Monthly Archives: November 2016

How to Pick a Softball Glove that Fits

softball-glove

When a softball player makes an amazing diving catch in the outfield or stops a line drive, her glove makes all the difference. Outfitting a female softball player with the correct softball glove is an important part of preparing her to do her best in this exciting sport.

Is the Glove Right for Your Position?

First of all, it is important to know that a softball player’s glove choice depends on her position and that the catcher’s gear is very specialized.

  • Open web gloves: used for first base and middle infielders and some outfielders because it allows the ball to be transferred quickly to the throwing hand.
  • Closed web gloves: preferred by pitchers, third base, and some outfielders because it gives more support and shields the ball better.
  • Catcher’s mitts: used by the catcher only, it does not have separately cut fingers to prevent hand fatigue.
  • First Baseman’s Glove: similar to a catcher’s mitt but longer and with less padding, it is good for scooping up the ball and quick transfer to throwing arm.

Is the Glove the Right Size?

Since young female players tend to have smaller hands, right glove size is very important. Too large a glove can strain her hands, cause poor performance and even pain.  It is never a good idea for a young female player to use a leftover slow pitch baseball glove worn by an older brother or dad since it often is much too large for her. The best way to make sure you have the right fit in a softball glove is to try it on. Glove sizing is based on the glove measurement from wrist to index finger. Sizes vary by position:

  • First base: 13 inches
  • Second base and shortstop: 11.5-12.5 inches
  • Third base 12-12.5 inches
  • Pitcher 11.5-12 inches
  • Outfield 12-13 inches

Players should start by trying on the smallest gloves first, moving their hands and handling the ball to get a glove that feels best.

Does the Glove Fit?

Getting the best performance from a glove means being able to use the fingers and thumb optimally to catch the ball. To be able to use a full range of motion, young female players should not try to fit all five fingers in the glove all the way.  Instead, they should:

  • Put two or more of their fingers in the pinky slot of the glove, pushing all of their fingers to the outside of the glove.
  • Leave their wrist exposed.
  • Check for full wrist movement by opening and closing the glove firmly.
  • Try catching and releasing a softball.
  • Look for a glove that stays firmly on and is easy to grip and release.

Does the Glove Feel Good?

Ultimately, glove choice is very personal, so a player needs to be careful to pick the glove that fits her best, rather than being swayed by the choice of friends or how a glove looks. Longstreth Sporting Goods knows that young female softball players need equipment that suits their particular needs and specializes not only in fastpitch gloves but also other much needed gear like pitching machines and equipment bags.

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Improve Your Softball Swing – How to make it Perfect

improve-your-softball-swing

Make no mistake, hitting a fastpitch softball which can be thrown at speeds topping 75 mph is not an easy feat. Having the right softball bat is an important first step. Next, fine-tuning a player’s softball swing to make contact in the sweet spot requires drills and lots of practice, like these:

Tracking Drill

One of the most important ways to improve your swing is to enhance your ability to track the ball coming toward you.  Try having a pitcher stand about 15 feet away and throw either a Frisbee or the lid of a can towards you.  Because objects like Frisbees will change direction as they fly, this drill helps you learn eye-hand coordination in tracking an object coming toward your bat.

Hit and Run!

An important part of hitting well is running when you make contact. You want to move smoothly from your swing into a run, so don’t forget to do some drills where you drop your softball bat and run toward first base.

Imagine Success

Do you have to wait your turn in practice? Use that time to train mentally. Here’s how:

  • Get into a batter’s stance with your bat.
  • Visualize the pitch coming towards you.
  • Take a swing and picture solid contact.
  • Try hitting the ball in different directions.
  • Use this technique to imagine a ball being pitched to different places (inside low, outside low, inside high, outside high, etc.)

You can use visualizing drills at home or any place you have a few minutes to practice.

One Handed Swinging

Learning how to do a compact swing is important but a regular aluminum or composite bat is too heavy, so use a plastic bat and whiffle balls to try this drill:

  • Isolate arm movement by kneeling on one knee.
  • Swing the bat using only your front arm.
  • Keep the barrel of the bat back as a whiffle ball is tossed softly about 6 inches from home plate.
  • Swing just as the ball comes over the plate.
  • Repeat using just the back arm.
  • Finish by doing both hands together.
  • Focus on keeping the barrel back until arms are almost extended and then make a powerful whip of the barrel through the ball.

