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Best Baseball Practice Equipment: Aluminum Bats, Pitching Machines, Etc.

Although baseball is a team sport, it’s possible to hone your skills alone or with a friend. You can run a whole practice in your backyard, if you have the right equipment.

baseball equipmentFirst, you’ll need the basic baseball equipment that every ballplayer needs: a glove, a baseball bat, a baseball helmet and a few baseballs. Many sports stores sell this equipment as a kit. But left-handed players should be careful when selecting a glove. Most gloves are left-handed, as right-hand players typically throw with their right hands. Left-handed players will probably want a, harder to find, right hand glove. Baseball bats can be simple wood or high-tech aluminum or steel. If you’re practicing in a small area, the wood ones are probably fine. Also, make sure you have at least 3 or 4 baseballs, since it’s quite possible you’ll lose one over the fence if you get a good hit.

The best piece of equipment to have, though, is a friend. With a friend, you can warm up by tossing a baseball back and forth. This is great practice for both catching and throwing. Practice catching the ball with the glove and then transitioning the baseball to your throwing arm. Your friend can also pitch to you, allowing you to practice batting (watch this video for pitching mechanics tips). Then you can switch, and you can practice pitching while your friend bats. Remember to bat away from houses and cars, if you can. Backyards are also good for practicing bunting, where players hit the ball low instead of swinging for a home run. Watch the following video for tips on bunting.

HOW TO BUNT

If you can’t find a friend for practice, there is now another option. Many stores are selling pitching machines (see below for detailed info on using pitching machines to improve your batting skills). These machines pitch a ball in your direction, so that you can practice batting the ball. If you lay out some colorful markers, you can also practice running bases at the same time. Even better, some of these machines are called pitching and fielding machines. These machines transition from fast pitches for batting to slower lobs for practicing catches. Even without a friend, you can practice both catching and batting.

Improving Your Batting Skills WITH a Pitching Machine

pitching machineBaseball requires years of practice. Between catching, running, batting, and throwing, it can take up a lot of time. Running, throwing, and catching can’t be taught. You can only give tips on how to do these better, longer, or faster. Batting is between you, the bat, and the ball – and it can be taught. How the ball is thrown is the most important part. Using a pitching machine will improve your batting skills because a pitching machine offers controlled variables. Controlling these variables will help you learn when to hit and how to hit properly.

With a multitude of pitching machines available, you should conduct some research and figure out what machines meet your needs. Not every pitching machine is the same. If you are having trouble hitting fastballs, make sure that the pitching machine you buy has several different speed settings. Throwing settings are another important factor. Some pitching machines can only throw fastballs. If you aren’t looking to buy a pitching machine but are simply using one, get familiar with what types of settings it offers to maximize the benefits you’re getting.

The first step to improving your batting skills using a pitching machine is to watch the ball instead of just swinging at it. If you just swing at the ball, you aren’t learning anything. Watching where the ball is and the direction of where it’s going will give you a sense of timing. A sense of timing and direction will give you a good estimate if a ball is hittable.

If you are hitting the ball too late, a pitching machine’s speed can be adjusted so you can work on your timing. Someone throwing a ball to you won’t always be consistent. You might swing early, then start to swing late because of the thrower’s inconsistency.

Young and old, anybody can use a pitching machine and benefit from it. Children and teenagers can learn quickly using a pitching machine. Children, in particular, get more comfortable with a pitching machine because of consistent throws. A consistent throw will teach them to be more comfortable with thrown baseballs. Adults using a pitching machine will benefit most from the variability that some pitching machines can give. The height of pitching machines can also be adjusted, allowing different throwing heights.

No matter what machine you use and what settings you try, pitching machines are great for improving your overall batting skills.


backyard baseballPracticing baseball in your backyard is a great pastime and excellent exercise. With a friend, you can practice all the elements of a game: batting, catching and pitching. Running bases is even possible if you have a big backyard and some colorful plastic markers to lay out as a baseball field. Pitching machines are also an option to practice when your friends aren’t around. It’s easy to practice baseball when you have the right equipment.

