Why Do I Keep Striking Out? How to Overcome a Hitting Slump

There’s no crying in baseball, but if there is ever a reason to cry, then a hitting slump can feel like it! At D-BAT we understand how frustrating this can be, and after working with many hitters over the years, we have some tips on how to overcome a hitting slump in baseball:

Work on Tracking Ball Movement and Rotation

Often a batter has the tendency to let their mind get too involved in the swing. Instead, make it about the eyes. Focus your eyes on the ball and let your body do the rest. Track the ball all the way into the strike zone and swing. You can use tracking drills to improve this skill and hand-eye coordination.

Have Confidence

It’s tempting to let nerves take over when you feel the pressure of getting a hit, but those nerves can deceive you. Instead, practicing deep breathing techniques as you take practice swing and feed yourself positive reinforcement that you can take on whatever that pitcher is going to throw your way.

Keep Calm

Those jitters can make a batter jump or lunge at the ball, which leads to a lack of focus and taking your eye off the ball. Instead, keep your body steady and make your stride fluid. It’s also important to keep your head steady, as bobbles prevent your eyes from focusing.

Expand the Strike Zone

If you’re up against a 2-strike count, one of the best things you can do is expand your strike zone. In other words, swing if it’s close.

Train for Anything

There are some great drills you can do to practice hitting balls that are low and outside, high and inside, etc. Training for all scenarios makes you a better hitter and prevents a “weak zone” for the pitcher to target.

If you’re tired of striking out and want to take batting practice from the best baseball/softball instructors in the country, then come see us at a D-BAT location near you!

Running the Bases: How to Take a Lead Off First Base

There is a lot of strategy that goes into the game of baseball, and one such component of a team’s strategy is stealing bases. But – you’ll never steal any bases if you don’t master taking a lead off the base correctly. In fact, you could actually hurt your team more if you do it incorrectly.

Today, let’s explore how to take a lead off first base and what must be done to be successful:

Stay Relaxed

Tense muscles are tight muscles, and tight muscles aren’t as agile. Instead, focus on what you know from practice. Keep your head in the game and an athletic stance at all times.

Avoid the Crossover

Pitchers are trained to look for crossover footwork as you take a lead off, this means when your left foot crosses over your right. In this position, your back is actually to the base, making it more difficult to dive back toward the base in a pinch. 

Focus on the Pitcher

If you aren’t on the bag, then you better know what the pitcher – and the ball – is doing at all times. Even when you are in the dugout, watch how the pitcher handles a pickoff to first in order to know what to expect when you’re in that situation yourself.

Take a Consistent Lead

Just as you’re watching the pitcher, if he’s good, he’s watching you! Make sure each of your leads looks exactly the same, so that when it’s time to steal the base, you haven’t tipped him off with a lead that looks different than the rest before you’ve even gone for it. This lead should be around 9-12 feet from the first base bag.

Play the Angle

When leading off the bag, consider angling the lead toward the pitcher. This lead gives the pitcher an optical illusion that you are closer to the bag (when in reality you aren’t), making you appear less of a threat to steal.  Another technique? Lead off toward the back angle, making the tag more difficult.

Ready for more base running tips and techniques? Come train at D-BAT – the best baseball and softball training facility in the country! Find the closest location to you HERE!

Baseball Training: What is the Y Balance Test?

Baseball training isn’t just about what happens on the field; it also involves weight lifting and body strengthening techniques that promote muscle strength, make you a better all-around athlete, and prevent injury.

One such test we use with our players at D-BAT to assess weaknesses is the Y Balance Test.

What is the Y Balance Test?

The Y Balance Test is a series of balancing tests that identify weaknesses and where your baseball player might be more prone to injury – or where they are still lacking motor control because of a previous injury. The test divides the body into 4 quadrants: upper left, upper right, lower left, and lower right, allowing the test to identify where there may be asymmetries in strength or muscle control. The athlete is asked to stand on one leg, and then reach the other leg in 3 directions: anterior, posteromedial, and posterolateral. The test takes the composite score of the 3 tasks and identifies a “composite reach distance” that informs injury risk.

Why Use the Y Balance Test?

When your body has asymmetries in strength, your functional abilities are impaired and risk of injury increases. The Y Balance Test is unique in that it looks at both the core and the extremities to pinpoint areas you may not have otherwise known were an issue. The Y Balance Test is proven in identifying risk of ankle injury, knee injury, and core strength deficiencies.

