Monday, August 29, 2016

How are Softball and Baseball Different from Each Other?




While there are many similarities between the games of baseball and softball, there are a few major differences between the two. If your child plays softball or you are coaching a team, these fun facts can give you some insight into the differences between the two games. 

The Field
Both sports are played on a field that includes a diamond-shaped dirt infield and a grass-covered outfield, but the dimensions of a softball field are much smaller. With an infield less than half the size of a baseball infield, softball is a more quickly moving game in which players really have to hustle.

Pitching
Baseball pitchers throw from a raised mound, but in softball, the pitcher delivers balls on level ground with the batter 40 feet from pitcher, a distance much closer to the batter than in baseball. Softball pitches can reach speeds up to 70 miles per hour, with the ball reaching the batter in just .35 seconds.

Batting
Because of the short distance between pitcher and batter, when hitting a fastball  softball batters may have only 25 milliseconds to decide when to swing, 55 percent less time than in major league baseball.  
In a line drive the ball may reach 100 miles per hour, making catching the ball even more challenging for infielders. If the batter hits a grounder, an infielder might have just 3.2 seconds to get the ball to first base, a full second less than a major leaguer can reach first base.

When a batter delivers a slap hit infielders have even less time to react, as the batter is already moving before the ball is in play, fighting the player’s resting inertia. Slap hits can reach up to 19 miles per hour and batters can reach first base in a matter of 2.66 seconds. If a third baseman takes any more than 1.5 seconds to field the ball down the third baseline it becomes virtually impossible to throw the runner out at first base.

Running
Unlike baseball, in softball players are not allowed to lead off, but a fast softball runner can sometimes get from first to second base in a matter of three seconds. A softball catcher may have just  1.5 seconds to nail a runner, about one-tenth of a second less than in baseball.

Softball Equipment
  • Balls. A softball is significantly larger than a baseball. A softball measures between 11.88 and 12.13 inches in circumference and weighs between 6.25 and 7.00 ounces; a baseball measures between 9.00 and 9.25 inches in circumference and weighs between 5.00 and 5.25 ounces. Leagues for the youngest softball players often use smaller and softer softballs. At this level of play girls’ hands may not be big enough to grip and throw a regulation softball.  Softball players sometimes use bigger gloves and slimmer bats.
  • Other Equipment. Both softball and baseball players use similar uniforms, batting helmets, batting gloves, and pads. All of this equipment, plus softball catchers gear such as face, mouth and chest guards can be conveniently stored and carried in softball bags.
Whether you are playing or coaching, proper equipment and following the rules and specifications for each game is just one of the keys to a successful, happy team. Get out there, batter up and don’t forget to have fun! 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Tips to Improve your Softball Pitching





Fastpitch Softball is a thrilling game, and the competition is always tough. Here are a few tips on how to improve your softball pitching and to master the components of pitching for a great performance.

Practice
Regular practice helps improve pitching performance. It's believed that to be a great pitcher you should try to throw 100 pitches for 100 days. Practice is perfection and the more reps you try, the better chances of improving your pitching performance. During practice try different positions and techniques to discover your strengths and ability. Coach Zack Farrell believes that practice helps a pitcher to maximize their potential on the mound.

Practice will allow you to have command of pitch location. This is a toll that will help you measure the desired location. The skill to execute a pitch to the desired location is the key element of effective pitching. The feedback during practice allows the pitcher to measure how poorly or well they are doing. The ability to control is the extreme mastery of the art of pitching. Just establish target, measure, throw and adjust.

Long toss, Walkthroughs and weighted Softballs to maximize velocity
Long toss is a technique that helps you develop proper throwing mechanism. It maximizes your ball velocity and throwing distance while minimizing the risk of throwing injuries. Long toss should be practiced few times a week for 20-30 minutes. Walkthrough exercises will help you improve your speed, flexibility and strength as well.

Practicing with weighted softballs is another  way of improving your throwing velocity while strengthening your arm muscles. Weighted softballs can be up to 20% heavier than the normal softballs. Practice with weighted softballs just for a few minutes every day as longer practice sessions might result in arm injury

Change speeds
The ability to throw the ball at different speeds improves your performance. When you are capable of speed variation, you can throw the ball at any of the four corners. Also to be a great softball pitcher you need to work on your flexibility. Exercise on the ability to move in and out of the mound, the power to drive and pitch harder. Exercise on generating enough leg power. Also work on the ability to move up and down, your body should be flexible. Engage yourself in flexibility or power training programs; this will help your body to be flexible.

