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The 3 Reasons The American Baseball Coaches Association Convention Proves Your Program Will Change In 2017

Best Practices, Company News, Dugout, FastPitch, Sports Community, Value of LeagueApps
Photo Credit: ABCA

Photo Credit: ABCA

Since 1945, the American Baseball Coaches Association has held meetings every year with the NCAA with the idea that college baseball needed organization and direction. What started as a 29 man convention has spawned to an 8,000 member association spanning 20 countries.

This year’s convention was held in Anaheim, California from January 5th-8th. More than 4,500 coaches and 300 exhibiting companies made the 73rd annual ABCA Convention the largest ever on the West Coast.

LeagueApps was lucky enough to be a part of the annual tradition this year as CEO Brian Litvack and Director of Enterprise Sales Rohit Kohli were on site with some off the game’s industry leaders.

As the game continues to evolve, different aspects of the youth baseball industry are also changing. It’s important to recognize some of the trends happening in the game. Here are the three reasons the ABCA Convention proved the game and your baseball program will change in 2017.


Technology Is Taking Over

It’s clear now more than ever that technology is changing every part of the game. Everything from tracking a pitcher’s release to gauging bat speed or torque is being monitored. Companies like Diamond Kinetics and HitTrax are paving the way for coaches and directors to analyze all details of a player’s swing.

“The baseball world has completely changed,” Rohit said. “Without a doubt, Diamond Kinetics and HitTrax were the biggest draws at the event. Everything revolves around tracking efficiencies for recruiting more so than ever.”

With all this technology and data, kids are able to receive their scores faster. They are then able to assess how they stack up with everyone else. Tweaks such as lowering their hands on the bat or raising their release on the mound are now easier than ever before.

“It’s almost like these companies are gamifying baseball for the kids,” Rohit said. “Like a video game, kids get instant results and make changes right then and there to get better.”

The 5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Getting Recruited To Play College Baseball


Programs Are Getting More Specialized

From pitching camps in Texas to hitting instructors in New York to catching schools in California, there seems to be no shortage of specialized training. And the market seems to be expanding.

Across the country, facilities are being built for this very reason. Having a field is no longer necessary. Instead, program directors and organizers can use technology to open a camp focused on players’ bat speed.

LeagueApps partners from Ohio, Sports Force Parks, is one example of facilities built on specialization. Located near Cedar Point Amusement Park, they specialize in hosting tournaments for all skill levels. However, they maximize their growth through a niche market in youth sports tourism. By marketing one special asset of what they offer, Sports Force Parks has grown from hosting tournaments into one of the premier players in the youth baseball industry.

Custom Gloves at the ABCA

It’s not just programs or facilities that are specializing. Equipment is being altered every day to optimize a certain part of a player’s game. There’s a science behind how specialized hats can help prevent concussions. Gloves are being built everyday to conform to a player’s tendencies at shortstop or centerfield.

With the addition of technology and improving software, these evolutions are leading to more and more specialized players. The result is personalized pitching coaches and clinics for infielders on turning double plays.

As long as kids want to be the best and play for the best, there will always be a market for specialized camps.

Baseball Organizers Cannot Miss These Conventions

The biggest and most important takeaway is also perhaps the most simple. You have to go to these youth baseball related events.

Aside from the possibility of meeting Tommy Lasorda or Bobby Valentine, conventions and events like the ABCA allow for not only an excellent opportunity for other youth baseball leaders to network, but the potential to grow your program through a 3 or 4 day event is enormous.

That fact is not lost on Rohit.

“All the big name sponsors are here,” he said. “Every organization is here to capitalize on how to grow their youth baseball business in 2017.”

Big names like Rawlings, Easton, and EvoShield, to name a few, have a heavy presence at these events. Just as college teams are looking for partnerships with these baseball goliaths, youth clubs and teams are finding more ways than ever to get sponsorships.

With over 4,500 college coaches and recruiters at the event, baseball directors and organizers are keen on getting the inside track on how to get their players recruited for college.

“Being on site just gives these program directors a competitive advantage in understanding what college coaches are looking for. Sure, the opportunity for sponsorships and technological advances are here. But the real advantage is in knowing how to get your kids recruited,” said Rohit.

If a baseball director is looking to grow their program in 2017, start by attending these events.


Going to to the Mohegan Sun Convention? Sign up to win a FREE customized Fungo Bat!

