We have previously written on the Top 5 Reasons To Use Indoor Batting Cages. In this blog I would like open up discussions on how to use a batting cage to get the most out of it for swing development. For many, commercial batting cages are used recreationally and not used for the actual development of the swing. For those that wish to use batting cages for actual swing development, the following is a breakdown on how to functionally use a cage to their advantage.
1. Speed of machine
When selecting the speed of a machine a common problem is the speed or velocity is far too advanced for the player. Often times, I will hear kids say “the speed is too slow” or asking “to speed the machine up”. Well let’s first look at what the hitter is trying to accomplish...that is, to refine the swing and the necessary movements associated with the swing. Pitching machines that are set to fast DO NOT promote efficient movement patterns in the swing. In fact, they promote poor swing habits, causing players to rush their timing; or failing to get the body into a good solid hitting position; or if their timing is so bad, they get frustrated with all the swings and misses and lose confidence in their swing. The speed is critical and should be set approximately 60-65 percent of the speed at which they will see in a game. Now, one can argue this percentage does not actually duplicate true game like speed, but the argument can also be said for those that truly want to work on swing development...it must be done at a speed substantially slower than what they would face in a game (how fast is the ball travelling on a tee??!!). Case in point...What do you think the average pitch speed of MLB batting practice is? It is certainly not near the speed of what hitters face day to day, it is approximately 60-65 percent of the actual velocity each hitter will face in a game. Furthermore, have you ever watched Home Run Derby? Granted, the concept of the Derby is Home Runs, but I would be surprised if the speed in the Derby comes close to 65 percent! So now why do MLB hitters take batting practice at approximately these types of speeds? Because the primary focus of their cage work is total swing development. It would be very difficult for the MLB player to work on the honing of their swing when facing a machine that is delivering pitches at speeds at or near the actual game like velocities.