The Smart Way to Strengthen Your Pitching Arm

At D-BAT Sports, we know all too well the risks associated with overusing your throwing arm and the motions that make it susceptible to injury. “Tommy John” surgery has been on the rise, and our goal is to reduce that risk to young players. Strength training and repetition are key to improving your game, but how do you do it safely? Here are some tips from D-BAT – the top baseball and softball training facility in the country:

Use Conservative Weight Loads

The more weight, the stronger you’ll get, right? Not necessarily. The elbow – and the UCL within it – are only as strong as the muscles that support it. Strengthen those muscles the smart way by lifting enough that you’re pushing yourself, but not so much that you are overextending your abilities. Manage the risk vs. reward. Gradual improvements in load will give you the strength both your muscles and elbow can support.

Don’t Forget Shoulders and Wrists

Strengthening the throwing arm isn’t just about the arm and elbow. Shoulders and wrists are also a vital part of the strengthening process. Find exercises that focus in on these areas with a good combination of weight, stability training, and endurance.

Get Mechanics Right First

Many pitchers are tempted to get reps in – which are a good thing – but without the intent to keep their mechanics in check. When pitching without proper mechanics, you are more prone to injury and pain. Instead, slow down and get it right. Your body will thank you.

Don’t Go on Low Carb Diets

When you’re perfecting that pitch, your body needs calories! When your body is chock full of calories, it equates to high levels of glycogen. This sugar this is stored in the muscles and gives the energy necessary to perform your best. Without ample calories, your body and pitching arm will feel it.

Ready to improve your pitching skills? Bring your baseball or softball player into D-BAT and be prepared to see the difference the best baseball training facility can make! Find the closest facility to you HERE

The Value of Warming Up: Why Warming Up is Necessary

For most, the warm-up is boring and mundane. Others might find it unnecessary and a complete waste of time. While it may not be your favorite part of the game of baseball, it IS an important part of performing at the highest level possible. Here are a few reasons why a baseball – or softball – warm-up is so important to competing at the highest level:

#1: The Warm-Up Gets Your Brain in Gear.

Throughout the game, your brain is constantly sending messages to your muscles – letting them know when to start, stop, jump, swing, etc. Warm-ups get that central nervous system warmed up so that it’s ready to kick into gear when you need it to. Without a warm-up, your reflexes just might not be as sharp as you need them to be.

#2: The Warm-Up Lubricates Your Joints.

Think about an old door. It can creak and open slowly when not properly lubricated. The same is true of your joints. When you warm up your body, it starts to loosen and lubricate those joints so that everything moves without injury and with greater responsiveness.

#3: The Warm-up Raises Your Core Temperature

Obviously, when you begin to exercise, your body temperature begins to rise. This increase in body temperature gets the blood flowing and the muscles warm, all turning your body into a stretchy rubber band, ready to stretch and bend in whatever ways necessary to make the play.

How Do I Know My Body is Warmed Up?

Warm up for 10-15 minutes, or until your body just begins to break a sweat, and you’ll know your body is ready to perform at its highest level on the baseball field.

More questions on how to improve your baseball or softball game? Call D-BAT Sports today or visit one of our state-of-the-art baseball training facilities located across the United States.  

How to Tell If Your Wood Bat is Quality

Like most things in life – not all wood baseball bats are created equal. It can be difficult to know what makes the best wood bat, so D-BAT is here with tips on how to tell if your wood baseball bat is quality or not:

What Type of Wood is it Made of?

Decide what wood type you want for your bat before you go buy one. You want to look for bats that are made of northern white ash or hard rock maple, as these species are very strong and have been tested to withstand the rigors of the game of baseball. Ash bats are going to give a little bit more and are more flexible than maple bats. Maple bats are going to be harder than ash because the wood is a lot more dense. Maple bats actually get harder as you hit them.

Check the Grain

When looking at ash bats particularly, pay attention to the wood grain. You want to see wood grain that is nice and straight all the way up the bat. This indicates a better, stronger bat. 

