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Archive for April, 2013


The Right Tools

 
Gloves and bats that don’t fit the player’s game are an obstacle to skill development
 
Baseball was king on the southside of Chicago in the 1950s. I grew up a few miles from Comiskey Park, and as a six-year-old I was dying to get in the game.
 
My dad was born and raised in Sweden, so baseball was foreign to him, but he knew I pined to play ball, so he bought me a glove. It was an Andy Pafko model, and it was flat as a pancake with no discernable pocket. To catch the ball I would try to sandwich it between glove and free hand. I played with that glove for a couple of years, developed all kinds of bad habits and dropped many balls. In later years I bought a good glove, but that early experience had left its mark, and I lacked confidence in the field.
 
Starting with the Right Equipment
 
There are many factors that affect the development of young players, but few are as important as having the right equipment. Baseball skills are complex, and learning is difficult. But handicapping a player with a bat that’s too heavy or a glove that doesn’t fit will lead to failure and frustration.
 
Fits Like a Glove
 
Wilson has developed a chart that prescribes baseball glove size and type for players of every age and position (see facing page). Consult it before choosing a glove or ask your Dunham’s sales representative to help you choose. By the way, the gloves Wilson designs for pros are identical to those Dunham’s sells. Everyone gets the best equipment.
 
Asked how a glove should be selected, Ali Brewer, of Wilson baseball said, “The first question we ask is what position you play.” A 12-year old middle infielder generally needs a glove that’s 11 to 11¾ inches in length with a shallow pocket. With a shallow pocket, a shortstop or second baseman can get the ball out quickly and make their throw. Younger players require smaller gloves. A six-year-old infielder should have a glove that’s 10 to 10½ inches long. In every case, the glove should be easy for the player to maneuver and must fit the hand. Apply common sense here.
 
In a video on Wilson’s web site, San Francisco Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez says, “You want a pocket but not too deep a pocket. At second base, I have to be quick getting the ball out.“
 
Outfielders require a longer glove: 11¾ to 12½ inches for older youths, and 10¾ to 11½ inches for eight- to ten-year-old players. Josh Hamilton, the Angels all-star outfielder, says, “As an outfielder you want as big a glove as you can possibly have.”
 
Extra length can give an outfielder the reach needed to grab over-the-wall flies and bad-bounce line drives. The double welting of Wilson gloves prevents the fingers from bending back when the ball slams home and makes cone catches possible.
 
The requirements for other positions vary, but your Dunham’s sales representative can help you choose the best glove for any player and position.
 
Swing the Right Stick
 
Swinging a baseball bat that’s the right size and weight is critical to success at the plate. Hitting a baseball isn’t easy, and the best players track the pitch until it’s close to the plate, and then swing rapidly and accurately. A player bogged down with too heavy a bat can’t generate the speed necessary to hit a fastball. And a player swinging too light a bat will not hit with power.
 
An efficient swing is extremely important now that bats must meet standards for the amount of energy transferred to the ball. Today’s aluminum and composite bats don’t generate the trampoline effect of yesteryear. A properly sized bat and correct swing are critical.
 
Dunham’s carries a wide range of bats, including DeMarini, Easton, and Hillerich & Bradsby models. Among the H & B offerings is the classic wood Louisville Slugger. All are great products, and your Dunham’s sales representative can help you choose one that’s best for you or your youngster.
 
A Range of Choices
 
All bats must meet strict performance guidelines. For little league, non-wood bats have to meet a bat performance factor of 1.15 or less. For intermediate leagues, NCAA and senior league play, non-wood bats must conform to BBCOR standards. In addition, there are barrel diameter and length restrictions for each category. Your Dunham’s sales representative can help you choose a bat that will meet all requirements.
 
The performance standards were instituted to make the game safer, but they also ensure that aluminum and composite bats perform more like wood bats. So while non-wood bats once outperformed classic bats by a wide margin, that’s no longer the case.
 
But technology still plays a role in bat construction, and if player preference is a guideline, certain bats rise to the top of the charts. Among top choices in the NCAA college baseball ranks are the DeMarini Vexxum, which combines a composite handle with an alloy metal barrel; the Louisville Slugger TPX Attack, featuring composite construction; and the alloy-metal Easton XL3.
 
All are premium choices, but every manufacturer also produces more affordable bats suitable for even the youngest T-ball slugger. All are available at Dunham’s.
 
Size Matters
 
In addition to the product dimension and performance requirements specified by various baseball organizations, there are common-sense guidelines that suggest how much bat a player can handle. Bat manufacturers have developed a chart that makes recommendations for length based on size and weight (see chart on page 21). For example, a 95-pound little leaguer standing 4½-feet tall would probably do well with a 30-inch bat. But handle diameter, barrel shape and weight are important too, and taking a few practice swings with a bat is a good way to determine its suitability. If your ballplayer struggles to get the bat around, it’s too heavy.
 
