How to take care of your baseball gear

Ah, the smell and feel of an old mitt that fits the hand like a second skin. The crack of a favourite bat. New stuff can never replace your favourite old baseball gear, so you’ll want to keep it in tip-top shape.
How to soften a stiff mitt

There are nearly as many opinions about the “right” lubricant to use to break in a baseball mitt as there are rules in the game. Traditionalists opt for Neatsfoot oil (which is available at most shoe stores), linseed oil or a specialized glove oil. Others maintain that petroleum jelly, oil lubricant and even bath oil are just as effective, if not better. Still, the method for breaking in a glove is more or less the same in all cases.

1. Spread some of the lubricant of your choice all around the glove using a soft cloth; then rub a bit more into the pocket of the glove and under each finger.

2. Place a baseball in the pocket and fold the mitt sideways. Keep it tied up with a belt, an Ace bandage or some heavy-duty rubber bands. Let it sit for one or two days; then open the mitt and wipe off any excess oil with a clean cloth.

3. As soon as you get a chance, use the mitt for about 15 minutes (50 to 70 throws) to help it contour to the shape of your hand.
Taking care of your baseball glove

Once your baseball glove is broken in, you can keep it around a lot longer if you follow these few simple rules:

• Don’t leave it in the trunk or on the seat of your car — or anywhere else where it can be exposed to excessive heat or light, either of which will eventually dry out and crack the leather. You also shouldn’t dry a wet glove on a hot stove or radiator. Instead, use an absorbent towel.

• Don’t over-oil your glove; twice per season should be sufficient.

• Keep the laces tight, and store it with a ball in the pocket when it’s not in use.
Taking care of wooden bats

Metal bats may be all the rage, but wood will never lose its appeal among baseball purists. Here are a few ways to keep those wooden bats swinging:

• Wipe down bats with alcohol after each game or practice session to remove any buildups of dirt or pine tar.

• Try to avoid getting bats damp or wet. When a bat does get wet, dry it off as soon as possible with a soft cloth and rub in a little linseed oil.

• Periodically condition your bats by rubbing them against another wooden bat. Use hard strokes for about five minutes until surface looks smooth and even.

• Store bats vertically in a dry place, with the handle up.
Cleaning baseballs

Get dirt and stains off your baseballs by soaking them in 250 millilitres (one cup) of water and 50 millilitres (1/4 cup) of ammonia.
Turn the ball as needed in the solution. Rinse with cold water and dry.
This cleaning method also works for basketballs, footballs, golf balls, soccer balls and volleyballs as well.

Tips for keeping sports equipment clean

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Most sports equipment is made of tough materials and can stand getting dirty and scuffed. In fact, over-cleaning can be as much of a problem as under-cleaning, since racquets, balls, skis and other sporting goods often contain finely calibrated, high-tech materials. The trick is knowing not just how to clean your sports gear, but how often to do it.
1. To clean a baseball glove

Brush away dirt with a stiff-bristled leather-care brush, available from shoe stores.
If the glove gets muddy, let the mud dry and then brush it off.
Don’t use water on your leather glove.
If your glove gets rained on, let it dry naturally in a warm, well-ventilated place. Don’t put it on or near a heater or fireplace, as heat causes leather to stiffen and crack.
After the glove has dried, use lanolin or a lanolin-based shaving cream to soften the leather.

2. To clean an outdoor basketball

Use a cloth and a solution of water and dishwashing liquid.
When clean, rinse the basketball with plain water and air-dry.

3. To care for a football

When your football, which is usually made of synthetic leather, gets dirty, wipe it with a moist rag.
If it gets wet, air-dry it. Don’t use a heat source such as a hair dryer or a heater to dry a football.

4. To keep golf clubs clean

Wipe the dirt and mud off them after each day of golfing.
Use a cloth and plain water or a mild solution of dishwashing liquid and water.
Rinse by wiping with a wet cloth.
Try not to get the leather grips wet.
Large deposits of dirt on your clubs can affect your game, so keep a moist cloth handy while playing to spot-clean after digging up divots.

5. To clean a synthetic golf bag

Wipe it with plain water or the same mild, soapy solution recommended for golf clubs.
Remember to vacuum out the bottom and the pockets occasionally.

6. To keep hockey gear in good working order

The most important thing is to allow it to dry properly — which means letting gear dry naturally, not with the help of an additional heat source.
After each game, dry and store pads (hanging them, if possible) and the stick in an upright position.
Dry ice hockey skates with a cloth after each use to avoid rusting.
Wipe visors clean with a moist cloth after each use.