Is the Bat Straight?

Okay – this may seem like a silly question, but in all seriousness… is the bat straight? You want a bat that is perfectly straight, and you’d be surprised how many are not. Test it by laying it on the ground with a slight incline and watch the bat roll. If it’s wobbly, then it’s got a bow in it. If it’s smooth, you’ve found a good bat.

Ready to purchase a new wood bat? D-BAT Sports offers a great selection of the best wood baseball bats on the market. Stop into a location near you and talk with one of our baseball pro shop experts about which bat would be best for your player.

The Value of Sleep: Why Rest is Important in Baseball

How many hours of sleep are you getting each night?

Chances are – it’s not enough.

Studies show that the average person between puberty and age 26 should be getting about 9.5 hours of sleep a night for maximum cognitive and physical ability. Many within this age group will claim 7 hours, but studies show the average is normally around 6 hours of sleep total. You may not immediately realize the effects of sleep deprivation on baseball, but lack of sleep can affect your game more than you realize.

Afternoon Drowsiness

Most people suffer from a drop in energy mid-afternoon, but for those suffering for lack of sleep, the effects can be greater. For baseball players, this means it may interfere with afternoon baseball practices or games and inhibit your ability to play your best.

Slower Reaction Time

Studies of college athletes have shown that a lack of sleep does in fact affect their reaction time. And in a game of baseball – when seconds count – the ability to think sharply is even more critical. Whether you are throwing a pitch, up at bat, or making a play – reaction times are critical. If you are sleep deprived, you may not even realize how much better you could be with a little better sleep routine.

Lack of Interpersonal Skills

When a baseball player isn’t getting enough sleep, studies show that his teamwork abilities and sense of humor may decline as well. This is not to say that he can’t work well with his team, but again, he may not even realize how much better he could be.

Stress

Our bodies need sleep to fight off stress and reset for the day to come. Whether that stress is induced by physical activity such as a game or practice – or just mental stress – our bodies must have time to recuperate or lasting effects occur.

Sleep is a valuable component for any baseball player, so getting at least 8 hours of quality sleep is key during the baseball season. Talk with your coach or an expert at D-BAT Sports about how to build a well-rounded baseball training plan that incorporates proper sleep, nutrition, weight training, and more. Find a location HERE!

Batting Mechanics: Common Batting Mistakes – And How to Fix Them

When you watch a professional baseball player go up to bat, you see some explosive swings!

These guys make it look effortless, but that effortless swing came at the cost of hours of practice, perfecting the mechanics that make that ball rip. D-BAT Sports – the best baseball training facility – is here with a few common batting mistakes we see in batting mechanics – and how to fix them:

Lead With the Hands

Often amateur batters get excited and they let their arms/hands get ahead of their body when hitting the ball. This may work, but it cuts all of the power from the lower half of your body! Instead, lead with the hips every time. A proper swing should send the energy and force from the back leg, to the hips, and then to the arms/hands for an explosive swing every time.

Bat is in the Wrong Spot

Batters often want to keep the bat raised up over their head, cutting the power as they swing because of the bat extension. Instead, the bat should be positioned just above your back shoulder, ready to swing through the ball with a sharp and steady motion.

Big Step Forward

When at-bat, many young players will take large steps forward in order to amp up their swing. Instead of generating more power, they actually strip power from the swing by leading with their front foot and not the back. Not to mention, a jerky step forward can get the batter off balance and create a loss of eye contact with the ball. Again, shift energy from the back hip to the front, and let the rest roll from there.

Perfecting batting mechanics may seem tedious, but it pays off in the long run. If you’re serious about improving your batting mechanics and want some professional batting practice, then get your reps in at D-BAT! Call a location near you today to get started.

Is Your Child Ready for Travel Ball?

If your child has spent any time around baseball, chances are you’ve asked yourself, “is my child ready for travel ball?”

It’s a big commitment, and one that both your child – and your family – need to be on board with. Here are 3 questions D-BAT Sports recommends asking yourself in preparation for answering this question:

Does Your Child Show Desire and Determination?