In brief, it’s all about matching the equipment to the player. The best bat or glove doesn’t get in the way but rather complements the player’s style, strength and ability level. While only raw talent can make an all-star, having the right equipment can help every player perform at his or her maximum.
 
-Home Run Hitter
 

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Gear Up Fore The Season

 
High-Tech and Bold Colors Come to Golf Apparel
 
A s snow relinquishes its grip on the Midwest, we’re finally seeing some color: green on our lawns, red on robins’ breasts and a rainbow of bright colors in Dunham’s Sports golf apparel offerings.
 
“For 2013, we’re seeing an explosion of color, with more prints on shirts and bolder colors, making it easier for fashion-conscious golfers to mix and match,” said Scott Taylor of Under Armour.
 
That sentiment is echoed by Michael Zampini of Callaway Apparel.
 
“A big trend for spring is color. We’re seeing a big push to heathered fabric,” Zampini said. “People want to have the right apparel on the course. They want their apparel to fit and have it look and feel like they belong on the course, whether they actually do or not.”
 
Finding the right golf apparel is no problem, since Dunham’s Sports carries a wide assortment of styles from the leading brands, including the aforementioned Under Armour and Callaway, as well as Adidas, Canyon Creek, FootJoy, Nike, PGA Tour and TaylorMade.
 
Like your golf clubs, today’s golf apparel is high-tech, with special materials designed to keep you comfortable year-round.
 
During the early and later parts of golf season, the key is staying warm and the brands available at your local Dunham’s Sports have you covered.
 
“Layering is extremely important to heat retention. Our HeatGear® compression products keep you warm without being bulky,” Taylor said.
 
That approach changes for the summer, when the objective is to keep you cool.
 
“We build our brand around all-performance fabrication, with moisture-management products that keep golfers cooler in warm weather,” said Roddy Millichamp of PGA TOUR.
 
“Every brand offers a polo shirt that wicks moisture. At Callaway, we go one step further, with a shirt that features a ventilated back panel. The difference it makes is significant,” Zampini said.
 
Helping keep you cool is a given. Many manufacturers also offer odor-resistant technology and a level of protection against the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. Think about it: today’s golf apparel keeps you cool, fresher and protects your skin!
 
Most of the products mentioned in this article are also available for women. In fact, PGA TOUR kicked off its Ladies Tour line this year.
 
“This is a great-looking lineup that doesn’t have to be worn strictly on the course,” Millichamp said. “It includes shorts, skorts and capris. The bottoms hook up with sleeved and sleeveless tops and offer the same high-tech functionality of the men’s line.”
 
Spring, summer and fall, Dunham’s Sports has the serious golfer covered with apparel specifically designed for the season. These are the same products worn by PGA players and available to you at terrific prices, meaning there’s more money left over for additional rounds or new clubs.
 
See you on the links!
 
-Par Shooter
 

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Giving the Gift of Game

Baseball training can help youngsters enjoy the game in good health.

It’s never too early to start training a ballplayer. We’ve all read stories about dads and moms putting a ball in the crib, and while that may be taking things to an extreme, teaching a sport as difficult as baseball can’t begin to soon. When baseball is part of growing up, youngsters develop skill sets much faster.

There was a time when baseball training was just a dad thing. Now that wasn’t all bad, because it got kids and dads outside together. But if dad didn’t know diddlysquat about baseball, junior might never get to first base.

Training Aids for Youngsters

In recent years, enterprising sports-equipment manufacturers, including SKLZ performance training products, have stepped in to fill the void with products that range from fitness training products to tees and to advanced training aids including swing trainers pitching machines. SKLZ also develops free instructional videos to demonstrate drills and proper use of their products that are all available for free on their website.

“We leave the bat, glove and ball work to the other guys,” said SKLZ spokeswoman Heidi Lont. “By focusing on training equipment and materials, we can devote all our efforts to developing techniques and products that will make any youngster a better player.”

Honing Those Baseball Skills

The SKLZ training aids you’ll find at Dunham’s can help every youngster develop baseball skills. They’re engineered to help players learn correct
techniques, right from day one.

Does your youngster have trouble hitting that low and inside pitch? The 5-Position Tee can provide practice in hitting pitches that paint the corners of that plate. With the base placed on home plate, balls mounted on the five tees locations can be positioned inside, outside, early, late and at varying heights. To hit an inside pitch, for example, players can be taught to pull their hands in and get more bat on the ball.

The Quickster® 5’ x 5’ net is great for hitting and throwing practice. Many teams use one for soft-toss workouts before every game.
A coach tosses a ball into the strike zone from the side and the player hits it into the net. It’s a proven practice and skill-building method.

The Reaction Ball™ is a sure fix for sloppy fielding. With six spheres jutting out in different directions, you never know which way it will go. Thrown or rolled to a player, it will bounce this way and that. Concentration is required to make the catch.

