1. What size batting cage should I buy?
Of all the frequently asked questions, this is one that I am asked the most and is probably the toughest one for me to answer. I don't want to say "buy the larger one" for fear of folks will think I'm trying to sell them more. So I give them my "two cents worth", and you know what they say - you get what you pay for! When I started this business my son was already in high school. We made ourselves a 50' cage and it worked fine. I was the pitcher as my son didn't like pitching machines. Once in awhile, not often but on occasion, when I would reach back to throw my hand would catch the back of the net. If I had it to do over again, I think I would make ourselves a 60' cage. It would have given us a little more flexibility to move around - but my son was already in high school. For younger kids, I do recommend a 50' cage. Their pitching distance is only about 45-46', so 50' would work just fine for them. The nets seem to be lasting between 5-7 years before some repair. So if you can't use the extra distance for 4-6 years, stay with the smaller cage. You may want to replace the net in 5 years anyway. The tough age is the 13-14 year old. They are on the bubble. They certainly can get by with the 50'er for a few years, but may want to get a longer distance before the 5 years are up. An advantage of going longer is you can always put up less. But if you can't use it for several years and the net is just lying on the ground, that is a waste too. Another thing to keep in mind is for batting practice you don't need to be at regulation distance. You are mainly working on bat speed, hand-eye coordination, and mechanics. Quite a few coaches do a lot of soft toss and you don't need a long distance for that. I'm afraid I end up my discussion leaving the client more confused than when they first asked the question!
2. I lost or misplaced my assembly instructions. Can you send me a copy?
Here are the assembly instructions.
3. With the netting on the outside of the poles, isn't there more chance for ricochet and injury?
No. Because of the flexibility of the EMT poles there is more give, so the ricochet is considerably less than with 2" steel poles set in cement. In actual use since 1998, when the ball strikes directly on a pole it simply dies. Because of the give in the poles, the batted ball's energy is absorbed. In fact, I'd be concerned about systems where the net is suspended from inside the frame. I've seen many systems where the roof netting is too close to the roof poles. If a ball hits the roof pole, the netting is between the ball and the pole, thus much more abrasion on the net. Plus these types of poles are a lot stiffer hence a much greater chance for ricochet.
4. How much does the cage netting sag?
A few inches. With cages where the netting is hung on the inside there is tremendous sag. This is why most traditional cages are a minimum of 12' high in order to have about 10' of clearance inside the cage. In addition, because of our design, there is much less tension and wear at the corners and middle. The weight is evenly distributed over the entire width and length of the batting cage adding to the life of the netting.
5. When should I take the net down?
If you can play year round, you can leave it up all year. However, if there is an extended period of time when you won't be using the batting cage, such as winter or a long vacation, take the system down, or at least the net off the frame. This will just add life to the net. Snow from a late winter or early spring can pile up on the net and the weight could collapse the frame.
6. Is the batting cage sturdy? It looks flimsy.
Don't confuse "flimsy" with "flexible." You won't be able to do chin ups or shimmy up the poles, but the system is very sturdy. It is strong enough to support the netting and take the beating of the batted balls. Some clients have said at first appearance the frame looks "flimsy", but after trying it out, they realize how sturdy and strong it really is. Some of my competition have suggested that our system is weak and because of that we "have to put the legs out at an angle." Sorry, but they just don't understand physics. The sheer forces on a rectangular shape are much stronger and put a lot more stress on the connectors than on a trapezoidal shape. In addition, the connectors are made of steel and the angled joints are welded. The #21 is rated at 209 lb. breaking strength per strand or 836 lb. per mesh. In fact, I've had clients leave their batting cage up during a hurricane (something I certainly don't recommend) while many poles were bent the netting and connectors were fine.
7. What about knotted nylon vs poly net (hdpe, etc.)?
For our premium batting cages I only use knotted nylon. It is a personal preference. I used poly for my very first net in 1998. It curled on the bottom a lot. It did not hang well. Since then I have learned a lot about netting. Poly net is around 50% weaker than knotted nylon. It is also cheaper. You need a much higher gauge of poly net to have the same strength as knotted nylon. While I have heard that knotted nylon will deteriorate due to the UV from the sun, I have not experienced that. My clients are saying they are getting 5 to 10 years of use from their net before they need some repair. Some have had it for 15 years, even I was surprised. As a consumer you need to beware and compare when you buy a cage net. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples, so to speak. Poly net is cheaper than knotted nylon. I do carry HDPE for the economy batting cages. These are pre-made and hung on the square. See Economy Batting Cages for more information. Here is what my netting supplier told me about the difference between Nylon and poly netting:
* PE has lower breaking strength of grams per denier. This means that the same twine diameter will not be as strong as nylon. In addition, PE is bulkier and therefore making the net about 30 percent weaker for the same diameter twine. This means if the customer is supposed to get the same breaking strength the twine will have to be 30 percent larger. If you take this difference into account the price per lb of breaking strength is not as low as it is promoted. Most of the companies selling baseball batting cages in PE are offering the same diameter, not the same breaking strength.
* Nylon is softer and can be put away in a smaller package than PE.
* Due to smaller diameter nylon will have less wind resistance than PE.
* Knotless netting can be repaired in much the same way as knotted netting. However, since you are making knots in knotless netting the repair can be seen easier.
* Depending on the grade of PE being used the UV stability can be very poor. It really will depend on the quality of yarn in the net.
* PE netting has no memory. This means that if the net stretched due to excessive weight or high winds it will be baggy. Nylon netting will move depending on the humidity level in the air. In damp environment it is bigger and as the sun dries it will contract.
