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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Coaching Your Teenagers on the Quest for Good Grades

Coaching Your Teenagers on the Quest for Good Gradesby: V. Michael Santoro, M. Ed.

It is important that as a parent, you create a flexible environment that supports your teen, and provides her with the opportunity to grow into a self-reliant young adult. As a teenager, she will think at times that she has all the answers, and not need you. However, she will be happy to have you as a "safety net" when she realizes she does not have all the answers. This can include how well she is doing in school.

Obviously grades are important but sometimes the quest for good grades can become an obsession, or not taken seriously enough. As parents, we can fall into the common trap of measuring our child’s success solely on grades alone.

Rising to their full potential
What can help is to set the expectation that it is more important to understand what they are learning, as well as rising to their full potential, as opposed to just getting good grades. Grades are not necessarily a true indicator of knowledge acquired. Stress that what they retain and apply, is more important than just obtaining a good grade. Teens need to have balance.

Building their confidence level
It is also important to keep your teenager’s confidence level high. That is, raise or lower the performance bar as necessary, depending upon her abilities and things that may be impacting her life at the time. For example, your daughter may want to achieve a certain grade point average, but is struggling with her Chemistry class. No matter how hard she studies, her grades will vary from a C+ to a B. You may need to coach her that if she is working to her potential in Chemistry, then that is really good. That trying to study harder under those conditions will only cause her stress that may impact her other classes, and/or her quality of life. The best thing to do may be to strategize what she can do in her other courses to accomplish her goal. Have her discuss her concerns and alternatives with her teacher and/or Guidance Counselor. Once she has the information, talk it through with her and allow her to make her own decision about the best way for her to proceed. This approach will allow her to be proactive instead of reactive.

Also, by discussing issues with the appropriate people, she will feel more in control and will discover her alternatives and how to better solve her problems as they arise.

However if there are no alternatives, then encourage your teen to accept that she is doing her best because she is working to her potential. Reinforce that it is more important that she understand and apply what she has learned, than to try fruitlessly to improve a grade.


The best way to coach your teenager with her schoolwork is to understand:
What are her strengths and areas for improvement
That her progress needs to be monitored; and she needs to be involved in making decisions about how she can improve her performance, and achieve her goals.

It is important to learn to discuss a potential problem, and determine solutions as opposed to getting stressed out after the fact.
That your teenager needs to understand, and accept that working to her potential; and understanding what she learns is more important than just trying to get a better grade.

It is vital that your teenager realizes that you don’t judge her by grades alone, and that you value her motivation to improve. If she feels that she can discuss how she is doing and that you will support her if she is making a sound decision for the right reasons; then you are well on your way to becoming best friends with a solid relationship.

About The Author
V. Michael Santoro
This article is an excerpt from the book "Realizing the Power of Love," How a father and teenage daughter became best friends...and how you can too! By V. Michael Santoro, M. Ed and Jennifer S. Santoro. For more information visit their Web site at

Thursday, November 6, 2008

“The 12 Things You Must Know Before Buying a Batting Cage”

“The 12 Things You Must Know Before Buying a Batting Cage”
By Nick Dixon

There are some basic points that you must know before buying a batting cage. When you buy a batting cage you are making an investment that should provide you with years and years of top quality batting practice.

Remember these batting cage buying basics:

1. Batting cages nets come in a variety of sizes but they are all rectangles. The net itself must have square corners to save construction time and cost. The sizes of a cage vary with the length, width, and height of the netting. Be careful about buying cages that are too narrow. These cages do not allow older batters to take a comfortable swing and finish. The greater the width and height of the batting cage, the better sensation a batter has when a ball is hit. The wider and higher cages allow the batter to read the path of the ball when it comes off the bat. A short and narrow cage tends to “smother” a hitter. The higher and wider cages are also safer for the coach, player or parent throwing batting practice.

2. Batting cage netting is most commonly available in three common “twine sizes” #21, #36, and #42. The lower the number the smaller the twine used in construction and the lighter-weight the cage will be. Heavy-duty cages such as the #42 better withstand the elements of time and use therefore they offer more durability and added years of use.

