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Archive for May, 2012


Some Bounce for the Backyard

A backyard trampoline can keep kids entertained for hours while helping them stay fit. Most trampolines designed for backyard use are round in shape. The round shape helps keep junior jumpers centered.
 
When choosing a trampoline look for a sturdy mat, padding on exposed frame and spring parts, and a heavy-duty, corrosion-resistant frame. All trampolines that Dunham’s sells come with a net that encloses the jumping area for added safety.
 
Of course, it’s important that young children are properly supervised when using any sports or exercise equipment.
 
-Jumping Jack
 
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Advancements in Tennis Racquet Technology

Certainly, there are a lot of factors that contribute to whether you hit the ball like Roger Federer or Serena Williams—or whether you can hit the ball at all for that matter—but as is the case in most sports, the equipment plays a big part in how well you play the game.
 
In the past several decades tennis racquets have undergone some significant changes. From the size of the racquet and the materials it’s made with, right down to the way it’s strung; just about every aspect of the racquet has seen some technological advancement.
 
Let’s talk about size first. Unlike years ago, when there was typically only one racquet size, today, there are four distinct head size classifications: mid-size (95 square-inches and below); mid-plus (100-107 square-inches); oversized (108-120 square-inches); and super-oversized (122 square-inches or larger). So, what does this mean to the average player? Put simply, the bigger the head size, the larger the “sweet spot”, and thus, the better the chances of hitting the ball cleaner and perhaps even farther.
 
That said, according to John Rapson, Wilson Territory Manager for Michigan and Ohio, these days, head sizes are actually getting smaller.
 
“Ten years ago,” says Rapson, “there were a lot of 135 square-inch racquets. Now, you’d be hard pressed to find one that’s over 120.” In fact, Rapson says that today, a lot of players are gravitating toward racquets with a 103-110 square-inch head size, as they are less bulky and more aerodynamic.
 
In addition to head size, the balance point—head-heavy or head-light—and grip size of racquets have also changed. A head-heavy racquet (which, if held by the shaft would feel heavier toward the face) provides more power on serves and groundstrokes, while a head-light racquet (which would feel lighter toward the face) provides more control. Either balance point can be easily changed to fit a person’s style of play.
 
Like the racquet balance, the grip size (also easily customized) can affect play style, so care should be taken when choosing one to fit your hand and stroke.
 
“Racquets have become a lot more forgiving,” says Mike Graff, ASPTA and Director of Programming and Operations for Baseline Tennis in Michigan. “With larger sweet spots, vibration dampening and technology that affects how the racquet responds to off-center hits, the average player is going to have a much more enjoyable game.”
 
Now, let’s talk about materials. Do you remember the tennis racquets from the days of Bobby Riggs, Arthur Ashe and Billie Jean King? Chances are, they were made of wood. That alone caused a number of inconsistency problems—the most common of which was warping. Gradually, manufacturers started designing racquets with metals like aluminum and titanium, and soon after materials like boron, graphite, ceramics and composites were used. While each material had its own advantageous qualities, ultimately consumers gravitated toward ceramics and graphite because they were lightweight, stiff and had excellent vibration reduction.
 
According to Rapson, while graphites and carbons are the still the most widely used materials—Wilson uses a hyper carbon graphite material called [K]arophite Black in most of their racquets—these days the trend in the marketplace is actually toward a heavier racquet.
 
“The sub-10 ounce frame is out of vogue,” says John. “You have a more stable feel with a heavier racquet, and if you hit the ball off center, it doesn’t twist or torque as much as with a lighter one.”
 
In addition to the size and composition of the racquet, the type of string and the way it is strung has a lot to do with what happens when you hit the ball. A lot has changed with regards to strings—namely the fact that the earliest ones were made from cow intestines—but with time and improved technology, manufacturers have been able to create synthetic strings that are designed to produce more spin, power and durability. Generally speaking, tighter strings give you more control when hitting, while looser strings give you more power.
 
Ironically, with all of the technological advancements in the industry and with so many ways to customize a racquet to fit your game, these days many of the pros play with “off the shelf” racquets. From Federer and the Williams sisters, to Feliciano Lopez and Pete Sampras—who currently plays with a Wilson KPS 88—the same racquets that are making their way to Wimbledon and the U.S. Open are also being used on neighborhood courts and in tennis clubs across the U.S.
 
So, whether you’re a seasoned pro or just getting into the game, with so many high-tech racquets available today you’re sure to find a Love Match.
 
-Tennis is My Racquet
 
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GET HEALTHY, SAVE MONEY, HAVE FUN!

