Most Popular Fastpitch Softball Gloves & Mitts

Popular Fastpitch Softball Gloves and Mitts

Fastpitch Softball Gloves
When it comes to the game of fastpitch softball, gloves and mitts are one of the most important choices an athlete can make. Each year, vendors roll out their new line for the upcoming season. Typically, each line includes gloves/mitts produced for specific positions with a variety of leathers and pocket web designs. Some gloves are made for the both right- and left-handed players; but the majority of gloves / mitts are designed for the right-handed thrower.

As a female athlete, it’s important to find a glove that has been made specifically for the female player. These gloves feature narrow fingers, smaller wrist openings, and a wider pocket.

This season, three fastpitch softball gloves have become popular choices.

Nokona Walnut Fastpitch Gloves
The Nokona brand is synonymous with high-quality, top-of-the line offerings. Their Nokona Walnut line is a classic best-selling glove that provides great stability, durability, and a game-ready feel. The Walnut Fastpitch gloves are constructed of flexible, lightweight Walnut Steerhide Leather. They are handcrafted and made specifically for the female athlete’s hand. The single finger closed back with adjustable Velcro wrist strap offers a personalized fit for each individual player. The fielder’s and catcher’s gloves come in a variety of sizes with a closed web, while the first base is available with an H-web design. They’re all available for the right-handed thrower.

Wilson A2000
Wilson’s A2000 is designed for the serious fastpitch athlete. This 12.5-inch fastpitch glove has been created with the new Custom Fit System, a hook and loop wrist closure that offers every player a customized secure fit – no matter how tight she wears it. It is built from Premium Pro Stock leather that gives the glove superior feel and durability; and allows the glove to break in perfectly and last from season to season. The A2000 features D-Fusion padding just below the pocket to absorb the shock of hard line drives; a Victory Web that makes it the perfect outfielder glove; and is available for right-handed throwers.

Rawlings Liberty Advanced
Rawlings has developed a perfectly-balanced pattern technology for the Liberty Advanced Fastpitch Softball Glove series. This 12.5-inch glove is designed for the smaller hand of the female athlete, therefore providing improved control and comfort. The nonslip pull strap makes the hand opening adjustable for a custom fit. The Liberty Advanced Glove is constructed from full-grain oil-treated shell leather making it feel game-ready. It features a double-laced basket web which forms a closed, deep pocket making it an excellent choice for infielders, outfielders, and pitchers. It’s available for right-handed throwers.

While these three gloves rise to the top of this year’s offerings, there are many other options available for all levels of players. Longstreth Sporting Goods has a huge variety of gloves and mitts specifically designed for the female athlete. Visit Longstreth to see the fastpitch equipment selection or ask the Softball Expert how to select the perfect glove for you.

What is the Best Women’s Lacrosse Stick

Best Women's Lacrosse Sticks

2017 Women’s Lacrosse Sticks
Each year, lacrosse vendors roll out their new selection of women’s lacrosse heads and sticks for the upcoming season. Most equipment is designed with specialized technology that helps players get the most of their game. Some are constructed for players who are great defenders; while others have attributes that are best for a player who plays offense. Of course, goal keeper sticks have their own unique features.

This year, two sticks rise to the top of selection. Both have new technology that set them apart from the rest of the collection.

Under Armour Glory
Under Armour was inspired by the University of Maryland when creating this head. They constructed the Glory with the new Rail Elite Pocket , making it ideal for the elite player. The Rail Elite Pocket is unbeatable compared to any other pocket in the market. The high-quality nylons are built to withstand extreme temperatures and reduce weight. It also features Glide Scoop Technology that guides players to the ball no matter what direction they approach it. The Maximum offset offers superior control and feel, especially in the sweet spot. Lastly, the Poron XRD ballstop absorbs ball impact to minimize the chances of the ball bouncing out of the pocket. The Under Armour Glory with Rail Elite Pocket is available as a strung or unstrung head or as a complete stick with the Under Armour Composite Handle. These features make this stick the preferred choice of many college women’s lacrosse programs.

STX Crux 500
Another top choice of the season is STX’s Crux 500. This lightweight 10-degree lacrosse head comes with the Launch Pocket. 10 degree technology shifts the center of gravity, pushing the ball to the sweet spot, thus releasing the ball quicker. The unique Launch pocket features a design where the middle Chevrons widen near the sweet spot to flex out and hug the ball for better control and feel. The STX Crux 500 can also be purchased as a strung or unstrung head or as a complete stick with the STX Composite 10 handle.

2017 Women’s Lacrosse Heads and Handles
There are many other sticks and brands to choose from. Each brand offers a complete line of lacrosse heads that fit the needs of players of each level. Longstreth Sporting Goods specializes in bringing the best of the best equipment to the female athlete. Check out the great selection of women’s lacrosse equipment at Longstreth.

Softball Catcher Drills for the Female Athlete by a Seasoned Pro

softball-catchers-gear-training-tips

Longstreth has asked Jaime Wohlbach, East Stroudsburg Softball Head Coach and Softball Catcher Trainer to share her expertise in the field for this blog. Jaime shares our passion for the game and commitment to women’s sports. She has been involved with every aspect of the game of softball – playing, coaching, training and has built a solid reputation both within the USA and internationally.

She’s been a catcher for many years so it was natural for us to ask her to share a few Drills for the Softball Catcher. From Jaime’s point of view, a softball catcher must be mentally, physically and fundamentally tough, and most important of all, be a leader on and off the field.