3. Batting cages are most often available in black. The twine is dyed black and UV is added to the netting. Black cages seem to last longer and in my opinion, they look better.

4. Don’t just consider the cost of the cage, but you must also calculate the cost of shipping. Many companies have shipping managers that provide you with an added service of securing the lowest shipping cost possible.

5. All cages require a support structure from which the cage will be hung. The longer the cage, the more support sections that will be required to hold it in place. The smaller and more light-weight a batting cage is, the less support structure it must have. You can depend on putting a support section at both ends and every 20 ft’ if you want your cage to be hung adequately without a lot of droop. So a 60’ batting cage would require at least 4 supports for a heavy-duty net and you may get by with three supports for a light-weight net. You may also need cable or heavy duty rope suspended between your supports to maximise cage support.

6. You can not fit your space to the batting cage. You must fit your batting cage to the space you have available. Step off you or measure the area you have available. Make sure to order a batting cage that will best suit your available space. Do not allow space to deter your commitment to a batting cage purchase. Small cages in the 35’, 40’ and 50’ lengths are laong enough to allow great batting practice work.

7. Your chosen area must be level and it must drain well. If you can afford the additional cost, you may want to add a floor to your cage. There are two materials that make a great floor. Cement or concrete is the most costly. You may want to cover your hitting zone with indoor-outdoor carpet to extend the life of your leather baseballs. If you use rubber pitching machine balls in a pitching machine, they will withstand the abrasive properties of the cement cage floor. Another great floor alternative is to use weather treated 2 x 4’s to build a raised floor. You will border all sides and ends of your batting cage floor with the 2x4’s and stake them into place. You will then fill the inside floor area with a commonly used infield material, crushed stone. This provides a raised dry hitting surface that will offer a safe and less abrasive surface upon which to hit.

8. You are going to need to purchase a “L” protection screen to protect the pitchers throwing batting practice. Make sure that your “L” screen is a “sock” tyle with at least #42 netting to insure that it will withstand the heavy-duty abuse it will be subjected to. A “square” screen is also a great investment to consider if you will be using a pitching machine often. There are screens specially designed to protect the person operating the pitching machine.

9. You will need a plate for batter and pitcher reference during batting practice. The pitcher will use the plate to throw the various pitch locations and the batter will use it to adjust to ceratin situational hitting drills. If your cage has a suitable floor, you may want to paint a plate and batters box to add a much appreciated feature.

10. You will need a power source if you have plans to light your cage and to use a pitching machine. Make sure that you can reach a source with extension cords or run a permanent source if you can do so safely.

11. If you have additional questions or need additional assistance, shop with a company that takes orders by phone. This allows your to ask questions and get answers. Depending on the description and details listed on a website, may cause you to order a cage that is not suitable for your needs. Most reputable batting cage companies have toll-free phone numbers and a staff available during business hours to offer you advice and information before you buy.

12. For many families the best and most “user-friendly” approach to buying a battting cage is to buy a complete batting cage package. These packages contain the nest size and weight of your choice and a “pre-fab” batting cage frame specifically designed to match the net. These packages are easy to assemble. Most of these “batting cage packages” can be assembled by two persons with about 2 hours of work. These “batting cage packages” can easily be taken down in the off-season and stored if there is a need to do so. Many of these packages include everything you need including the “L” protection screen. When the package arrives, all you have to do is carefully read and follow the step-by-step instructions to assemble your new batting cage.

I hope that these 12 points helped you gain a better prospective on how to buy your new batting cage. If you need additional help, please feel free to call our toll free customer service number, 1-877-431-4487. Our friendly staff will be glad to help you anyway they can. Trey and Bill are in the office from 8:00 to 5:00 CST, each day. Our company specializes in “Complete Package Systems” for home, school, team or commercial use.

You may also visit one of our company sites:,,, or

Good Luck in your buying process. See you next time, Nick.