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.
You won’t find people making sandcastles inside Dune Citi’s 38-ton sand pit; rather, you’ll find athletes running on the unstable surface to strengthen muscles in their legs. This sort of intense athletic training prevails throughout Dune Citi, including in the workout area, on the basketball and volleyball courts, and alongside the ghost of Roy Hobbs in the batting cages. For more structured exercise, Dune also schedules fitness classes such as Zumba’s latin-inspired dances, yoga’s meditative poses, and CrossFit’s daily workouts.
The metallic clunks of baseballs and softballs struck by swinging bats pulse through Castle Batting Cages, located inside Sherman Oaks Castle Park. The hurling apparatuses serve up these ill-fated spheres at speeds as low as 20 miles per hour and as high as 80 miles per hour. The slow-pitch-softball machines toss both low-arc and high-arc strikes, and the fast-pitch-softball cage tests reflexes with speeds of up to 60 miles per hour.
At Goals Soccer Centers, athletes of all ages try their hand—or rather foot—at the world’s most popular sport during league and open play. Eleven artificial-turf fields accommodate five-a-side teams for fast-paced outdoor games. Rebound walls enclose pitches, inviting players to bang balls off them for tricky passing, and netting keeps all spherical objects from flying out of bounds. In between matches, teammates refuel at the onsite restaurant or relax in a lounge equipped with TV and free WiFi. Complete with showers, tidy locker rooms also give footballers ample space to dress and clean up before and after contests.
You step up to the plate and raise the bat, realizing you have just enough time for a quick footing adjustment before the ball comes hurling at you. The bat swings forward and connects with the ball, sending it soaring into the air. But instead of running around the bases to the soundtrack of adoring fans, you ready yourself for another ball. And this one's going to feel the hurt even more.
This is the experience Sluggers Batting Cages offers, allowing kids and adults alike to act out their dreams and hone their at-plate skills while in a safe outdoor environment. Automated machines pump out heaters in individual batting cages, while protective fencing catches balls that would have otherwise earned batters home runs, doubles, or concussion-related lawsuits. Sluggers also offers party packages for teams or birthday celebrants who want to make a whole day of it, sweetening the deal with pizza, pop, and a private room.
The sight of a medieval castle surrounded by tall cacti may seem anachronistic at first, but it's hard to question the image when one is trying to putt a mini golf ball into a grassy hole off the circulating paddles of a windmill. It's whimsical moments like this that make Golf N? Stuff's name feel understated. Beyond the two lush 18-hole mini golf courses that draw year-round visitors, the entertainment center boasts go-karts, bumper boats, and more than 100 arcade games. Batting cages let both kids and adults perfect their swings. Visitors can refuel on hot dogs, Dippin' Dots ice cream, and soda at the snack bar.