August 20, 2016 - Think Inside the Box

Two things happened simultaneously this week that turned out to be related. My son set up our pop-up net in the backyard to hit off the tee, and we were notified of a new product we might be interested in checking out called the CrocBox. Maybe it's because its been a long week but it took us a few minutes to make the connection.

I have been working on filling in some areas in my lawn and I told my son I'd rather him put the net somewhere else because it wasn't good for my new grass. So, after going to the trouble of setting the net up, he had to then break it down and put it back in it's carry bag. Kind of a pain.

With three boys who play baseball, for years we've had nets in our backyard in varying states of permanence. There have been months that nets were just a fixture back there, causing consternation for my wife who viewed them as eyesores. Over the months the sprinklers, dew and occasional rain would deteriorate the vinyl material and eventually we'd have to throw it away. 

But I wasn't thinking about this when I first looked at the CrocBox website. I was just told it was a net that began as a golf trainer, but could also be used for baseball, soccer, lacrosse and other sports. So we figured we'd be looking at another version of something we'd already seen many of.

Then I realized that this product had to be installed by digging a rather large hole in the backyard. My first thought was, "Who is going to get a shovel and a bag of gravel and go to this effort for a practice net?" Then the memories of all of those years and other nets came back to me and I said, "I would!"

It makes perfect sense. The install is not that difficult and once it's done you have an invisible net ready whenever you need it. Simply lift the lid of the box, pull out the net, practice, and then it folds back up neatly and out of the way. No more struggling with poles and stakes. No more weather rotting away your investment. No more staring at a monstrosity in your backyard 24/7. Their motto is that you will practice more and there is no doubt that they're right about that becaue it is so much more convenient. And, the"Smart Net" technology means that each ball you hit bounces right back to you so that you don't need a bucket, but only one ball. Another huge advantage.

We haven't actually tried the device but a quick look a the videos on the site is all you'll need to be sold and understand the value. If you're a golfer who wants his own backyard practice range that disappears when you're done using it, of if your kids need something to hit, throw, shoot or kick into but you're tired of setting it up and taking it down, Croc Box is a dream come true. Go get your shovel. It's time to practice.

Source: Croc Box

August 12, 2016 - Next Best Thing To Being There

I've had three kids play college sports in cities far away. I tried to make as many games as I could in person, but the majority I missed. It killed me to not have any idea what the score was, how they were doing, and ultimately if we won or lost. 

Someone else must have had the same frustrating experience, but they did something about it. They created Scorebook Live. Scorebook Live is an electronic scorebook app that not only makes it easier to officially score a game, but broadcasts that information live so that anyone can follow what's happening anywhere.

It's easier to use than a paper scorebook so game officials love it. If you're "old school" and think it will be too complicated to use, you'll get the hang of it in no time. Everything on the screen is intuitive and prompts the user to take the necessary steps, making it almost foolproof. 

While the game is being scored, those updates are streamed in real time. And on the Scorebook Live website you can check all current games being played, which is kind of addicting. Coaches love the app because it eliminates the need to report scores to the media. The media loves it because they can essentially cover all the evening's games at once, which was never possible before. It will automatically generate game recaps and box scores, tabulate and update statistics, and create player profiles. Coaches no longer have to do a math test at the end of each game trying to figure points, rebounds and assists. Game alerts can even be pushed out on social media as they occur. 

This is a high school basketball fan's dream. On a Friday, I often look at the games to be played in town that evening and think it would be fun to go to one, but rarely do. Now, I can follow every one as they happen from my phone or desktop. Coaches, parents, officials, sportswriters, fans...they all benefit from Scorebook Live. And that ultimately means the players win too.

Source: Scorebook Live


August 5, 2016 - Strike While the Iron is Hot

We have a checklist for determining our favorite types of products and some do better than others. Of course we want products we review to be well-made, durable and a good value. We also like them to be easy to assemble and simple to use. And, we're big fans of training devices that help young players improve. Additionally, if those training devices can be used solo, so that a motivated youngster can go out and practice when he wants, without supervision, we've found a home run. 

Ironically, we're going to tell you about a product that helps prevent home runs. The Strike Plate is a new invention that checks off all the boxes. It is a remarkably innovative device that will allow youth pitchers to hone their talents virtually anywhere, any time.

Most youth league coaches know enough about pitching to give the following advice: "Throw strikes." This mentality teaches youngsters that anywhere at all inside the rectangular strike zone is a good pitch. Consequently, they aim for the easiest spot -- the middle. Then the coach wonders why his pitcher is getting shelled. He thinks the kid doesn't throw hard enough.

