So, You Want to Build Your Own Baseball Or Softball Training Facility? Part 2 of 3
PART 2 – Standard Components
The Optimal & Recommended Products
I do have my favorites. All tend to be associated with hitting and pitching, though speed, defense and strength products can figure into this category…dependent upon your business model.
Batting Cages & Tunnels
This is the backbone of your work space and is of paramount importance… you don’t want to buy this stuff twice!
Most indoor facilities tend to use a cabling system to hang their nets as opposed to the steel framework you see at a typical ballpark. We can help you design and decide on your choices.
Standard sizes cages are more inexpensive and will fit most, so see if these sizes will fit you:
(and yes, we can custom-build for your unique building)
Recommended Standard Sizes
12 ft H x 14 ft W x 55 ft L
12 ft H x 14 ft W x 70 ft L
Please do NOT purchase 12 ft wide cages if you can avoid this…they are just too small for your LH and RH hitters and will potentially drive you nuts on a daily basis. You will probably have premature wear from RH hitters who follow through and graze the net.
We understand that many or even most facilities are housed in buildings that have been converted from another use… one more reason to be dealing with someone with experience.
Here’s a few more helpful thoughts on the subject of batting cages and nets:
The length of your cages will not determine the future success of your hitters… but pitchers must practice at their game-distances. So, you can save some money and precious space utilizing shorter cages for hitters. The weight (strength) of your netting is of highest importance…there are variations in materials, and how they are knotted… boring stuff but this will determine function, longevity and your ultimate price.
Please speak with us about your options if you are unclear as to your available choices …please DO NOT SHOP BY LENGTH, WIDTH, HEIGHT AND PRICE ONLY!
The ultimate price of your nets will include their years of service!
Pitcher’s L Screens
Buy one for every batters cage. I like the 7 ft x 7 ft and absolutely recommend good ones…not necessarily the Pro Stuff. Much of that tends to be too big (8 ft x 8 ft), and too heavy for indoor use. Just make sure you are getting very heavy pillow case-style netting (we carry two strengths of net) because you will be very close to batters and need heavy double-sided netting that is thick enough to reasonably assure that you will see your next birthday. AND YES, do get the wheel kits…and thank me later.
Turf & Stance Mats
Concrete floors eat balls and are very difficult for coaches to stand on for hours every day.
Turf is a very popular but expensive piece of your budget. We happen to be based in Atlanta, Georgia where most turf is manufactured so we have spent many hours learning inside these plants. Turf is graded and designed for various sports and applications so all synthetic athletic turf is not all created equal. Please call and let us help you in making these decisions.
Home Plate Stance Mats are 6 ft x 12 ft heavy synthetic turf batters mats that are both spike-proof and weather-proof and should last you many years without showing failure. Most have the parallel-only lines of the batters box tufted in with white turf, basic models have rubber painted homeplates, deluxe have flocked white homeplates, ALL our stance mats are matched with a heavy, thick backer for cushioning and support indoors or out and will last for many years without failure!
Turf Infield – An Ultimate Tool That Separates Your Facility From the Pack
Any facility that contains a large enough turfed area for taking infield practice cannot be beaten by new or existing competition that don’t have same abilities…especially in colder weather areas. It is a large investment but one that totally escalates any facility to an elite status.
Please call us to discuss and for some advise. The info we will need are your dimensions and what type of existing floor that you have.
- Iron Mike Arm Style Machines aka Master Pitching Machine Model MP4 or MP6.
These workhorses are almost identical but carry a hefty price difference.
Each can be set up for baseball or softball use (and changed in 5 minutes or less). You can dump up to 600 bb or 400 sb in the large hopper. Include is a FREE corded remote control, perfect for teaching and to help keep the area safer. These models throw accurate fastballs-only at speeds ranging from 25 to 85 mph every 7 seconds… with very little maintenance making them perfect for heavy users and pro ballclubs alike. They will perform for years without problem or issue!
- BATA Brand Wheel-Type Pitching Machines
The advantage of this type of pitching machine is that many can be set up to throw LH and RH breaking balls as well as fastballs… all at various speeds (usually manually adjusted). The disadvantage is that they require auto ball feeders or a 2nd person to hand feed the machine. Although important and absolutely recommended, I would purchase only the good stuff, such as our Bata Brand, which we have carried for over 7 years without one motor replacement…and the wheels seem to go forever even in heavy duty Spring training or Institutional use…just a great machine (FYI – I recommend the BATA 2 but the newer BATA 3 is the newest and very popular in facilities for its randomization of fastballs or breaking balls without adjustment).
Portable Pitching Mounds
6″ Tall Mounds for up to age 12
10″ Tall for adult size players (If purchasing one size, choose the adult sizes).
Leather Baseballs & Leather Softballs
Balls are a recurring expense and one you should think about from the beginning.
Pitchers must throw good leather baseballs however no pitchers ERA will improve because you purchased the best game balls you can find. Same goes for your hitters though you have more choices for them (see below).