We all learn to ride bikes as kids, but then comes high school and cars and other interests (like the opposite sex) and somehow our bikes end up in garage sales. But bicycling is a tremendous activity for any age, which is why you see so many people riding these days — on city streets, country roads and bike trails.
 
Get Healthy (Without Noticing)
 
Face it, exercise can be drudgery. Counting situp reps, straining on the weight machine, even watching soaps on a treadmill can get old very fast. But on a bike you’re out in fresh air, you’re seeing the sights and you’re getting a great workout without even knowing it. Riding a bike is obviously good exercise, but there are specific benefits:
 
Cycling minimizes the risk of coronary heart disease. Essentially an aerobic exercise, it gives your heart, blood vessels and lungs a workout.
A few miles of cycling per day assures trimmer and toned muscles. This is because your upper thigh muscles, backside and calf muscles all get to work out.
Cycling helps build stamina.
It will help you control your weight.
A good bike ride can lift your spirits and reduce anxiety.
 
So Many Choices
 
The kind of bike you want will depend on the kind of riding you do.
 
For off road biking. Solid, durable, with wider tires, suspensions that will absorb bumpy terrain, and plenty of gears for climbing.
 
A cross between a mountain bike and a “regular” bike, this bike is perfect for people who want a versatile bike for casual and fitness riding — on road and off. This category has exploded in growth over the past few years. For the serious cyclist who covers a lot of distance and wants a fast, lightweight and comfortable bike.
 
Functional, durable and easy to maintain, this bike is excellent for city commuters.
 
Michael Sohalsky with Schwinn Bicycles of Madison, Wisconsin, and he says it is very important to find a bike that suits you. “Listen to the advice of the people in the store, because they know bikes,” he says. “But you also want something that looks attractive on you, so don’t be afraid to listen to your gut, too.” (Just don’t let it talk you out of buying the bike).
 
A Bike for Every Price Range
 
Not only are there all kinds of bikes, there are all kinds of prices. Hard core cyclists want speed as well as durability, and bike construction can be very high tech, with sophisticated frame materials like carbon fiber, titanium and various alloys. And technology costs money: You can easily spend $10,000 on a bicycle.
 
But don’t let that scare you. For a few hundred dollars you can get a perfectly fine bicycle that does everything you need it to.
 
An Infinite Number of Miles Per Gallon
 
Exercise and pleasure will always be big reasons to bike, but with the price of gas these days practicality and economy are becoming more important factors. Any time you can ride your bike instead of driving your car you will be saving big money, considering you will spend on gasoline. Even if you ride to work once a week, you’ll be ahead.
 
Some tips on commuting with a bike:
Make sure your bike is comfortable and working well.
Plan your route; you will probably have to balance safety, convenience and aesthetics, you may want several routes for different moods.
Test your route on a day off when you are not under pressure; not only do you learn the route, you test your equipment and learn about how long the ride takes.
Select light, bright colored cycling clothes; you can’t make yourself too visible.
Plan your work attire; store a wardrobe at the office or carry cloths rolled in a towel to reduce wrinkling. (Tip: some people deliver a week’s worth of clothing to their office once a week.)
Get bike panniers or a ruck sack; for clothing, papers and snacks — longer rides favor panniers.
Buy a lock; learn where to park and how to use the lock for maximum effectiveness.
Wear a helmet — this applies for all bike riding; even with good training on how to ride like a vehicle, and riding defensively, accidents occasionally happen. Studies show that helmets can reduce the severity of the injury.
 
Safety is a concern for everyone on a bicycle. Bikes can be a great alternative to a car, but that car will always be bigger and faster than you are on a bike. Ride carefully in traffic.
 
Find a Bike Trail Near You
 
Recognizing the health and environmental benefits of cycling, state and local governments and private organizations are greatly expanding the number and length of dedicated biking trails. Go on the Internet and search “bike trails” under your state and you’ll likely find a number of good choices near you.
 
-Two Wheeler
 
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HOT BATS: They’re Going Going Gone

The pitcher winds up and fires toward the plate.  The batter swings from the heels and makes contact.  Thinking home run, he trots toward first, only to break into a sprint as he sees the ball fall short of the fence.
 
It’s a scene that will be repeated on many high-school baseball fields this spring, as most leagues begin their first season of play using bats engineered to perform more like the wood bats of old.  This change is due to the implementation of a new test – the Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) – that a bat must pass, before it’s approved for play by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).  The new requirement has been in effect in NCAA play since January 2011.
 