Throughout her catching career, Jaime has found that to achieve maximum potential and maintain position readiness, a catcher must train 12 months out of the year.  Here are three drills that Jaime recommends that can be worked on daily, to enhance strength, speed, footwork and stamina.

 Blocking Drill
This is a great drill to build in reaction time to block.  Catchers know solid technique, but it’s reacting to the “missed pitch” that will better prepare catchers.

  • Be in a catcher’s squat facing a wall about 4 feet away from the wall
  • Have a partner stand directly behind the catcher with a softball
  • Tap the softball helmet, right shoulder, or left shoulder of the catcher so they have an idea of which direction to prepare to block the ball
  • Throw the softball directly into the wall so it takes one bounce on the ground before the catcher blocks it
  • Catcher reacts to the softball and blocks it

Sets/Reps:  10 reps, 3 sets, mix up locations, focusing on quick reaction time off the wall with solid blocking mechanics

Bucket Arm Strength Drill
This drill is great to build arm strength and length while keeping form in proper position.

  • Place a bucket with a lid on top on home plate
  • Catcher sits on the bucket
  • Receive a throw and while still seated on the bucket, drop step to a power line spin on the bucket so you are in good throwing position
  • Throw the softball as far as you can, without the ball bouncing (home to second and beyond)
  • Now that your max distance is found, even if you have to throw high and up, continue to repeat throw to that distance spotted.

Sets/Reps:  10 reps, 3 sets, throwing to the spot marked as the furthest distance being reached before bouncing.

Next session, go back one step further than the marked spot to continue to build on strength and length of throw, again, 10 reps, 3 sets, at a distance one step further than the day before

Block and Wild Pitch Combo Drill
This drill incorporates solid blocking technique, while the next softball thrown works on exploding for the wild pitch.  This will result in building power, speed, and endurance while still maintaining good mechanics even when the body gets tired.

  • A catcher in full gear in ready position in a squat
  • A partner rolls a softball underhand for the catcher to block and throw back to partner from the knees
  • Catcher resets to ready position
  • Partner throws a high wild pitch, and the catcher explodes up to catch it, sets to a powerline to throw back to the partner, and back to ready position squat
  • Repeat the above steps…catcher in ready position, drop and block ball, throws from knees to partner, back to ready position squat, explodes up for wild pitch, throws from powerline to partner, back to ready position squat, drop and block ball, throws back to partner from knees, back to ready position squat, explode up for wild pitch, continue to repeat this format.

Sets/Reps:  10 reps, 2 sets, up/down is 1 rep.

This will build strength, power, and endurance.  As the athlete gets tired during reps 6 -10, encourage the front foot to be strong on the powerline to continue solid accurate throws while pushing through being tired.

Jaime’s advice as a seasoned catcher, coach, and clinician developing athletes, is to make the time every day to train.  Why? You do it for the love of the game.  You do it for yourself and no one else.  You do it because the strength within you loves to excel and compete. You do it because you want to be the best catcher you can be and rise to the challenge. You do it because you want to earn your role on the field.  You do it because you anchor the field of success.

Longstreth thanks Jaime Wohlbach for her expertise, passion, and dedication to the game of softball. Visit Longstreth.com for more information about the game, ask the experts, or shop our huge selection of softball catchers gear and other softball equipment.

Features of Softball Cleats

softball-cleats

Before buying equipment for your young female athlete, it is important to understand the requirements of her sport. Softball doesn’t require as much equipment as some more intense sports. However, equipment for softball players does need to include excellent footwear.  Here are some of the features of softball cleats:

What are Cleats?
Generally, “cleats” refers to any shoe with projections on the sole. The spikes on cleats for softball have different spacing than cleats for other sports and are designed for providing the traction needed by softball players. Cleats help a player:

  • Run faster.
  • Stop more quickly.
  • Move from side-to-side more precisely.
  • Slide into base or home.

The spikes on softball cleats can be from either rubber, Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), or metal. Some cleats for pitchers have a reinforced toe area to protect the pitcher’s toe. Often cleats have an attached tongue to keep debris from getting into the shoe.

Types of Cleats
The biggest difference in cleats is whether spikes are metal or molded. While metal gives more traction, it also:

  • Can be more dangerous when players slide.
  • Tends to tear up the field.
  • Are more expensive.
  • Is prohibited in some situations.

Molded cleats are made out of either TPU or plastic. While these are less expensive to buy, they need to be replaced when the studs wear down.

Which Cleats to Choose?
Because fastpitch softball is more competitive, players in college, professional and competitive leagues are generally allowed to use metal cleats in games to help them steal a base. Some high school teams allow metal spikes and others do not, so it is important to find out what is allowed for your young athlete.

Important Features to Consider in Buying Softball Cleats
When buying cleats for softball, the brand or style is less important than getting a good fit. Here are some features to consider:

  • Leather upper is more durable than synthetic but may be less flexible.
  • If color is not required by the team, a darker color will hide the dirt better.
  • Shoes with enhanced toe protection will be more durable.
  • A style with a debris-free tongue can keep dirt out of the cleats.
  • Choose a stud configuration specific to softball for best performance, traction, and stability.

Help in Choosing Softball Cleats
Do you need help in choosing the best softball cleats for your daughter?  The experts at Longstreth Sporting Goods specialize in fitting equipment and footwear for young female players.  While young players may focus more on style and color, the professionals at Longstreth can help her consider fit and how the shoe feels on her foot so that you get the shoe that most enhances her game. We also carry the best field hockey gear and lacrosse gear for your athlete.

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.