Want to Take the Y Balance Assessment?

D-BAT is passionate about developing the whole athlete, so functional movement and mobility are just as important to us as hitting and catching. Call a D-BAT baseball & softball training facility near you and ask about Functional Mobility & Motion Classes and the Y Balance Test for your athlete. D-BAT Lewisville has a class coming up May 2-June 6 with guru Peter Gonyeau, so call today to register! Or click HERE to find one of our other 70+ locations nationwide!

The Great Debate: Pros and Cons of Wearing Baseball Batting Gloves

Ever since the first MLB player wore batting gloves to Spring Training in 1949, there has been a debate about whether or not baseball batting gloves are necessary. Some pros wear them; others don’t. But why? At D-BAT Sports, we find this subject to be a matter of personal preference, but here are the common pros and cons for wearing batting gloves:

Pros of Wearing Batting Gloves

·      Grip: This may seem obvious, but this is the biggest reason players use batting gloves. Even the slightest slip of the bat during a swing can affect the trajectory of the bat – and the ball – and in a high stakes game, you just can’t have it. This is especially true when it’s hot outside and hands can otherwise get sweaty.

·      Prevent the Sting of the Bat: As you advance in the sport, the balls come at you faster and the swings are harder. When you make contact, many bats (particularly aluminum) have the tendency to vibrate and sting.

·      Protection from Injury: Batting gloves add an extra layer of protection for your hands, preventing blisters and cuts.

Cons of Wearing Batting Gloves

·      Less Connection with the Bat: Some players actually like that “sting” and vibration that comes from the bat. Often, the sting can be worse when the ball is not well hit, incentivizing the batter to hit better to avoid the pain.  

·      Wood Bat & Pine Tar Preference: Many batters who use wood bats like to use pine tar to grip the bat instead.

We’d love for you to weigh in – what is your preference on batting gloves?

If you’re in the market for new batting gloves, wood baseball bats, baseball gloves, and other baseball gear, come visit one of our many D-BAT Pro Shops! We are well-stocked with the highest quality baseball gear on the market and our knowledgeable sales staff will help you find exactly what you are looking for. Find the location closest to you HERE!

Open Your Eyes: 4 Tips for Seeing Each Pitch More Clearly

Do you find that you’re in a rut at the plate?

Have you ever considered that you aren’t seeing the pitch as clearly as you should? There are lots of mechanics involved in swinging and hitting the ball, but one very important factor is your vision. D-BAT has a few tips on how to see each pitch more clearly, thus improving your chances of a great hit every at-bat:

1.   Fix Both Eyes on the Pitcher

You might be thinking, “I do that,” but as we’ve learned, many batters have a tendency to focus on the pitcher with their left eye (if they are right handed) and not with their right. An easy way to determine this is to close the left eye and then see where you are looking with your right eye. The results might surprise you! By focusing both eyes squarely on the pitcher, you vastly improve your eye-hand coordination.

2.   Maintain Fluid Movements

As you swing, if your body is jerky or your movements are rigid, then it’s going to affect the focus your eyes have on the ball. Maintaining a fluid swing that starts in your lower body and spirals up to your arms last, will help keep your head still and eyes focused on the ball.

3.   Posture is Key

As you step up to the plate, make sure you are in a balanced position with your knees slightly bent and a slight angle to your body. The proper batting posture keeps your head aligned, with makes it easier to keep your eyes focused on the ball. The last thing you want is for your head to bobble, making it difficult to focus. The less your head moves, the better your vision.

4.   Clue Into the Pitcher

Make it your goal to see the ball. Strain to see the pitcher’s finger positioning on the ball as it’s released – or even the ball’s seams. This may seem impossible given the speed, but clueing into the pitch, picking up on any tells about the pitch, and then straining with intensity to see the ball as clearly as possible, will all make you a better hitter and help you see the ball better as it makes its way to the plate.

Ready for some batting practice? Come see us at D-BAT! Our state-of-the-art batting cages are designed with the player in mind. Click HERE to find the nearest location to you!

