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.

5 items tennis players need

Five items all tennis players need in their tennis bags

Whether you are heading out for a quick game with friends or have a match against a ranked opponent, be sure you are prepared with the right equipment. While you’ll always need your racket and shoes, you’ll also want to have these five items all tennis players need in their bags.

1. Multiple rackets

How many times have we seen a player on television break a string from too much spin or from a temper tantrum? Luckily for these players, they’re always prepared with multiple rackets. While it is unlikely that you’ll ever be playing in a packed stadium, it is always a good idea to have at least two rackets with you. The second racket does not have to be as good or expensive as your primary one; however, it should be a racket that you have spent time using.
2. Hydration

Never assume that your neighbourhood court will have a water fountain. As a result, always bring at least two bottles of chilled water and a banana or similar snack that is high in potassium. If planning to play for a while, consider using an electrolyte-infused sports drink. Not only will this help prevent muscle cramps, but it will also give you the stamina to go deep into games.
3. Grips

While every racket contains a grip, it can be difficult to hold once you begin to perspire. In addition, an over grip helps provide additional stability and control to the person using the racket. Given how easy it is to perspire during a game, it is important to bring extra grips that can be wrapped around the racket in a matter of seconds.
4. Tools to battle the sun

Be sure to apply sunscreen every hour. To protect your face and eyes from the elements and not be blinded by the sun, you should also have polarized sunglasses and a hat. Consider investing in clothing that wicks perspiration from the body.
5. Extra clothing

While it may not seem like a big deal, a sweaty shirt could be the difference between a match point victory and a loss. Because being comfortable is crucial, always have an extra shirt and possibly shorts in your tennis bag. In addition, a towel is great for keeping the perspiration out of your eyes and as a cushion to protect the seats in your car after the match is over.

Choose the right running shoe to avoid injury

Choose the right running shoe to avoid injury

Injuries can plague both experienced runners and novices, but choosing the right running shoe can help. Each person runs differently, and not all running shoes are created equal, so do some research about how you run so you can pick the best pair.
Types of runners

Runners fall into three main categories when it comes to distributing weight from the heel of the foot to the toes: over-pronation, supination, and neutral pronation. Over-pronation refers to runners whose feet roll inward usually due to weak arch support, while supination refers to runners whose feet roll outward, and neutral pronation means the weight remains equally distributed from back to front.

If you’re not entirely sure which category you fall into, there are some at-home tips to discover your running style. Examine your current running shoes to see how the tread has worn down over several months. A well-worn pair of running shoes will reveal if you tend to run on the inside, outside, or centre of your foot.

Another way is to have a friend or family member watch you walk barefoot in a straight line to see how you distribute your weight. If neither of these methods leaves you with a definitive answer, you can always find a running shoe expert at any local athletic or shoe store. These trained professionals should watch you walk, examine your current running shoe, and help you determine your running style.
Choosing a shoe: neutral pronation

Runners with neutral pronation don’t need a running shoe with many bells and whistles. A running shoe with standard cushioning and support in a relatively lightweight shoe will do the trick, since these runners don’t over-distribute weight to one area of the foot. They simply need a shoe that’s comfortable and provides a medium amount of padding to protect the joints from harder surfaces.
Choosing a shoe: those who over pronate

If runners over-pronate, they will want to find a shoe that provides a greater deal of support and cushioning in order to stabilize their feet and prevent them from rolling too far in.
Choosing a shoe: runners who supinate

If runners supinate, they will want to find a lighter weight shoe that also offers stability to keep their feet from rolling too far out and causing injury.

Improving positional play in tennis doubles: expert tips

Getting into the right position to return the ball is important in all forms of tennis, but it is crucial in doubles. With two players on one side of the court, you need to plan out your positional play so that you and your partner can cover the court without getting in each other’s way. Here are some expert tips to do just that.
Left and right play

When playing left and right, it’s important to react to the position of your partner. This means moving left and right in tandem with one another.

