Lee Martin began his baseball career playing junior-college ball at Long Beach City College before moving on to become an All Big West pitcher at Long Beach State University. Though an injury mere weeks before the College World Series ended his playing career, it couldn’t subdue his passion the sport. Today, Coach Martin shares his experiences as the varsity pitching coach at Columbine High School and by giving players a venue to hone their skills at The Batter's Box. Inside the spacious facility, Coach Martin and his expert staff help students perfect baseball technique during four-week speed-and-conditioning camps as well as one-on-one video analysis to review pitches and swings. Visitors sling pitches from three indoor mounds and strengthen their hitting skills in 55-foot retractable cages, whose Iron Mike or Jugs pitching machines launch balls endlessly or until the machines get called up to AAA teams. While players master the art of fielding, parents can read while waiting in a lounge equipped with free WiFi and Nintendo 64 for younger siblings.
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.
Extra Innings Littleton's sprawling baseball enclave sharpens batting and pitching skills with a lineup of seven multiuse training tunnels. Each spacious tunnel is 70 feet long, 25 feet high, and 15 feet wide, leaving plenty of room for wild pitches, fly balls, and improvement. There's no limit on the number of pitches flung by the ball-launching machines, which can be adjusted to spew out blazing fastballs for the pros or gentle, encouraging lobs that help to train new players; tees are also available for the youngest sluggers. If human pitchers want to sub in for Extra Innings' robotic all-star, the facility's protective L-screens stand ready to protect them from line drives as pitching arms practice hurling orbs toward a catching or batting partner.