Slow Swing

While batting cages and hitting drills are helpful, they don’t resemble a real-life situation. When you step up to the plate with your favorite Demarini bat at a game, you won’t be rushing through 100 or more swings.  Instead, you will:

  • Take a good swing
  • Get out of your stance
  • Relax then get ready again
  • Take another swing

Make sure that some of your practice time imitates a real game to help you not only get the perfect swing but also be able to do that swing outside of practice.

Have the Best Bat for You

The most important tip for that perfect swing?Choose the right softball bat for your weight, height, age, body type, and style of swing. Longstreth Sporting Goods specializes in making sure female athletes have the right equipment to play their best and will be happy to help you equip your female athlete with all she needs to perfect her hitting. Check out the great selection of softball equipment at Longstreth.

Buying a Softball Bat – Things You should Look for

Hitting the ball in that sweet spot is every softball player’s dream.  Developing as a hitter requires lots of practice, good coaching, and the right bat. Whether your daughter has just started playing softball, or has been building up her hitting skills for a while and is ready for a new bat to help her reach the next level, here are the things you should look for in buying a softball bat:

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Choosing the Best Length

Age, weight, and height determine bat length. To find the best length for a player:

  • Put the knob in the middle of her chest and stretch the bat out in front.
  • She should be able to just touch the end of the bat with the tips of her fingers.
  • If the bat goes past the fingertips, it is too long.

Choosing the Right Weight

Body style affects what weight of bat works best. A player should try swinging a bat to make sure it is comfortable. It is important not to choose a bat which is too heavy because that will make her swing at an angle. She wants a bat that gives quick, fast contact, and a good pop.  Remember that too heavy a bat will make her swing too slowly and the pitcher will beat her.  Moreover, trying to swing a heavy bat faster can cause injuries.  A good weight test? A player should hold the bat in one hand with her arm extended for 30 seconds.  If that is comfortable, the bat should work.

Choosing Materials

The two most popular types of fastpitch bats are composite and aluminum. Aluminum bats have:

  • Greater bat speed and maximized trampoline effect.
  • Easier swing weight because they tend to be lighter.
  • A more balanced feel with a more even and controllable weight distribution.
  • Durability but they can dent easily and have sweet spots that wear down.

DeMarini offers some of the most popular composite bats. Composites bats:

  • Have more “pop” when you hit the ball.
  • Can have a more targeted trampoline effect.
  • Can have a soft barrel and stiff handle to minimize sting when hitting.
  • Have larger sweet spots but may take a longer break-in time.
  • May not be best for very cold weather.

Find a wide selection of composite softball bats here.

Mistakes in Choosing

Girls can be tempted to choose a bat based on their favorite color or whether it matches their uniform.  Avoid letting color be the focus of her choice because it is the performance which matters most.  Be sure to focus on whether the bat feels right when swinging.  Another mistake some girls make is to assume that bats their friends like are the best. No one bat is really best for everyone. Try out a variety of bats to find out which performs best for her.

Choose Wisely

Getting the right bat is an important decision and Longstreth realizes that female athletes may need specialized help in choosing the right equipment. If you need help, our experts would be happy to help you choose the right equipment for your fastpitch softball player.

3 Great Professional Sports for Women – Field Hockey, Softball and Lacrosse!

professional-sports-for-women

Fortunately, many women’s sports are becoming increasingly popular to play and watch. Whether your daughter has just joined a team or is considering what she’d like to play, you might want to learn more about 3 great professional sports for women–field hockey, softball, and lacrosse.

Field Hockey

Brought to the United States in 1901, field hockey has grown as a women’s sport and is now played in over 250 colleges. This fast-paced, exciting sport resembles ice hockey but is played with a hard ball on a field of grass or turf. Players use field hockey sticks to drive the ball into a net. Rules include:

  • 11 players on each team: goalkeeper and 10 field players.
  • Only the flat side of the stick can be used to hit the ball.
  • Fouls are called for using a body part to advance the ball, hitting another player with the ball, playing dangerously or interfering with play.

Players Equipment needed for field hockey includes sticks, goggles, shinguards, mouthguards, balls, and cleats/turf shoes. Goalies also have helmets and protective gear.

Softball

The National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) is a professional softball league with six teams, each playing a 50 game schedule. In addition, close to 1,700 college softball programs are available and some players can receive scholarships to play. In softball, there are:

  • 7 inning games.
  • 11 or 12 inch balls (depending on age group) that are pitched underhand from a flat 8-foot circle 40-43 feet from the batter.
  • Bats for softball are under 34 inches and often made of a composite rather than aluminum or wood.
  • Rules that say runners can’t leave the base until the ball is pitched, but stealing and bunting are allowed.
  • Nine fielders.
  • Fields that are smaller than baseball, with 60-foot baselines.

