DIY Indoor Retractable Batting Cage
If you have an indoor space 50- to 100-feet long and at least 15-feet wide, you have what you need for a batting cage. An indoor cage can be used for teaching young players the art of hitting or for high school, college and even professional players to work on their hitting technique without having to reserve time in a facility or hit outside and pick up baseballs across the outfield -- or from behind a neighbor's broken window. Using a retractable batting cage means that when a hitter is done taking batting practice inside the cage, you can push it to one wall, freeing the space for other activities.
Find space for your indoor batting cage. Most nets for indoor cages are offered in sizes of 55 feet, 70 feet and 100 feet. Seventy feet is an appropriate size for most ages and skill levels. Your indoor space will need to be at least 70 feet long, but no longer than about 75 feet. Plan for a width of about 15 feet.
Attach three anchor plates on each wall at the nearest and farthest lengths of the indoor facility. Your anchor plates should be 10 feet above the ground. The leftmost and rightmost anchor plates should be 12 feet apart, with the middle anchor plate directly in the middle, 6-feet apart from each anchor plate. Screw four screws into all six of the anchor plates.
Install an eye bolt on each of the anchor plates. If you have an open-ended eye bolt, loop it through the extended hole on the anchor plate. The cables will be taut enough that you will not have to worry about them falling out.
Install the cables on three of the eye bolts on one end of the batting cage space. You are working with a 70-foot batting cage, but you are using 76-foot cables so that you have 3 feet on each end of the cable to use as slack. Loop the cable through the eye bolts with 2 to 3 feet of the cable running through the eye bolt. Tie the cable, knotting it at least twice. Wrap the knots with duct tape for extra security.
Extend the batting cage net on the floor of the facility.
Attach a carabiner to the top of the net every 4 to 5 feet at the leftmost top of the net, the rightmost top of the net, and in the center of the top of the net. A carabiner is a hook with a clasp into which you will enclose part of the batting-cage net. Use 48 carabiners, which means that you have 16 carabiners for the left of the net, 16 for the middle of the net and 16 for the right of the net.
Run each of the three cables through the 16 carabiners that are attached to the left, center, and right of the net. Because your net is on the floor and the cables are 12 feet above the floor, you will not yet have enough cable to extend the 70 feet of the net. You can collapse -- or bunch together -- the net so that the length of the cable makes it through the final three carabiners at the side of the net opposite the wall to which your cables are attached.
Install the cables on the three eye bolts at the end of the facility opposite the side of the already-attached cables. Loop each of the three cables through their designated eye bolts in the same fashion that you looped them on the opposite end. Pull the cables so that they are as taut as possible. The three cables should be level with the floor so that your cage does not sink to the middle of sagging cables. Tie each of the three cables, knotting them at least twice and wrap each of the knots with duct tape for extra security.
Extend your batting cage so that it is completely open. You now have the option of keeping your batting cage extended or collapsing it to open up the facility for other activities.
If the three cables running through your batting cage are not level with the floor, your batting cage will not operate correctly. Only with taut, level cables will your batting cage keep from sliding to the center of the cables.
Mark Schoeck is a Chicago-based writer and filmmaker. He has experience as a print journalist, screenwriter and short-story writer, with work published in several collegiate literary magazines and newspapers. A 2010 graduate of Valparaiso University, Schoeck earned Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and television-radio with a minor in philosophy.