The 5 Best Batting Cages
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in October of 2016. Major league baseball players can make millions, and if you're lucky enough to go pro, you might just earn enough to cover all the windows you broke while working on your swing along the way. Or you could just invest in one of these batting cages, which can be set up in a backyard or at a practice field, allowing you to hone your skills without helping the local glazier hone his or hers. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
July 07, 2020:
Our previous incarnation of this ranking included options that were complete cages and a couple that were just the netting you'd need to hang in some way, and we thought it was putting too much of an onus on the owner to ask that they find a frame for sale or build one from scratch, so we decided to limit this version to cages only.
You'll find that many of the models we included use either steel or fiberglass in their pole construction, and if you're interested in fiberglass for its portability, make sure the cage comes with good ground stakes for stability, like you see with the Kapler Outdoor Practice. Also, when selecting a length, people should consider whether they're working with a human pitcher or a pitching machine, as distance from a pitching machine can affect the realism of its speed and trajectory. Something like the Heater Sports 22-Foot PowerAlley is actually designed with machines in mind, and has a dedicated spot for them to be set up.
Most of the netting out there is going to be UV-resistant, so you shouldn't have to worry about it degrading in the sun, but it is wise to look at the actual gap size in the net's construction, especially if you're interested in using your cage for a little golf practice, as well. Something like that Heater Sports model boasts a small enough gap size that it can safely catch golf balls, as well as baseballs.
Batting Cages Inc. Mastadon Whether you're building a practice facility for an athletic department or you're looking to open up commercial cages in your community, this company has offerings that are among the most heavy-duty on the market. Its poles measure over eight inches in diameter and are coated with the same materials used to protect oil pipelines from degradation. It's not a cheap solution, but it's likely a long-lasting one. battingcagesinc.com
A Brief History Of Baseball
It would be the Civil War that would truly help the game take off, however.
Before baseball was invented, people had to actually come up with reasonable excuses for doing nothing other than drinking beer and eating hot dogs for an entire afternoon. It was a dark and savage time.
Luckily, that all changed around the 19th century. While the "official" record states that a man named Abner Doubleday invented the game in 1839, there appears to be little actual data to support that claim. Instead of being the brainchild of a single inventor, the game seems to have developed organically, and was based on older games (specifically rounders and cricket).
In 1845, a group of men in New York City founded the New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club. One of its members, Alexander Joy Cartwright, would create a rulebook that would serve as the basis for the game as we know it. Cartwright came up with the diamond-shaped infield, only allowing batters three strikes, and also the realization that tagging runners by throwing baseballs at them wasn't the brightest idea.
Unfortunately, the latter idea had the unintended consequence of reducing fistfights, which remain the best part of the game to this day.
Still, these new rules quickly spread across New York, and in 1857, 16 clubs in the area formed the National Association of Base Ball Players. This organization further codified the rules, as well as established a championship.
It would be the Civil War that would truly help the game take off, however. The conflict threw soldiers from different parts of the country together, and the New Yorkers introduced the game to their comrades-in-arms. After the war, those soldiers would take the game back to their respective states.
Businessman William Hulbert founded the National League in 1876, and his idea was to focus attention on individual clubs rather than players. As a result, he forced players to honor their contracts rather than leave for higher-paying teams, and forced teams to play out their schedules even when they'd been eliminated from championship contention.
Several rival leagues formed in opposition to Hulbert's National League, and in 1901, the most successful of these, the American League, began to operate as a bona fide threat. The AL began stealing players from its competing league, and so to put a stop to this, the two associations struck a bargain. One of the chief accomplishments of this deal was the creation of an annual rivalry series between the two leagues's champions — and they called it the World Series.
This newly-formed competition would soon become the biggest sporting event in the United States, and baseball would dominate the national consciousness for much of the 20th century. It still remains one of the most beloved sports in America — and the rest of the globe is catching up fast.
They're catching up so fast, in fact, that in recent years it's finally become less of a misnomer to call it "the World Series" — which is good, because "The American Series and Also There's a Team from Canada" doesn't have quite the same ring to it.
Setting Up The Perfect Practice Area
If you're thinking about setting up a batting cage in your backyard or at the practice field, there are a few things you should think about before you do.
Some of the options on the market are truly massive, and you don't want to buy one that's too big to fit in your yard.
The first is how much room you have to dedicate to it. Some of the options on the market are truly massive, and you don't want to buy one that's too big to fit in your yard. Make sure to get the measuring tape out and discover the exact dimensions you have to work with.
You also need to consider what, exactly, you're hoping to work on. Some models are long and narrow, which is great for working on power to center field, but not for learning how to spray the ball into the corners. If you truly want to work on all aspects of your swing, you'll need a cage that gives you that freedom — but that means it'll take up more space.
Chances are, you won't want to have to take down your cage after every session, so you'll want to find one that's durable enough to be left out in the elements. Look for piping that won't rust and netting that's UV-resistant.
It might take a little bit of time and research to find the perfect one, but it'll be well worth it in the end — especially if you can make your kids promise to share their first signing bonus with you.
Tips For A Perfect Swing
There's nothing in sports that's harder than hitting a baseball, so it pays to have your swing down pat before you ever walk up to the plate in a real game.
Instead, you'll want to match your back shoulder to the plane of the ball — if it's high, keep your shoulder high, and if it's low, drop that shoulder.
The most important thing is having a proper barrel turn. You want to get the barrel of the bat even with the ball — but you want to do it with the maximum amount of violence. The more centripetal force you get behind your swing, the farther the ball will go — and the more you'll look like a hero.
Keeping your weight in the right place is also key. You want to keep it over your back leg until the last possible moment, at which point you want to quickly shift it forward and to your upper body. Your body should then generate momentum that you can transfer to the ball.
Don't keep your shoulders level through your motion, either, as that's a sure-fire way to swing over the ball. Instead, you'll want to match your back shoulder to the plane of the ball — if it's high, keep your shoulder high, and if it's low, drop that shoulder.
There's more to a perfect swing than can be written here, of course, but these tips will start you well on your way to a big-league swing. The important thing is to practice, practice, practice.
Oh, and practice your bat flips as well. You'll need them once your swing is perfect.