As the old saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” When we’re younger, practice is often equated with a chore, as we have to practice tying our shoes, practice multiplication tables, and practice instruments. As we grow older though, the things we want to improve through practice are often the things we want to do, rather than what we need to do.
Getting better at sports is the perfect example, whether you’re trying to lower your handicap at the country club, or your son or daughter is trying to make the varsity squad for their favorite sport. Actually being able to practice becomes the next issue, once you find something you actually want to do. With most sports requiring significant space, and many requiring the throwing and hitting of balls, pucks, and other projectiles, the driveway or basement is only useful for a few activities.
Fortunately, foam is your friend when it comes to honing your craft in your free time. For those of us not lucky enough to have our own backyard field of dreams, a personal driving range, or a frozen pond year-round, foam targets and padding can help you practice swings and shots in baseball, golf, and hockey at home, no matter the season.
Elite athletes in these sports can hit, drive, and shoot balls and pucks harder and father than most of us could ever come close to. Dead-center home runs routinely travel farther than 400 feet, top PGA Tour golfers can drive the ball more than 300 yards, and the hardest fastballs and slap shots both clock in at more than 100 miles per hour. Amateurs don’t come close to these figures, but even at a fraction of the power and distance, it’s easy to see the dangers of practicing anywhere but large fields, ranges, and rinks, which require time, effort, and money to use routinely.
The use of foam padding as a component in a dedicated indoor practice area can give individuals the ability to practice in a real-life fashion, while being safe, accessible, and affordable.
The use of memory foam is almost exclusively associated with comfort and support cushioning and bedding, but is one of the best possible materials you can use in high-impact padding. Originally developed by NASA with the goal of reducing the severity of G-forces during takeoff, the material has advanced over the years to be incredibly durable and impact absorbing. For padding indoor areas against both pitches and hits in baseball, as well as slap shots in hockey, 4” of memory foam, covered with a protective fabric will hold up to abuse, while keeping your surroundings safe from damage.
Memory foam is much more energy absorbing than conventional foam, greatly reducing the “bounce back” effect from a ball or puck. Memory foam will deaden a projectile, without a return of energy that sends it ricocheting across the room. 3LB ViscoSaver memory foam is a high-density material in the broad spectrum of foam, but the lowest density memory foam offered by Foam Factory. This gives you performance without excessive cost. In a netted batting cage, 4” of 3LB memory foam can hold up to line drives that let you practice real-life swings while safely padding a backstop from full-speed pitches from a machine. For hockey, memory foam is great as wall padding, because while a goal winds up in the net, misses can deflect and fly everywhere. Covering a surface and making goal marks on the protective fabric gives you an accurate feel for practice, while protecting the area around you.
Golfers are faced with a similar practice problem, where effort that translates to real-world improvement mostly requires going to a course. Another type of foam can help you recreate a realistic practice area without losing a ball every time you swing, or sinking hours into your day just to get a few swings in.
Where memory foam excels in its rigidity and absorption, neoprene sheets are fantastic golf shot padding because of their blend of flexibility and durability. In an adequately prepared space, hanging closed-cell neoprene 1-1/2” thick can stand up to the hard impact of a tee shot, while flexing enough to envelop the impact. By hanging a sheet away from a solid surface where it has the ability to wave, flex, and yield, the shot pad can billow when hit, dissipating the energy of the golf ball and dropping it safely to the ground. 1-1/2” of thickness gives you that perfect blend of fabric-like flexibility, with enough stability and resilience to keep balls from flying through the sheet foam or quickly damaging it. Using a sheet large enough for the distance you will be shooting from, in concert with a contained side areas, you can practice full-strength swings any season, place, or time you want!
While we will never be perfect at our favorite sports, we can have fun practicing and trying to get there, and with foam sports padding, you can improve your game and enjoy doing it on your own terms!
Note: Foam Factory, Inc. will not have any liability to anyone for incidental or consequential damages or any other liability, injury, loss or damage arising out of or related to our products, even if Foam Factory or an authorized representative of Foam Factory has been advised of the possibility of such damages.