At some level, your child has to want this himself. It can’t be something you are pushing on them or burnout can occur sooner rather than later. Many teams practice and play year round with short off seasons in between, so it’s important that your child is on board and ready for the commitment. If he or she is not showing determination and desire to improve on their own, then it may not be time for travel ball.

What is Your Child’s Skill Level?

If your child is currently playing rec ball, is he or she currently in the top half ability wise? Do you believe he or she has what it takes to succeed and add value at the next level? There is nothing wrong with allowing your child to stick with the flexibility and ease that comes with recreational baseball, but if you sense that your child is frustrated because the team as a whole is not performing at the level your child is capable of, then it’s time to consider travel ball.

Can You Afford Travel Ball?

The costs for uniforms, equipment, tournaments, lodging and dining, etc. can add up when playing travel ball. These are all important considerations before committing your child – and your family – to a rigorous year round travel ball schedule.

If you feel it is time to get your child involved in travel baseball, then visit us at D-BAT Sports to talk more about private baseball instruction, area teams, etc. As the best baseball training facility around, we’ve produced major league players and we’d love to visit with you about your child’s potential! Find a D-BAT location near you!

4 Tips for Beginning Softball Pitchers

Learning to pitch in fastpitch softball can be tricky, but D-BAT Sports – the premier softball training facility in the country – has a few tips for how to get started!

Focus on the Fastball 

There are 2 different ways to throw a softball fastpitch – four-seam fastball and two-seam fastball – but as a beginner, the only thing you need to worry about is the four-seam fastpitch. The grip of the ball is critical to the proper release. Place your middle 3 fingers so that the tips are touching the top of the seams on a “C,” pull your thumb back behind the ball, and then rest your pinky on the side or wherever is comfortable. It’s also important that you get in the habit of cupping the ball loosely with your tips for optimum spin.

Foot Placement is Key

When pitching in fastpitch softball, it is important to keep the right stance. Keep your stance about shoulder width apart, and then get your feet set on the rubber. If you are a right-handed pitcher, your forward foot will be on your right side. That foot should be sitting in the center of the rubber, while the toes on your left foot (opposite foot) should be slightly back and just touching the rubber – but not crossing it.

Know Your Power Line

The power line is the line between the catcher and the mound. You want your pitching motion to both start and stop on the power line in order to keep your body square and heading in the right direction. The goal is to make your stride leg land on the power line every time, with the toes at a 45-90 degree angle (closer to 90 for beginners).

Focus on X-Position 

The X-Position is a proper way to start each fastpitch softball throw. It’s called the X-Position because both arms are in the air, feet are on the power line, and you’re ready to go to work.

Becoming a great fastpitch softball pitcher doesn’t happen overnight, and the goal in the beginning should be to focus on mechanics – not strikes. The strikes will come if the mechanics are right! Call D-BAT Sports today to schedule one-on-one fastpitch softball pitching instruction with one of our expertly trained softball coaches! Check and see if you are near one of our 55+ locations!

Coaching Advice: How to Get a Baseball Hitter Out of a Slump

It can happen to the best of players.

You know they can hit, but for some reason, their hitting percentages have tanked. It’s called a slump, and there are things you can do as a coach to help evaluate the situation and take the player to the next level. Here are 3 recommendations from D-BAT Sports on what to do if you notice a baseball hitter is in a slump:

Record Game Time At-Bats

Players often look differently when batting in practice and when batting in a game time situation. Ask a parent or assistant coach to record the player in the game and then take time to analyze their at-bat. Is there an issue with their batting mechanics? Is their confidence lacking? A lack of confidence is the #1 reason for a batting slump. Determine some corrective measures that can be taken to correct and improve their batting average.

Practice More

Once you’ve identified some areas in need of improvement, take time out of practice to work one-on-one with the player in need of a little extra batting practice. If your practice is an hour, maybe take 15 minutes to work with them while another coach works drills with the rest of the team, or take some time after practice.

