Each day, the cracks of bats connecting with fastballs and the smacks of baseballs arriving in leather mitts can be heard echoing throughout Hitters Hangout?s climate controlled indoor facility. The staff here encourages serious baseball and softball improvement within the facility?s three cages: a Major League cage for live batting practice, a Minor League cage outfitted with Iron Mike pitching machines, and a training tunnel for pitching, catching, and witnessing where mascots are kept during off-hours. The professional staff of instructors?which includes Orlando Palmeiro of the 2002 World Series champion Anaheim Angels, former Marlins catcher Jorge Fabregas, and Yuniesky Betancourt of the Brewers?pass along their insights on hitting, pitching, catching, and fielding during private and group lessons.
The Marlins take the field at Marlins Park: an eco-friendly, 37,000-seat facility equipped with a retractable roof, plexiglass fish tanks behind home plate, and a vibrant sculpture in left-center field that kicks into motion for Marlins home runs. Born in 1993, the Florida Marlins quickly established themselves as contenders in the National League, taking home World Series titles in 1997 and 2003. And today, after some light rebranding to go along with the new stadium, the rechristened Miami Marlins aim to continue traditions new and old, expand their list of Hall of Famers, and train the stadium’s fish to stealthily intercept batting signals.
Though its name reflects its primary purpose as a a baseball and softball training facility, Line Drive Performance welcomes any athlete who wants to improve his or her fitness—an attribute that helps improve skills in any sport. During training sessions, trainers whip their subjects into shape through sit-ups, resistance training, and agility exercises, adapting challenges to fit any level of fitness or natural athleticism. Baseball and softball players, meanwhile, hone their chops inside coin-operated batting cages or work on fielding and pitching with private instructors. Much of Line Drives' facilities are located indoors, which lets players can practice in the off-season without worrying that hawks will swoop in and steal every pop fly.
Baseball and softball players of all skill levels descend upon Extra Innings' 18,000-square-foot indoor facility to hone home-run-hitting swings and more. Players can swing, pitch, or field for 60 minutes inside one of the five indoor hitting tunnels that stretch 70 feet long, 15 feet wide, and 30 feet high as adjustable pitching machines sling unlimited fastballs toward the plate at speeds of up to 90 miles per hour. The facility outfits hitters with bats and helmets for no additional charge, and each tunnel is equipped with an L-screen, a pitcher's mound, and sliding nets that can transform the cage into an open-field area for practicing fielding skills and ribbon-dancing routines.
The coaches at Athletes Edge are dedicated to creating top-performing sportsmen and women. Just ask former UFC light-heavyweight champion "Suga" Rashad Evans, who benefitted from the company's rigorous mixed-martial-arts training program. They also help college prospects prepare for the NFL combine, and specialize in sports ranging from baseball, basketball, and soccer, to volleyball and tennis. The crew focuses on enhancing each adult’s or child's capacity for speed, agility, strength, and overall performance in a fun, sports-oriented environment. The classes are designed for all types of people with varying fitness goals.
Director of training Jeff Sanders, a certified strength-and-conditioning and performance-enhancement specialist, worked with several influential NFL coaches when he trained the Baltimore Ravens beginning in 2001. Sanders also gained clinical-rehabilitation and gait-training experience while working in the inpatient post-op division of Shands hospital. He and his team train athletes in the brand-new, 62,000-square-foot Fernandez Family Center and the two adjacent football and soccer fields on the Saint Thomas University campus in North Miami.
Under the leadership of Andy Raffa, the expert staff at Players Edge Academy teach the American pastime in a 20,000-square-foot indoor baseball mecca that shields players from heat, rain, and UFO abductions. Lessons and camps dispense expert advice from an all-star team of instructors, including former Yankees pitcher Jay Tessmer, who was with the team for the 1999 and 2000 World Series victories.
Taking to the indoor infield, students learn to hit, field, and pitch during lessons, clinics, and camps. Six batting cages sling fastballs, curveballs, and sliders to hitters, and in four of the cages, ProBatter PX2 pitching machines project a digital, life-size image of a pitcher onto a screen. The DVD-quality pitcher, synchronized with the incoming pitch, can be adjusted to the batter's height, skill level, and speed.