A.J. Andrews is known for her dynamic flair on the field, and eye-catching fashion off of it. She is recognized as one of the most exciting softball players in the world and is the first woman to ever win a Rawlings Gold Glove award. Off the field, A.J. is a motivational speaker who promotes women and girls’ empowerment and works as a special guest at softball clinics around the nation.
A.J. also preaches that one of the most important skills to work on in softball is hand-eye coordination. And we got an inside look into one of her favorite drills that focuses on exactly that. Watch the video and follow the steps below to improve your hand-eye coordination and elevate your game.
Step-by-step Drill Instructions
Grab some tennis balls or softballs.
Get a friend, teammate, or parent to toss you the balls.
Start the drill in position like you would in the field of play.
Have the individual tossing the balls stand 5-10 yards away facing you.
To start the drill, have the individual toss one ball at a time in the air in different directions. For example: As soon as you catch one ball to your right, have the person throw another ball to your left.
Repeat the process back and forth from right to left.
Mix it up by having the individual throw the balls from front to back as well as side to side.
A.J.’s specialty is making spectacular plays on the field with ease. Check out the full list of products she uses to stay at the top of her game by clicking here or going to eastbay.com.
Tamera “Ty” Young is a 12-year WNBA veteran and CEO of TY1 Gear LLC. She was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2008 WNBA draft, and the first female from James Madison University to ever get drafted. She also embraces being more than an athlete, and speaking on the racial and social justice issues that impact the country today. Check out her thoughts on how women’s basketball players have always been actively involved and on the forefront of change.
Q: Women’s basketball players have been extremely active in driving awareness to racial and social justice issues this season. Have you noticed this, and what are your thoughts on the subject?
A: Yeah, women’s basketball players have always been at the forefront, fighting for justice and fighting for equality. And there’s still things that are happening where we have to continue to try and bring more awareness to the issues. It’s not something that just happened either. It’s something that’s been happening, but because there are issues we’re still facing, whether that’s racism or whether that’s equality, we’re still having to fight for it. I think that the quality of social media is also helping bring more awareness to the issues, but overall women have always been at the forefront of this fight. It’s something we’ve always had to fight extra for too. We’ve already been fighting for our own rights, and that makes us more aware and makes us want to be in a position to use our platforms to fight for it.
Q: What did you think about the WNBA’s decision to dedicate this season to addressing these issues?
A: I wasn’t surprised by it. Because, like I said, women have always been at the forefront of these fights. We’ve always been finding ways to fight for social justice, for equality, to fight against racism. So when I saw that happen I thought it was amazing. But I wasn’t really surprised by it the way others may have been surprised. I just feel like women have always been using their platform for good. Women are the most marginalized group, so we have to fight the hardest.
Q: What do you thinks needs to be done by athletes and people in this country to spark substantial change?
A: To really spark the change, I think we all have to fight together and stand together. Not just athletes, everyone in general, and especially Black people. When you’re all together on something, it’s harder for people to be against you. We can put pressure on companies that we work with to take a stand. We have to lead the people who look up to us.
Q: What about the people that think who athletes shouldn’t speak on social or racial injustice issues?
A: Those people are part of the problem. You’re telling someone, just because they’re an athlete, that they need to “shut up and dribble.” But the majority of these athletes are Black. So how can you tell them not to fight against racism? If an athlete educated themselves, then they should be able to speak on what they know and believe.
Q: You’ve inspired so many young girls to be unapologetically themselves. What advice do you have for the next generation of female athletes?
A: I’ve just always been self-motivated to fight for what I want. They were my goals and dreams and I never wanted to just do what others thought was best for me. I am a firm believer of hard work, being a good person, and being myself. That took time, of course, but playing sports helped build my own self confidence. Throughout my whole journey, the three things that remained constant were to work hard, be a good person, and make the sacrifices that needed to be done for whatever future endeavor I had. So for the girls, I always tell them to be themselves, believe in themselves, and prove the doubters wrong. It’s hard for others to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself first.
Jaliyah Manuel is a basketball prodigy, all-around athlete, actress, and philanthropist. She has taken the social media world by storm with her unmatched skills and hard work ethic. Jaliyah is known for being an extremely talented, multi-sport athlete, but one of her most impressive traits is how well she can handle a basketball at her young age.
Lucky for us, she shared some of her favorite drills that she uses to improve her ball handling skills and the benefits each drill provides.
Drill #1 – Improve Your Handles
This drill focuses on handling the ball quick with a pop-up defender in place. The defender or pad is used to give you less space to work so you become more efficient with the ball. This also helps you learn how to retreat out of your moves and then go back into them quickly. The dribble move Jaliyah is working on here is out, through the legs, behind the back, snatch behind the legs, but the drill can be used with any dribble combination.