Skills for Developing Your Child’s Natural Athletic Ability

Athleticism and being a well-rounded athlete are two things that make a baseball player stronger and pay dividends on the field. But how do you develop natural athletic ability? Here are some simple tips to incorporate into everyday life that will increase your child’s athletic ability and translate to results on the baseball field:

Coordination

Coordination goes beyond the ability to catch a ball. Coordination is pivotal in baseball – everything from running, to jumping, to swinging a bat, to of course, catching a baseball. Many adults take coordination for granted but you can help your child develop these skills by just getting them outside to play or introducing them to other sports.

Strength Training

When people think strength training, they think of lifting weights. Sure, lifting weights is a way to strength train, but not one that is necessarily best for the younger set. Strengthening muscles improves your abilities in all aspects of baseball because it helps you run faster, swing harder, and throw harder. Children as young as 7 can benefit from strength training through resistance bands, push-ups, and even very light weights.

Agility

When your muscles are limber, they move faster and more efficiently. Make stretching a part of your child’s daily routine – adding it when they wake up in the morning and before they go to bed, particularly with muscles they use often in baseball. Reinforce the importance of regular stretching before a game to prevent injury.

Endurance

Physical endurance is less important in baseball, but it is a factor. Mental endurance, on the other hand, is extremely important in baseball. Mental endurance can be built by playing games like Chess or Monopoly that require a child to focus for extended periods of time. Physical endurance is important, particularly for running bases and for playing pitcher or catcher. Incorporating sports like soccer or basketball – even if just played infrequently with friends – helps to build endurance in these areas.

Ready for more specialized baseball training, tailored to your child’s individual skill set? Visit one of our 70+ locations nationwide! Click HERE to find the location closest to you!

The Sacrifice Bunt – What You Need to Know to Be Successful

In baseball, there are times when it makes sense for a batter to sacrifice himself in order to advance the other runners along to the next bases.

This is called a sacrifice bunt, and while many may think they’ve got it down, it’s pretty embarrassing when it’s game time and you don’t get it right. Let’s have a little refresher on what it looks like to sacrifice bunt properly, brought to you by the baseball training experts, D-BAT:

Know Where to Hit It.

Before you ever hit the ball or even think about a stance, know where you need to bunt to maximize the play. If there is only a runner on first base, then aim your bunt toward first base. If there are runners on both first and second base, then aim for third base. But whatever you do – have a plan before you step into the box.

Move Your Stance Toward the Pitcher.

Square up in the box, just as you would for a normal hit, but move a step or two closer to the pitcher. Why? It’s easier to hit a fair ball when your bat is closer to the infield.

Keep the Barrel Up.

When sacrifice bunting, many batters fail to keep the barrel up. Your goal is to have one hand down near the knob of the bat; the other up near the top of the bat. Keep the barrel positioned on a nice level playing field, with the barrel even just slightly higher than the knob of the bat. This will give you the perfect angle to hit the ball downward, not pop it up.

Aim to Keep the Bat at the Top of the Strike Zone.

While holding the bat, try to focus on keeping it near the top of the strike zone. This gives you an easy guide at what not to hit (anything over it would be a ball) and, naturally, it’s easier to lower the bat vs. move it up to hit.

“Catch” the Ball with your Bat

Again, the goal is to get the ball into fair play and to move the runner over. When the pitch comes, don’t jab at the ball with your bat, that will make ball go further than you are wanting it to go and possibly get the runner out. Instead, “catch” the ball with your bat so it creates soft contact with the bat.

Whether you want more help perfecting your sacrifice bunt, or want other individualized baseball/softball instruction on hitting, fielding, catching, or pitching, call D-BAT today! With state-of-the-art baseball facilities across the United States, and even worldwide, our instructors are sure to help take your baseball game to the next level. Find the nearest location to you HERE!

Stay Focused: What You Need to Know to Be Mentally Prepared for the Game

Baseball and softball games are won and loss daily due to mental toughness. Typically, the team who stays focused and is mentally prepared comes out on top.

But how do you get your baseball or softball player mentally prepared for the game? Here are a few tips from D-BAT on how to stay focused:

Start with Practice

Practice time is your chance to work out the kinks. It’s your time to build confidence and learn what to do in each and every situation. Taking full advantage of practice helps you know how and where to focus during the game. It’s also a great time to practice staying in the game without distractions. Staying focused and having a plan creates mental toughness that translates on game day.

