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Professional Sports Training for Kids: Baseball with Ken Griffey Jr.

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We gave it an A

Ken Griffey Jr. swings a bat with such apparent ease that a young player seeing him might think hitting’s simple. Of course, striking a fast-pitched ball with a bat is exceedingly difficult, which is why a major-leaguer who can get a hit once every three times is considered outstanding.

Griffey, an outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, is one such player. As he explains in this excellent guide to hitting, he has spent years learning and refining the techniques good hitters must master.

Professional Sports Training for Kids begins with two-time Olympic shot-putter Pete Shmock taking a diverse group of kids — black, white, small, large, girls, boys — through an extensive workout that loosens muscles used in batting. Jazzy background music gives the drills an appealing tempo that may entice viewers to get off the couch and participate.

After the workout, coach Rusty Kuntz of the Mariners employs easy-to-follow language as he discusses the fundamentals of hitting. Griffey demonstrates techniques. The men show the proper grip, stance, pivot, and stride. Finally, Shmock conducts a relaxed and wide-ranging interview with Griffey, who talks about hitting slumps, playing hard, and the dangers of illicit drugs. Although the 20-year-old Griffey is not especially articulate, he comes across as honest, sincere, and natural. Perhaps most important, he frequently stresses that kids should play ball for fun. That’s a tip too many coaches forget to pass on. A

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