A batting cage may seem straightforward and simple to use, you just have to hit the ball as hard as you can and aim for the back of the cage…right?! Not so fast. If you’ve grown up around baseball or have kids who currently play, you may be familiar with the guiding phrase “hit the back of the batting cage!” Whether you have said it yourself, have heard it from someone saying it to you, or your kids’ coach says it to them, this is a common rule of thumb when it comes to batting practice in the cages. However, this may not be the best way to become accustomed to hitting if the goal is to get baseballs further.
Going the Distance
Given that most batting cages range from 40 feet to 80 feet, aiming for the back of the cage only guarantees that the ball will travel as far as that, even without the netting in the way. Consider the distance to second base from home plate, which is 127 feet. If you are batting in a cage that is only 40 feet long and are consistently aiming for the back of the net, the ball is only traveling a third of the distance to second base. Even if you double the length of your batting cage, you still are not making it the whole distance to second if you don’t adjust your aim. With no adjustments made, fielders will easily stop the majority of all balls hit this way.
Cage Practice vs Field Practice
When practicing on the field, we seem to remember that in order to get baseballs to travel further off of the bats, one must aim slightly higher. This launches the ball upwards, over most infield players and out into the outfield, if not over the fence. However, for some reason, we seem to forget this piece of advice when batting practice is moved inside the cages. If most practice occurs in cages and not in the field, and the aim is at the back of the cage, during game play, there will not be much hitting success, as the baseball likely will not make it past the first line of defense.
How to Adjust
Though field practice may be ideal for learning how to hit in real world scenarios, sometimes it is just not practical or possible. In those circumstances, batting cages are perfect ways to get that extra swing time in. When practicing in a cage, instead of aiming for the back as commonly done, aim for the top of the cage. Depending on the length of the cage you are practicing in, the spot on the top netting that you are aiming for will vary, but getting into practice of swinging upward and outward instead of directly driving to the back of the net will greatly benefit your batting record.
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