Wearing a mouthguard in contact sports is very important, especially for junior players. A properly fitted mouthguard is essential for you to be protected.
How to mould a mouthguard:
Firstly, boil a small pot of water and submerge the mouthguard for about 20 to 30 seconds. Your mouthguard should have instructions for the correct amount of time. Remember, the mouthguard should be heated to the point that you are able to mould it not the point where it is beginning to melt.
Remove the mouthguard from the water using tongs (you do not want to deform the mouthguard by squeezing too tightly). Cool the mouthguard either by dipping it in cool water or allowing it to air dry. Check your mouthguard instructions to see if water is recommended. You only need to cool the mouthguard to the point where you can put it in your mouth without burning yourself.
Place the mouthguard in your mouth to mould it. Push the mouthguard against your teeth with your fingers and bite down lightly. Pull the guard tighter to your teeth by placing your tongue against the roof of your mouth and sucking the air and water out.
Now you need to cool the mouthguard. Some instructions say that the guard needs to cool rapidly after it has been fitted by dipping it in cold water. If the mouthguard does not fit properly, you can remould it by starting the process again.
Using a mouth-formed mouthguard is the easiest way to ensure the mouthguard fits perfectly to your mouth. Be sure to inspect your mouthguard frequently and replace it if it becomes deformed or you notice that the edges become jagged.
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As a baseball player enters the batter’s box and prepares to hit the ball, the time spent practicing and perfecting his technique will pay off with a ball hit solidly into the field. A fundamental part of hitting a baseball involves holding the baseball bat correctly. When a baseball player knows the proper way to hold a bat, they will have more success at the plate.
Follow our instructions to help you hold a baseball bat properly.
- Put on batting gloves as you bat to increase the comfort of your grip.
- Grasp the bat at the bottom just above the knob with your non dominant hand.
- Place your dominant hand immediately above your other hand on the bat.
- Hold the bat firmly with the fingers of both hands – not the palms of the hands. Grip the bat tightly enough to have adequate control, yet not so tightly that you feel tense. An overly tight grasp may affect your batting accuracy. Wiggle the fingers of both hands to reduce tension in your hands.
- Raise the bat and place it back toward the shoulder farthest from the pitcher as you stand at the plate. Keep your hands roughly at shoulder height.
Some extra tips:
Relax as you grip the bat. When you relax, you can react faster to pitches.
For more bat control, you can choke up which means moving your hands slightly up from the knob.
Baseball and softball gloves have an intoxicating leather smell when they are new. The problem is, when they are new they are stiff and hard to control. On the playing field, a glove should feel like an extension of your hand and a brand new glove does not fit the bill. Fortunately, there are a number of items that can help you break your mitt in quickly.
Wipe the glove with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or debris. Use a softening agent such as commercial glove oil, baby oil, vegetable oil, petroleum jelly or shaving cream. Apply it liberally to the pocket of the glove as well as to the webbing, thumb and finger areas on the inside of the glove. Wipe away any excess oil, jelly or cream with a clean cloth.
Place a ball inside the pocket as far down as possible. Use a baseball if you typically play baseball or a softball if you use the glove for softball.
Arrange the glove so that the thumb of the glove is positioned tightly over the ball. Fold the fingers of the glove over the outside of the thumb. Wrap the glove tightly with an elastic bandage, large rubber band or ribbon. Leave it in this position for at least 24 hours (longer, if possible). Repeat the above steps when the glove is not in use until it becomes flexible.
In baseball being able to hit a ball is half the game. Many ballplayers have their own unusual hitting styles, but most follow the same basics for making good contact and piling up the base hits.
If you bat right handed, grip the bat with your left hand at or near the narrow end of the bat and your right hand above your left hand. If you bat left handed, your left hand is on top and right hand should be on the bottom. Usually you want to leave no room in between your hands. Your bottom hand can rest on the rim of the base of the bat or if it feels more comfortable, you can choke up. Choking up involves having a space of up to a few inches between your bottom hand and the rim.
Stand parallel to the home plate with your feet about shoulder width apart. You want both feet facing directly at the home plate with your knees slightly bent.
Touch the end of the bat to the centre of the home plate. This will give you a feel for how close to the plate you need to stand. You want to be able to swing the bat all the way over the plate without leaning. Stand in the batter’s box where you feel comfortable, you must ensure both feet are in the box and you are not standing on the plate. The farther forward you are in the box, the less time you have to see a pitch.
