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Indoor Ball


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9 replies to this topic

#1
SpartanIlliniCub

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How many travel teams play indoors during the winter? How is indoor ball different from regular outdoor ball? Is the field the same size?

#2
softballmom

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My daughter's team from Berwyn, Illinois utilized two indoor facilities during the winter months. One was a field house, and one an inflatable dome.

Here's a photo of the field house:

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It was old and had poor lighting. The softball field was smaller than a regulation outdoor field, and the infield was covered with a carpet that caused severe rug burns whenever you slid into base. It was used for both practice and exhibition games.

Here are photos of the inflatable dome:

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The lighting was better, and the playing area larger, but the field was still smaller than outdoors.

Newer, larger indoor facilities have recently been build in our area. Here's a photo of the Fox Valley Sports Academy Field House in Elgin, Illinois:

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The Field House offers over 13,000 square feet of open space in a completely net-enclosed environment, and was designed specifically for baseball and softball players. Features include an authentic astroturf playing surface, daylight brightness, a batting tunnel, pitching machines, marked base and pitching dimensions for all ages and bleacher-style seating for parents and spectators.

Chicagoland's largest indoor practice facility is McCook Athletic & Exposition (MAX) in McCook, Illinois:

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The Chicago Bandits & Rockford Thunder hosted a media day and softball clinic there in 2007, shortly after it opened (watch the video).

The MAX has an enormous 79,000 square feet of turf including Chicago's first full-sized outdoor field, positioned under a clear-span 40-foot-high roof. The turf is made out of a rubberized high-tech synthetic material that "gives" slightly when you walk on it, simulating the look and feel of real grass.

Facilities such as these now make it possible for softball teams from cold winter states like Illinois to play year-round, which should narrow the gap with perennial softball powerhouses from warm-weather states such as Florida, Arizona and California. However, they still can't compare to playing outdoors!

#3
jlurban

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Moving softball indoors during the winter months in cold-weather cities like Chicago is ironic, since softball was originally invented as an indoor version of baseball in that very city. You can read more about the fascinating origin of our favorite sport in my TSC article "A Brief History of Softball."

#4
Hackster10

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I also have experience playing in an indoor facility, in fact, I played at the exact inflatable dome pictured above. My travel team would play round robins and other games over the winter there. I was not a big fan of it, because the lighting is hard to adjust to, and it is different fielding a ball off of turf as opposed to normal softball field dirt. It was nice to actually have game situations, rather than having the same ole' practice routine, which can get tedious after a while, but playing in a dome definitely takes a lot of adjustment and patience!

#5
DiamondDave

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We got our team registered out in Lake Barrington Field House. The new facility is open for business and looks great. Fastpitch teams for 14, 16 and 18U welcome for winter ball thru Nov 21, I think.

#6
SpartanIlliniCub

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Do the inside of inflatable domes get cold during the winter months, or are they pretty well insulated?

#7
BashBabe57

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Through experiences I've had, they are pretty well insulated. It was necessary to wear pants or heavy sliding gear to avoid burns from sliding on the turf, but I don't ever remember being extremely hot or cold—definitely comfortable with maybe a slightly colder temperature if anything.

#8
Titan09

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From my limited experience in inflatable domes, I remember the temperature being overly warm. It was clear the dome would have gotten cold without heat, because the closer that you got to the edge of the dome, the colder it was—but they had heaters blasting at all times, which made the environment uncomfortably warm. I think the people running the controls at the dome forgot the fact that we were doing physical activity—usually with pants on to protect ourselves—and did not need the heat blasting at 100%.

#9
SpartanIlliniCub

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The heaters were not to make you comfortable...they were there to make your spectator parents comfortable! :D

#10
Titan09

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Hmm, I did not think about it like that...poor.




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