Monthly Archives: December 2016

Pitching machines for Softball: Pros and Cons of using them

pitching-machines

In outfitting your young fastpitch softball player, you’ve probably spent some time considering the right type of softball bat, glove, and other softball equipment she needs for enjoying the sport. However, you may be wondering if she needs anything else. Would a softball pitching machine give her extra practice?  Here are some tips on the pros and cons:

Cons of Using Pitching Machines for Softball
The biggest problem with a young softball player practicing using a pitching machine is that often the machine is not used correctly. Here are some of the cons:

  • If the pitching machine gives the same pitch over and over, the player doesn’t learn to make swing adjustments.
  • If the machine is set to pitch at the same pace each time, a player’s timing becomes unrealistic.
  • Often beginning players will miss so many pitches from the machine that they will just swing at anything and reinforce poor habits.

Pros of Using Pitching Machines for Softball
However, if a young female player has been outfitted with a good softball bat just right for her size and ability, and the pitching machine can vary the pitches, using a machine can be a great way to get in extra practice, even on her own. Here are the benefits:

  • More time to improve than is available when the whole team is practicing.
  • Can help hitters who have a fear of the ball gain confidence.
  • Better than tee work for getting a feel for the game.
  • Pitching machine can be slowed down from game speed to increase a hitter’s confidence.

Tips for Using Softball Pitching Machines
Using the softball pitching machine at home or with the team will work better when doing the following:

  • Adjust the machine to pitch at different speeds and different pitches.
  • Hitters should start using a no-stride approach so that they will concentrate on seeing the ball and getting in tune with the rhythm of the machine.
  • Hitters should move around inside the batter’s box to get a bigger variation in pitching which will be similar to pitches in a game.
  • Players should hit the ball in the direction of where it is pitched, just as you would in a pitcher thrown practice.
  • For beginning players or players who lack confidence, start the pitches at a slower speed, or move the machine further away until the hitter is consistently hitting.  Then slowly increase the speed or move the machine closer until the hitter is able to contact the ball at a speed close to the average pitcher in the league.
  • Just as in a game, make sure that players wear helmets for protection and use the same bat for practicing that they will be using in games.

Is a Softball Pitching Machine Right for You?
As with most tools, a softball pitching machine can be terrific if used correctly. If you need help choosing a pitching machine, composite bat or any other fastpitch softball equipment, be sure to consult the experts at Longstreth Sporting Goods who specialize in outfitting female fastpitch softball players with equipment that fits their unique needs.

The Best Fastpitch Softball Bats in the Game

fastpitch

If you are just getting started in fastpitch softball, you need to know that players use fastpitch bats made either of composite, aluminum alloy, or a combination. The best bat for a player is the one that swings best for her. Here are some of the best fastpitch softball bats available:

#1 Bat: Louisville Slugger Xeno Plus

Want the bat many elite players choose? While some people don’t like the stiff swing, this composite bat is popular because of its:

  • Balanced swing weight.
  • Pop on contact.
  • Excellent vibration reduction.
  • Good weight for power hitters.
  • Innovative iST technology which eliminates negative feedback on mis-hit balls.
  • Power, huge sweet spot, lighter swing weight, and superior balance

Top 3 Bat Brands

These three brands are solid and reliable choices for your bat:

  • Louisville Slugger: With over 100 years of historic bat making, the Louisville Slugger bats are hard to beat. Many of them offer the best grip in the game and have a wide variety of swing weight options for a range of hitters. Additionally, this brand offers solid performance and durability.
  • DeMarini: Started on the floor of an old barn, DeMarini is a young company that focuses on perfecting their products. Their dedication to the idea that everyone should have access to professional quality softball bats has changed the sport for the better. DeMarini bats have the reputation of being balanced and solid, with a huge sweet spot and precise weight distribution.
  • Easton: Hitters have larger sweet zones because of Easton’s Thermo Composite Technology which also lowers resistance during the swing. Additionally, the 360-degree rotating handle on some Easton bats means the handle rotates as you swing. While the rotating handle can take some getting used to, it can help a player with weak spots at the plate.

Bat Brands on the Rise

  • Rawlings Quatro: The engineers at Rawlings have developed a collar for their Rawlings Quatro bat which absorbs vibrations and can deflect the sting of a hit.  They’ve also made a Vibration Dampening Technology (VDT) which limits the vibration of impact and makes a smooth feel when the bat contacts the ball. Durability may be an issue with Rawlings but their midrange price bats have a good amount of pop and excellent bat whip.
  • Mizuno Nighthawk: An innovation on the Mizuno Nighthawk is a double-wall technology with a thin polypropylene film separating two individual barrel walls.  With two barrels, the bat has a higher flex index which maximizes the swing and batted ball speeds. To keep this comfortable, Mizuno uses an elastomeric material to connect the handle and barrel which dampens vibrations on hands and improves the stiff feel of the bat. However, batters who really like the feel of a two-piece bat may still not feel it is loose enough.

Getting the right softball equipment for your young female athlete can give her the chance to play her best.  Longstreth Sporting Goods provides softball equipment that meets the unique needs of young women.  If you need help choosing a softball bat or other gear, be sure to give us a call.

Softball bags Galore! Types and Styles for 2017

softball-bags

Ready for the 2017 softball season? Whether it is going to a practice or playing a game, softball players have a lot of softball gear to bring along.  Having the right gear bag  can make it much easier for a player to keep their equipment in good condition and tote it around. All players need a bag which fits all of their gear in easily and which is comfortable for them to carry.

