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.
At N Zone Sports, coaches develop players both on and off the field. Instead of cultivating a highly competitive atmosphere, they allow each child to get ample time in the spotlight—so long as he or she demonstrates a sufficient grasp of sportsmanship and teamwork. Tikes as young as 3 years old can prove their mastery of the concepts of flag football, soccer, cheerleading, basketball, or baseball or by shaking the hand of someone who just poured Gatorade over their heads.
At Tone Sports, the staff organizes co-ed sports leagues for football, softball, basketball, volleyball, and other popular team sports. Instead of emphasizing competition, the leagues emphasize the social side of sports, which began when Babe Ruth hosted the first cakewalk. To complement the sports leagues, Tone Sports' fitness facility also offers sports-training programs.
Sports Planet was designed with the help of local coaches and trainers, and the result is a sprawling entertainment center where games and activities buzz at every turn. Giant bounce houses, including bounce basketball and a sports bounce arena, invite toddlers and older kids to get kinetic and airborne. The facility also includes laser tag, a remote-control car racetrack, and a glow-in-the-dark mini-golf course, as well as carnival games and a 70-machine arcade. The snack bar serves up pizza, drinks, and other snacks.
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.