Drill #2 – Improve Your Strength and Control
The point of this drill is to work your hands and build strength in your fingertips while working on controlling the ball with precision. Jaliyah uses the POWERHANDZ Anti Grip Weighted Gloves to give her hand muscles a little extra resistance. The key to this drill is to focus on staying low and moving your feet as fast as possible when going from cone to cone.
Jaliyah works tirelessly to perfect her craft, so she needs the best gear in the game to keep up with her work ethic. Check out her top basketball product picks here or visit eastbay.com
ConqHER is about female athletes that are pushing boundaries every single day. These women and their stories inspire athletes and demonstrate that sports cannot be define by gender – only heart.
Adrianna Hahn has toughness ingrained in her DNA. The standout Villanova and Ursuline Academy alum had to overcome challenge after challenge during her prolific college and high school basketball career. But even through those hardships, Hahn’s confidence and drive to be great never wavered.
Hahn sustained her first major knee injury at just 12 years old. She tore her ACL and was convinced her basketball career had come to a screeching halt. But Hahn was determined to put in the hard work and build herself back up to the exceptional basketball player she knew she could be.
“It was tough. I had to start brand new and teach myself to walk again,” Hahn said. “But I also had to keep that strong work ethic and remember I was still the same Adrianna Hahn. And because I was behind, I had to work even harder and have more urgency to get back on the court and still be the most dominant person on the floor.”
Hahn went on to be a high school basketball star in Delaware, even while battling through two more major knee injuries that required additional surgery and extensive rehab. Colleges noticed that intense drive, paired with her insane 3-point shooting range and skill, and she became one of the state’s best prospects in recent history.
She ended up choosing to play basketball at Villanova and proceeded to create a major name for herself in the program.
After setting the Wildcats’ career 3-pointer record with 315 treys, it became apparent to Hahn that chronic knee injuries would prevent her from continuing her basketball career at a professional level. She felt like she could still play, but the insane pain after gamedays made it difficult for her to walk.
Hahn knew she couldn’t leave behind the game she loved so much. Basketball was entrenched in her identity and she wanted to give back to the community that she had been a part of for so many years.
She found her outlet in training and coaching. A perfect combination of teaching the game she knows so well and inspiring the next generation of players to be great.
Hahn knew how tough it was to be a girl playing a historically male-dominated sport. And she felt how important it was for young, female athletes to have role models and mentors to look up to.
“It is crucial for all athletes to give back, but it’s even more crucial for female athletes to give back,” Hahn said. “We need each other.”
Hahn notes that growing up as a girl whose life revolved around basketball came with a stigma. Because she didn’t try and fit into the traditional norm of being “feminine”, other students thought she was trying too hard to be a boy.
“People made fun of me for playing basketball, people made fun of me for wearing ‘men’s clothes’ like Jordans and high-top sneakers,” Hahn said. “I never had nail polish on, I wasn’t wearing any makeup or jewelry, and I didn’t get my ears pierced until I was 20-years-old, so I got bullied.”
But Hahn’s confidence never faltered. She credits her belief in herself and drive to become great as the reasons she was able to block out those bitter people and become one of the best basketball players to ever come out of Delaware.
“I believed in myself and believed in my talents. If I allowed those hateful comments and negative opinions about me to affect me and my journey, I wouldn’t be who I am today,” Hahn said. “It’s important for all athletes, especially female athletes, to believe in yourself, believe in your talents, have confidence, and at the same time spread that positivity to other people.”
Now Hahn is spreading that attitude and inspiring young girls who are going through some of the same struggles that she went through. She wants to break down those stereotypes she faced and advocate that no matter your gender, basketball should be celebrated as a sport for all.
“It shouldn’t be a gender thing. As a trainer, I deal with boys AND girls of all ages,” Hahn said. “The footwork that I’m able to do is the footwork they teach NBA players, that they teach D1 college guys, and I’m capable of doing that same footwork and having that same skill set that they have.”
“I speak to everyone the same way. Basketball is all love. We are not just female athletes, we’re athletes. And we will conquer all those obstacles that we face.”
With a well-deserved reputation as having one of the loudest, most intense fanbases, Philly is not the easiest city to play for. Yet, one player has not only become beloved there, he’s become an adopted son of sorts, an embodiment of who Philly is as a city and the face of one of the most iconic franchises in basketball.
Joel Embiid was drafted third overall by Philadelphia after a promising freshman season at Kansas. Originally from Yaounde, Cameroon, Embiid went from not picking up a basketball until he was 15 to being declared the savior to a major franchise. For Embiid, it had been one hell of a journey. He was discovered at a basketball camp by fellow Yaounde native and NBA vet Luc Mbah a Moute, and with him as his mentor Embiid moved to America at 16 to pursue a basketball dream. As a senior in high school, Embiid was one of the top recruits in the country and would lead his team to a state title before heading off to Lawrence, Kansas to play for Bill Self. That season, Embiid was one of 30 finalists for the Player of the Year award.
