Batting cages are a safe way to practice hitting a ball, but they can pose a risk for injury. Most facilities keep their cages maintained and have easy to read rules posted, however, because it is a high use area, all it takes is a few discourteous users for accidents to happen. With a few precautionary steps, you can help avoid problems. Most importantly, teach your child what to look for and how to properly use a batting cage.
Before using the cage, inspect the environment. There should be no standing water anywhere. Check around the ball throwing equipment and near the spot where the child will bat. Any spills or puddles could be cause for slipping, especially when a child is concentrating on swinging their bat. The safety nets and protective fencing should also all be in good order. If there are any tears or open spots, pop fly balls could become a danger.
Respect for the equipment is also necessary. Helmets should be worn at all times in or around the cage. Make sure that each helmet fits properly and that children know to keep them on their head. Any child that refuses to wear the proper protection gear should not be allowed to play around the batting cages.
The pitching machine should only be operated by those old enough to use it. The proper directions for use should always be followed. Ball machines can be adjusted for speed. If your child is young, make sure the machine is adjusted to throw the ball slowly, even if they dream of trying the fast ball level. Typically, there are options for baseball or softball pitches. Choose appropriately for your child.
When holding a bat, the temptation may be high for little ones to swing it, tap it, or wave it around in horseplay. Instruct children on the proper protocol for holding a bat when waiting for the batting cages, and the accidents that could happen if they do not obey the rules. It might be a good idea to restrict bats to only those batting, not those waiting in line.
Only one child should be in the cage at a time. This reduces confusion about who is batting, who is waiting, and who is allowed to swing their bat. If a parent or chaperone needs to be in the cage with a child, make sure they also have the proper head protection to wear and know where to stand to avoid injury. Bats and balls are both extremely hard and can hurt, even when wielded by a youngster.
If your child has their heart set on a lot of time at the batting cages, call the facility ahead of time. By making a reservation, you can ensure that they get the time at bat that they need to practice properly, or to exhaust their desire to play.
Safety is always first when it comes to your child. However, they can have fun while dreaming of the big leagues and also practice good habits and follow the rules to be safe.