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!  

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!