A good soft toss net will be needed for all of your hitting practice, whether that includes taking soft toss from another person, a machine, or just hitting off a tee. There are a few different styles of baseball soft toss nets that you should consider before making your purchase.
The most convenient of all the soft toss nets are the portable or pop-up screens. These are nice because they go up quick, go down quick, and are easy to haul around to practice or just throw up right in your garage. The second style is more heavy duty and is not meant to be as portable. They are however more sturdy because they are usually constructed with aluminum or steel frames and heavy duty baseball netting. The last option is just to make your own. Let’s start with the portable screens.
Pop Up Nets
Probably the most common of the portable soft toss nets are the Jugs Instant Screen (pictured to the right), the Easton Pop Up or Squarecatch Net, and the ATEC Multi Sport Net. I recommend the Jugs model, because it is the favorite among most ballplayers. You can purchase it from Baseball Express by clicking on the link to the right.
|Jugs Instant Screen
Franklin also makes a model that is comparable as well. These are all very similar in design and are similar to a pop up tent. They go up and down in a matter of a couple of minutes and I think they all come with a nylon carrying bag, making them very convenient. At the time of this writing (March 08’) the prices on all of these styles of screens are right around the $80-130 range.
There are other variations of these screens, such as the Jugs Instant Backstop, which is bigger and costs a few bucks more (around $170). Then there’s the Jugs Small Ball Instant Protective Screen, a small model soft toss net that is designed to be used with their Small Ball pitching machine, and accessories. It only costs $40. Louisville also makes a pop up model called the Socknet, which is 7’x7’ and only $90.
Heavy Duty Nets
If you need a more durable and solid soft toss net, than you’ll want to take a look at some of these models. They all have an aluminum frame and a durable net strong enough to take a good beating.
The cream of the crop model is the ATEC Batting Practice Screen. It has a 7’x7’ steel frame and double netting, with a sock net in the middle to catch all the balls hit into it. It also comes with a hefty price tag, right around $450. A little further down on the price scale you have a couple models by The Muhl. Theirs is the All Fields Net which is 8 ½’ x 6 ½’, and the Soft Toss Net which is 5 ½’ x 6 ½’. Their prices are a little more reasonable at $190 and $170 respectively. ATEC makes another model called the Catch Net (pictured to the right) at $170. A couple of other companies that make hitting nets are Batting Cages Inc. and SPI Nets.
|Atec Catch Net
The heavier duty nets are better if are looking for something durable that will be outside most of the time.
Making Your Own Net
If you’re the type that loves a project and would rather construct your own soft toss net, it is certainly possible. The simplest hitting net could be built by finding a couple trees, running a rope from one tree to another, and suspending a net from the rope. If you don’t have a net, find an old blanket that you don’t need and it should do the trick just as well.
You could also construct a frame buy getting some PVC pipe and filling it with sand or dirt to make it sturdy. Then use cinch ties to secure the net to the frame. Get creative. It shouldn’t be that difficult to fashion something to hit balls into.
However, unless you’ve got the materials sitting around, it may be more trouble than it is worth to make your own.
A soft toss net used along with a a soft toss machine or tee will allow you to practice your swing without the need of another person to help you out. Break out your video camera and work your way toward that Major League swing!