How A Hall of Famer Is Delivering Great Experiences To His Youth Baseball Programs

Best Practices, Dugout, FastPitch, FC, Sports Community, Value of LeagueApps
Via CoachUp Inc/coachup.com

Via CoachUp Inc/coachup.com

January 2017 Partner SportsDog Award: Dirt Dawg Sports

SportsDog Value: Grit

Award Winner: Alex Santiago

Previous Winner: Team Esface Basketball

Alex Santiago’s baseball resume is quite long.

  • Catcher of the 1982 Puerto Rico Big League Team World Champions
  • 18 years in the Puerto Rico Semi Pro Baseball League
  • Three Puerto Rican Semi-Pro Championships (1989-’91)
  • Eight All Star Selections
  • Manager, Puerto Rico National Big League Team
  • Manager of the Year, 2009
  • Silver Medal w/Women’s National Team in 2009 Pan-American Baseball Tournament
  • Inducted to Carolina (his hometown) Hall of Fame of Sports in 2013
  • Inducted to Puerto Rico Semi-Pro Baseball League Hall of Fame in 2009
  • Oldest Son of Former Red Sox Great Jose Santiago

Since 2012, Alex has been manager, instructor, and trainer of Dirt Dawgs Sports. He also serves as the program’s Information Officer.

Based out of Canton, Massachusetts, Dirt Dawg Sports is a premier baseball and softball training facility offering year-round indoor and outdoor top-notch professional baseball and softball instruction. Their mission is to work with all players to instill, cultivate, and nurture the love and passion that they have for the game.

“Dirt Dawgs is like a family,” Alex said. “You’re not just another customer. You’re treated like family. We are an all year round facility so you’re always welcome. We offer soccer, softball, we sponsor a cricket team. So everyone is welcome.”

Alex moved from Puerto Rico to the Boston area four years ago. He has been involved with all levels of baseball since he was eight years old. He even began his managerial career at the age of twelve while he was playing on the Puerto Rican teams.

He also comes from a great baseball family.

“I don’t like to brag about it, but if I don’t mention it my father will be mad. I am the oldest son of former Red Sox pitcher Jose Santiago, who pitched the first game of the World Series versus St Louis Cardinals’ Bob Gibson and lost 2-1 that game. The only run for the Red Sox was a homerun he hit over the Green Monster.”

In 2012, he took advantage of the opportunity to continue a career in baseball at the youth level. What started as a trainer and coaching position evolved into taking over duties as the program’s information officer.

“We were doing a lot of things manually. And almost everything was done separately. So, I tried to consolidate everything.”

Holiday Champions 2017 Coupal and his 16 Gold

A photo posted by Dirt Dawg Sports (@dirtdawgsports) on

With his background as a website designer and a “lit bit of programming,” Alex gave a lot of his time to install account packages such as QuickBooks and analyze several Excel spreadsheets.

“When I ran into LeagueApps and saw the product for the first time, I was really, really satisfied. It eliminated so much manual stuff we were doing like a lot of paperwork, a lot of forms, and spreadsheets,” he said.

“We weren’t even collecting any payments online.” All registrations were done on paper.

Within two months, all of the Dirt Dawgs’ 21 club teams were conducting 100% of their transactions online. His efforts to deliver the best service possible to his clients and the Dirt Dawgs family is just but one reason why he is held in such high regard.

Discover the  technology that helps power the Dirt Dawgs’ 21 club teams by seeing a free demo.

It’s with that grit, determination, effort, and hard work that Alex is able to deliver amazing experiences to his program’s players, parents, and members.

“Alex is the best! Not only does he spend his time training young baseball players, but he is always looking for new ways to take advantage of all the features offered. He even answered my call and got in front of a computer with me while he was on his vacation,” Launch Manager Stephanie Vera said.

He believes in having an open line of communication with all of his players and members of the Dirt Dawg family. Parents around the Boston area flock to Alex and the Dirt Dawgs so that their kids will become better players and more importantly, better people.

Alex lives by the advice he gives to all sports organizers and anyone who has a drive to succeed in their youth sports business.

“You have to comply on what you offer to your clients.”

Thanks to Alex’s grit and determination, he and the amazing staff of Dirt Dawg Sports are geared for a wildly successful 2017 of delivering excellent service and experiences to their clients.

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