I really like Wilson A 1030 practice balls that come with a 6 gallon TALL coaches bucket and snap-lid. Regular 5 gallon buckets are too short and can make your back ache over time…plus they hold 20% less. These are priced right and do seem to last as long as you’d expect.
Wilson A 1015 Baseballs is as good a ball as any training facility might need. Nice seams and good feel too. They have a “B” grade cover (“A” being the best) A better ball for a bit more money. No bucket included. Sold by the dozen and savings by the 10 dozen case.
My personal favorite ball for pitching machines is BADEN Brand Ballistic Leather Machine Pitch Baseballs. This is a new concept where the ball has lower seams to throw straighter pitches with less resistance from the high spin rate of the pitching machine tires or wheels plus it is stitched with KEVLAR, the bullet-proof vest material. This reduces the premature wear even good game balls will experience, as they are stitched with easily breakable cotton string.
Needless to say, these balls outlast most any good quality leather balls when used in your pitching machines. Prices are surprisingly low. Purchase by the dozen with savings by the 10 dozen case!
Dimple Balls are absolutely practical and the choice for many heavy use hitting facilities. They are graded like anything else so many people who have had bad luck with them figure that they are all bad. The truth is that many are bad and we only carry a pro ball. This means that not only are they “sting free” (meaning that they are not hard as rocks, which can damage expensive metal bats and raise hell with wheel-type pitching machines). But they don’t feel like you are hitting a tomato either… ours actually have a nice pop to them and they travel well.
Yellow machine pitch dimple balls – this is the standard… sold by the dozen and by money-saving 10 dz case for baseball and 6 dz case for our 12 inch softballs.
What a great idea… these long lasting dimple balls look like a real game ball to the hitter!
This is the ultimate for any indoor facility…an entire turfed infield area for team and individual defensive work. Due to the cost , many who choose to do this will arrange their batting cage layout so that cages can be pulled to one end of the building by “shower curtain rod” method for double use of the same area. Again, you may want to call us to discuss ideas.
Sport Specific Speed and agility training days or hours can also be added to more than justify this expense and build more streams of revenue while really helping players improve quicker…all under one roof!
Wasting practice time is a huge sin that we have all watched over and over… players are bored and skills may not get taught or committed to muscle memory while players are waiting their turn in the cage.
Anytime you can use machinery to “multiply ” your coaching staff, you and your players will benefit. Most equipment is not designed for your heavy, daily use so be a bit catious when choosing.
The above are great teaching and learning ideas that will also add revenue streams.
They combine the cornerstones of building good repeatable swings and come from some great inventors of modern baseball training aids.
Please consider these as opportunities to both you as a successful and innovative innovator. Don’t short-change your kids on the maximum quality learning that new and modern teaching ideas can give them!
Remember, any limited extra space can be put to good use IF you give it some thought. Consider every station you utilize outdoors and call us to discuss how we may be able to help you design and bring it indoors.
- Batting Tee Stations
- Soft Toss Stations – Automated
We have the best soft toss machine I have ever used… and it can be utilized for baseball and fastpitch with no change over or down time! Its also on wheels and moves in aand out of cages with no hassle.
- Soft Toss Stations – Manual – We have an excellent selection of portable and stationary net and safety screens …plus custom applications too!
- Stationary Hitting Stations – Many need only one person to operate. Some are attached to fence posts, some are free standing. Se what fits and extra corner you had no plans for. It all adds up!
- Underload & Overload Training Devises
See Bratt’s Weighted Bats, Edge Power Weighted Gloves, SwftStick Underload Training Bats, Ripken Kinect Training Bats. Great stuuf that will hold up to your heavy use.
Additional Items We Find Useful
- Radar Guns – This link shows you all our offerings but one good one with a padded case is all you need. The best radar gun on the market, bar none, is the Stalker Brand baseball & Softball Radar Gun. This is what MLB Scouts use… period. Our association with the manufacturer has given us a window into what the good radar guns should do (technology evolves and so do these fine instruments). The newest models are actually superior to the older standard models that still dominate Big League Baseball. But since they hold up so well, it will be some seasons before the new AND LESS EXPENSIVE models are seen begin carried by today’s pro scouts. Click to see the new and older model Stalker Radar Guns.
- Bleachers and Bench Seating
- Pitching Targets, Nets & Screens – we carry most all size and strengths in catch nets, hitters sock nets, baffle nets and cage dividers, Strike Zone Pads, ZIP Nets for garage opening types of applications. Many of our screens have optional wheel kits for true portablility (more important than you might think).
- Pitchers Rubbers, Throwdown Bases and related items.
- Aluminum bats, wood training bats, one handed bats, good quality one size fits all helmets with and without facemasks. These are all necessary as many of your students may not even own some of these basics.
- Shatterproof full length mirrors
- Video Software for pitchers and hitters (requires a video camera)