No matter their athletic ability, kids aged 4–12 can get something out of Sports Champs' multiplatform day camps. That's because in addition to helping kids hone speed and strength in a number of sports––including basketball, field hockey, track, and volleyball––the CPR- and first-aid-certified counselors also encourage them to start thinking about sports-focused careers. Weekly guest speakers give fun and interactive lessons on broadcasting, management, nutrition, and physical therapy, to name a few.
From fast balls to sliders, the HomePlate pitching machines by Sports Tutor at On-Deck Baseball's indoor facility fling baseballs and softballs at speeds of up to 90 and 60 mph, respectively. Of course, being a gifted baseball player doesn't just mean knowing how to make contact at the plate. That's why On-Deck partners with West Coast Baseball School to host spring, summer, and winter camps for coaches and players alike. Taught by former members of the San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners, courses focus on baseball essentials such as fielding, pitching, and serving umpires the customary tea during seventh-inning stretches. Besides refining skills on the field, On-Deck hones strong muscles thanks to exercise equipment such as free weights and the Next Level Fast-Twitch machine.
If practice makes perfect, then South Bay Refinery helps aspiring athletes of all ages perfect their baseball and softball skills by providing all the space, equipment, and professional guidance they could ask for. The 25,000-square-foot indoor facility features eight regulation-size pitching mounds, two softball pitching mats, nine full-sized baseball batting cages, four full-sized softball batting cages, six Iron Mike pitching machines, and four Jugs softball-pitching machines in addition to a separate practice infield area. With a staff of instructors that includes former and current professional players as well as experienced coaches, South Bay Refinery offers lessons intended to provide mental and physical training while reinforcing fundamentals. Specialized camps are also available on a regular basis, covering the basics of everything from batting and fielding to pitching and bobblehead modeling. The facility even features a separate cross-training fitness area, which hosts classes designed to improve athletes' strength, endurance, agility, flexibility, and proprioception over time.
When he looked past the flourishes of players in the majors, Dylan Gaines realized the swings of professional hitters were nearly identical. Working with pro ballplayers such as Darrell Thomas and Nez Belelo, Dylan honed those swing fundamentals during his stint on the Seattle Mariners. At All-Star Baseball School, he's broken down and distilled these basics into a potent dram of batsmanship for students since 1997. Along with Eric Fischer, a veteran of the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins, Dylan teaches his pupils hitting, pitching, and fielding skills during private lessons and summer camps. After the classes let out, little leaguers can study the greats with an instructional DVD hosted by baseball legend and record holder Pete Rose, who walks viewers through pointers for hitting homers without planting baseballs in the stands beforehand.
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.
At So Cal Hitting Zone, former pro baseball players oversee a 7,000-square-foot training facility equipped with professional batting cages. Owner Will Skett and fellow coach Casey Snow—who played AA ball for the Toronto Blue Jays and at the AAA level for the Los Angeles Dodgers, respectively—lead custom training programs for players of all ages, specializing in hitting, fielding, pitching, and strength and speed training. In the batting cages, Iron Mike pitching machines hurl fastballs, curveballs, and sliders, and the pro shop stocks professional equipment from brands such as Mizuno, Easton, and Rawlings.