At Tidewater Hit and Pitch, a team of professional baseball and softball coaches pass their wisdom onto future generations of pitchers and fielders in one-on-one coaching sessions and group camps. The staff breaks down the sport into three digestible parts?pitching, hitting, and fielding?which helps players hone discipline with drills while imparting universal skills such as balance, body control, and how to dispose of chewing gum besides swallowing it.
It’s fitting that Grand Slam 2’s name suggests a sequel, as the baseball complex’s team of instructors consists of former collegiate coaches and athletes who continue their involvement in the sport even after hanging up their game-day cleats. In classes, camps, and clinics, these instructors impart their appreciation for baseball as they build their students’ hitting and fielding skills from the ground up. Though the facility’s batting cages play an important role in correcting swings, sessions may also include off-field weight training—this is especially true for pitching classes, which aim to bulk up throwing arms in preparation for more serious competition. At winter and summer hitting academies, bats crack against approaching baseballs like the whip of an exceptionally demanding coach.
Players can put their newfound skills to the test in the Tidewater Bombers baseball program, a competitive, age-appropriate league that imparts the principles of teamwork through live-action games. To prepare for league games, check out Grand Slam 2's pro shop, which stocks bats, gloves, and terrifying masks for psyching out opposing pitchers.
United Social Sports brings recreational athletes together to socialize and showcase their hand-eye coordination. Free agents or team-sized groups register for the organization’s casual coed leagues dedicated to traditional sports such as softball and volleyball as well as carnival games such as cornhole and skee-ball. Each league hosts 6–8 weekly matches, which culminate in a final tournament and an end-of-season party—much like youth-sports leagues, but with postgame drink specials.
By now, it?s no secret that Richmond Baseball Academy West has a knack for developing top baseball talent. More than 30 players who have been drafted by Major League teams have also either trained at facilities or played on one of the Academy?s traveling teams, including 2011 Cy Young winner Justin Verlander. And that?s in addition to hundreds of athletes who emerged from the program to play at the collegiate level.
Co-owned by former Major League reliever Cla Meredith, the Academy shapes future masters of the diamond with coaches who bring genuine field experience as they have all played the game at either the professional or college level. Pupils learn how to run down ground balls and put together solid at bats inside the Academy?s year-round facility in Richmond. It features batting cages, pitching machines, radar guns, and more of the latest teaching devices to help streamline training sessions.
Meanwhile, former softball standouts Synthia Reader and Sara Lassiter?a four-year player at Averett University?lead the softball program, which offers lessons for players of all ages and boasts its own competitive travel team. Richmond Baseball Academy also teaches youngsters aged 5?12 how to hit, field, and sniff out any sunflower seeds within the city limits in four-day baseball summer camps. It hosts more than 16 travel teams which accommodate ball players from age 8 to 17.
The summer sun is shining, the chickadees are chirping, and the Northern Virginia sky is a dazzling azure blue—SplashDown Waterpark was made for days like today. The 13-acre water park, lauded as one of the best places to cool off in the area by Northern Virginia Magazine, abounds with aquatic attractions, including two four-story water slides.
Inflatable tubes meander down the park's 770-foot lazy river, and youngsters frolic through watery obstacle courses. Over in the 25-meter lap pool, American Red Cross–certified instructors conduct private swim lessons, teaching students how to tread water and convince dolphins to carry them when that gets tiring. The park also features an array of eateries and concessions stands full of hamburgers, pizzas, and sugary funnel cakes.
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.