Hold the bat slightly behind your head, but up in the air not resting against your head, neck or shoulder. When the pitch comes, watch the ball and never take your eyes off it until after you have swung or let it go past.
To start your swing, step towards the pitcher with your left foot (or right foot if you are left handed).You want the foot to still be facing the plate or a little in front of the plate. As that front foot goes down, pivot the front of your back foot until that foot is facing the pitcher. Pretend like you are squishing a bug. This back foot should never leave the ground during your swing.
Swing the bat over the home plate while you pivot your back foot. Bring the bat all the way across and over the home plate. Your arms should extend all the way when swinging. Swing the bat all the way through. Most of the power will come from your legs and hips not your arms. Swing straight through the ball, not up at the ball or down. You want a nice, parallel with the plate swing.
A baseball glove is the player’s best friend in the field. With the correct glove, you can field more balls and get the ball out of the glove easily for a quick throw. It is important to choose the right style, size and glove type so that perform your best on the field.
There are different types of gloves available for different fielding positions:
- Catcher: A fingerless mitt, has heavy padding to reduce the sting from the pitcher’s throw and is reinforced to withstand heavy use.
- First base: Resembles a mitten, but has less padding than a catcher’s mitt. It is longer to help the first base player field throws from infielders and has a shallow pocket to allow the first baseman to retrieve the ball quickly from the mitt.
- Infield: A five fingered long glove with a shallow pocket. Sizes vary between youths and adults. A softball infielder glove has a deeper pocket to accept the bigger ball. Second basemen need a smaller glove to help make those quick throws and maintain control. Shortstops use something in the middle and third base players need a larger glove.
- Outfield: Gloves have a deeper pocket to handle balls which are hit high in the air and are longer in length to give as much reach as possible.
It is important to choose the size of the baseball glove based on the position that you most frequently play. Outfielders need larger gloves and should choose one 12.5 inches long or larger. Infielders are better off with smaller gloves to get the ball out quickly. They should choose an 11 to 12.5 inch model.
There are three choices of material you can choose: leather, treated leather and synthetic materials. Leather gloves offer the most durability and comfort. Treated leather is softer and easier to break in. Synthetic material gloves are lighter, less expensive and are a good choice for a younger player.
Try on a variety of styles such as open or closed back, deep or shallow pocket, different webbing and wrist adjustments. It comes down to personal preferences so it is up to you decide which style you are most comfortable with.
At Sportsmart we stock a variety of gloves which you can try on and judge for yourself. You can view our range of baseball gloves online or visit our stores and get advice from our bat ‘n’ ball staff on choosing the right kind of glove for your needs.
Choosing a bat is one of the more important choices a hitter makes before stepping into the batter’s box. An inch either way or an ounce too heavy can throw off a hitter’s rhythm and sense of timing. We have put together a guide to help you select a baseball bat that will suit your playing needs.
It is important to know your league’s rules. Do you use wood or metal? How big can the barrel of the bat be? Is there a certain ratio between a bat’s weight and its length that must be followed? It is important to check with your coach before purchasing a bat.
Set your budget. Adult bats can range anywhere from $99 to $199 and junior bats start from $39. Technology has allowed manufacturers to turn baseball bats into lightweight trampolines. The micro thin walls of today’s upper end bats produce a trampoline like effect while allowing the hitter to produce more power and speed. The downside of this however is that bats may experience dents in the future.
Pick up and feel the bat in store. There is no scientific method to measure what the right size baseball bat is. There is no spot on your hip where the bat should come up to. It’s a feel more than anything. With practice, you will find out which size is right for you. It is fine to go a little bit longer than what you are normally used to, but as previously said you will determine which size is right for you after playing and practicing with your bat.
Consider the weight. A bat should be light. Bat speed generates power. You must also consider the length as it is equally important. Often young players opt for a long bat because they feel they can’t ‘reach the outside part of the plate’. However a big bat often makes it hard to hit a baseball. You must be comfortable and in control when you enter the batter’s box.
Grip the bottom part of the handle with just one hand. Using your fingers, hold the bat directly in front of you and lift the bat 6-8 times using only your wrist. If you have to bend your arm or elbow in order to lift the bat then it would be in your best interest to select a lighter bat.
Practice. Remember, selecting a bat that fits you is an important step, but practicing with your bat will lead to success on the field.