Archive for the ‘Youth Sports’ Category
It’s been said that they are the four greatest words in the english language:
Pitchers. And. Catchers. Report.
As a baseball nut, I’m in 100% agreement with that idea and this time of year is like the day before a child’s birthday for me. It has begun, as all the major league teams have begun packing up and heading south, with or without Michael Young. The big question this year is who can beat the Phillies rotation, other than Brian Wilson’s beard. Another question, more at the local level stems from the new batch of bat certification standards. Composite bats have been wreaking havoc on baseballs and softballs for almost a decade now, and the subsequent injuries (and even deaths) resulting have parents and officials concerned enough to the point where we may not see them again.
My take on it is this- with full disclosure, I was struck with a batted ball two summers ago while pitching a softball game. After multiple fractures to my orbital bone, two titanium plates in my face and thousands of dollars owed from surgery; I can verify that composite bats are dangerous. Do I think that banning them completely is a good step? Not entirely. I’m all for it from a competitive standpoint, as some bats, especially in the slow pitch softball realm are like built in steroids; but from a safety standpoint, I don’t think it matters much. Had I been hit with a screaming line drive off of an alloy bat, I don’t think my face would’ve been any better off or my bills any less soul crushing. It’s a slippery slope, that’s true, but there has been people seriously injured with balls off of wood bats, so where does it end? The reason why I got hurt was I didn’t have my glove up. I threw the ball ending with my glove at my side, and missed catching the ball by about an inch. Had I pitched with my glove up, it would’ve been an Out instead of Ouch. It’s a tough task to ask kids to defend themselves from batted balls, especially while pitching, but in this sport, like many others; the dangers are always going to be there, regardless of the safety measures we take.
With all of that soap boxing aside, rule changes are inevitable, and this year the baseball world is being shook up by the new BBCOR (Batted Ball Coefficient Of Restitution) standards, that are targeting composite bats. In high school and college play, the BESR (Ball Exit Speed Ratio) certified bats are going out, this year for college, next year for high school, and must be replaced with BBCOR certified bats. The difference being the new BBCOR certification measures the bats trampoline effect, or how much pop a bat has, versus the old method of measuring the speed of the ball off of the bat in testing. We talked about these bats and how Sports Authority was offering them in one of our latest articles.
At the youth level, it isn’t quite that easy. I always recommend to check with your little league coach or a league official to get a list of either approved or unapproved bats, because youth leagues aren’t all uniformly sanctioned, and therefore will have several different rules and guidelines. Also, the friendly staff at your local sporting goods store should have a good idea as to what is allowed or not allowed in your area. And to find that friendly local sporting goods store, use Sportrabbit.com.
“Learning how to put on full hockey gear for the first time before heading onto the ice is a memorable experience in itself. Now almost a thousand boys and girls will get that experience, as the Penguins distributed 930 sets of free equipment to children at six Dick’s Sporting Goods locations on Tuesday as a part of the Little Penguins Learn to Play Hockey program.”
“Thanks to Sidney Crosby, the Penguins, Reebok and Dick’s Sporting Goods, each participating child receives free head-to-toe hockey equipment, including skates, in order to ease the financial burden on parents. Now that the children have been outfitted, the majority of the 25 eight to ten-week Learn to Play programs will begin throughout the week at 22 local arenas – some as early as Friday.”
Read the rest of this story at NHL.com.
With football season almost at full tilt, and hockey season just over the horizon, mouthpieces (or mouthguards) are of ultimate importance, as their role in protection from dental injury(Just ask Duncan Keith), and also head injury in general has grown over the years. Concussion prevention, as I have mentioned before, is a hot button topic from the NFL down to Pop Warner, and mouthpieces play an integral role in prevention, by providing a cushion between the jaws during impact. Many studies have been done to prove the benefits of mouthguard use to that effect.
Gone are the days of a flimsy molding of plastic coating your teeth to protect you, as innovations in the field have made leaps and bounds over the years, thanks to industry pioneers like Shock Doctor and others, who have breathed new research and technology into the construction of mouth protection. Some of the innovation comes from the materials used, as new plastics and differing properties of those plastics have allowed for multi-layered mouthpieces. Other innovations lie in the design, as breathing has been made easier, and comfort and reliability has been made a priority towards new models.
Mouthpieces typically come in either a youth or adult size, with the cutoff being somehwere around age ten. If a youth mouthguard does not fit, but an adult one is too big, trimming the adult piece is easy with just a pair of scissors, and then forming the mouthguard from there. Most mouthpieces are formed by quickly putting them into boiling water, with the amount of time differing by model, then applying the mouthpiece to your teeth, biting down and allowing the softened plastic to take shape.
Virtually every governing body in football and hockey require mouthpieces to be worn at all times all the way up to the high school level, so not only is it a good idea that you or your child have a mouthguard, it could be a 5 yard or 2 minute penalty if they don’t. The benefits clearly out weigh the usually affordable price of a mouth guard, as they’ll range from the basic $3 style to high end models around $20-$25 and even further up to full custom built mouthguards, like the one featured in our giveaway this week that rings in a whopping $150 retail.