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Giving the Gift of Game

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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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