With my 10 and 12 olds playing both travel and rec softball and baseball (respectively), I found myself struggling to find enough practice time between them, with both kids clamoring for individual attention from me.
Since their skills were far apart, practicing them together was not practical.
In addition, when I added up everything I needed to get ready for a practice (i.e. 30 minute round trip, loading/unloading equipment, equipment setup, etc), I found out that I was spending over 2 hours which didn’t include the actual practice time!!
So to save some time, I decided to build a backyard batting cage.
You can read more about batting cage selections as well as product reviews at 99baseballs.com
I started out with a $500 budget but ended up spending somewhere around $900.
The biggest cost factor in building a backyard batting cage was the batting cage net. With brand new nets costing around $600-$1,000, I knew I had to buy a used one to stay within my budget.
With used nets, you need to keep in mind that it probably comes with some holes and rips which can be repaired.
Looking to buy a used batting cage net also meant that I had to be patient; keeping an eye on places like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Letgo of Offerup is a must on a daily basis (BTW, for Craigslist you can create a free account and setup a notification so that you will be notified automatically).
He had originally advertised it (12′ high x 15′ wide x 70′ long) for $600 in September and was unwilling to accept my initial $200 offer. So I monitored the listing and gave him a follow up offer of $250 month later and accepted.
By the way, if don’t live in a year-round baseball states like California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, you will find that sellers are more willing to negotiate during the off-season months (i.e. August-March).
Where to Place the Batting Cage
Placing a 70 foot long batting cage is not trivial unless you have a huge property.
Since my property was only 100 feet wide by 385 feet long, the only logical place was where my backyard swing set was located (I built it for my children 5+ years ago; read more about it here)
It was sad to see it get disassembled but I plan on rebuilding and locating it near the backside of the my property.
If you look around, you will see that most backyard batting cage frames are made from galvanized pipes. I have even seen some made from PVC pipes but I would definitely avoid those because most are not UV rated and when they break, they tend to shatter/splinter.
I decided to go with pressure-treated wood because:
- galvanized pipes are expensive in comparison
- I would have to make galvanized pipes would require custom threads at the end
- I did not want a lightning magnet;
- Wood provided flexibility to drill holes and add brackets easily to any location
- Pressure treated wood was less expensive than galvanized pipes and fittings
My plan is to build something like this:
Because I live in New jersey, where snow and ice happens often, I plan on installing more support columns to evenly spread out the load of the net so that it won’t rip.
You will find that batting cage nets come in a variety of sizes (i.e. 40/50/60/70 feet in length) with shorter ones costing a lot less. You can expect to pay around $700-$950 for a high-quality 70 foot long netting (here is a sample BCI netting with #45 thread).
If your son is 11 or 12 years old and loves to play baseball, I would definitely consider the 70 foot long batting cage net because in most leagues, 13 years start to play on a regulation sized, 60/90 fields.
It’s a big adjustment going from a smaller 46/60 or 50/70 to 60/90 where many kids are unable to make throws from third base to first base (hence the reason why a lot of kids drop out).
With 70 foot long batting cage, you can also setup proper 60’6″ pitching mound to practice pitching.
BTW, softball players pitch at a distance less than 50 feet even at the college level, so longer batting cage will not negatively effect my daughter’s ability to practice.
Most 70 foot long batting cages come in a dimension that is 13-15 feet wide and 12-13 feet high.
I am going to use a typical horse-shoe (i.e. upside-down U) configuration as my frame design.
BTW, if you have been to my site before, you will note that my backyard swing is not there anymore. Due to lack of space, I had to dis-assemble my backyard swing (want to build one? read more about it here) which will be relocated to near a treehouse that I will be building later this month.
For support, I plan on using 4×4 wood posts. I am specifically avoiding the powder-coated steel and galvanized EMT conduit pipes and fittings because when compared to wood, they are very expensive (you are looking at around $1,300 to frame the aforementioned batting cage). In contrast, I am looking to spend about $500 total for all necessary wood posts and beams.
When it comes to buying a batting cage net, you need to be patient and be on the lookout for a good deal. I ended up purchasing a used batting cage net from Craigslist for $200. Granted, it had some holes I needed to patch, but it was a full sized net (70 feet long x 15 feet wide x 12 feet high) so it was a decent deal.
If you cannot wait and you have some extra $$$, you can buy a BCI commercial quality net (here)
Lastly, other than the one pole location where the slope is somewhat steep, I plan on not using any concrete forms.
- 12 sticks of PT 4 x 4 x 16 = ($25 per stick) or $300
- 6 sticks of 2 x 4 x 20 = $15 per stick or $90
- 12 sticks of 2 x 4 x 8 = $3.50 per or $42 (cross bracing)
- Concrete form tubes – 1, 8″ diameter x 4 feet, $9
With November fast approaching, I need to move quickly. Once I get all my orders delivered, I will start working on my batting cage.
Thanks for reading and good luck with your tuneup!