While bats were subject to regulation prior to this year, the old BESR test measured the speed of the ball coming off the bat, a number that varied as bats were broken in.  The new BBCOR specification measures the bounciness of “pop” of the bat and is a better indication of performance.
 
The result is a bat that generates 10 to 15 percent less ball velocity than previously allowed composite and aluminum bats.  The 2011 NCAA season bore this out, as production fell.  According to Daniel A. Russell of The Pennsylvania State University, batting averages, home runs and earned-run averages for the 2011 NCAA season dropped to pre-aluminum-bat levels – the lowest in over 30 years.
 
Many students of the game count diminished bat performance as a plus, since BBCOR-spec bats perform much like major-league wood bats, thereby enabling comparison.  What’s more, according to the NFHS, the BBCOR requirement is expected to minimize risk, improve play and increase teaching opportunities.
 
Ballplayers like to see the ball soar at the crack of their bat, so the new BBCOR requirement isn’t getting a lot of love at the student-athlete level, but some have displayed a positive attitude.  Responding to an article on baseballbatreviewsblog.com, one athlete said, “The BBCOR bats have no pop, so I’ll stop complaining and square the ball up to get the pop, basically get better at hitting.”
 
In most leagues, players will have the option of using BBCOR-approved non-wood bats or wood bats.  Dunham’s offers both.  Among the most popular BBCOR bats are the Easton Power Brigade performance bats.  Because power is a function of mass and speed, these bats are engineered to optimize both sides of the equation.  The Speed Series bats provide a little help for players who need more at speed.  For power hitters who can swing with the best of them, Easton offers the XL Series with extra large barrels.  Because most of the mass is in the barrel, the bats offer a very large hitting surface.
 
Dunham’s sales consultants can help ballplayers, large and small, choose the best bat for their game.
 
-Home Run Hitter
 
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Wild Times With Water Sports

Splash Into Summer with the Coolest Products on the Water.
 
The temperature may just be starting to rise, but it’s never too soon to start making summer plans. One spot that’s always cool? The water! Check out these products to get a leg up on summer and start riding the waves.
 
Tubing Time
 
Water trampolines are great for those looking to stay close to shore, but thrill seekers should turn to tubing for some seriously fast times. Tubes come in several different styles,  including single and multi-rider accommodation, and are designed for sitting in or on top of. Sit-in styles are perfect for young kids who need to stay put, while sit-on models add excitement — riders have to hold on tight! Traditional round shaped tubes are best suited for casual floating, whereas aerodynamic styles are better for speed rides. The Comfort Top Boogie by Body Glove is one such tube, featuring winged sides that allow the device to rock and move with motion of the waves. “It has less drag on the water, so you can go a bit faster,” says Bryce Parten of Nash Sports.
 
Wake Up
 
A hybrid of water skiing and snowboarding, wakeboarding is another exciting sport. Since there’s only one board to control and it features a large surface area (like wide skis) to stand on, it’s easier for riders to maintain balance and stay afloat when boarding. “It’s better when there are less parts to deal with,” says Parten. The Backdraft wakeboard by Hydroslide features easy on-off bindings for stable mounting in the water.
 
All Aboard
 
A simpler, but equally fun, activity is kneeboarding. An excellent tool for water sports newbies, the kneeboard is easy for many to ride and learn how to maneuver. After just a few short turns on the water, even beginning kneeboarders may soon find themselves crossing wakes and experimenting with tricks in no time!
 
Sports Safety
 
Like all games, water sports are the most fun when played safely. One of the most important components of safety is having a responsible driver steering the boat. In addition to a trusty driver, there should be another occupant, called a spotter, observing the actions and instructions from the person being towed behind the boat. It’s not only for safety’s sake, “It’s the law!” reminds Gerry Gilinksy of Body Glove PFDs.
 
Wearing a correctly fitted life vest is also essential to keep everyone safe, whether they are in or near the water. A properly sized life vest should fit snug to the body because it will likely expand when it gets wet. If it’s too big, it can slide up over the wearer’s head and render it ineffective. Gilinsky recommends vests made from neoprene for a more precise fit. “Neoprene vests fit tighter and are truer to size,” he says. “It’s also a thicker material [and] good for the cold.”
 
Bring on the Fun
 
With the wide variety of products now available, water enthusiasts of all ages can enjoy the excitement and thrills of water sports. There may not be a better way to enjoy the warm weather this summer than riding the waves, getting wet and cooling off with family and friends. Make it a summer to remember.
 
-Water baby
 
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