When D-BAT opened in 1998, Cade Griffis was one of only two employees (the other was his brother, Kyle). But Cade knew that he had everything he needed to succeed, starting with a strong training philosophy shaped by his professional and college baseball careers.
Cade's philosophy is simple: every player should follow a unique game plan, tailored to his or her strengths. As straightforward as it sounds, it works wonders when applied consistently. Cade has helped many budding ballplayers grow into power hitters, and somewhere along the way his small facility transformed into a baseball empire with 19 high-tech training locations.
Today, veteran coaches staff each of the climate-controlled facilities. They have a variety of tools at their disposal, including pitching machines that shoot balls at custom speeds of 70+ mph. On flat-screen TVs, parents can watch their kids improve their batting form and master the art of juggling all the bases at once.
With the help of a team of trainers, owner of Cover All Bases, Chris Gay, gives little-leaguers a leg up on the competition. During his clinics, he spends much of the time working on the sport's most essential motion?the swing?in private hitting lessons. But to help build all-around athletes he and his four trainers lead sessions geared toward pitching, fielding, catching, and the closely related art of hitting softballs. A high school athlete himself who went on to pitch for the University of Texas at Arlington and double-A minor league baseball with the Chicago White Sox for 2 1/2 seasons, his love for the game shines through in his training sessions. "(I) love teaching baseball to kids and helping them make their high school teams," he says.
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Private hitting lessons and token cards
Pro Tip: It's more comfortable when you bring your own bat
Good for Kids: Yes
Walk-ins Welcome: Yes
At Legends Batting Cages, a full roster of outdoor pitching machines fires practice balls at various speeds to help Little Leaguers and advanced batters hone their skills. The machines' weapons of choice are hollow-core MacGregor balls, which fly further than regular baseballs and help prevent broken bats and embarrassing off-key clinks. Pitch speeds range from 30 to 55 miles per hour for ages 5?9 and from to 40 to 90 miles per hour for ages 10 and older, topping out at 90 miles per hour in a cage suited for professional-level players. The facility also hosts an auxiliary batting cage, which up to 12 players may rent to test their stadium-light-shattering abilities.
Premier Baseball Academy's instructors draw from their experience at the high school, college, and professional levels to help hone skills of players ranging from little leaguers to pros. In private and group lessons, the bat-swinging experts focus on areas such as strength and arm velocity with equipment including pitching mounds and five Iron Mike batting-cage machines that dispatch balls at adjustable speeds. The instructors hold practices for entire teams and lead camps that aim to cover all mental and physical aspects of the national pastime. The Academy also hosts several tournaments throughout the year and serves as a rescue shelter for stray team mascots.
Practice makes perfect and perfection is the goal of Centerfield Baseball & Softball Academy's staff. The roster of experienced instructors includes members with playing and coaching experience at the collegiate and Major League levels. During private lessons, these instructors share their insight and help players refine fundamental hitting or pitching techniques. Larger clinics allow the staff to work with groups and create well-rounded baseball and softball athletes.
These lessons can take place in the academy's 15,000-square-foot climate-controlled facility, which also allows players to refine their game on their own. Its four Iron Mike pitching machines are capable of slinging fastballs or water balloons at speeds from 40 to 70 miles per hour, and six of its eight open cages feature mounds, which help pitchers dig in while they practice delivering the heat.
The crack of a bat signals another powerful hit inside Extra Innings' spacious, 70-foot-long batting tunnels. Each cage's Iron Mike pitching machine emulates the power and speed of a cantaloupe tossed by Popeye, sending a feast of fastballs screeching toward homerun-hungry hitters. Extra Innings' 12,000-square-foot facility also divvies its plethora of space for private pitching, fielding, and batting lessons hosted by seasoned instructors, as well as a circuit training area furnished with soft-toss machines, tees, and stride boards that further perfect techniques. The onsite pro shop also equips players with all of the baseball essentials.:m]]