The Softhands™ fielding practice mitt can cure any infielder of sloppy, one-handed glove work. With no pocket or trap, the padded mitt forces the player to use two hands to catch the ball while improving concentration and control.

Many leagues require face protection for young players. The Face Shield provides ample coverage of the face, yet it’s light and doesn’t restrict vision. Parents may want to make it a mandatory for any practice session. The extra protection is priceless.

Training Assistance

Today, a great deal of skill-building help is offered by commercial training facilities. But before signing up for a program, it’s up to parents to make sure that the teachers know how to work with kids. John Stemmerman, general manager of Athletes’ Performance, says, “It’s key to observe a class that the instructor is teaching to see how he or she interacts with the kids. Beware of a ‘boot-camp’ mentality.”

It all goes back to one very basic truth: Baseball is a wonderful game that’s meant to be enjoyed. If the kids aren’t having fun, something is wrong.

-Home Run Hitter

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Healthy and Glowing

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Beautiful, healthy skin projects fitness and youth. You can attain and keep that healthy glow with a nutritious, balanced diet. In fact, a healthy diet is absolutely essential to achieving glowing skin, because it allows your skin to heal, combats aging, and prevents inflammations. Adopt a nutritional regimen with the right types of protein, carbohydrates and fat, fruit and vegetables, and plenty of water, you’ll notice an improvement in the condition of your skin in just a few days.
 
• Here are a few guidelines that will help you on your way to a glowing complexion!
 
• Eat protein to repair skin cells. Good sources are turkey, fish, boneless skinless chicken, egg whites. If your a vegetarian go for sprouts, seeds, cheese, peas, grains, nuts, milk and soy bean!
 
• Eat fatty fish to boost the condition of cell membranes, the building blocks of healthy skin.
 
• Almonds, olive oil and rapeseed oil are high in antioxidant-rich monounsaturated fat to aid in rejuvenating skin cells.
 
• Keep your skin hydrated by drinking at least eight glasses of water a day.
 
• Vitamins A and B, found in milk, yogurt and oily fish, are essential for maintained glowing skin.
 
• The vitamin C in citrus fruits, berries, broccoli and cabbage provides collagen to heals your skin and keeps it firm.
 
• Vitamin E promotes healing and prevents dry skin and the formation of age spots. Foods rich in vitamin E include wheat germ, whole grains, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, olives and vegetable oils.
 
If you’re concerned about your skin becoming lax, remember, deeply colored fruits and dark, leafy greens have a higher concentration of skin-tightening and healing nutrients. Dark leafy greens such as kale renew your skin so that it actually looks and feels tighter, while lentils, beans and other legumes can prevent damage to your skin and make you look younger.
 
To maintain your healthy glow, don’t smoke, wear sunscreen during the day, and stay out of the sun during the
 
Follow these nutrition tips, protect against sun damage, sleep well and you’ll have healthier, glowing skin in a week … and it just gets better!
 
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You’re Still Not Eating Breakfast?

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
We all have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but many people — including 60 percent of young people — still don’t eat before starting their day! Now, a new study has found that eating a breakfast rich in protein is also an important factor in appetite control that and reduces unhealthy night-time snacking on high-fat and high-sugar foods!
 
The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, examines the impact of eating breakfast on daily appetite and evening snacking in young people, especially those who skip breakfast. For the study, 20 overweight or obese adolescent women, ages 18-20, either skipped breakfast, ate a high-protein breakfast, or ate ready-to-eat breakfast cereal. All breakfasts consisted of 350 calories and were matched for dietary fat, fiber, sugar and energy density, however, the high-protein breakfast which also contained 35 grams of protein. Participants in the study completed questionnaires and provided blood samples throughout the day. Before dinner, a brain scan (fMRI) was performed to track the brain signals that control food motivation and eating behaviors.
 
The consumption of the high-protein breakfast led to increased feeling of fullness or ‘satiety’ and reduced the brain activity that controls food cravings. This led to healthier, less impulsive food choices throughout the day.
 
A high-protein breakfast also helps fuel your metabolism and allows you to burn more calories. Not eating breakfast heightens the risk of becoming increasingly resistant to insulin, which enables your body to convert glucose to energy for basic activities and also raises the risk of diabetes.
 
A high-protein breakfast offers many health benefits, but remember to eat high-protein options that low in fat. Red meat and rich cheeses are high in saturated fats that can overshadow the daily benefits. Go for lean protein choices like egg white white omelets, skim milk, or low-fat yogurt. Introduce tofu into your daily regimen by adding it to a fruit smoothie for a satisfying, refreshing way to start the day. Finding lean protein sources will allow you to reap the benefits of a high-protein breakfast, without the weight gain or raised cholesterol levels that can result from high-fat protein sources.
 
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