If your daughter wants to play softball, she will need a bat suited to her height, weight, and ability. In addition, she will need other equipment for playing softball like a glove, batting helmet, cleats and other protective gear. For practice, she may want a pitching machine too.

Lacrosse

Based on a game played by indigenous Americans, lacrosse for women is equally fast-paced as the men’s game, but not as physical. Played both in colleges in the U.S. and internationally, there is a Women’s Lacrosse World Cup every four years. Women’s lacrosse is played:

  • On a field with a goal at either end.
  • With teams of 12 players, including the goalkeeper.
  • With a yellow rubber NOCSAE-stamped ball. The goal is to shoot it into the opposing team’s goal. The team with the most goals wins.
  • In two 30-minute halves.
  • By passing the ball with the sticks.
  • With players cradling the ball by moving it back and forth to prevent being checked by another player.

Because rules in women’s lacrosse prevent the play from involving as much contact as men’s games, equipment needed for women’s lacrosse is less extensive. Field players need a lacrosse stick, mouth guard, goggles, cleats, practice balls and a bag. Of course, goalkeepers need additional gear.

Whether your daughter chooses field hockey, softball or lacrosse, she can find equipment for her sport designed especially for the female athlete at Longstreth Sporting Goods. Visit us here. Excited? Just wait until you see her play!

What’s the Difference between Boys’ and Girls’ Lacrosse?

lacrosseIf your daughter has joined a lacrosse team, know that she is joining not only the oldest American sport, but one of the fastest growing team sports in both high school and college. Why the increasing popularity of lacrosse as a sport for young women? Lacrosse combines the best of basketball, soccer, and hockey, but emphasizes agility over brawn, so players of all sizes can succeed. Here are the differences between boys’ and girls’ lacrosse:

Girls’ Lacrosse is a Non-Contact Sport

Both boys’ and girls’ lacrosse have the same objective of scoring goals, but the rules and field markings for girls’ lacrosse are different. Boys’ lacrosse has a lot of physical interaction and body contact, which is not allowed in the girls’ game as outlined by the girls’ lacrosse rules. In fact, girls’ lacrosse is considered a non-contact game, making girls less likely to be injured while playing.  Because of this, girls’ lacrosse players require less protective lacrosse equipment &gear, generally only needing goggles and a mouth guard.  Some girls add gloves for light protection or because of playing in cold weather. Boys’ lacrosse teams also use mouth guards but add helmets, shoulder, chest, arm pads, as well as highly padded gloves that cover the wrist for protection during full contact play and body checking.

Differences in Sticks

The differences in play between girls’ and boys’ lacrosse means that players have different kinds of lacrosse sticks:

  • Boys’ lacrosse stick heads have a deep pocket to catch the ball and carry it. The defensive sticks are longer and often harder to handle.
  • Girls’ sticks are typically all one length, regardless of field position, and have a more shallow pocket that allows for quick ball movement and faster release.

For a great selection of women’s sticks and lacrosse heads, visit Longstreth.

Differences in Fielding

The rules and set-up of boy’s and girl’s teams are somewhat different:

  • Boys’ teams have ten players total: nine field, and one goalie; while women have eleven field players and one goalie, for a total of twelve.
  • Boys’ lacrosse fields are 110 by 60 yards fixed, while girls’ fields are a bit bigger, and can vary between the limits of: between 110 – 130 yards by between 60 – 70.

Differences in Play

Of course, both genders will claim that their play is faster, more skilled, more active and more aggressive! In reality, except for girls not being involved in body checking, the style of play is very similar. Both boys and girls use their athletic ability and stamina to be hard on their opponents, pass the ball down toward their goal and avoid being checked.

Similarities in Lacrosse Equipment

While lacrosse sticks and protective gear are somewhat different for boys and girls, some of their equipment is the same.

  • Both girls and boys use mouth guards for protection.
  • Both genders need to use approved and stamped lacrosse balls when they play.
  • Choosing the right lacrosse cleats for quick play, firm footing and agility is important for both boys and girls. Find some great selection of lacrosse cleats here https://www.longstreth.com/lacrosse-cleats.asp

Enjoy Lacrosse Watching!

Another similarity?  Lacrosse play of both boys and girls is a blast for spectators.  With the quick play, exciting action, and opportunities for vivid athleticism from every size player, lacrosse for girls is one of the most interesting and challenging sports available for young women. So be encouraged that your daughter’s choice of lacrosse may have less physical contact than boy’s lacrosse, but is just as exciting to watch!