Most baseball or softball players will want to get in a few at-bats each day to improve their game. With the availability of batting cages all over the country, more and more players have access to this important part of their baseball training. But not all batting cages are created equal. You’ll want to look for several things when shopping for a new or used cage.
Some manufacturers will try to sell bells and whistles that don’t improve your game. Others may include features that end up being more trouble than they’re worth. You shouldn’t expect every batting cage to be the same, but there are certain features you should look for when shopping around to find a machine that fits your needs and budget.
What Type Of Player Are You?
Before you invest in a new retractable batting cage, you’ll want to figure out what type of player you are. There are several types of categories:
- Power hitters will want something with a heavier ball that can help build their strength. Most of the cages on the market today are weighted, which is great for pitchers. It’s also not ideal for outfielders, who may have weaker wrists or stronger hand-eye coordination.
- Balanced hitters will want a ball that’s a little lighter than a weighted ball but not as light as a real baseball. Balanced hitters may also want a cage with real walls to work on timing and ensure the ball doesn’t go too far.
- Speed hitters may want a lighter ball. Some manufacturers now make a hybrid ball that has a little bit of weight and a bit of air in it. While they may not be weighted, these balls tend to be very soft.
Should You Use a Graph Or Zone Batting Cage?
Zone and graph are almost interchangeable regarding the hitting surface you want in your cage. Many power hitters use graph-hitting surfaces because they think it helps them get stronger by getting more reps in with a heavier ball. Graph-hitting surfaces are always white and are marked with a grid.
You’ll also see hitting surfaces with a “zone” on them. Zone-hitting surfaces are usually black with a colored marking. These surfaces are usually more forgiving and are good for balanced hitters. However, many teams choose to switch to graph-hitting surfaces for their players. Graph-hitting surfaces are quieter and more visually pleasing than black mesh, making it easier for players with hearing issues to train. Graph-hitting surfaces are also easier to clean and store than mesh.
Weighted or Unweighted Batting Cages?
Weighted cages are the most common type of hitting surface. They’re usually made of a dense foam that absorbs the ball’s impact. A few manufacturers are making hybrid foam balls that are softer than a traditional ball but absorb impact like a weighted ball.
Unweighted hitting surfaces are usually made of a cheap chain-link fence. These surfaces are great for developing hand-eye coordination, but they’re not great for building strength. If you’re a power hitter, you’ll want to avoid these.
Other Features to Be Aware Of
- The speed of the machine:What’s the maximum speed this machine can reach? It will give you an idea of how easy it will be to get your reps in.
- The incline of the machine:This is just like a treadmill, and it’s useful for running the bases, throwing from the outfield, or getting more reps in the outfield. But remember that it doesn’t do much for your swing, so you’ll still want to use a weighted ball or a soft pitch on the normal-speed machine.
- The distance of the machine:If you’re looking for something closer to the field, invest in a machine closer to the foul pole. If you’re looking for something further away, consider a machine closer to the backstop.
- The time the machine is open:If you’re looking for a quick training session in the morning before you go to work, look for a machine that’s open for a shorter amount of time. If you can fit your training sessions around your schedule, look for a longer-open machine.
If you’re serious about hitting, you’ll want to invest in a quality hitting cage. Remember that it’s not just about getting in reps in a day; it’s about building a routine so that you can continue to improve every day. You can find a quality cage to help you do that, so don’t settle for anything less than your best. Above all, remember that you don’t have to spend much money to get a great training tool. If you need a batting cage, visit us for more information.