Experts know that the key to pitching is not velocity, but location -- "hitting your spots." And that's exactly what The Strike Plate teaches. It offers, as targets, the four corners of the zone toughtest for batters to hit; low and inside, high and tight, low and outside, high and outside. Pitchers can teach themselves to be precise in their accuracy and have a plan for each pitch which is much more effective than, "just get it over." The vertical arms show the exact location of the outside of the plate -- the "black", and avoiding the vertical cross bar trains pitchers to stop throwing down the middle. The hinged arms ingeniously pivot when struck, like a windmill, which means the device won't be knocked over and need to be stood back up after each bullseye. It is easy to assemble, to set up and take down, and the sturdy steel construction is virtually indestructible.

They sent us one to try out and, since my sons are all in college or higher, I gave it to a neighbor boy who is in Little League. Last year he was an 11 year-old in Majors who played mostly outfield and never got a chance to pitch. He took it down to the school and worked with it. I asked him how many times he was able to hit the targets; was it one out of ten? He said no, it was not even that often. But I assured him that if he keeps at it, he'll have more and more success and, soon, be able to hit those marks pretty much at will. But, most importantly, since he's not a big kid and probably doesn't throw that hard, I let him know this was his way onto the mound. Because even if he's not a flame thrower, if he can locate at will, he'll be a pitcher, not an outfielder, his 12 year-old year. 

If you want to get something for your son or daughter to use when you're not around, or even when you are there, The Strike Plate is highly recommended. I'd have loved to have had this when my boys were 8-14 years old and I know they'd have used it constantly. I would have put up daily competitions for them to beat their number of targets hit in 50 pitches, to see how many consecutive targets they could record, I'd  have created tons of fun games to add to the allure and give them something to brag to me about when I got home from work. if you have an aspiring pitcher, set one of these up in the back yard.  It's a pretty good bet he'll be getting a lot more innings on the mound and a lot more outs for his team next season.

Source: The Strike Plate 

July 30, 2016 - JUGgernaut

So if you're a baseball player, coach or parent, you've undoubtedly seen the new “pro style” tees that are taking over the baseball tee world. The unique difference between these tees and the more “old-fashioned” models is the rubberized cone at the top.

The big advantage to this cone is that when you make contact with the tee, there is less resistance which gives a hitter a truer feel for the ball. Rather than feeling a clunk and knocking over the tee, the cone simply flexes down and out of the way without impeding or damaging the bat in any way.

So it would be natural to think that all of these types of tees are the same. And while we've tried, liked and reviewed several, it's always tough to compare something to a JUGS product. They just seem to know exactly what coaches and players want.

JUGS Sports is famous for their iconic pitching machines, but they do so much more. The JUGS T is their newest example of brilliance. The first thing that jumps out is that there is no pro-style tee with a lower price and longer warranty. We could end the review there and have given you all the information you need.

But when we tried the one they sent us, we understood there was much more than immediately meets the eye. They know that not everyone will be using the tee outdoors. So the base is rubber covered with rounded edges so it can be placed on a gym floor with no worries about scuffing. Let's stay with the base: See that ergonomic handle? Seems like a small thing, but it's a big deal. It allows you to pick the tee up and carry it easily, which none of the other ones we've seen can do. And the base is sturdy and balanced perfectly so that no additional weight is needed to keep it upright. You'll love how the stem easily unscrews so that you can conveniently store it in your bat or equipment bag and have it whenever you need it.

Speaking of the stem, it can be adjusted, quickly and easily, which is what we liked the best. It will go from a low of 24” to a high of 46” making it great for working on pitches anywhere in the zone. And the internal interlocking bolt design prevents slippage so once you make the adjustment you want, it stays in place.

We've never tried anything from JUGS Sports that isn't top quality and brimming with innovation. You'll be able to find similar products on the market but when you add up all the features, benefits and craftsmanship they bring to the table, they're running through every season undefeated.

Source: JUGS Sports

July 22, 2016 - Friends For Reel

Avid fishermen take their gear seriously and have a special relationship with everything they use to land the big ones. The Smoke PT reel from Quantum might end up being you new best friend.

The Smoke PT features a PTX aluminum frame design that reduces overall weight and adds rigidity. The Speed Freak version features a screaming fast 8.1:1 gear ratio that pulls in 35 inches of line for every turn of the handle.

Are you a lefty? The Smoke is available in right and left hand retrieve. The continuous Anti-Reverse clutch Titanium-nitride coated line guide means you can bring in any size fish with no tension. It glides. It boasts a micro-tuned spool clicker and tension knob. The soft-touch EVA handle knobs are unmatched and you'll love the durability of the strong aluminum frame and gear side cover.

The best feature may be that it is super light weight and fits in your hand comfortably, allowing you to fish all day without getting tired at all. The Smoke PT handles big fish with ease. Those of you who bass fish know that speed is so good for so many techniques. Keeping that slack out of the line can be critical. This reel does it's job and does it well.

It will cast a mile, it's durable and good looking. What more could you ask for from a good friend?

Source: Quantum

Posted on Friday, July 22, 2016 at 02:31PM by Registered CommenterSports Product Review in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference | EmailEmail
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