There are so many amazing tools out there to help baseball or softball players get better. Of course this holiday season you can buy them a new bat or glove, but I wanted to share my starting 9 for baseball best gifts of the year:
#1 in our lineup:
WinReality pitch recognition training app on Oculus Quest 2
There is nothing that can replicate the experience you get from standing in the box and facing live pitching. Until, WinReality came along and created a virtual reality world where you step into the batter’s box any time and any where. You can compete against a number of pitchers at different skill levels (from youth to Pro), see a true delivery at game speed, the rhythm, the timing, the way the ball comes out of the hand, the different pitch shapes, trajectories the, emotion of how a pitcher is setting you up and then trying to put you away. The app on the Oculus Quest 2 (which is now a standalone unit- no computer is needed) feels immersive and you can feel your heart race as you compete. I have had it now for a little over a month and have seen over 2000 pitches from college and pro pitchers. It would take the average high school kid all 4 seasons to see that many game speed pitches. WinReality just announced that hitting will be coming to the app soon. Bonus: you can use the Oculus to play other games like Beat Saber as well.
You can also listen to my interview with the CEO of WinReality Chris O’Dowd.
Investment: Starts at $24 a month (you can get additional pitcher packages) + $299 for the Oculus
#2 in our lineup:
Pocket Radar Smart Coach radar and app.
Today’s game is about velocity. How hard can you pitch. How hard can you hit. How hard can you throw it from your position. The Pocket Radar is a radar gun the size of a cell phone that is accurate +-1 mph at a max 120 feet. So it isn’t like the guns the scouts use in the stand but able to be setup behind, or in front of you to get readings. Then you can use the Smart Coach app to record yourself (I like the side to see my mechanics) and it will overlay the velocity on top of the video. These are great to share on social media as well since the app automatically clips the video to get the action in 8 second videos. The radar gun allows you to learn how adjustments impact your velocity. I have had a Ball Coach pocket radar for years and am thrilled to have the new Smart Coach.
Investment: $399 but this week (Nov. 23-30) it is only $349. You can also get it on Amazon.
#3 in our lineup:
This is a smart baseball that tracks all these incredible pitching metrics. It provides more than a dozen important metrics you will want to have for every bullpen and throwing session. For every pitch you can see velocity, spin rate, spin direction, arm slot, ball movement and more. They have also just begun to offer a pro version of the app with even more features. The information for every throw is securely stored in the cloud for later access. pitchLogic can be used with your entire team with individual profiles for each player. All of these capabilities are available without subscription costs or other fees. They use real MLB quality leather on the baseball and if the leather gets too worn you can send it in to be replaced for a fee. The app is available on Apple and Android.
Investment: $250 on Amazon. Check out the PitchLogic gift bundle includes a PitchLogic ball, a 3 month subscription to pitchLogic pro and a pitchLogic t-shirt for only $299.
#4 in our lineup
Clean Fuego pitch design training tool
These are just fun to throw. They look like a hockey puck but are weighted like a baseball. They also have a heavier one for overload training. When I first got my pair of Clean Fuegos I threw them a few times during the week and right before I did an experiment with the PitchLogic ball. Using the Clean Fuegos my pitches started spinning truer and also increased in total spin rate. What that means is that the fastballs I was throwing were more efficient. I use them now to practice my changeups and my sliders as well. They love helping the community throw unicorn fastballs and UFO sliders.
Investment: $99 for the set from CleanFuego. Plus they have awesome tees and hoodies. 20% off site wide this weekend with code BlackFuegoFriday.
#5 in our lineup
The Perfect Throw arm path rhythm trainer and Flatty
You can practice your throwing inside or outside, rain or shine, with proper throwing technique for all throwing sports. I love how this helps you promote proper timing and sequencing to creates the different arc patterns in the throw. If you want to make sure you stay “inside 90”, this tool allows you use it as a warm up tool prior to throwing, a patterning tool for the sequence of throwing, conditions the joints, muscles and tissues of the arm and body. Teach your arm to feel whippy. The Original is perfect for the average 12 year old to professional or you can check out the Shorty. Make sure to add a Flatty to your order so you can carry a home plate to practice with in your pocket or hang it as a target on a fence. If you are on Instagram you probably have seen Coach Ferber and many others besides myself use it.
Investment: $49.99 from Revolution Throwing and the Flatty is $20.
#6 in our lineup
Back-Spin 7 x 10 portable net
You want to practice getting those big hits, practice with a BIG net. I love this massive net after using the normal 7 x 7 nets. This net has two pockets so you can have the proper target to hit line drives into. It is 7′ wide X 10′ tall. It is portable and can be setup or taken down in just a couple of minutes. Setup you tee in front of it or pickup a Back Spin tee and take your hacks. I also love hitting baseballs or hitting plyos into the net off the tee. You won’t outgrow this net.
Investment: $179.99 from Back-Spin Tee.
#7 in our lineup
I like practicing hitting small objects, from lima beans to mini wiffle balls. You have probably seen John Madden on YouTube or Instagram use this machine from everything for catching practice to hitting indoors. The Personal Pitcher Pro is a small, portable, affordable, battery powered, mini whiffle ball pitching machine that develops elite level hand-eye coordination in baseball players of all ages that you can use indoors or outdoors! It has for speeds (25, 35, 45, 55mph) that can give you a perceived velocity of 95 mph+ depending on where you set it up. It holds 55 balls and throws fastballs and breaking balls and has a green light that shows you when the ball is about to be pitched.
Investment: $199.99 from YouGoPro.
#8 in our lineup
Bullet Proof your shoulders, arms and wrists with J-bands and Theraband hand exerciser balls
I use these every night before I go to bed. I do a whole routine with bands to work my shoulders and arms. I squeeze the Theraband hand exerciser balls every time I am bored to improve my forearm or grip strength. The J-Bands come in youth and regular sizes. They also offer a variety of colors so they can match your team or favorite color. I started with a youth when I was around 10 and now use the regular version. I was told about the Theraband balls by pitcher Tim Dillard who had a super long career. He said he had one in his bag, his car, and his night table and used it every moment he could and has pitched for almost 20 years professionally.
#9 in our lineup
The best recovery tool on the market – Marc Pro
I first saw a few professional pitchers use this after throwing and after heavy lift days at the training facility I work out at. We spent some time learning about it and found out that it offers “active recovery” to flush out your muscles after you fatigue them. This is a long term investment. I use this after I pitch in a game or workout hard and start to feel a bit sore. This is not what it looks like, a TENS unit. A TENS unit is meant to electro-stimulate the nerves so you don’t feel pain. This is meant to sit on the meatiest part of the muscle you are looking to flush out. I learned a lot about why to use it and we finally bought one after listening to the Pro Sports Director Gary Reinl on the Eric Cressey podcast talk about why you don’t want to ice after a workout.
Investment: The Marc Pro device is $699 and you will eventually need replacement pads. You can use promo code: PLAYBALL.
Have a great holiday season and work hard this off-season.