Baseball DIY Projects – An Awesome Garage Batting Cage!
Baseball DIY Projects – An Awesome Garage Batting Cage!
Recently our friends at the United Baseball Parents of America Facebook group shared some photos and information from a very cool DIY baseball project featuring a fully functional (and collapsible) batting cage inside a garage!
We got some good feedback after sharing the post on our own Facebook page, so we decided to reach out to get some more information about the man behind the project and how it came to be.
Ron Metzler of Perfect Game Baseball Training in Ohio graciously answered some questions and provided some great information and pictures to tell the story of how he came to put a fully functional baseball hitting tunnel in his garage!
(all photos provided by Ron Metzler)
About Coach Metzler
North Ridgeville, Ohio
Perfect Game CLE, LLC and Perfect Game Baseball Training
Instructing Specialty (hitting, pitching, etc):
Specialties: hitting, pitching, infield - but I train on ALL aspects
Do you coach any teams currently?:
Not currently. In the past I have coached:
Head Coach 2017 12U Rocky River Little League
Asst Coach 2014-2016 Brunswick High School JV
Head Coach 2015 8U Parma Little league
Head Coach 2008-2010 18+ Men’s AAA & NOSPBL
Head Coach 2007 12U Independence Major League
How long have you been a coach/instructor?
12+ years. My first coaching experience was in 2007 with 10-11 year olds
What made you decide to put a fully functional hitting tunnel in your garage?
Coaching and lessons
In November 2016 I started working with a few players- their parents asked me out of the blue if I would give some hitting lessons and I started doing it just for some fun and to help out some family and friends. I was renting cage time from a facility at $20/hr about 3-6 hours per week on a week day and one weekend day. As more parents heard that I was now giving private instruction, more and more started contacting me to see if I would take on more players to train. Within a month or 2 I had 6 players I was working with. I continued to rent a cage through springtime of 2017 and when April was approaching I had a commitment to a team I was coaching so private sessions stopped. While I was coaching the Rocky River Little League Team, I realized that I could make the most impact by giving individual private instruction as opposed to the team setting. Nothing can compare to the quality instruction a player gets when working one on one with a quality coach.
Research and Planning
As the 2017 summer season came to an end I started to search online for someone who had made a batting cage in their home whether inside or outside. I found a few YouTube videos with dads who had made cages in the garage and in the basement. I then measured my garage and decided to just take that leap in hopes that it would be adequate for youth players to train in, thus eliminating my need to pay $20/hr for rental time at a facility. I knew a contractor who I had worked with in the past for home renovations so I contacted him and we started discussing what could work. We met at my house to measure the garage, mock up a cage concept with string on the floor, and start getting an idea of how big the cage would be, how tall it would be, and so on.
Materials and Buildout
I ordered all the supplies from Net World Sports and Amazon for the cage and the heater and accessories were ordered from Jet.com with the guidance of the contractor. The cage materials arrived quickly and the contractors were back at my house the next week to make this a reality. A trip to Home Depot was the last piece of the puzzle to get some lumber and other misc items needed. The cage steel lines were up within a few hours and by the end of the first day it was starting to take shape. The net and cage were mocked up by the end of the first day. On day 2 it was time to button everything up and get it all snug and fit. By the end of day 2 the cage was fully operational and we took a small BP session. I did not know how the cage would feel or if it would be big enough to truly get work done- but I was extremely happy when 3 adults started taking BP without any issue! The heater was the last part of the install and that took about 4 hours on another day.
Now that I had my OWN batting cage I started to email parents to let them know I would be giving private instruction right out of my house for the upcoming off season. The response was overwhelming; I was working my full time job in the day and then giving baseball lessons at night. In total I was working with 15-20 players per week with a combination of solo and 2-3 player group sessions. I can easily have 3-4 players working at the same time with different stations or rest periods. I converted our dining room in the front of the house to a lounge for parents with seating and a TV. It ran like clockwork for the entire off season, roughly November to May. In addition, I was able to take BP whenever I wanted or whenever my wife wanted as well! My softball team was coming over on Saturdays for open BP and it was really cool to have the option to just message a friend saying "open BP at my house on Saturday!"
How are you trying to impact the next generation of ballplayers through this project?
I started giving private instructions for free basically -I was only having the parents cover the fee of the cage time at the facility. I wanted to approach this in a different way- I had witnessed so many bad experiences between my own playing days and by observing other coaches. I wanted to make a difference and influence players' lives in a positive way. Having developed this program through 25+ years of playing, and over 10 years of coaching, it is abundantly clear that Perfect Game has a tried and true proven system to teach any player how to play the game of baseball properly and with respect.
A focus on fundamentals, athleticism, and balance is achieved through a variety of drills and exercises. The players get highly involved and motivated each week with new goals in mind, while having a lot of fun.
We understand that every single player we train has a different set of skills, and that no 2 players will learn in the same way. We base our approach on the individual player's strengths and work from a basic fundamental approach.
Our coaches work directly with players and parents to alter training and break down individual skills to ensure that everyone involved is getting the most out of every session.
In my experience, I have come to realize that many coaches mean well and truly give an effort to help a player but they just cannot effectively communicate what they are trying to get across- or they approach every single player the same way and this simply will not work. No 2 players learn in exactly the same way and this is not a BAD thing- it is actually a good thing, but you need to understand how to connect with that player.
Is this your first baseball training DIY project?
Besides throwing together a wiffle ball field or other small scenario, yes. I had never done anything quite like this before.
I have been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember- my first business was detailing cars out of my parents garage when I was 16 years old and I still have that business today- RPM Detailing, LLC. I am a big fan of low overhead businesses. I already had a garage at my house that was only being used for storage and to park cars- why not make it usable as something else! It is so nice in the winter months; parents love it as well as the experience is more intimate as opposed to just being another number in the crowd at a huge facility.
How long have you been working on this project?
The basics were all up over the course of 3 days - I tweaked a few items like the tarp in the back but everything we planned out has worked perfectly to this point.
What activities are you able to work on in the cage?
Hitting is #1. We can accomplish all tee work, front toss, regular BP, Personal Pitcher Machine, and much more! We can work on basic infield drills as long as we modify them for the space. We can work on arm strengthening and throwing drills depending on the age of the player- I just always make sure the player knows that the distance is significantly shorter than in a real game scenario and that we are just working on form, mechanics, balance, and arm strength.
How long does it take to setup and breakdown for a session?
For one person it takes about 10 minutes due to having to walk back and forth on each side of the cage to get it to glide smoothly. With 2 people the cage can be set up or torn down in less than 3 minutes because someone is on each side.
What was one part of the build out that turned out to be harder or take more time than expected?
It all went pretty smooth! Originally we had 3 steel lines to support the cage but we ended up adding 2 more for a total of 5- this helped add some extra room near the top of the cage.
What was one part that was easier?
The ability to collapse the cage to almost nothing within about 5 minutes was a pleasant surprise.
How big is the cage?
30 foot long
12 foot wide
7.5 foot tall
Whats your next baseball project?
Hopefully my own Perfect Game CLE, LLC Building/Facility!
What recommendation do you have for somebody out there thinking about taking on something like this?
YouTube is the best tutorial for ANYTHING! I was able to see many variations of homemade batting cages and from there I was able to utilize my space in the most efficient way! It can be intimidating taking something on that you have never done- but with today's technological world and how connected we are to each other- use of the free resources is key! And most coaches/parents would be happy to share experiences with building a cage or whatever else- you just need to ask.