Think about how far you are from your partner when receiving a serve and try to maintain this distance throughout a rally.

If your partner needs to run out of the court to return a ball, then move over at the same rate to the centre of the court. This will help players to cover the space that their partner leaves uncovered. And that means that your opponents will have a much harder time smashing the ball into a wide open zone that you and your partner are too far from to defend.
Back and forth play

Playing with both players close to the net is called “two up.” It is a idea to do this from time to time to shut down your opponents’ attacking options, especially if they have been having some success hitting winners.

You and your partner could also stand in the middle of either side of the court and volley returns back. But be careful — this tactic can mean your opponents will try to lob you, so decide beforehand which of you will deal with this counter-measure.

Remember that it’s also possible to play with both partners standing on or near the baseline. This “two back” strategy is good for dealing with hard hitters. Doubles players tend to use it if volleying is not a strength or if they are in the lead, which they want to defend.

In games with a lot of back and forth play, switching quickly from “two up” to “two back” is often the most effective strategy.
Zonal play

In zonal play, one player is close to the net and the other occupies the baseline.

To play with this tactic, you and your partner should each own one side of the court. This means that you’d leave everything outside of your zone to your partner and vice versa.

Sharing the court like this sounds like a solid strategy, but your opponents will likely try to drag you out of position. As a result, strong discipline and coordination is the key to the success of zonal play.
The importance of positional play

No matter your skill level is, when your playing doubles you’ll find that the likelihood of winning points improves greatly if you’re able to coordinate with your partner to have strong positional play.

Positional play is so important to doubles tennis because it increases the amount of returns you and your partner can manage in a rally. After all, even if it isn’t perfect, every return forces your opponents to deal with the ball, and mistakes can be made. So keep these expert tips in mind to help you and your doubles partner improve.

The best bait and lures for fishing

The best bait and lures for fishing

Certain baits and lures are among the best available in Canada for catching just about any fish. Read below to find out more.

Aglia spinner

The aglia spinner came about in France over 75 years ago, and returning veterans brought it back to North America following World War II. It was voted as the top lure for trout by Field and Stream readers. On top of this, the lure lays claim to having caught the most recorded fish of any other lure on the market. Everything from salmon and walleye to crappies and bass will latch on to this lure. So whether you’re in the Great Slave Lake or a waterway like the Polar Bear Provincial Park, you’ll surely be able to snag some whoppers.
Silver minnow

The silver minnow has a simple design that wobbles at a 35-degree angle and has an amazing weed guard. It’s great for catching pike, so anyone heading to the northern region of Manitoba is definitely in for a treat.
Shad rap

The shad rap is a highly versatile lure. It saw its 30th anniversary in 2012, but it’s been popular since the day it hit the market. The numerous varieties make fishing at different depths and for different prizes a simple endeavour. There are numerous bait fish that this lure can mimic, and this makes it perfect for almost any region in Canada.

It’s an amazing crankbait that can be trolled or cast. The larger models out there can actually dive more than 20 feet, and with the right shad rap lure, a fisherman can count on catching walleye, trout, muskies and pike throughout the year.
Live bait

Lures are an amazing thing to have in one’s tackle box, but many individuals swear by live bait. Typical night crawlers and crickets work for many species, but for those with higher aspirations, there are countless other live baits out there as well.

Minnows, for instance, are perfect for catching white bass, walleye, catfish, crappies, bass and even bluegills at times. They are inexpensive and can be kept alive in a simple live well while fishing. Madtoms, also known as stonecats, are also great for live bait. They work great for smallmouths found in Canadian rivers, but in most cases, you’ll have to catch your own, since many bait shops don’t carry them.