Set Goals

When talking with the player, start by offering praise for what they are doing well, sandwich in areas of improvement, followed by advice on how to make that improvement happen. Make sure the player understands their goals and objectives for improvement in the next game and that you will follow up with them on those goals. In a hitting slump, it’s a good idea to focus on making contact with the ball, swinging hard, and looking for good pitches only vs. focusing on hits period. The hits will come if the mechanics and proper batting practices are there.

In a slump now? Find the D-BAT location closest to you! D-BAT Sports is the #1 baseball training facility in the country with state-of-the-art batting cages open year round. Call today to schedule a little extra batting practice for your baseball player or team! Don’t forget to pick up some gear from the D-BAT location you visit. If you aren’t near a location, visit dbatsports.com and order today!

D-BAT CEO Named Finalist for EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award

D-BAT Sports is proud to announce that our Founder and CEO, Cade Griffis, has been named a finalist for the EY (formerly Ernst & Young) Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Southwest Region. This is a huge honor for Griffis, saying:

“This is a tremendous honor to be an EY Finalist in the Entrepreneur of the Year program. We are very proud of our team at D-BAT and the positive impact we are making on youth baseball and softball, not only in the United States, but overseas as well. We know how competitive the business atmosphere is in the Southwest, and we are thrilled to be included in this amazing group of finalists.”

About the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards

EY evaluates potential candidates for the award based on innovative business practices, personal commitment to their communities and business, and overall financial performance. Candidates are chosen by a panel of independent judges, and a winner will be chosen at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas on June 23. The Southwest regional winner will then go on to compete for the National Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in California, and the winner from there goes on to the Worldwide Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in Monaco.

D-BAT Sports is proud to be recognized for our entrepreneurial spirit and growth! With locations around the United States and even overseas, Griffis has created a model that strives to be the best softball and baseball training facility in the country. D-BAT operates over 50 D-BAT Baseball Academy locations, each equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. We also carry only the best in baseball gear for sale: wood bats, gloves, batting gloves, helmets, etc. Our Pro Shop experts are equipped to find the gear that meets each player’s individual needs. A personalized approach – coupled with a top coaching staff – prepares each individual player for the next level.

Crucial Baseball Skills Every Catcher Must Know

Many outside the realm of baseball think being a catcher is simple. All they do is sit there and catch balls behind the plate, right?

As those inside the game know – the answer is a resounding “no.” The position of catcher is so much more than that. Here are 3 crucial skills every catcher must know to be successful:

1. Strong Leadership

A catcher must be able to take control of the game, and if the coach isn’t calling pitches, it is up to the catcher to fill this roll. He must also be aware of everything that is happening on the field at all times, and he’s responsible for non-stop communication with the pitcher to ensure he’s calm, collected, confident, and prepared for all situations.

2. Knowledge

The higher the level of baseball, the more responsibility the catcher has to call pitches and handle the pitcher. A catcher might spend hours getting to know both his pitching staff and the opposing team’s hitters to get a sense of a game plan for the big game. Baseball catchers must have a keen sense of the game and the ability to make split second decisions that can be the difference between a win and a loss. Again, understanding where everyone is on the field, where you’re at in the batting lineup, etc. is all a part of what makes a great catcher stand out.

3. Aggressive Catching

This may be obvious, but a baseball catcher has to be able to make the catch in order to prevent unnecessary stolen bases. Also – remember that a catcher is the only player on the field wearing protective gear. Use that protection to your advantage! Get out there and be aggressive, don’t be afraid to get down and block pitches, you’re wearing catchers gear for a reason.

Sound easy? It’s not. Catchers have one of the most difficult jobs on the field, but it can also be extremely rewarding. If you’re ready to hone your skills as a catcher, call us today to set up some instruction time! D-BAT Sports is the best baseball training facility, with state-of-the-art facilities around the country. Call us today for a tour and to set up a few practice sessions with our expert coaching staff. Check out all our locations HERE! And don’t forget to get all your baseball gear at dbatsports.com!