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.
Landscaped holes sprawl across the grounds of Putt-Putt Fun Center's three locations, challenging visitors to take hold of putters and test their short game. Besides putt-putt golf, the center has batting cages that hurl baseballs and the occasional tomato at various speeds. The attractions at Alley Cats Entertainment Center, include kid-friendly laser tag, rock-climbing, and an arcade, as well as a bar with billiards for the grown-ups. Both locations are home to giant arcades featuring state-of-the-art games and redemption centers to cash in tickets for prizes.
Specials and parties are offered year-round including summer camps, which are offered through Alley Cats and Putt-Putt Fun Center's multiple locations. At camps, kids ages 5 to 13 experience daily themes in a classroom setting from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., from June 9 through August 22. All facilities are fully licensed for daycare and activities include days such as magic day, where children are taught tricks by a professional magician.
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
The cracking sounds of line drives and fly balls spread throughout Stolen Bases's indoor facility, where baseball and softball players can hone their game. Eight batting cages challenge athletes to step up to home plate and hit pitches hurled by automatic machines, real-life players, or enchanted bobble heads posing as real-life players. Visitors can train on their own or request help from Stolen Bases's baseball and softball instructors who guide swings during private lessons and camps. The faculty includes former collegiate and professional players, such as Fontella Jones, who pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Away from the batting cages, an onsite pro shop stocks enough apparel and equipment to make any baseball mascot molt with glee. Staffers can help customers select gloves and bats from brands such as Easton, Rawlings, and Rip-It.
Tony Abbatine, the national director of instruction at Frozen Ropes, believes that athletic success in baseball or softball comes from more than a strong body. That's why he makes sure to cover biomechanics, motor learning, sports psychology, and visual training, all to enhance the motion of a swing, the aim of a pitch, or the ability to catch a pop fly with mind powers. But of course, a strong body helps, and his curriculum reflects that through the inclusion of modern strength-and-conditioning techniques. The structure has proved successful over the years, making the game fun for everyone from kids as young as kindergarten age to even MLB players such as Manny Ramirez and Mariano Rivera.
Premier Baseball Academy's instructors draw from their experience at the high school, college, and professional levels to help hone skills of players ranging from little leaguers to pros. In private and group lessons, the bat-swinging experts focus on areas such as strength and arm velocity with equipment including pitching mounds and five Iron Mike batting-cage machines that dispatch balls at adjustable speeds. The instructors hold practices for entire teams and lead camps that aim to cover all mental and physical aspects of the national pastime. The Academy also hosts several tournaments throughout the year and serves as a rescue shelter for stray team mascots.