This piece was submitted by one of our baseball guest writers.

Rehabbing from an ACL Tear

ACL tear diagramACL tears (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) are a miserable experience to encounter. They happen in the knee and are painful injuries and can put you out for a couple of weeks after having surgery. Having an ACL tear, you are going to have to rehab the injury and make it as strong as it once was. Physical Therapy is one of the most important aspects after going through an ACL injury. ACL injuries are most common with athletes.

Everything you do happens with your ACL. Jumping, landing, training, turning and much more. Anything having to do with your knee, which are most things, you need to properly rehab your ACL after an injury. Having one ACL tear makes it easy to re-tear it again later on in life.

Some people think they will not have to go to physical therapy or they are just too stubborn, but you’re ultimately hurting yourself in the long run. PT (physical therapy) can do wonders for you. It will be long and drawn out, but they’re there to help you…

Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy

When doing physical therapy for an ACL injury – they have five different phases. The first phase is going to be your goals. How are you going to get inflammation down, what are the exercises you will start with and build up to etc. The second phase is practicing your core training including some cardiovascular (aka “cardio”) training. You may think you don’t need this, but you often have a shortage of these before the injury happened. The third phase is knee flexion and progressive strengthening. You will start to focus more on the knee and control your swelling. You will also slowly incorporate squats in, as doing squats when you return to normal activity can cause great strain on your knee and can risk injury on your ACL again. The fourth phase is to go over goals and see where you are at. The fifth phase is prepping for running! All of the exercises are through the limb and this is the ultimate goal. When you run, you are putting almost 3% of weight on your knee and physical therapy will help you get ready for that.

If you do not go to physical therapy after an ACL injury, you will probably never return to the point of activity that you were at beforehand. Having surgery on your ACL is to help you get back to normal movement, without physical therapy though, you will never get there.

This piece was submitted by one of our baseball guest writers.

Pitcher’s Manual

Tom Myers has been a player and coach in college and professional baseball for two decades. During this time he has gathered a wealth of valuable techniques and strategies to help master the art and science of pitching. The APC Pitcher’s Manual contains critical information on all aspects of pitching. Using the manual, pitchers of all ages will learn to master techniques devised to improve and perfect their mental and physical skills.

APC Pitcher’s Manual Contents:
  • Pitching Mechanics and Pitch Selection
    In this chapter you will learn the absolutes of the pitching delivery and how to attack a hitter with your arsenal.
  • Pitches and Grips
    Learn an assortment of grips for the fastball and all
    off-speed pitches.
  • Useful Goals and Self-Coaching Systems
    Learn and create a daily routine that will enhance your game.
  • Flat-Ground Routines and Daily Throwing Programs
    Construct a daily throwing routine which will help you create consistent control and increase velocity.
  • Delivery Drills for Rhythm, Timing and Feel
    Various drills on the mound that will promote consistent control and velocity gains.
  • Developmental Objectives
    Learn how pitchers are classified according to Major League Baseball’s developmental standards.
  • Mental and Physical Expectations for Starting and Relief Pitchers
    Develop a routine for starting and relieving.
  • Arm Exercises
    Learn how to prevent injuries and develop a strengthening routine with weight training and band work.

Private Lessons

Lessons from Advanced Pitching Concepts will prepare students to become complete pitchers at their specific levels. Areas of emphasis will be arm care, biomechanical development and creating a consistent mental routine through the use of personal instruction and video analysis. Lessons are tailored to the needs of each individual, and are especially useful to those looking to improve velocity and command.

All lessons are given by Tom Myers:

  • 6 years as a Professional Baseball player and coach
  • 8 years as a Division 1 pitching coach and recruiter
  • Has personally tutored 25 professional pitchers, 5 of whom were college All-Americans
Areas of Instruction and Development:

Arm-care
Biomechanical work
In-season and off-season Throwing Programs
Development of off-speed pitches
Creating a Mental and Physical Routine
Flat Ground and Bullpen sessions
Video Analysis

To schedule lessons or for more information contact Tom Myers.

