With the help of a team of trainers, owner of Cover All Bases, Chris Gay, gives little-leaguers a leg up on the competition. During his clinics, he spends much of the time working on the sport's most essential motion?the swing?in private hitting lessons. But to help build all-around athletes he and his four trainers lead sessions geared toward pitching, fielding, catching, and the closely related art of hitting softballs. A high school athlete himself who went on to pitch for the University of Texas at Arlington and double-A minor league baseball with the Chicago White Sox for 2 1/2 seasons, his love for the game shines through in his training sessions. "(I) love teaching baseball to kids and helping them make their high school teams," he says.
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Private hitting lessons and token cards
Pro Tip: It's more comfortable when you bring your own bat
Good for Kids: Yes
Walk-ins Welcome: Yes
When D-BAT opened in 1998, Cade Griffis was one of only two employees (the other was his brother, Kyle). But Cade knew that he had everything he needed to succeed, starting with a strong training philosophy shaped by his professional and college baseball careers.
Cade's philosophy is simple: every player should follow a unique game plan, tailored to his or her strengths. As straightforward as it sounds, it works wonders when applied consistently. Cade has helped many budding ballplayers grow into power hitters, and somewhere along the way his small facility transformed into a baseball empire with 19 high-tech training locations.
Today, veteran coaches staff each of the climate-controlled facilities. They have a variety of tools at their disposal, including pitching machines that shoot balls at custom speeds of 70+ mph. On flat-screen TVs, parents can watch their kids improve their batting form and master the art of juggling all the bases at once.
In the Box Athletics offers up an environment where competitive athletes and casual enthusiasts can pursue their individual goals. The schedule of strength and conditioning sessions includes high-intensity CrossFit workouts, which use exercises based on functional movements to build strength, stamina, speed, agility, and power. Coaches offer self-defense training, including classes that teach the grappling techniques of Brazilian jiu-jitsu in particular, and the center employs a licensed massage therapist who can keep muscles in peak condition. In the Box Athletics also offers long-term fitness programs designed to promote health and wellbeing by helping clients make significant lifestyle modifications.
At Legends Batting Cages, a full roster of outdoor pitching machines fires practice balls at various speeds to help Little Leaguers and advanced batters hone their skills. The machines' weapons of choice are hollow-core MacGregor balls, which fly further than regular baseballs and help prevent broken bats and embarrassing off-key clinks. Pitch speeds range from 30 to 55 miles per hour for ages 5?9 and from to 40 to 90 miles per hour for ages 10 and older, topping out at 90 miles per hour in a cage suited for professional-level players. The facility also hosts an auxiliary batting cage, which up to 12 players may rent to test their stadium-light-shattering abilities.
No athlete ever got worse by practicing the fundamentals. At Elite Players Club, coaches?many who played at the professional and division 1 college level?help baseball and softball players between the ages of 5 and 18 take their skills to the next level by turning proper form and technique into second nature. The training programs include regularly scheduled camps and clinics that cover virtually every aspect of the sport, including throwing, catching, batting, pitching, and doing the wave. Coaches also dive into the strategic thinking required to help players instinctively make smart plays and put together conditioning workouts to improve players' strength and stamina over time.
Though they operate more than 200 locations in upwards of 30 states, the team behind U.S. Baseball Academy aims to make each young athlete's experience a personal one. Their four- or six-week camps are taught by local instructors who are current or former coaches at the high school or college level, and typically offer a 6:1 or better player-to-teacher ratio for intense, professional-style training. The Academy's proven itinerary of hitting, pitching, fielding, and baserunning drills was developed by an advisory board of college coaches and Major League players, including Cy Young Award?winner and ace pitcher Brandon Webb.