Local coach Bob Kittle is both a fixture and good omen in Santa Cruz baseball. He nabbed the position of head coach at Cabrillo College after a 13-year stint at Santa Cruz High School, where he passed 47 players—12 of whom carried Division I scholarships—on to four-year schools. After seven Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League title wins and a community effort that saw Bill Dodge Field built, he now guides college players toward burgeoning baseball careers. He prefers to focus on the willpower behind the sport, telling the Santa Cruz Sentinel that "winning and success will take care of itself" when his students are devoted.
Bob runs the Santa Cruz Baseball School as a year-round venue for players to hone their on-the-field skills. Through the nonprofit organization, he coaches kids with private lessons, high-school leagues, and recruiting tips to impress colleges, such as how to tell the difference between a diamond and a parallelogram. The school's summer camps engage 7- to 14-year-olds with game-play drills and speed-boosting techniques. Past instructors include Neil Walton of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Lauren Gagnier of the Detroit Tigers.
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.
As a former relief pitcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, Mike Bumatay brings a decade of pro experience and three league championships to teaching pitching and hitting mechanics. Bumatay individualizes practices to focus on a player’s preferred skills, such as hitting, pitching, fielding, or hypnotizing balls to suddenly roll the opposite the way once it reaches the shortstop. In addition to drilling on technique and mechanics, Bumatay prepares students for the mental challenges of the baseball world, such as accepting hot dogs, peanuts, and Cracker Jacks as the only three food groups.
Everyone can buy up to five of today's Groupon (a total of 10 tickets), so round up ballpark fanatics of all ages for a Saturday-evening outing to the open-air Chukchansi Park, which plays host to the Fresno Grizzlies before they grow to the heights of gentle yet surprisingly man-sized San Francisco Giants. Backdropped by the downtown skyline, night games spring to life under a spectacular night sky. During slow innings or unusually long pop flies, take your anxious youngsters down for a few games at the park's Fun Zone, where kids can train like real-life baseball players by riding the carousel, rolling down the inflatable slide, and practicing in the pitching and batting zones.
The expert trainers at Extreme Fitness and Sports push their clients to run faster, stretch deeper, and push harder. With their sports-specific and general fitness programs, they aim to help guests improve their performance using equipment either outdoors or within their sprawling facility. The facility boasts long stretches of flooring for sprints, free weights, and boxes of different heights to jump up upon.
Rich Taylor and George Silvey run San Jose Batting Cages camps. In fact, running baseball and softball camps is what these two have been doing for more than 30 years. Rich has spent more than 35 years developing Little League and D1 players at Pepperdine University, which is where he coached three All Americans. Twenty of his players signed professional contracts during his tenure as a pitching coach. George has more than 40 years of coaching experience and is the current Varsity Softball Pitching and Assistant Head Coach for Los Gatos High School. With a relentless focus on practice, San Jose Batting Cages lets players improve their hitting, pitching, defense, and all-around game to better prepare for their next outing on the diamond.
Whether working through in-season regimens or off-season training, baseball and softball players can perfect their swing within San Jose Batting Cages' batting cages and training facility, which stays open until 9 p.m. during the week. Instructors offer hitting and pitching lessons as well as team and group clinics to help athletes develop all aspects of their game.