Baseball is not a game for everyone: after all compared to hockey it’s a lot slower and compared to football a lot less violent. But fans of baseball know it’s not just about some person hitting a ball with a stick, but about the physics that combine with the personal abilities of the players in order to accomplish a goal (i.e., get a hit, homer, drive a man in). More than any sport, baseball is something that a kid can aspire to without feeling inadequacies of height or weight — it’s about eye/hand coordination and the ability to control a ball’s position in space. It’s also a game where throwing the ball isn’t integral to just one player of the team — you can be the pitcher of course, but the shortstop or catcher or third baseman or outfielder all must be able to control that ball. And for sure a glove and ball is all that’s needed for someone to play with, as opposed to all the equipment that those other sports require. Not to mention the real advantage of baseball — you don’t need a lot of people so just grab that ball and glove and start throwing it around. And while playing catch does require a second person, you can work on controlling that ball and throwing it by oneself.
But the question then becomes how does one “know” how well one is throwing the ball? Or that it’s curving like it should or that the fastball is indeed fast? Pros can have a guy with a radar gun handle speed issues, and coaches can watch someone play live or recorded and make comments, but hey we’re talking about kids going into the backyard or to a park and tossing that ball around without having a major league contract. That’s where the Backyard League Gaming Baseball takes over.
The Feel is Real
The Gaming Baseball has the "feel" of a regulation baseball and looks similar — but here its weight can be adjusted should a ‘heavier” feel be desired. After being set up, a single button has it communicating with a free app via Bluetooth — the battery is rechargeable and able to handle thousands of throws at a clip.Being realistic, we charged it up fully right at the start and gave it another hour or two after 3 sessions outside, just because why not?
Now besides Bluetooth which is a radio transmitter, there’s a sensor in the ball and that does the work of analyzing what is going on and then Bluetooth does the sending of that info to the app. Distance wise, Bluetooth normally has a pretty short range of about 30 feet which would stink here — so instead the range here is a lot of yardage — the company says 70 yards and while we didn’t measure, we never had any issues outside or when we went to try it out on a baseball diamond at a park. And just in case it isn’t obvious, no bare hands here, a baseball glove is required.
Games That Inform
There’s six “games” going with the classic catch game but also pop up and long ball, fastball and others. So what exactly is the ball going to “tell” you after it’s been thrown? Stuff like speed and accuracy and other details that can make the child feel they’re really learning how to toss the ball and how to control it — it’s affirmation and lesson learning in the most fun and non-judgemental way you could ask for. That sensor really knows what is going on and translates what is happening to it into information that can be easily digested. And while we didn’t try it, the ability to “play” against another person out in the either who also has the ball and is at the same level is an appealing one.
But for us the coolest thing is that the ball can provide a bit of a simulated gaming experience with commentary and sound effects This comes from connecting the app to a portable Bluetooth speaker. It makes the time spent throwing the ball more special and fun for the child.
The whole point of the Backyard League Gaming Baseball is that it can aid youngsters in getting a better handle on throwing the ball (don’t you dare hit it with a bat!) — be it for the kid wanting to improve themselves as a pitcher or in handling a baseball or just for the joy of the game. Suitable for ages 6-14 (or so), there’s no subscription or other charges or ads to get in the way. So go out there and play ball! More details can be had at https://backyard-league.com/