Going from managing ostriches to running a baseball business may seem like a strange jump, but it's just another day in the office for Better Baseball founder Glen Robinson III. In the 1980s, he began raising and selling ostriches and emus as food and as companions for people allergic to pet rocks. A warm spring morning brought an impromptu visit for a customer who was less interested in the massive birds, and more focused on the netting that separated the animals' pens. Soon, Glen was spending more time crafting batting cages than selling his livestock, inspiring him to open what would eventually become Better Baseball.
Today, this bird-free business furnishes players of America's favorite pastime with the gear they need to play Little League, softball, or even college-level games. After taking practice swings inside one of Glen's onsite cages, players can pick up the gloves, glove pads, and eye protection needed to help them catch any pop flies or poorly aimed Cracker Jack from the stands.
Sports A Rama East Cobb’s multisport facility encompasses 30,000 square feet of batting and pitching cages, a 3,000 square foot indoor turf field, and a half-court basketball gym. Athletes can train with the facility’s coaches to fine-tune sport-specific skills in baseball, basketball, football, softball, and lacrosse, or focus on all-around speed, strength, and endurance for improved cow-tipping techniques. Two large party rooms, an inflatable moonwalk, and an arcade create a welcoming, family-friendly environment for birthday parties or youth athletic teams.
At 5-Tool Sports Training Center's 7,000 square-foot, air-conditioned facility, David Collings—a former scholarship player at Andrew College and the University of West Georgia—leads a team of specialized instructors whose collective experience includes minor-league play and collegiate-level coaching. Together the team shapes young baseball players with results-oriented clinics, including a pitching program designed after those used by major-league franchises and the Chinese national team. Other sessions range from summer camps that cover all aspects of the game to position-specific clinics, such as introductory and advanced catching with Mike Day––a four-time College World Series catcher who went on to play with the Montreal Expos.
To keep their skill set sharp, athletes can schedule time in one of four 55-foot hitting cages, two of which boast Iron Mike pitching machines or two dedicated pitching lanes. Private instruction gives kids individualized feedback, and a video-analysis room allows them to see the errors in their swing or the understated chicness of swapping out a cap for a beret.
Hittersbox Baseball lets hitters battle against pros without ever leaving the batting cage. With its ProBatter PX2 Professional Baseball System—one of several training tools used by major leaguers—a virtual pitcher winds up just as a ball is launched through a hole in the video screen by a pitching machine hidden behind it. For a greater challenge, batters can change the location, pitch type, and sequence of pitches, or just close their eyes.
After practice, Pro Mirror video training allows players to relive their swings and analyze any pitfalls by watching five minutes of batting-cage video. These modern takes on traditional baseball practice, which Hittersbox coaches use for beginners and serious players alike, boast approval from owner Jasha Balcom, a former Chicago Cub, as well as an elite list of major-league clients.
Kinetic Prototype's trainers believe the difference between an average athletic performance and an outstanding one is found in the player's movements. In each fitness-training session, they focus on exercises that have particular benefits in the sports and positions their clients play. Swimmers can sharpen their breaststrokes through body-resistance exercises and endurance training, and softball catchers can put extra oomph in their home-base throws with strength-training regimens.