7. To clean skis and poles

Wipe them down with a moist rag (you can use a soapy solution of warm water and dishwashing liquid), rinse them and then dry with a dry rag.
Wax your skis every few times you use them.
When you wax them, clean the bases either by using a spray-on and wipe-off base cleaner or by putting on hot wax with an old iron and scraping it off with a plastic scraper before it has dried. (Once you’ve used an iron for waxing, never use it on clothes.)
After you ski, always dry your skis and poles with a cloth to keep them from rusting.

8. To clean a soccer ball

Just wipe it off with a moist cloth.
9. To clean a tennis racquet

Or a squash or badminton racquet, wipe it with a damp cloth.
Don’t get the strings wet, because moisture can ruin them.
Try not to wet the leather grip either, as moisture can take away the grip’s tackiness and make it slippery.
Instead, wipe perspiration off with a dry cloth.

Elevate your play in soccer badminton and rugby

No matter how competitive you might be, it’s always best to bring your A-game. These informative tidbits will help you pick up the basics of badminton, learn to make better rugby passes, and improve your penalty shot in soccer.
Brush up on your badminton basics

This indoor court game is played by two or four people with rackets and a light feathered projectile called a shuttlecock. The speed of the shuttlecock and its swift deceleration give the game its character.

Play begins with the server hitting the shuttlecock diagonally over the net towards the receiver. The players or pairs then take turns hitting the shuttlecock over the net.
A point is won by grounding the shuttlecock within the court on your opponent’s side of the net, or by forcing your opponent to hit the shuttlecock into the net or out of the court entirely. The winner of the rally becomes the server for the next point.
To win a game, a player or pair must reach 21 points. If the score reaches 20-all, the game continues until either a two point lead is established or one side reaches 30 points. Matches are generally played as a best-of-three.

Make a rugby pass

Here are the ingredients to the perfect pass in rugby:

Hold the ball firmly with the thumbs and fingers of each hand positioned on the seams. The fingers should be splayed, and your palms shouldn’t touch the ball.
Try to pass at chest height so that the receiver doesn’t have to take their eyes off of their run, and so that you’re passing over the head of any opponent aiming to tackle you at the waist.
Draw your arms and the ball to one side of your body, then swing them across and release the ball directly at your target.
Remember that the ball must not travel forwards to the receiving player. The referee will penalize a “forward pass” by awarding a scrum to the opposition.

Take a better penalty shot in soccer

When taking a penalty, you face a series of choices. The key is to make a quick decision and stick to it. Here’s what to consider and keep in mind:

Power or placement? Power means using the instep to blast the ball as hard as possible. The goalkeeper has little chance to react, but you can easily hit high, wide, or straight at the keeper. Placement means using the instep to put the ball in the corner, beyond the keeper’s reach, but this gives him time to assess your shot and react to the slower-moving ball.
Left or right? You have four permutations to work with: power left, power right, placement left, placement right. As a fifth option, you can shoot straight down the middle and hope that the keeper dives away from the center.
Stick to your guns. The worst thing that you can do is change your mind on the run-up. Most missed penalties are the result of the striker’s indecision.

With these helpful pointers and a bit of practice, you’ll soon be a master of the field and court.

Tips for buying tennis shoes

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The following guide is helpful for finding the best tennis shoe based on the wide variety of surfaces tennis is played on, from grass to concrete to clay.
1. Hardcourt

Most tennis courts where amateurs play are consistent with a hardcourt surface or concrete covered in a tennis court surface. As the surface is harder, the best shoes should have two vital components: grip and cushion.
The hardcourt makes the tennis ball move faster when it’s hit, meaning you’ll need to do more running and cutting while playing.
Due to the hardness of the court, cushion is also incredibly important to keep your feet from getting hurt, so shoes with a lot of foam in their soles will be important as well. This, however, will add weight and make them tough to use on other tennis court surfaces.

2. Grass

Grass is softer and slows down the tennis ball when it makes contact. Grass is also relatively slick, meaning the main thing your tennis shoes will need is tread for cutting.
Without the right tread, your feet will go out from under you and you could seriously injure yourself.
Cushion is not as important on grass, as the grass and soil naturally provide a certain amount of cushion. So aim for shoes that are lighter in terms of overall weight, but heavier on the grip of their soles.
Also, never wear your grass tennis shoes on a hardcourt–it will strip the tread right off.

3. Clay

Clay and grass tennis shoes are relatively similar, in the sense that they don’t require much cushion but need a lot of tread.
However, grass soles will have a circular tread, whereas clay soles will have a long, jagged tread.
There should also be a round area on the ball of the foot that can act as a brake while playing from side-to-side. This is a subtle difference but an important one for the very best players, who are usually the ones who have the opportunity to play on a clay court.