No matter where you live, youth baseball is quickly becoming a 9-month to an all year sport. Spring baseball, summer leagues, fall leagues, and even indoor baseball have become a very real thing. But when you aren’t playing, you still want to keep up your skills for when you are called upon the play baseball. There are numerous companies around today that make practice equipment that is geared toward training at home, in your garage, backyard or basement. The company and their products being reviewed today is SKLZ.
SLKZ motto is they “prepare athletes to be ready for their sport.” The SKLZ brand of products offer skill and performance training products for athletes to use at home and in training facilities. The company is based out of San Diego, CA with their baseball products available around the world at major sporting goods retailers and at their website sklz.com.
SKLZ has a variety of baseball nets, ranging from the basic “everyone has had one” pitchback net to a very advanced fielding trainer that can be used for multiple fielding scenarios.
This is a simple, yet effective piece of equipment for your younger players to simulate ground balls, line drives, and pop flies. It typically comes with metal tie downs for the rebounder to stay on the ground during the action. This training device is great for a player that is just starting the play the game of baseball and can maximize individual practice time in the backyard.
The SLKZ Baseball Fielding Trainer is a more advanced practice tool that your player can use to practice grounders, line drives, and fly balls. This fielding trainer delivers balls returned with game-like speeds and action. Even though this device is a much ruggedly constructed, it easily transforms from allowing you practice fielding grounders to working on catching pop flies. The device is designed for easy setup, takedown and storage, while making is useful in the backyard, on the field, or in an indoor facility.
SKLZ also has numerous sized pop-up nets that can be used in the back yard for hitting sessions, prior to the game for a quick warm-up BP, or in an indoor facility for a winter workout.
The Hurricane Category 4 is a solo swing training device. It is a multi-dimensional product where you can practice hitting from a static tee of as a moving target while focusing on your hitting power, speed, and technique while you attack the ball. The device has four tension cords to allow for different levels of resistance as you power through the swing. The Hurricane Category 4 comes in a nice carrying case and is easy on setup and storage. I personally have his device and it is a good one. the “ball” on the end of the device is a hard plastic material, so I would be careful in choice of bat to use when utilizing this to improve your swing. I prefer my son to use an older alloy bat as opposed to anything composite as it might possibly put a hurting on your bat.
Next we look at the SKLZ Swing Trainer. This is a great device that allows for another person to provide complete control for your batting training. The swing trainer allows the holder to adjust the height, the position in which the ball is moving over the plate, and speed of the incoming pitch. This is an ideal device used for warm-ups and practicing ball contact. Even though the swing trainer is seen quite often at baseball tournaments, it is rather long at 54″, so it is a little cumbersome to carry.
SKLZ Hit-a-way is listed as the World’s #1 Baseball Swing trainer. the device has two Velcro straps that attach to a pole. As you hit the ball, the rope wraps around the pole. As the rope unwinds, the player waits for the ball to come into their hitting zone. Per SKLZ, this device simulates real pitches and improves eye-hand coordination, while helping the player in their swing mechanics and consistency of their hitting approach. SKLZ claims a player can get up to 500 swings per hour without ever having to chase a ball!
SKLZ offers many tees for you to choose from as you select you need and practice focus for your swing. I am going to focus on three that go through the progression of a hitter as they grow older from little league to travel baseball to high school.
The first tee is the Youth Popback Tee. As as young player begins tee work, the tee stick sometimes take more a beating than the actual baseball. With this model, the tee pops back up into place if it falls, making the session of hitting much quicker and adds to less frustration by the hitter if they are working on the art of hitting along.
As a baseball player advances, so does their need to be able to hit a baseball that is not thrown by a coach right down the middle. With the 5-Position Tee from SKLZ, you can set up the tee to simulate hitting outside, middle, and outside pitches. With a normal tee, you would have to move the tee and base around continually and have to reset up each time. With the 5-Position Tee, you simply move the tee stick from position to position as you practice hitting the longball.
The last in the SKLZ line is the Pro Tee. The Pro tee features a 8lb base to keep it planted firmly on the ground, while the adjustable steel shaft assembles and breaks down easy to allow for great portability. The Pro Tee appears to be endorsed by Evan Longoria and has pretty good reviews for being sturdy and durable. This is a tee that would want to be looked at as you are making an investment as your child hits the 10/11 year old range. It appears to be able to withstand a pounding and last for many years. If it does have some wear and tear, SKLZ does offer replacement parts on their site.
SKLZ does offer a wide range of baseballs that can be used for practice. From heavy balls for strength swing training, to low flight balls for batting practice in smaller areas, or weighted baseballs for your arm strengthening program. The prices appear pretty good, along with the quality of the product.
Jason Wilson is a baseball enthusiast, with an addiction to reading about, reviewing, and testing/comparing baseball equipment and accessories. He has been involved in youth baseball for 8 years while continually working to find a way to make the game a better experience for both players and parents. He is currently an assistant coach for an 11u travel baseball team in NW Ohio. A realist at heart, he feels the investing in the right equipment, at the right time, for the right player, is key to the success of the player and the less strain on the parent’s bank account.