Unlike an outdoor field, The Perfect Swing's more than 60,000 sq. ft. facility isn't ever affected by bad weather or movie crews shooting yet another inspiring comeback story. The sound of cracking bats and thudding balls fills the training space rain or shine year-round. Baseball and softball players face off against seven automatic pitching machines, which hurl balls at speeds between 35–70 miles per hour, while pitchers work their arms in 17 practice tunnels.
The Perfect Swing also offers four indoor turf fields for year-round baseball, softball, and soccer. Shoppers who are looking to stock up on softball and baseball equipment can visit the on-site store.
Athletes aren't left to swing and throw blindly, though. The Perfect Swing boasts a staff of more than 25 baseball and softball instructors, including many current and former professional players. During private and group instruction, these experts help students hone fundamental skills in areas such as hitting, pitching, catching, fielding, and agility. Instructors also lead outdoor baseball camps during the summer months.
Baseball and softball players who want to make the jump to the next level often need coaches who know exactly what it takes. At Pastime Sports Academy, the experience offered by the coaching staff reaches to the very top of the talent heap, with a roster of high school varsity coaches, college pitching coaches, and former minor leaguers such as ex-Yankees draft pick Dietrich Enns. For the past 17 years, athletes have taken advantage of this diamond expertise through private and group instruction, which focus on skills ranging from shagging fly balls to fielding grounders to hitting a curveball. Pitchers can develop their velocity and control from a dirt pitching mound, while hitters can perfect their swings and double-pump-fake bunts inside five batting cages outfitted with Iron Mike pitching machines.
At CrossFit Lemont, certified CrossFit trainers and fitness classes build the kind of strength that makes everyday tasks easier?not bulky muscle that's just for show. Their high-octane, functional workout classes accommodate different levels of experience, and span 10 fitness domains, from power and strength to balance and flexibility to speed and stamina. Each of these sessions takes place in the gym's 10,000-square-foot facility, which also features 5,000 square feet of field turf that keeps feet firmly planted during power-lawnmowing workouts.
Founded by former professional baseball player Chris Beacom, Illinois Baseball Academy trains young ballplayers in the ways of America's pastime. Its expansive Rosemont facility, The Dome, fits two regulation diamonds and five full batting cages into 140,000 square feet, and The Yard in Northfield encompasses batting cages and a pitching tunnel, plus room for fielding. In summer, Illinois Baseball Academy offers summer camps run both independently and in partnership with area park districts.
The ThunderBolts' swift pitches and powerful swings have twice led them to being crowned champions of the Frontier League—a set of a dozen independent pro baseball teams. This season, right-handed hurler Dustin Williams has led the 'Bolts pitching staff and fanned 29 batters over 24.1 innings in his first four starts. Meanwhile, catcher Zach Aakhus has been chasing the league’s slugging title with a .365 average through 18 games and an industrial-strength butterfly net. Groupon holders may choose from more than 30 remaining home games in 2011, catching more flies than a bullfrog dipped in honey from their upper- and lower-deck seats.
The thwack of bats hitting balls squarely on their stitched faces echoes throughout The Hitting Zone, a 16,000-square-foot indoor baseball and softball training center. There, skilled trainers draw on their own experiences in the field to help batters achieve that satisfying sound during private and group lessons. Coach Rick DeHart shares what he learned while playing for the Montreal Expos and the Kansas City Royals, and Chris Wilmot’s lessons are shaped by his time as a first baseman for the Cougars. Other trainers share stories of college ball and coaching high-school students while they demonstrate pro pitching and hitting techniques in six turfed training tunnels.
Budding swingers can also apply their newly learned skills in five baseball and fast-pitch-softball cages equipped with ATEC automatic pitching machines that aspire to play for the Yankees one day. A 12-inch slow-pitch-arc softball cage also awaits batters, who can fuel their efforts with refreshments from nearby vending machines. In addition, The Hitting Zone also welcomes birthday celebrants inside a 24'x27' party room, where they can eat cake in between whacking balls and listing all of the Great Bambino’s nicknames in alphabetical order.