Know Common Distractions – And How to Beat Them

Talk to your player about what distracts them. Are they often distracted by parents in the stands? Or does their mind tend to wander to the game being played on the next field? Have your baseball or softball player identify his or her distractions and then formulate a plan to beat them on game day. It’s good to come up with a saying that they can tell themselves any time they get distracted, or even a signal you can do to alert your player they seem distracted.

Establish a Pre-Game Routine

Routine is good for establishing order – and good for establishing mental focus before a game. Have a consistent pre-game routine that gets your child ready and motivated to perform their best on the field.

Don’t Let Fear Be a Distraction

Often, fear of failure can paralyze a player and cause them to focus on nothing but the negative. Remind your player to stay positive and that all players have good days and bad days and that focusing on fear will not help them perform to their full potential.

Mental toughness starts with practice and knowing what to do and when to do it. If you’re ready to experience the best baseball and softball training facility in the country, call us at today and sign up for a lesson. Find the closest location to you HERE

5 Things You Must Do to Relieve Soreness After Practice

As the Spring season approaches, your team has likely already begun Spring workouts. And even if you were working out during the off season, chances are those muscles are stiff and tight from lighter use over the last few months. With baseball games approaching and more practices on the horizon, here are 5 things from D-BAT you must do to relieve soreness after baseball practice:

Drink a Ton of Water

Staying hydrated at all times is key to healthy muscles. When your body is dehydrated, it aggravates the issue and makes muscles even more stiff. Hydration helps you bounce back faster and flushes out toxins. Sport drinks are great too, but in moderation, since they are loaded with added sugar.

Stretch it Out

Often overlooked and undervalued, stretching is a great way to keep those muscles strong and pliable. As oxygen moves to the muscles with stretching, it helps diminish the soreness and you’ll bounce back more quickly. Make it a habit to stretch after practice, before bed, and first thing in the morning.

Avoid the Couch

After baseball practice, it can be tempting to hit the couch and binge on video games, but this will only make the soreness worse. Instead, keep moving. Walk upstairs, go play outside with a friend, or simply walk around the house. Any movement will help promote blood flow.

Get Lots of Protein

Healthy muscles need protein to rebuild and strengthen stronger than before. Throughout the day, incorporate lots of protein-rich foods into your diet. Peanut butter crackers, protein-rich granola bars, meat, fish, etc.

Take a Bath

A hot bath at the end of the day will relax tight muscles and help you get a better night’s sleep (also crucial to recovery). Epsom salt has been used for hundreds of years as an added muscle reliever. Simply add a cup to your warm bath for the added benefit.

Are you ready for the Spring season? Get personalized baseball/softball training sessions at D-BAT. Spots are filling up, so call us today to get on the calendar with our expertly trained coaches! Find the nearest location to you HERE!

Softball Tips & Tricks: Is Your Catcher Doing These 3 Things?

Playing catcher can be tough.

There is a lot of weight on the shoulders of a catcher. The catcher has a unique advantage of handling the ball more than anyone else on the field (except the pitcher) and has the ability to see everything that is going on out on the field. D-BAT Sports recommends getting your catcher ready for the Spring softball season by making sure she masters these 3 things:

Loud, Steady Communication with her Teammates

Again, the catcher has the ability to see everything as it happens on the field. She will know if a base runner is stealing a base before any of her teammates. She is also right next to the umpire, which keeps the count fresh in her mind. Make sure your catcher is yelling information to her teammates as she sees necessary, and that the communication continues effectively until the end of the game.

Strong Relationship with the Pitcher

Over time, a catcher will get to know her pitcher and understand the ins and outs of how she pitches, strengths, weaknesses, etc. This depth of relationship is built through practice and repetition, but once it’s there, your catcher can talk to the pitcher in tough situations and guide her in how to make the next throw count. Have your catcher and pitcher practice together often to see this relationship flourish.

Get Behind the Ball When Catching

It’s too easy for a catcher to rely on her glove to catch and forget to get her body into it. Instead of relying on her glove to stop the ball, she should shift her body left and right to entirely block the ball from getting past her. This is a common catching mistake that can be corrected through repetition and steady softball catching drills.

Need a little extra softball training before the Spring season? D-BAT would love to help you take your softball game to the next level. Find the nearest location to you and give us a call today to get started!