Focus
Softball pitchers complicate things by overthinking, and this interferes with their performance. It also affects their velocity and focus. Avoid overthinking and ensure your mind is clear and focused. When pitching, keep your game simple and don't think of how you can play different techniques. This will help you focus on your strength and ability. Equally believing in yourself helps raise your confidence. It's advisable only to focus on one or two playing positions so you don't complicate your game. Make a habit of reminding yourself to just throw the ball and stay focused.

Longstreth Sporting Goods provides you with all the information and sporting equipment such as batsglovescleats, and all the gears that you need to succeed in softball.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Guide to Buying Essential Softball Equipment for your Daughter



Are you planning to buy softball equipment for your daughter?  Having the best equipment that your daughter is comfortable in will allow her perform to the maximum and be the best. Here is a guide that will help you buy the right softball gear.

 Softball bat
There is no better bat than the other. You need to purchase a bat that suits your daughter's skill level, weight, height, and age. If your daughter is small and is just building up her strength choose a lighter bat that she will be able to control and swing easily. If she is stronger, a heavier bat will do for her as she will be able to control her speed.

8-9 year old girls should use a softball bat of 26-28 inches. As your daughter grows each year, you can just add an inch.  Aluminum bat is good for beginners, so you can start with the aluminum bat. It is easy for her to improve her swing and doesn't put much weight and pressure on her shoulder. Softball bats at Longstreth are available in a wide variety for your daughter to choose from.

Helmet
The helmet is one of the most essential softball gear. Softball helmets are made of durable plastic and foam. It helps distribute the forces in case the ball hits the batter's head. The design of the helmet is based on the team or individual preference, but ensure to buy a helmet that fits your daughter's head a little tight.

Gloves
With the modern technology the softball gloves have improved a lot resulting in excellent performance.  Consider the size, comfort, and design to suit your daughter's taste and built, however, note that there are different types of gloves for a different player position. If your daughter is an outfielder, the glove size would be a little larger. Their hand configuration would have deeper pockets that help catch the ball. Infielders require small glove; it allows them to release the ball faster.

Cleats
Buy the shoes that fit your daughter and that she is comfortable in. Consider the material of the cleats, the weight and how stable is your daughter in the shoes.  Consider the inner sole and the outer sole. Equally, check the stud length. All these considerations would help you in selecting the best cleats for your daughter.

Protective equipment
The kind of protective equipment your daughter would need would be based on the position she is playing in. Catchers especially need to have the right catcher's equipment to stay safe. Sliders protect your daughter when sliding to the base and also protect her calf. The sliding shorts are padded upper thigh with a synthetic compression legging. Other equipment that helps protect your daughter and reduce chances of injuries include,

Knee savers- for catchers they help minimize strain at the knee joint.

Leg Guards/Shin guards- There is a difference between the two. Leg guards are for catchers and they should cover a little bit above the top of the knee all the way down to the ankles and top of feet. Shin guards are usually for batters. They cover from the top of the foot and ankle to half way up the shin. These protect the shin from fouled off balls.

Elbow pads- they help protect elbows and are usually used by batters.

Battling gloves- they help reduces chances of hand blisters.

Chest protector- they help cover the chest and avoid compelling injuries.

When buying the softball equipment note that different leagues have different rules and regulations. Find out about the colors and other specifications from your daughter's coach. While its easy to get carried away and spend a fortune on the equipment, you don't really need the real high end stuff if she is just starting out. What really matters is the fit- the equipment needs to be comfortable for your daughter in order for her to play well. Longstreth Sporting Goods Store has all the right equipment for your young player and our sports counselors are always at hand to answer your questions and to help you guide in making your buying decisions. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Some Awesome Baserunning Tips and Drills for your Softball Team



Winning a softball game does not depend on individual player’s skills, natural talent, or cruel coaching. It does however rely on knowledge of the game, team work, a lot of practices, and drills that involve repetition.

Whether you are a coach or a parent who wants to help children learn the basics of softball, the best place to start is by focusing on base running and various drills. Softball is not an easy sport to learn, but it is definitely a sport that children love. It helps direct their energy into something positive, teaches them discipline, and helps them learn to follow rules as a group.

Some helpful tips to keep in mind while practicing baserunning are:
  1. ALWAYS run hard to/through first base
  2. Turn in after running through the first base to find the ball and look for opportunity to advance
  3. ALWAYS think two bases on a hit to outfield – make your coaches hold you up
  4. Have baserunners work on reactions to batted balls at each base during batting practice
  5. Work on sliding on field/sprint turf fields to minimize wear/tear
  6. Work on sliding to avoid the fielders, and practice using hands to reach the base
  7. Work on getting good jumps by starting your movement during the pitcher’s wind up
  8. ALWAYS think of advancing on balls hit or thrown behind you
Here are some awesome drills for your softball team to help with their baserunning skills

3-2-1 Drill
In order to complete this drill, you will need three softballs. Place the three balls an equal distance apart on your practice field. Break your players into two teams. Team 1 is considered the "runners." Team 2 is considered the "fielders."