8. What grades of netting do you offer?
For our Premium Batting Cages, we offer a #21 and a #36 knotted nylon. The #21 gauge has a burst strength of about 209 pounds per strand or about 836 pounds per mesh. The #36 gauge has a burst strength of about 380 pounds per strand or 1520 pounds per mesh. Our netting hangs on the diamond, not on the square. This allows for more give when hit by a ball so there is less chance for tear and less abrasion. It also allows water to run-off more quickly. One of the most important aspects of quality netting for batting cages is its tenacity. It should have a tenacity rating of at least 9.0.
We also offer some pre-made HDPE cages. They come is 35', 55' and 70' lengths and have a rating of #24, #36, and #42. Beware as the burst strength of these is quite a bit less than our knotted nylon nets.
9. Is #21 strong enough?
For backyard family use, I think #21 is plenty strong. If it were for a high school or college team, you may want to consider the #36. Unlike traditional batting cages, our netting gives on impact. Thus, there is less abrasion and stress on the netting. The physics of my design is based on the Law of Conservation of Momentum. (Here are some details for those who are interested. The Law of Conservation of Momentum states: The total momentum of a group of objects is the same after they interact as it was before. Momentum of an object is its mass times its velocity (p=mv). Before collision, a batted ball has positive momentum and the net has zero momentum. After the collision the total momentum is the same. But if the net can give at the time of impact the initial momentum of the ball is shared between the ball and the net. The more the net can give, the more the momentum of the ball is reduced after the collision. A good analogy would be that of trying to catch a tossed egg. If you stick your hand up and don't move you will most likely end up with egg on your face! If you allow your hand to move with the egg you can catch it and the egg won't break. With traditional batting cages, the net is tied or anchored at several points to the frame. This prevents the net from giving whenever the ball hits the net at or near the anchored points. As a result, at the point of impact there is tremendous force and if the net cannot give it may tear. If it doesn't tear, the abrasion is much greater and will wear down the netting much more quickly. Thus most traditional cages require (or strongly suggest) that you use #36 netting.
10. Can the Wheelhouse batting cage be used indoors?
Yes. The only consideration is the floor upon which you are setting the cage. You may need to put rubber cups (not supplied), slit and squeeze tennis balls, or even duct tape over the ends of the poles to protect the floor. However, when it is indoors you will have a free-standing system not requiring pulleys, cables or anything attached to the walls or ceiling. A lot of colleges and high schools use our batting cage as an extra indoor hitting station, especially in the winter.
11. How quickly does it go up?
Amazingly fast! After some practice, two people can put a Wheelhouse batting cage up in about 20 minutes, even we were surprised. The very first time may take a little longer, but once you attach all the connectors simply leave them attached to the poles that go across the top. The only tool required is a 7/16" wrench or socket used to bolt the poles into the connectors. If you desire to bolt the legs into the connectors, you will need to stand on a ladder. I have put up the cage by myself. It has been up for months at a time without the legs even being bolted into the connectors. If you have your team help, it can go up in minutes.
12. If you are using a pitching machine, don't you need a stronger backdrop behind the batter?
I don't think so. I have very little experience with pitching machines; however, one of my clients wrote and told me he tried to put up a backdrop. He said it acted like a sail so he took it down. Since the netting can give, not having a backdrop is better. The net gives everywhere and so there is less abrasion and wear and tear on the net. If you still want something, I suggest an inexpensive piece of carpet or extra piece of netting as a baffle.
13. Don't balls skip under the netting?
Occasionally. The netting is about 36' wide and the frame perimeter is 30', so there is plenty of overhang. However, if the ball is hit just right - at the point where the netting and ground meet there is the possibility of the ball skipping under. This doesn't happen that often. You can purchase leaded rope, or any poly rope, or even a garden hose and lace the bottom edge to give a little extra weight so the net will stay on the ground. I have not heard of any complaints from my clients about this problem.
14. Can the Wheelhouse batting cage be used for softball?
Yes, even though the L-screen is designed for overhand pitching. The girl's softball team, at the high school where my son attended, purchased a 50' system. They stand behind the "tall" part of the screen and pitch around the edge. It seems to work ok.
15. Since the cage is not fastened down, what about wind?
Wind is the one weakness of our system. Our system is a free standing light weight system. Strong cross winds can actually tip over the cage. If you are in a windy climate and your batting cage is in the open, that is, you don't have a barrier like a house, fence, or trees, you should anchor down the cage in some fashion. Here are a few suggestions. Tie rope to the roof corner connectors then anchor the other end of the rope in the ground with a tent peg or stake. This method will handle most reasonable winds. A few of my clients have offered some other suggestions. One used "ree-bar" and pounded it next to some of the leg poles and then wrapped wire around the leg pole and the ree-bar. Another bought some 1" conduit and put some of them into the ground at the same angle as the leg pole and then inserted the leg pole inside the 1" conduit. He then drilled a hole through the poles and inserted a bolt or wire to secure the two together. Here are some Ideas to secure cage in windy weather
16. Does the netting shift after use, since it isn't tied down?
Yes, it can. Wind can cause the cage netting to shift. It can also shift after quite a bit of use if you have older players (high school or college) that are strong hitters. Here is a suggestion to keep the net from shifting "too far" on you. Take a 2-3' bungy or length of rope or twine. Tie one end on the corner roof connector. Leave 2' of bungee or twine and tie the other end on the net corner. Do this on all four corners. This will still allow the net to give but it won't shift too far on you.
17. What about animals?
Do you have animals in your neighborhood? I have gotten reports of animals, rabbits, squirrels, deer, etc., coming out and chewing on the net. If the net is in use everyday, they don't seem to bother it. If you do leave for a long weekend or the net goes unused for a few days and you do have animals in the area you may want to raise it off the ground a few feet to provide a path for them to get through. We are not sure whey they chew on the net. Someone once speculated that they were free to roam and now there is something their way so they chew to get through it.
on all batting cages!
on all batting cages!