How to prevent injuries with a winter sport safety checklist

Whether you’re winning championships or just getting a great workout, winter is one of the most exciting times of the year for sports. Unfortunately, many folks venture out without an injury-proof plan. Preparing a winter sport safety checklist reduces the odds that you’ll experience a cold weather injury caused by a fall or exposure to the elements. Follow these nine tips to enjoy a safe winter sports season.
1. Dress in layers

Dressing in layers is important for both safety and comfort, as drastic weather changes can cause unstable body temperatures. When you can remove or add layers of clothing, you reduce the risk of developing hyper or hypothermia.
2. Don’t depend on wrist guards

Guards can help reduce injury to the wrists, but you can’t depend on a wrist guard for complete protection. If you fall, tuck your arms and land on one side of the upper body to reduce the chance of wrist injuries.
3. Practice proper form to prevent ankle sprains

Most skiing and skating injuries occur from incorrect form. To prevent ankle injuries, flex the knees when you’re in motion and practice weight distribution techniques.
4. Warm muscles prior to activity

Short warm-up exercises and stretches can help prevent cold muscle injuries. Cold joint muscles are like ice sticks and easy to snap.
5. Wear knee supports

Snowboarders, ice skaters and skiers are more susceptible to knee injuries than other athletes because high speed activities increase the risk of injury. A knee brace provides extra stability when you participate in extreme sports and can help prevent a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
6. Use leg muscles when lifting

Bend at the hips and use your leg muscles, not your back, to bear the brunt of the weight when you lift moderate or heavy objects or equipment.
7. Use bracing techniques to prepare for a fall

Ignore the common myth that advises athletes to act like a rag doll while tumbling down the slopes. Prevent serious injuries with a chin-tuck, body-hugging position. Flex legs slightly to absorb the shock of impact.
8. Take water breaks

Dehydration is common in the winter months because the chilly weather often masks the thirst trigger. Drink plenty of water during activities, as dehydration can interfere with performance and increase the risk for injuries.
9. Apply sunscreen

Even on cloudy days, the sun’s UVB and UVA rays still penetrate the atmosphere. Block rays with continuous applications of sunscreen everywhere, not just on exposed skin.

How to save on winter sports

Skiing, snowboarding and hockey are all wonderful winter activities, but they also hold the potential to clean out a winter enthusiast’s bank account. This winter, ditch the overpriced equipment and take a more savvy approach to snow and ice-based sports.
1. Take advantage of free ski trails and sledding hills

Skiing and snowboarding tend to break the bank because of the pricey ski-lift passes. Cross-country skiing is a great way to get some exercise in the winter, and it can be a very inexpensive recreational activity for those savvy enough to find free public trails. Some cities maintain ski trails, while others focus on sledding hills, which make it possible for families to enjoy long days of winter fun while sticking to a budget.
2. Don’t be afraid to buy used equipment

That used pair of hockey skates might look a bit ragged, but the otherwise shabby skates can easily be fixed with an inexpensive sharpening. Most people abandon their old winter sports equipment not because it is poorly made or ineffective, but because they do not participate in those activities anymore.

Take advantage of this by hitting up the local sporting goods shop where used high-quality equipment can be obtained at minimal cost. Most reputable stores will sell substandard equipment, and many stores allow customers to test winter equipment before making purchases.
3. Decide if a season pass is worthwhile

If you plan on hitting the slopes only a couple of times each year, it may be wise to refrain from purchasing season passes. A season pass may offer savings for avid snowboarders and skiers who visit the slopes on a weekly basis, but not for occasional visitor.

Most resorts and hills offer early bird prices, although these are less ideal in unpredictable climates that might lack snow in November and December.
4. Considering renting your equipment

Those who are new to winter sports such as skiing, hockey or snowboarding may want to consider renting their equipment rather than buying, especially if they are unsure whether they will actually enjoy themselves. There is no need to allow a barely-used set of skis to gather dust and go to waste in the garage.

Ski areas often offer discount rental rates for those who choose to purchase day passes; consider taking advantage of one of these excellent package deals.