Lessons are $60.00 a Session
Package 1: 4 Sessions for $240.00
Package 2: 8 Sessions for $450.00

Gaucho Camps

ucsb baseball teamAdvanced Pitching Concepts is proud to offer elite level high school baseball camps through the Santa Barbara Baseball Academy. In addition to receiving instruction from UCSB Head Coach Bob Brontsema, players will receive instruction from UCSB Pitching Coach Tom Myers , and Assistant Coach John Kirkgard as well as current professional and Gaucho players. The goal of each camp is to offer high school players a glimpse into what it takes to play at the next level. All camps are located at UCSB’s Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.

A description of the September and July camps is listed below. Players can enroll by downloading printable registration information and medical release forms with the Sign Up Now! button (to the left), and mailing them along with a check to the Santa Barbara Baseball Academy. Additional information, including enrollment, medical release, hotel and travel information and driving directions are available at http://www.ucsbgauchos.com/sports/m-basebl/index.

Clinic Information

baseballGrades: 10-12
Where: UCSB Baseball Stadium (located on campus)
Times: 11/17 (9am-5pm) 11/18 (9am-5pm)
Cost: $300 per camper (includes coach evaluation, hat and shirt)

UCSB Baseball would like to invite you to attend our annual High School Showcase Camp. This camp is designed for the high school player who is looking to play at the next level. Campers will also receive a Player Evaluation from the Gaucho coaching staff.

Campers will be assigned to a “camp team” for the duration of the camp. The routine for these days will include team stretching and infield and outfield before games. The Saturday session will consist of a timed 60-yard dash, batting practice, fielding evaluations and pitching and throwing long toss program and games.

This is a great camp to showcase your talents while competing in a challenging in a competitive environment. The Gaucho coaching staff will run the entire camp.

pitchingInterested campers can visit our website at https://camps.jumpforward.com/ucsbbaseballcamps to get up-to-date information on all of the Gaucho Baseball Camps. Meals and lodging will not be provided at this camp.

We look forward to working with you at our High School Prospect Camp.

Contact us for more info

Enrollment is restricted to high school baseball players aged 15-17. (Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors.) We are looking for players who have the possible abilities to play baseball at the college level. Enrollment will be limited to 100 players.

About Us

Tom Myers is in his seventh season as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the UCSB Gaucho coaching staff. His duties include academic affairs, fundraising and Gaucho Baseball Camp development. Prior to returning to UCSB, Myers spent three seasons as pitching coach at Santa Clara University. He is also on the Advisory Team for worldwidebaseballprospects.com.

As pitching coach for the Broncos, Myers was instrumental in shaping two recruiting classes that ranked in the top-15 recruiting classes in the country. In three seasons with the Broncos, Myers was privileged to coach three All-American pitchers, with Patrick Overholt receiving Freshman All-American honors. Under Myers tutelage four Bronco pitchers signed professional contracts.

As a member of the Gaucho coaching staff, the 2001 UCSB pitching staff was considered one of the best in the history of the program. The staff maintained a 3.96 Team ERA during the regular season en route to a NCAA Regional appearance and a 40-17 overall record. For the first time in UCSB history the staff produced two ten game winners in James Garcia and Rylie Ogle. Not since Myers himself had done so in 1991 had a Gaucho pitcher recorded 10 wins. Under the tutelage of Myers, Garcia garnered Third Team All-American and First Team All-Big West honors in his first season as a starting pitcher, while Ogle was named Second Team All-Big West and freshman Matt Vasquez received Freshman All American honors. In 1999, Myers helped guide Freshman All-American, Chris Quiroz, who saved a record 10 games. UCSB’s 1999 and 2000 recruiting classes received rankings of 35th and 38th nationally by Collegiate Baseball.

