The students at Santa Clara's All Star Academy look to burnish their onfield skills.

Baseball has been called “America’s Game,” and for a good reason; no other country has taken the sport to heart like the United States. The definite origins of the sport are hazy; and most likely, humans have been hitting things with sticks competitively since the dawn of time.

The oldest of the leagues is the National League; it began in 1876. Since then we’ve had the pleasure of rooting on the home team and joining friends in the park on weekends to hit a ball with a bat. While some choose to enjoy the game as spectators, or casual participants, others take it very seriously.

Like all sports, technique and strength are the key elements in being a successful baseball player. To achieve excellence, players use refined training that goes way beyond what you’ll find in the sandlot.

Brady Austin, general manager of All Star Academy (ASA) in Santa Clara (2901 Mead Ave.), knows how to get young players to perform at their best. He says, “They need continuity, objectivity and knowledge of mechanics. We want players to get better, reach their potential and achieve their goals.”

ASA started in 2006. Since then, Brady and his team of coaches have focused on the increased performance of their players. With appearances by Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies, Nyjer Morgan of the Milwaukee Brewers and Daniel Nava of the Boston Red Sox during the off-season, the ASA staff never stops learning new techniques from the pros. Those training methods and trade secrets are what make ASA so attractive to players.

ASA offers individual lessons in hitting, pitching, fielding, base running and fundamental throwing and catching. Skill clinics last four hours and include video analysis and performance tracking to insure efficient and focused coaching. The pitching program has been crafted to meet players’ needs, and promises to be, “the most effective and safe in the Bay Area,” according to the ASA website.

The Academy’s pitching philosophy focuses not only on how to throw a ball but also on when to throw it and how to keep your arm strong and healthy. That expertise comes with a price, though; nonmembers pay $1000 for six months.

The training facility offers 17,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space where players can hone their skills and update their performance goals daily. There are nine baseball cages and nine softball cages. Pitching mounds and live hitting tunnels are available indoors and outdoors, with appropriate distances available for all ages. 

According to ASA, their coaches bring knowledge, rapport, communication, assessment, enthusiasm, caring and presence to their players. Of course, all that expertise and guidance comes with a price; but to some players, any advantage on the field is priceless.