After the draft, there was a ton of hype surrounding Embiid, and Philly fans were salivating at seeing him take the court. Unfortunately, Embiid’s career got off to a brutal start as he struggled with injury after injury. Questions began to swirl about whether he would ever play a game in the NBA. Throughout it all, Embiid remained focused on his rehab, saying, “You can’t just sit back and hope for the best. You have to put in the work every single day. You just have to trust the process and make sure you’re working hard because it will pay off.”
When Embiid finally took the court in his third season, he quickly became a force that opposing teams were ill-equipped to handle. In a league that has gradually become more perimeter-oriented with a major emphasis on outside shooting, Embiid was dominating the paint and feasting night in and night out. Despite only playing 31 games, Embiid finished second in Rookie of the Year voting and quickly established himself as a fan favorite in Philly.
Embiid said, “I love the fans – we have a special relationship. One minute they might cheer for you and the next minute they might boo you. That just shows you they care. I’d rather play there then for another city where fans just come to the game for entertainment. I want people to care because it pushes me to be better.”
Embiid has paired his immense physical gifts with a burning desire to be one of the greatest to ever play. Now entering his sixth season, he has made clear his goals to win an MVP and bring a title to Philly. To help achieve those goals Embiid has partnered with Under Armour for his first signature shoe, the UA Embiid One. Together with designer Reggie Wilson, they have designed a shoe that isn’t just for big men but for all players.
Before even sitting down with Joel to discuss the shoe, Wilson was busy seeking out inspiration by looking at Embiid’s home country of Cameroon and studying some famous monuments and landmarks from there. He really dug into Embiid’s journey to the league and was inspired by what he learned.
One of the unique aspects of the shoe is that it tells Embiid’s story chronologically through the shoe’s colorways. Wilson is pumped to show off some of the key details in the shoe saying, “His family is really important to him, so we molded his family’s names into the backside of the TPU wing.” Wilson also noted that he loves how the outsole turned out and that people should really look for some of those smaller storytelling elements embedded in the shoe.
From a technical aspect for the shoe, there are a few things Wilson is really excited about. The first thing is the breathability of the shoe. Wilson learned from a Philadelphia trainer that Embiid’s feet would get incredibly hot during games. It became so bad that Embiid would have to take his shoes off when he was on the bench to give his feet some fresh air. “Some of the shoes he was wearing were so bulky, so many layers, and that was one of the things we wanted to avoid. We wanted to make this as breathable as possible but still strong enough for him,” said Wilson. By constructing the upper with mesh layers Wilson was able to ensure that heat was able to escape and fresh air could flow through the shoe.
Cushioning is where a shoe really makes its mark, and the UA Embiid One is certainly not lacking in that department. It’s built with HOVR technology, Under Armour’s patented cushioning tech, that provides some of the best, most efficient energy return in the game. Sitting under the heel of the foot is Micro-G cushioning to add additional cushioning.
During the design process Embiid and Wilson worked closely together to figure out the cut of the shoe. Eschewing the typical high-cut that has become common with basketball shoes they decided to go with a mid-cut, which better matched Embiid’s style of play. The cut really speaks to the versatility of shoe. Guards and wing players get the freedom they need to drive hard to the basket and big men the support they need to dominate down low.
Both Embiid and Wilson are thrilled with how the shoe turned out and can’t wait for it to become available.
About the shoe, Embiid said, “It was great working with them and I’m happy with the end result, and I think it’s going to be exciting when it comes out.”
The Embiid One will be available exclusively at eastbay.com on September 18, two weeks before any other retailer. When you purchase a pair you will also receiver a free poster with your order.
J. Cole has sold out shows across America, he’s gone platinum with no features, and is the face of conscious rap. Not bad for a kid from Fayetteville, North Carolina. J. Cole has always been a big dreamer, and now he’s teamed up with Puma to bring a different kind of basketball shoe to the court. One for all the dreamers out there, the RS-Dreamer.
Cole and the Puma design team took all the bold elements of the RS series and built a fully playable pair of kicks. It all starts with the fit. The team installed a disruptive lacing system that gives the wearers a snug fit and responsive feel all throughout the forefoot and midsole.
The cushioning system is a combination of a ProFoam midsole and RS-Foam in the heel. This provides the maximum energy return all game long, whether you’re a slashing wing, bruising big man, or silky-smooth guard.
Perfecting the outsole pattern was the final key to the silhouette. Every great basketball shoe features outstanding grip, and this one is no different. Made with full coverage, high abrasion rubber, the RS-Dreamer gives players extra grip that is ideal for quick cuts and spot-up play.
Make sure to head to Eastbay now to grab a pair of the Puma RS-Dreamers while they’re still available.