Only one week left to shop, but here's what I would get a youth player that is serious about baseball, whether it's for Christmas or not....
1. Bats - More specifically a new bat that's not overpriced. I like to shop at CloseoutBats.com, a discount site that sells great bats at very low prices. They are usually last year's models, which means they have a different paint job from the ones that came out recently. I like most DeMarini's, Eastons - although they tend to break after a long season - and Combats. If you want a great composite youth bat that is approved by Little League, they have a DeMarini CF5 for $140. Or if you want to spend less and get an alloy, the DeMarini Voodoo is another good option for $60. Make sure the bat you want is approved by your organization before purchasing. Here is the Little League list of approved composite barreled bats. Alloys are fine.
2. A Tee and a Net - Not the most exciting thing in the world, but having a tee and a net in the backyard is a great thing for a kid working on his swing. I have a Tanner Tee and love it. It is durable, easy to set up, and fits in a backpack. I use a small one and it extends plenty for taller players.
3. A Fielding Pad - These things are a great way to practice infield grounders. It's basically a flat glove that forces the player to use two hands and field the ball correctly. I just roll balls to my team and they get in the habit of doing it the right way. I saw them in-store at Dick's Sporting Goods, but they are obviously online too.
4. A New Glove - A quality glove takes a while to break in, so don't wait until the beginning of the season. There's nothing like a Wilson A2000, Nokona, Rawlings or other brand new glove under the tree. I also came across a custom glove company, Rico, that will make just about any color combination you want. They'll also stitch on the player's name and put an American flag on there. Pretty sweet. Make sure you get the right size and glove type for your player.
5. Lessons - Yeah, I had to put this one on here. Start the season right with a little knowledge and pre-season training.
6. Books - Speaking of knowledge, how about a book on hitting or pitching? This is probably for the older players or the coaches, but you can learn just about everything you need to know from Mike Epstein on Hitting, John Bagonzi's The Act of Pitching or any of the H.A. Dorfman books on the mental side of the game.
7. A Bat Bag - Most kids like backpack bags these days. They are easy to carry around and fit things like shoes and helmets better than the old over the shoulder long bags.
8. Coldgear - We think of baseball as a warm weather sport, but the first month is usually pretty cold. Having some Under Armour or Nike coldgear shirts or pants is key.
9. Batting Gloves - A great stocking stuffer. I like the ones with extra padding on the palm for durability and to absorb some of the vibration off the bat. I've bought three pairs of these Eastons for the kid over the years. That's from Baseball Savings - another good discount site to find a lot of the stuff mentioned above.
Good luck. Post a comment with any questions. Merry Christmas.
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