I am in the second year of using my Morrow Sports A Frame pitchers protective screen. The first thing that jumps out at you is that it is in the shape of an "A" versus the usual shape of a "L" for pitchers protective screen. I would say both styles will give you equal protection as I have been pretty lucky in not having been hit by a batted ball while throwing batting practice using either type screen. It does take some time to get use to the "A" shape versus the "L" shape since I had used the "L" for my entire life. It is very well constructed and both the netting and frame is very durable and appears that it will last a long time. It is relatively lightweight at 32 pounds.
I have had my JUGS Instant Screen Hitting Net for just under ten years and it still works as well as the day I first used it. I would say that its durability is the biggest strength of this net. It has lasted for 9 years and numerous indoor and outdoor practices. We have used it for tee work, soft toss work, and even used it as a makeshift L-screen for protection when throwing batting practice. The 7 x 8 hitting area has been adequate for these drills. Although we do have the occasional ball hit over the top of the net. I would say we have more than got our moneys worth on this screen.
I have been using my JUGS Lite Flite Machine for just over 3 years and it has helped me run a much more efficient indoor practice. I first incorporated it by having indoor batting practice. Our gym has a net that will split it in half, so I pull the net out set the machine up and have them take 12 swings on fastballs, 12 swings on curveballs, and then have them bunt 12 pitches. I have 3 boys spread out in the gym to shag the balls. I put the machine approximately 25 feet from the hitter in order to avoid the balls from "floating" in. A draw back is if you set the machine too far back the balls will have the appearance of floating in, which is very difficult to hit. The hitters adjust pretty quickly to it being this close and it actually helps with developing quick hands.
I have discovered through years of trial and error that the order of the drills you do in practice is just as important as the drills themselves. Every practice should start with jogging and stretching to loosen up the muscles. From there, drills should progress in sequence in order to accomplish an end goal for the practice.
Over the years having been through more pre-games than I can remember I have developed a pre-game routine that I like and think gets the boys ready to play. I have learned that I had to invest some money into a few products to make it effective, but it has been a cheap investment for what I have obtained from it.
As I coach baseball in a cold weather state, I have evolved my indoor practice drills and routines over time to keep practicing no matter what the weather offers. Some of the things I have found effective are to keep drills under 10 minutes and make sure to break the team up into groups of no more than 4. I found this to be work to keep them focused for the hour and a half I have them twice a week. It can be difficult to find drills to do indoors, especially hitting drills if a batting cage is not available. The drills we have always done are soft toss and tee work into a portable hitting net.
I have been coaching youth sports for over 8 years and my perspective on things has changed considerably over that time. A lot of it has to do with trial and error and some of it has to do with being around “real” coaches, i.e. coaches that get paid to coach. One of my recent revelations is to what constitutes a good batting practice. 5 years ago I was a firm believer that throwing live batting practice was the only way to have an effective batting practice. If someone said they were going to do tee work or soft toss, I would say “That is great, but when are you going to throw live”?
I have been coaching youth baseball for over 8 years now and have a very good set of assistant coaches. I am a firm believer that the more coaches you have and the more you break down a practice or pre-game into smaller groups the more effective it will be. The problem I have with my team is I am the only one of the coaches that can hit effective fly balls. This causes a problem during practice and pre-game as a head coach it is important to be involved with all groups of players.
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