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Moving On Up

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You’ve moved up through the ranks of amateur baseball and are looking for equipment that’s as good as your game. Dunham’s can help!
 
Remember your Tee Ball days? Everyone chose one of two or three bats that the coach provided – usually the one that looked the coolest – and a ball glove was just a ball glove. As you progressed into Little League, you became a bit more particular about the bat you swung and the glove you wielded. Now that you’re on your way to the higher levels of amateur baseball, those choices become more important every day. Without equipment that is well matched to your skill set and body type, you can’t reach your full potential.
 
In recent years high technology has reshaped the baseball bat and glove, while providing some excellent training aids. With new tight regulations dictating bat materials and dimensions, advanced design provides significant advantages. At the same time, as pro ballplayers have asked for changes in glove construction that can maximize their game, those designs have filtered down to the better amateur equipment. And simple training aids meant to simulate game conditions or improve coordination and concentration have proven a boon to players of every stripe. In the end, it’s all about optimizing your game, which will go a long way toward ensuring that as you move up through the ranks, baseball remains much more about fun than frustration.
 
Swing a Big Stick
 
It used to be simple to choose a bat. You stopped in at a store like Dunham’s, picked up a couple, and bought the one that you could swing with ease – the one that felt good in your hands. Today’s ballplayers have a lot more to consider when choosing a bat. For example, new rules prescribe certain materials and set limits on the velocity at which the ball can come off the bat. Your Dunham’s sales consultant can help you determine what type bats are legal for play in your league.
 
Little League and most other youth leagues specify bats of a certain dimension. Non-wood bats must have been tested to ensure that they don’t exceed a performance standard. Little League baseball allows only those composite bats that are on an approved list. Dunham’s sales consultants can help you choose a bat that’s legal for the league in which you play.
 
NCAA college baseball, high school baseball and most intermediate, junior and senior leagues allow only wood bats or aluminum alloy and composite bats that meet BBCOR standards. Again, bats for various levels must be sized according to strict specifications.
 
When bat standards were first introduced, they made shopping for a bat difficult. But now, several years after the regulations have became all but universal, every bat sold by Dunham’s is legal for its intended purpose. But while all Dunham’s bats meet prescribed standards, there are numerous things to consider when choosing a bat.
Ryan J. Weller, a strategic account manager for Easton, says, “Getting the right bat for each player goes a long way toward determining the amount of success that player will have and how much they will enjoy their season.”
 
The most important factors are length, barrel diameter and weight. In general, the stronger the ballplayer, the heavier the bat. The best way to determine if a bat is too light or too heavy is by swinging it. You shouldn’t have to struggle to move the bat rapidly through your strike zone, yet if it’s too light, it will feel as though you don’t have to exert much force to move it. In other words, swinging the bat should require effort but that effort shouldn’t be debilitating. Delivering maximum force is important, but you must be able to maintain good bat speed to hit a fastball.
 
Mr. Weller says that composite materials enable a lot of manufacturing design options, resulting in bats that can enhance the game of ballplayers at the highest levels of NCAA collegiate baseball as well as high school and intermediate league players. The new Easton Mako, for example, which is available at Dunham’s, utilizes a new composite technology, which allows for longer barrels and even lighter swing weights than previous Easton offerings.
 
Dunham’s also stocks Easton’s S2, an aluminum-alloy bat with a composite handle that’s joined to the barrel using Easton’s ConneXion technology. The alloy barrel expands the sweet spot and provides increased durability.
 
In addition to the Easton offerings, Dunham’s carries a wide range of Hillerich and Bradsby Louisville slugger wooden bats and DeMarini aluminum-alloy and composite bats.
 
Flashing Leather
 
While there are various things to consider when choosing a bat, selecting a ball glove requires just as much care. A glove that doesn’t fit correctly or is wrong for the player’s position is a huge disadvantage and can lead to the development of bad habits in the field. Dunham’s sales consultants have expert knowledge of baseball equipment and can help you select a glove. A number of factors are considered in arriving at an optimum choice, including level of competition, throwing hand and position played.
 
Youth league players who have advanced beyond the basic levels might choose a Wilson Softfit A800 model. These gloves are reasonably priced and engineered to not require break in. They come in various lengths and are tailored to the position played. For example, the Softfit A800 pitcher glove is available in 11.75-inch and 12-inch versions.
 
Players in advanced youth leagues or high school baseball will probably find that an A1K series glove is a good choice. Dave White, national accounts manager for Wilson says, “The A1K glove is built using the same patterns and construction techniques employed in making pro gloves but sizes them down just a bit for a more snug fit on fingers and wrists.” That fit enables better control in the field than would an overly large glove that flops around. The A1K gloves are offered as infielder, outfielder, catcher and pitcher models in a variety of lengths.
 
Taking it to the Top
 
While Dunham’s can provide the equipment you need to play at the top of your game, they also carry a variety of training aids from SKLZ, a leading manufacturer of baseball training equipment. Among them is the Quickster 5-foot sports net. With a strike-zone target outlined in the center, the Quickster provides a way for pitchers to practice their delivery almost anywhere. When a thrown pitch strikes the Quickster dead center, the net springs back and returns the ball. The Quickster is engineered for ballplayers on the go. It can be assembled in as little as 90 seconds while its TenstionTite poles provide a sturdy frame. When it’s time to move on, it can be packed into its carrying case.
 
SKLZ’s most popular product, the Hit-A-Way® is another great training aid. The concept is simple: a baseball is attached to cords that wrap around a pole. When the ball is batted, it winds its way around the pole and returns, providing another opportunity for the batter to practice his swing.
 
The Lightning Bolt Pro is an affordable pitching machine that allows hitters to perfect their game almost anywhere. The machine tosses small, lightweight balls that are difficult to hit and can make a regulation baseball look like a beach ball in comparison. The machine is particularly effective when used with the Quick Stick™ training bat. The narrow lightweight bat allows plenty of swings without fatiguing the batter, and its small diameter means full concentration is required to hit the small balls.
 
Bad bounces have led to many unearned runs and lost games. Now fielders can be ready for them by practicing with the SKLZ Reaction Ball™. Guaranteed to bounce every which way, this training ball improves reaction time and makes those impossible plays seem quite possible. How much fun is that?
 
The sun is shining, spring is in the air, and it’s time to play ball. Stop by your Dunham’s store today and get in the game.
 
-Home Run Hitter
 
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