Place one of your fielders on second base with their glove. Choose one of your best catchers for this position. When you blow your whistle, the runner must run from home plate, to first base, and stop at second base before the fielder makes it to the field and throws the ball toward second base.

Each throw must be properly aimed. If the fielder gets a ball to the catcher standing at second base before the runner makes it to the location, the fielders get a point. If the runner makes it to their destination first, the runners get one point.

Not only is this drill a great way to train your team, it is also a lot of fun.

Base
This is a really fun drill that kids typically play as a game anyway. In order to set up this drill, a flat piece of wood should be placed a short distance from home plate. Make sure the flat piece of wood is within the base path.

Place a runner on home base. Hold a tennis ball at eye level. The ball is dropped from this height. As soon as the ball is dropped, the runner dashes from the base toward the ball. The goal is to catch the ball before it has a chance to bounce a second time.

The distance of the piece of wood from the base should be determined by the skill level of the player. As the season goes on, you should be able to move the piece of wood farther and farther from the base.

Beat the Ball
Kids absolutely love this drill. They love it so much, they don't even look at it as though it is a drill, it is more of a training game. Just like in the 3-2-1 drill, split your players into two teams. Again, your teams are the "runners" and the "fielders."

Place one fielder on first base and another on third base. Place a softball on a tee. Your runner will hit the ball and run through as many bases as possible before both fielders have had a chance to touch the ball.
For each base your runner touches before both fielders touch the ball, they get one point. After all of the runners have had a chance to go, switch out your teams.

If you coach a softball team in the Philadelphia area, make sure to visit Longstreth Sporting Goods. Here you will find the best softball equipment for your team including fastpitch softball bats, cleats and turf shoes.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Fastpitch softball bat with the most pop





Whether you are a beginner or a college player in softball, you need the best fastpitch softball bat. Softball is such a thrilling sport particularly when you have the necessary softball equipment that helps you reach the peak of your performance.  When it comes to choosing the best fastpitch bat, here are a few factors to consider:
  • Get the right material. Consider the material used to manufacture your fastpitch bat. The material has a great impact on the performance, durability and weight of the bat. Bat materials are generally categorized into two: Composite softball bats and alloy softball bats.  Composite materials allow for a larger sweet spot in the fastpitch bat barrel and better flex to generate ball speed at contact.
  • The right weight of the bat.  Comfort is very crucial. Heavy players feel comfortable using heavy bats while lightweight players consider light bats.  You should be looking to maximize the combination of weight AND bat speed in order to generate the maximum ball velocity at contact.
  • Parts of the softball bat. All the components of your fastpitch bat should be of high quality. These components include the taper, grip, barrel and the knob. They have an effect on your speed, vibration, and shock absorption and general comfort level which helps generate maximum bat speeds.
Having the right factors to consider in mind, there are many types of fastpitch softball bats that are highly ranked globally. They include:
  • Louisville Slugger Xeno Fastpitch Softball Bats
This is one of the most popular and effect models available.  The Xeno is purely made of composite material, making the bat model light and easy to handle.  It comes with a variety of length to weight ratio models. The balanced swing weight helps you enjoy smooth swing and a greater bat speed. The IST technology, which is the latest innovation in the handle of the barrel, makes the softball bat easy to manage. S1iD technology has also been incorporated to improve the flex of the barrel and produce the optimal sweet spot.  Apparently, Louisville is more expensive than the other models.
  • DeMarini CF9 Fastpitch Bat, CF9 Insane & CF9 Hope Fastpitch Softball Bats
DeMarini has a variety of fastpitch softball bats in its famous CF Series. The most recent and popular models are the CF9, the CF9 Hope and the CF9 Insane models. The CF9 series is made of paradox plus composite which helps provide light swing with an incredible barrel performance. The CF9  Insane is popular due to its end-loaded weight distribution which maximizes power. The Demarini CF9 softball bats have thermofused taper barrels and the D-Fusion 2.0 handles which help eliminate vibration and direct the energy to the barrel.
  • Anderson Rocketech Fastpitch Softball Bats
The Anderson Rocketech is a famous fastpitch softball bat.  This model is made of aerospace alloy, making it usable in all weather conditions.  The Rocketech incorporates an end-loaded weight distribution and a weight that is only 9 ounces less than the bat length to be the most powerful bat available.  But this fastpitch softball bat model is ideal for strong players that can swing heavier bats to generate enormous power.  It is highly recommended for the upper level high school and college level player.
With a good selection of your fastpitch softball bat, you are good to go and enjoy your game. At Longstreth, we are here to ensure players satisfaction every other day.