It's almost that time of year where we start to dig out the old glove, bat etc..
Some of us might be surprised to see that our bat needs a new grip, or maybe it's on the light side from all the off season lifting we've done. Shoes might be a little snug, as well as our practice clothing being a size smaller. Here are a few things to help you get your season off to a good start.
First, inspect your bat for cracks or dents down the barrel. If you're using a two piece bat, check to make sure you don't have loose play where the two pieces come together. If you have any of the above equipment issues, this means that you are probably looking at a new purchase. A good quality bat can run between 300-400 dollars. Good bats will have a one-year warranty for any breakage that may occur, especially with composites or two-piece bats. After purchase, make sure you save the warranty, which is usually on the barrel, and most importantly save your receipt! You will have one year from purchase for any defects at may occurred during the course of the season.
The photo above demonstrates the need for bat grip replacement.
Just like any piece of equipment you have made an investment in, you want to make sure that proper care is being given to protect it. If it's a grip that you need, this is going to be relatively inexpensive. Most grips range between $8 to $15, depending on what you're buying. Before you wrap the handle, make sure your old rap is completely off the bat, and that any plastic or glue is removed. This will ensure the new wrap will adhere to the bat. When wrapping the bat, start at the top of the bat and work your way down towards the barrel. Make sure you're overlapping the wrap evenly. With any purchase of bat wraps from Coaches Athletic we'll make sure that your wrap is properly put on.
Now for a little information on another important piece of equipment the "Glove". Just like a good quality bat, a good quality glove will range from 125-350 dollars. These investments, if properly taken care of, should last several seasons. If any glove is purchased from Coaches Athletic we give you a maintenance program, which means at anytime your glove needs an adjustment bring it in, and we'll take care of it. Glove maintenance includes tightening all leather straps, finger and pocket. Cleaning and conditioning of the leather. If proper maintenance is given to a quality glove, you can rest assured you'll enjoy many years of use, thus getting the most out of your investment.
The photo above shows a glove where the laces need to be tightened..
After purchasing any glove, we recommend playing consistent catch with it for a few weeks. During this period, most people will become frustrated because of the stiffness of the glove. There are many products out there that claim to quicken the break in process. I've seen first hand some of these practices, from applying a conditioner to the glove and then baking it in the oven, to soaking a glove in water. The only thing going in my oven is something I plan on eating, and a leather glove isn't something I'd like or consider good enough to even try.
A friend of mine tried this and was greatly disappointed, because what was once a beautiful glove turned into a hard piece of charred leather. This is what I called "FUBAR" Fried Up Beyond All Recognition. Definitely a costly mistake. Patience is something you need have to have during this process, and when a you want a quality glove broken in quickly, you don't want this result.
The photo above illustrates when the glove laces and glove have dried up.
The other method is soaking a glove in water. Like a sponge, leather will soak up water. Another friend of mine tried this and was equally disappointed.. Water (moisture), along with dirt, break down the leather over time. I've seen hot water in small amounts applied to the fingers and pocket of a glove, then the glove is pounded with a special break in mallet this is to help shape the glove. This method works but it's important you truly understand this method.
The photo above is an example of a glove that is well oiled and laces snug.
I'm in the process of breaking in my sons glove, which is a Wilson A1K glove. It's a great glove for his age a little better quality of leather than his old glove. A couple of problems with the better leather gloves is that they tend to be a bit stiff. The other problem with these gloves is that feel a little big. In some cases with younger ball players, this is a problem because of their hand size being smaller. A lesser quality leather like pig leather is a good recommendation, because this leather is very soft and allows the player to squeeze the glove with a little more ease. Again, this being a lesser leather will have a shorter life span.
We hope this information is helpful when you inspect yours or your young ball players equipment. Remember if you have any questions or need help please contact us at Coaches Athletic.
Yours In Sports,
The CA Team
Welcome to the first issue of Coaches Athletic Digest!
If you are receiving this message, we consider you to be part of the Coaches Athletic community. Whether you came to Play, Print or Shop, we are excited to share our love of sports with you and your families, and we look forward to sending out this Digest weekly; rain or shine. :)
Hopefully the information in today's issue will be helpful to our baseball and softball players as they enter their seasons.
One of the things that we have seen as players are entering the facility and are hitting, either live or off the pitching machines, is the lack of balance they have throughout their swings. This tends to happen more with the younger ages, as well as with the high schoolers. One thing that I've learned as a coach, is the importance of having good balance. I've been fortunate to have worked with some great coaches and instructors through my career as a coach. Balance is something that we see players needing help with day-to-day and that we take for granted, Therefore, I feel that this important aspect is overlooked during hitting sessions. The focus seems to be "we need to get in as many reps as we can." Hitting over the last 10 years has somewhat changed from rotational hitting , Linear hitting, and or a combination of both - whatever school you believe in, the bottom line is without balance none of these styles are achieved effectively. This post is dedicated to shedding some light on what we feel is being overlooked, and in no way are we saying that our style or teachings are superior to other approaches that are being taught. Hitting is a topic that we can talk about in great length and great detail, but again this issue is an opportunity to share a few things you can work on with your ball player.
One of the key things that we look at here at the facility is how the player sets up to the plate. What we are looking for is a nice balanced position, and as you can see with Jake below (photo #1) he is in a squat balance position.
Hand positioning, bat angle are going to vary from player to player. We will have the player stand on a 2 x 6 and take dry cuts to see how balance they are throughout the swing. From time to time we'll have the player take a pre-stride or go in to a loading position prior to the swing (photo #2).
What we're looking for and trying to achieve is a solid balance position. A good measuring tool to see if they are balanced is to walk behind them or off to the side and give them a little push. If they are not in a balanced position, most likely they will fall forward or off to the side. Once the player feels comfortable going from a balanced position into the pre-stride or loaded position, we will take cuts off the tee. On a sidenote, make sure their hands are in position closer to the body. If the hands get away from their body or they "cast" away from the body, they'll lose their balance as they are swinging. Momentum should be transferring forward upon contact, and what we communicate to the kids is we want to hit with a firm front side. Here is another picture of Jake demonstrating hitting with a firm front side (photo #3, #4).
After spending some time understanding what good balance feels like, and hitting off the tee, we will graduate to soft toss, but still hitting off the 2 x 6. As we progress with these drills, and feel that the balance is where it needs to be, we'll remove the 2 x 6. As we are continuing hitting off the tee and soft toss, we want to make sure that our stride, whether it be taking a pre-stride or striding into contact, that we are working with a balanced position. Both feet should be in a straight line from one another. This is something to watch for once they start taking cuts off the tee, soft/front toss, machine or live. This photo demonstrates Jake's stride opening up, which causes him to pull off the ball (unbalanced) and not hitting directly through the center of the ball (photo #5).
Hitting through the center of the ball means we are trying to drive the ball right back up the middle. We want our barrelhead to get on plane early and stay on plane longer through the swing. If that front foot opens, the shoulder will follow as well as the hands, causing the player to be pulling off the ball.
We go in to a lot more detail regarding the swing during lessons at the facility, but the purpose of this issue is to get you to think about your player's balance and how it is relevant to their swing. We hope that you enjoyed this content and invite you to share it! This Digest will remain free forever, and anyone can register here, If our staff can help in any way, please feel free to contact us through this website, or by calling Coaches Athletic at 541–687–2909.
Yours in Sports,
The Coaches Athletic Team