A backyard batting cage can provide a useful resource for players who want to continue to improve their baseball or softball game when they are away from practice. While batting cages had been reserved for high school, collegiate and professional programs, they are now more common for the recreational player who enjoys taking batting practice at home. Also, with new materials on the market, the ease of construction can have a batting cage built in just a few hours.
Batting cages were once made of metal frames and cemented into the earth. The metal would help preserve the frame during inclement weather, and the cement would hold the cage in place. However, with PVC pipe now available in large sections at home-improvement stores, you can make a batting cage to your desired specifications. The PVC joints allow for easy connection. It is recommended that you use PVC pipe at least 1 inch in diameter, if not more, so that the frame is sturdy. Also, the cage should be at least 60 feet long, 20 feet wide and 12 feet high to provide ample hitting space.
While there are many companies that sell batting-cage netting on the market, it can be quite expensive. Another way to enclose the homemade batting cage is to purchase fish netting from a local shipyard or marine-supply dealer. Keep in mind that the netting will not be dragged through the salt water and each portion of the net will have minimal strain at any given time, so a cheap netting may be just as effective as a more expensive net from an official batting cage provider.
Sand Bags or Stakes
One disadvantage that a homemade batting cage might have is that it is not cemented into the ground. To hold down the cage from blowing or toppling over, place sandbags or stake the bottom in multiple places so that it stays firmly in place. If the batting cage is near a tree, you can also secure the cage to the tree using rope that is designed to withstand outdoor weather.
When choosing a location for your homemade batting cage, try to find a piece of land that is as flat as possible. Also, stay away from overhead power or cable lines, which may interfere with the height of the cage. Remove any large rocks, boulders or other debris that are located within the site before beginning the construction of your PVC cage.
The equipment for the homemade batting cage is quite simple. You will need a pitching machine, "L" screen (to place in front of the pitching machine), pitching machine balls, a home plate and a helmet for safety. If you are worried about younger kids injuring themselves, purchase a pitching machine that throws plastic balls. This will allow the kids to work on their hand-eye coordination while reducing the risk of injury from a heavier faster baseball or softball