Wednesday, September 25, 2013

It’s Football Season!


Fall means back to school, cooler temperatures and football! Whether it’s high school, peewee or the pros, football is an American obsession.

There is nothing more fun than a family game of touch football to keep everyone active and having a blast.

Diggin’s Black Max football is an awesome choice for a friendly game. Its’ soft construction makes it easy to catch for players of all ages. The spin ring helps players of all skill levels throw a perfect spiral. Heck even I can throw a perfect spiral with Black Max. That’s a first!

Choose your teams, decide where the end zone and side-lines are and start playing. No shoving or tackling people! This is a friendly game of touch football! Play for a set period of time or to a designated point total.

If there are only two of you practice running patterns taking turns being quarterback.  Agree on the receiving pattern before each run and practice throwing it ahead of the receiver so they can run onto it

Hours of fun, laughter and memories will ensue with a family football game. Now go out there and get active!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Baseball Basics Part 4 - Batting


Batter up!

OK, so you are on your way to mastering the basics of playing baseball. There is one component left – Batting.

Batting will challenge your eyesight, reflexes and strength. Becoming a good hitter requires hours of practice so let’s get started.

First, you need to select a bat. Choose a bat that isn’t too heavy. When you’re just learning to hit the lighter the bat the better. Batting gloves are optional.

Enter the batters box. If you’re right-handed you stand to the left of home plate. If you’re left-handed, stand to the right of home plate. Standing too close to the plate is called “crowding the plate” and can get you hit with a pitch. Stand far enough away so when you swing the widest part of the bat crosses over home plate.

Next up is your grip. Right-handers place your left hand on the bottom and your right hand on top. Lefties do the reverse – right hand on bottom and left on top. Your hands should touch.

When holding the bat, DO NOT rest it on your shoulder. There should be 6 inches between your shoulder and the bat. When batting, don’t stand upright. The batting stance has your shoulder facing the pitcher, feet shoulder width apart, knees bent with your weight mostly on your back foot, bat up waiting for the pitch. This position is the “ready” position for hitting.

Make sure you’re watching the pitcher with both eyes. This will help you see the ball as it leaves his hand. Watch the ball the entire time from when it’s thrown until it hits your bat. When the pitcher throws the pitch, pick up your front foot slightly. If the pitch is good, meaning it looks like it will go over the plate at chest height, step forward and swing at the pitch, shifting your hips through the swing. If the pitch is bad meaning too high, too low(somewhere below your knees) or outside or inside(not crossing the plate), finish your stride without swinging, let it pass and get back into the ready position.

When you hit, keep your elbows toward your body so the bat will travel in a tight circle. Remember to try to hit the ball as it is coming over home plate. If you hit it later, if will likely go foul.

As a beginner batter your swing should be level. Practice swinging the bat so that it starts and finishes at the same level. You should not start low and finish high as it will affect how the ball flies once hit. Be sure to “follow through” the swing. This means you need to swing the bat all the way around to give it the most possible power.


Lastly, DO NOT throw the bat! If you’ve swung, made contact and are finishing your swing, hold onto the bat through the follow through and drop it once the swing ends.  Letting go of the bat without completing the follow through is dangerous to other players.

I know, it’s a lot of information to just hit a ball. If you keep all this in mind and practice, practice, practice, you’ll be hitting well in no time.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Baseball Basics Part 3 - Base Running

Ok. You’ve hit the ball and it goes sailing into center field. Now is the time to run! Baseball requires not only the ability to run from base to base, it requires the awareness of where the ball is and what the opposing team is doing with it. You have to think two bases ahead and decide how you’re going to get there.

Like everything else in baseball, good base running requires hard work, practice, desire and hustle.
Begin with a warm up to loosen up your leg muscles. Do a nice easy job around the field for 2-3 minutes.
1st  base - Stomping the bag
When running to first base never stop short. If the play is close you run as hard as you can to beat the throw. Make sure you “stomp” the bag when running to the base to ensure you’ve touched the bag.
Keep your butt low to the ground with chopping steps to be prepared to take advantage of an overthrow to beat the first base throw or proceed to second base if they can’t recover the ball quickly enough to make a play.
Taking a Lead

Once you've reached first base, your primary goal is to take “a lead” or a few steps off of the base to disrupt the pitcher's timing and possibly get to second base. There are many schools of thought of how long a lead to take. Determine the amount of lead you take off first base by your ability to return to first base without getting thrown out. Every coach wants their players to be successful on the basepaths. But it all starts with a smart, aggressive lead off of first base. The number one rule as a base runner when you are not standing on the base, is keep your eye on the ball.
Photo credit: Courtni Kopietz
Rounding the bases
If you’ve hit a great shot chances are you can try to run additional bases. When rounding a base, players need to focus on maximizing speed with minimum steps. Don't go too far out of the straight path between bases (basepath). It will take extra steps to come back to the next base bag.

Be aware of the ball and defensive players and listen to your coach if they tell you to go or hold up. Remember, when taking signals from the third base coach, the runner should have a foot on the base. Too many people get picked off because they are watching their coach give signals while standing off of the bag.

These are the basics of base running. We haven’t touched on sliding as that is a complete lesson in itself. Base running is an art so practice, practice, practice!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Baseball Basics: Part 2

Our first installment of Baseball Basics started with throwing, an integral part of every baseball game. Now we‘re moving on to catching without which we would never see the awesome plays on the field.

Remember, you need to warm up those arms before you begin throwing. See last week’s entry for suggested pre-throw stretches.


If you can’t catch a baseball you can’t play the game. Get your friend and stand about 20 feet apart. Stand in the ready position with your feet shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent. Remember to give your friend a target to throw at by positioning your glove in front of your glove side arm.

Throw the ball back and forth alternating between straight throws, ground balls and pop-ups. It’s very important to watch the ball, position your glove to where the ball if flying and watch it fly all the way into your glove. Don’t try to make a play before you have complete control over the ball. Even the pros drop or miss the ball if they move too soon. Keep going until you’ve caught and thrown 10 types of each throw.

Next, practice catching and throwing while standing on the bases. If you have a baseball field nearby use the base positions to practice throws like you’re playing in a game. If there is no field near to your house, find an open space and place objects 60 feet apart to simulate little league bases.

Practice makes perfect when it comes to catching. Keep on practicing and you’ll be throwing out base runners in no time!