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Coach Barksdale’s Top 10 Holiday Gifts!

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Written By
Xan Barksdale

For those of you who were signed up for my email newsletter last year you may remember my holiday gift guide.  I got a lot of positive feedback from parents and players about that newsletter so I thought I’d do it again this year.  In this blog post I’ll list my Top 10 Holiday Gifts for Catchers in 2011.  The gifts will range from about $5 to around $300 so there will be something for everyone.

Happy Holidays!
The first item on my list is the Hitting Jack-It.  Although this isn’t related to catching this is a piece of equipment that I think every player can benefit from.  I’ve always been a big advocate of swinging a weighted bat because I feel like that played an important role in my development as a baseball player.  The nice thing about these bat weights is that you’re able to hit balls off a tee or short toss with the weight on your bat.  Some of the bulkier bat weights don’t allow players to do this.  As far as offensive products go, this is my favorite hitting accessory on the market!
If you have heard me speak before, or read my book, you will know that I am a big time believer in video analysis systems…and this is the king of them all!  This may not be in everyone’s price range this holiday season, but if you’re looking for a video system this is the one you want.  These are most commonly used to study video footage of hitters and pitchers, but there is no reason that catchers can’t be filmed receiving, blocking, or throwing.  There are a lot of other video systems out there that may seem more cost effective, but I would urge you to spend a little more money and get RightView Pro if you’re looking for video analysis software.  Put simply, it’s the best there is!
This is one of the best baseball movies of all time!  While the main character is a pitcher, you can get an inside look at the relationship between a pitcher and his catcher.  This is one of those movies that baseball guys can watch 50 times and not get tired of it!  You can’t call yourself a baseball player if you don’t own this movie on DVD.  There is no reason not to own it because it’s only $5.49 on Amazon.  This is a great stocking stuffer!

7.  Oakley Flak Jacket: $90-140

Every baseball player needs a good pair of sunglasses, and nobody makes them better than Oakley.  These are stylish glasses, but the main reason that I like them is because they’re not too big and bulky and can easily be worn underneath the facemask.  Some of the larger sunglasses seem to be too cumbersome to wear during a game, but these don’t ever cause a problem.  Pick out a color scheme to match your team colors!  These can also be found on Amazon.com.

6.  EvoShield Spartan Wristguard: $21.99

This has become a very popular item among all baseball players, but it’s especially useful for catchers.  Sure, it’s stylish and there are a lot of colors to choose from, but what I really like about this wristguard is how much protection it offers.  All catchers know that one of the most painful get hit is in the wrist.  There isn’t a whole lot of “meat on the bones” around the wrist and this area is exposed when blocking balls.  Plus, the neoprene design helps keep sweat off of your hands during those hot summer games.  For only $22 this is something that every catcher should have…for protection, and for style!

5.  Catcher’s Thumb: $35

This product has been able to help thousands of players not lose innings behind the plate due to nagging thumb injuries.  Most people wait to order one until they have suffered a hyper-extended or broken thumb, but it’s great for preventative reasons as well.  The off season is a great time to start using one so that you don’t get hurt during spring training and set yourself back.  If you order a backup Catcher’s Thumb they’re on sale 2 for $60.

4.  Catcher’s Performance Summary iPhone/iPad App: $12.99

The CPS app works on iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.  It was released just before last baseball season and is being used by some of the top college baseball programs.  It allows you to capture the most detailed defensive statistics available for catchers and immediately email them after the game is over.  This helps catchers by making them aware of exactly how many balls they are blocking and blocking, their pop times, Catcher’s Earned Run Average, and a ton of other useful statistics.  If you’ve got an iPhone you need this app!

3.  Baseball Express Gift Certificate
The perfect gift for the baseball player that already has everything!  Baseball Express is the #1 place on the Internet for baseball equipment and clothing so I’m sure he’ll be able to find something there!

2.  All-Star CM3000SBT Catcher’s Mitt: $299.99

If you follow me on twitter or facebook you’ve probably heard me say a number of times that my favorite catching gear is made by All-Star.  I believe that they make the highest quality catching equipment that you can find and their mitts are no exception.  This is the mitt that I used my last few years with the Braves and I would recommend it to anyone.  There are a few different sizes to choose from, but my personal preference was the “SBT”…that’s the smaller size.  Getting a mitt for the holidays gives the player plenty of time to break it in before the season starts!

1.  Catching-101: The Complete Guide for Baseball Catchers: $24.99
My book has already made my publisher’s “Best Sellers” list and I have gotten a ton of nice comments from parents, coaches, and players about how much they have learned from it.  If your catcher doesn’t own it yet this is a perfect time of year to get it for them!  Even though it may be too cold to get outside and practice this book will help your catcher have a better understanding of the position so that when spring practice starts he’ll be a step ahead!
Written By
Xan Barksdale

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