Top Bat Bags

Getting a new softball bag is a great way to start off the season, whether your young player is a starting playing for the first time, or has several seasons behind her.  Her confidence will increase when she brings her favorite softball bat and other equipment in one of these top softball bag types and styles of 2017:

Easton Walk-Off

Built for the diamond and wherever you need to go to play, the Easton Walk-Off is a premium sport utility backpack with:

  • Unique external helmet holder.
  • Pockets for holding 2 softball bats externally.
  • Dual zipper with 3 “J” style gear hooks.
  • Hook for hanging on dugout fence.
  • Extra space inside the bag for equipment.
  • Vented shoe compartment.
  • Pockets and storage spaces, including a laptop sleeve.

DeMarini Voodoo Rebirth

This version of the popular DeMarini backpack takes it up a level with:

  • Neoprene bat sleeves and composite waterproof material.
  • Eight color choices.
  • Customization area with removable insert.
  • Plenty of room for a helmet, gloves, cleats, and extra equipment.

Louisville Slugger Series 7 Stick Pack

The spacious storage compartment of this bag has a large opening.  In addition, the bag features:

  • 2 neoprene bat sleeves.
  • J-style fence hook.
  • Removable personalization panel.
  • Comfort padding on straps.
  • Space for a helmet with facemask.
  • Mesh pockets for water bottles.

Choosing a Catcher’s Bag

Catchers have the most equipment to carry out of anyone on the softball team and they need a specialized catchers gear bag.  Because of the weight of the equipment, catcher’s equipment bags are wheeled. Check out the top 2017 styles:

Mizuno Samurai

With easy access to the footwear compartment, the Mizuno Samurai offers convenience as well as durable off-road wheels. Furthermore, it offers:

  • Zip pouch embroidery panel.
  • Spots for 2 bats.
  • Accessory compartment for valuables.

Louisville Slugger Catch-All

With a high rise wheel chassis and rigid bottom, this bag has a stable roll. It features:

  • Internal holsters for leg guards.
  • Extra room for chest protector and other gear.
  • Lockable bat compartment.
  • Mesh helmet sack.

Easton 500C

With full bottom rails and bracketed inline wheels, the Easton offers strength and durability. This bag has:

  • Reinforced straps which stabilize load disbursement.
  • Large pockets.
  • A separate bat compartment which holds 4 bats.
  • Telescoping handle.
  • Wide-set wheels to prevent tipping over.

Whether you are in the market for a new fastpitch softball bat, catcher’s gear, or a new glove, Longstreth Sporting Goods is uniquely able to help you make the best choice. We offer a superior selection of the top choices of equipment designed with the young female player in mind. Better yet, our experience in outfitting young women players is second-to-none. Contact Longstreth for customization options on team orders of 12 or more bags.

7 Things Every Lacrosse Parent Should Know

Female lacrosse players on the sideline of a game

Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports, but most parents, unless they have been lacrosse athletes themselves, don’t know much about the sport and might never have watched a game before their children became players.  Here are 7 things every lacrosse parent should know:

  1. Learn about the Game

This fast-paced sport can be bewildering. Here are some things to learn:

  • The different positions and their responsibilities.
  • How the game is played
  • Foul rules

Longstreth Sporting Goods has a great selection of books – check out the 2017 US Women’s Lacrosse Rule Book or read about the history of the game in Women Play Lacrosse

  1. Don’t Talk to Officials

Everyone cringes when parents become overly critical of officials or coaches, but no one is hurt more than that parent’s child. As a matter of fact, lacrosse etiquette says that parents don’t comment on calls at all. It is out of order to say anything either good or bad to the officials and it is important to stop other parents from doing so because it can cause your team to have a penalty.

  1. Volunteer

Like most sports, lacrosse coaches can often use another set of hands and eyes to help either in practices or games. Ask your daughter’s coach if you can be a:

  • Timer
  • Scorekeeper
  • Equipment manager
  • Concessions helper
  • Film manager
  • Statistician

Getting in on the action yourself is a way to learn about the game and also a way to get to know other players and parents. Better yet, you can go back on the sidelines and help other people understand what is going on during the play.

  1. Be Positive

Any competitive sport can cause strong emotions in both players and parents but remember that, as a parent, you set a tone for your player when you communicate with the coach. Remember to speak thoughtfully, kindly, and in a positive manner to the coach, and also to your child when talking about the coach. Coaches often spend far more time coaching than they ever get compensated for, so be appreciative!

  1. Don’t Assume-Ask

Is your daughter or another child not given much play time?  Or you see a player coming off the field and you don’t know why? Don’t assume there is some prejudice against the player or imagine the coach doesn’t think she has talent. There could be other reasons a player comes off the field, such as:

  • The player has been asked to make a change on their own and hasn’t yet done it.
  • The player may have been sent in for a particular short job on the field.
  • A player may feel winded and choose to sit out a while, which is allowed.

6. Take the Long View

Did your team lose?  Take the opportunity to give your daughter some life lessons about the value of being challenged, learning to practice harder, and learning to work together as a team. Is your player disappointed by tryouts? Sympathize but also help them see what they can do to improve for next time.

  1. Know the Equipment

Making sure your daughter has the right lacrosse equipment for playing her game and practicing her skills is an important part of helping her succeed in this fast-paced game. Make sure to choose a stick that fits her height and skill level. The handle on a stick can be shortened for smaller players, as long as the full crosse is within the legal length.  Keep some lacrosse training balls handy for her to hone her skills. Make sure she has good quality cleats so that she has a strong footing in the ground and slip-ups are minimized.

Need help? The lacrosse managers at Longstreth Sporting Goods can provide you information. We specialize in outfitting female lacrosse players and are happy to answer any questions. Feeling fancy? Come in to our store and get your custom strung lacrosse heads at Longstreth!