From the 2001 Gaucho pitching staff, three Gauchos were drafted and signed professional contracts from Major League Baseball. Left-handed pitcher Jim Bullard became one of the highest draft picks in Gaucho history when the Chicago White Sox selected him in the 9th round. The Detroit Tigers took senior closer Jamie Gonzales in the 12th round and the New York Mets took Rylie Ogle in the 28th round. Myers has had the privilege to tutor 15 pitchers who have signed professional contracts and five All-American pitchers, three being Freshman All-Americans.

As a member of the 1991 UCSB baseball team, Myers was an All-Big West selection in his only season as a Gaucho, winning 10 games and saving three in 24 appearances. Myers joined UC Santa Barbara for his senior season after two years at San Jose City College and one at the University of Arizona. He saw time on the mound and in the outfield for Head Coach Barry Woodhead helping San Jose City College to a Golden Gate Conference Championship and State Finals berth. As a Wildcat in 1990, he compiled a 1-1 record with a save for Head Coach Jerry Kindall. Myers spent his prep career under the tutelage of Bill Hutton at Archbishop Mitty High School.

Following his senior year at UCSB, Myers was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the Major League Baseball First Year Draft. As a player, Myers pitched under the guidance of Gil Patterson, Tom House, and Bob Gibson, with the Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles and St. Louis Cardinals. Myers was a member of the 1991 Arizona League Champions and 1993 California League Northern Division Champions. Myers received pitcher of the Month Honors in 1995 for the Visalia Oaks of the California League.

In the summer of 1998, Myers was an envoy coach for Major League Baseball International program in Wavre. He began his coaching career in 1997 for Porterville Junior College and was a player/coach in the Dutch Professional Leagues for the village of Haarlem.

A graduate of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Myers earned his BA in History from UC Santa Barbara and his MA in Physical Education from Azusa Pacific. Myers is married to the former Janet Elizabeth Andrew. They have a daughter named Lauren who is 2 years old.

Baseball Memorabilia Collectors

Vern Bickford 1954 BowmanBaseball Memorabilia collectors have a lot of fun. There’s so many different things in the sport of baseball to collect: baseball cards, programs, signed balls, gloves, the old school pennants (which are making a comeback now) and bobbleheads, which are now taking storm in baseball and becoming more popular to have. They have so many games that give away bobbleheads and they are one of the newest items for baseball memorabilia collectors.

Baseball Cards

When talking to a baseball memorabilia collector, they will usually say they collect at least baseball cards. It’s sad nowadays that you don’t see them that often anymore. Baseball cards have a picture of the baseball player on the front of card, usually in a batting stance or a professional pose. On the back of the card, you can find all sorts of statistics on them from batting averages to what position they play. Since baseball cards aren’t as popular anymore, a lot of the cards can be worth thousands of dollars! Especially if you could get your hands on ones like Sandy Koufax, Mickey Mantle, Vern Bickford and Willie Mays.

Production

Baseball cards were first introduced in 1886, with the pictures just being in black and white. Colored pictures started coming out in 1887, staring 700 players around the league. Goudey Gum Company printed a lot of the baseball cards and being in their second year in the business of it, they decided to switch it up a little and produce a series of baseball cards called Heads Up. These baseball cards had the baseball player’s heads collaged onto cartoon bodies (see image to right). These were a lot of fun to look at, however they only selected 24 players to do this with. One of the most famous baseball players coming out of this set was Joe DiMaggio. Since Goudy only lasted until 1941, if you have any of their baseball cards, especially the Heads Up collection, they are worth a ton of money and collectors seek after these ones! One of the most major baseball-card producers is the Bowman company. You will see their baseball cards the most.

Finding Them

A lot of collectors held onto them when they had gotten them as kids, either in their parent’s cigarette packs or tearing open the bag of cracker jacks and pulling out the baseball card. Collectors now hold on tightly to these genuine baseball cards and keep an eye out for when they can snatch some more up and add them to their collection. Baseball cards are huge for memorabilia collectors, having been one of the oldest items in baseball you could start collecting.

This piece was submitted by one of our baseball guest writers.