backyard batting cage. If the main goal is to hit into a net, you may not need a full length batting cage. You are probably better off with a 7′ x 7′ PowerNet with the frame included (with a lifetime warranty = awesome!). These types of nets are durable and have a built in breakaway section so the ball does not ricochet back at you. They’re built specifically to hit off of a tee or soft toss and are super easy to put together. These are the most portable of all nets as well.
Make sure when you eventually make your purchase that you know what is included with the purchase. Some of the batting cages for sale on Amazon and reviewed on here contain only the net, but not the uprights. So make sure when you are reading the details, you know whether or not you will need to go to a home improvement store to buy additional items. Most of the time, the poles are not included because they are expensive to ship. So while it might be an inconvenience to purchase the poles you need, you can rest easy knowing you’ll be saving a lot of money on shipping costs. Shipping steel poles can sometimes cost more than the entire net!
Another thing to be careful about (assuming the uprights are included) is what material is used for them. Are they steel or are they PVC pipe? Why is this important? PVC can break. And the harder balls smash into the poles, the quicker they are likely to break. One good thing is that they are cheap and easily accessible from a home improvement store, but just know if you are a high school or college hitter that has a lot of pop off your bat, the PVC is likely to break at some point. Steel solves this issue as it is much more durable, but something to consider are ricochet’s. If you hit a hard line drive off of a steel pole, the force of the ball will be absorbed a bit by the poll, but if it hits it at the correct angle, it’ll still deflect off quickly and can potentially do some damage. So just make sure you are taking a look at what type of framing is included. There are pro’s and con’s to both PVC & steel uprights for backyard batting cages. It all depends on what your needs are.
Mesh Size & Twine
Many batting cages are built with 1 3/4″ #42 weight mesh. #42 is considered pro grade and will hold up to many rounds of batting practice. There is a range of mesh weight between #12 and #62. The sweet spot for batting cages is anywhere between #21 and #42. #21 will last about 4-5 years while #42 can last about 6-10 years. The size of the mesh for each batting cage is relatively standard at 1 3/4″. The big difference is if the batting cage net is square or diamond. Diamond nets tend to relax and droop a bit with the way they are stitched while square mesh will sit more upright and give the batting cage a more boxed look.
If you are going to hang the batting cage with cables, a diamond net is better since you can place the cables and hooks as high up as you’d like so the cage does not droop as much. It also allows for more give and absorption of force. If you are going to hang the net on some type of upright, a square mesh is the way to go. It’s much easier to hang, and will give the batting cage more shape. More shape will also give you more room. So if you are thinking about using a pitching machine of some type, then go with a square mesh batting cage.
Knowing whether or not your batting cage will be OK in the weather and after extreme use is very important. Based on the weight of the mesh, that will give an indication of how long the netting will last. As we said above, a batting cage net with #42 weight will last you at least 6-10 years even outside in the not-so-good weather. So if you know your batting cage is going to take a beating, then you should be looking at a heavier netting. Generally, anywhere between #21 & #42 will be perfect for your backyard. Most batting cages also come backed by a manufacturer’s warranty which will cover any type of defects or errors in workmanship found. Some even have a lifetime warranty like the soft toss net we linked to up above. So make sure you are considering the type of warranty that is included when you eventually buy your cage.
Regarding weather, you will want a cage that is UV stabilized and rot-proof so you will know it will survive in all weather conditions. At the end of the day, the batting cage should be brought inside to extend its life (as with any type of fiber), but you will not need to bring it in every night in order to have a long lasting batting cage. Bringing the cage inside after you are finished is generally good practice because you will be able to take that 6-10 years and extend it even further. Understandably, you may not want to do that though (especially if the cage is built with a frame), which is fine since these backyard batting cages are built to last for many years.
With the tips above, you should be well on your way to making an informed decision on what the best batting cage for your backyard is. There are many batting cages for sale on the market today with many different options. After reading this article, you should have no problem determining what the best one for you is!
Categorised in: Batting Cage Articles