PROS AND CONS OF BATTING CAGES
For anyone who loves the game of baseball, there’s nothing better than to grab that bat and take a few swings. But nobody said it would be easy. Making solid contact with a round ball using a round bat takes a lot of practice. And what better place to get that practice than in a batting cage.
There are a variety of batting cages available on the market today and parents want to make sure their children have a safe place to consistently practice in. So we thought we would take a look at the features and functionality that is available with these batting cages and provide some feedback.
These types of cages do not require concrete footers which is an advantage for portability. Depending on what you plan to use it for it could certainly fill your needs. If you are using it mainly for hitting off a tee or soft tosses, a smaller portable cage or net could be for you.
However, on the down side, unless your cage is anchored it could be susceptible to winds and could even become damaged in high-wind areas. Many portable cages do come with anchors but you’ll need to do your research to determine what is right for you.
The in-ground models are just what they say. They normally require concrete ground footers to provide added stability for the poles. Some of these types include ground sleeves so that poles can be removed in the winter months if needed. The in-ground models are recommended for the more serious players or for those outside in windy areas.
The cost and installation effort for in-ground models will be higher in most cases than the portable model.
Types of Support Poles
You will find that there are multiple options for the type of poles that will support your batting cage. One thing to be sure of when you make a purchase is whether or not the poles are included. If they are, you will find that galvanized steel poles will provide much better durability and are more weather resistant than other types.
Poles made with other materials such as lighter grade metal or even fiberglass are acceptable but won’t provide the overall durability you will get with steel poles. In addition, you’ll want to consider the diameter of the poles you select. The larger the diameter the stronger it will be.
Poles will almost always be installed so that they are on the outside of the cage. This can help limit the chance of a hard hit ball ricocheting back towards the hitter.
Mesh Size and Twine
A high percentage of batting cages are built with 1 3/4″ #42 weight mesh. This weight is considered pro grade and will hold up to many rounds of batting practice. The range of mesh weight is between #12 and #62. Batting cages tend to use anywhere between #21 and #42. The #21 weight mesh will usually last about 4-5 years and the #42 about 6-10 years. The size of the mesh for each batting cage is relatively standard at 1 3/4″.
So what are differences between square or diamond nets? Diamond nets have a tendency to relax and droop a bit because of how they are stitched while square mesh will sit more upright and give the batting cage a more boxed look.
However, if you plan to hang the batting cage with cables, a diamond net is probably better since you can place the cables and hooks up higher so the cage doesn’t droop as much. It can also provide more give and absorption of force. But if you plan to hang the net on an upright, the square mesh is the way to go. It is easier to hang, and will give the batting cage more shape.
There is some confusion over whether knotted or knotless netting is best. But it actually depends on the crossover stitch. Having a knotless net with a great crossover stitch will typically outlast a knotted net. On the other hand, a knotted net will typically outlast a knotless net that has a weak crossover stitch.
Nylon netting is the preferred choice for indoor batting cages. Nylon netting has the strongest break strength, and is the most durable for indoor use. Nylon has good resistance to abrasion, and great overall durability. However, nylon is expensive.
Used outside, Nylon’s break strength can deteriorate quickly. Nylon has a tendency to absorb water and can lose strength in direct sunlight. For indoor applications, nylon is an excellent choice. If your netting will be exposed to adverse weather, consider polyethylene.
Polyethylene netting costs less and will not deteriorate as quickly due to moisture. When exposed to moisture, polyethylene retains more of its strength than nylon. Polyethylene does not absorb water, so the problem of rotting and shrinkage goes away.
There are, however, a few drawbacks. Most blends of polyethylene don’t hold up all that well to direct sunlight. Not all polyethylene cages utilize UV inhibitors so you should check that out as well.