By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Tim Epling gave Marty Rubinoff the highest of endorsements.
“You have all kinds of guys who know hitting, but can they apply it and teach it?” Epling said. “When I saw Marty work with my daughter (Kayla) — nobody knows your own kids better than you do — I watched him apply his teaching methods. I said, ‘I’ve got to know more.’ From that point on, I became a Marty Rubinoff fan.”
Rubinoff is in the middle of a two-week Christmas stay in Beckley, and he will spend two days passing on his hitting knowledge to young players from around the region.
Upper Deck Training Center will host a two-day clinic featuring Rubinoff on Saturday and Sunday. There will be six different clinics based on age.
On Saturday, baseball players ages 13-18 will meet from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and players ages 10-12 will meet from 1-3 p.m. Softball players ages 12-18 will meet from 4-7 p.m.
On Sunday, baseball players ages 13-18 will meet at 1 p.m. and players ages 10-12 at 3 p.m. Softball players ages 12-18 will meet at 5 p.m.
“I think the biggest thing (he teaches) is the learning aspect of hitting,” Rubinoff said. “The teaching is probably from the ground up — balance, try to be coordinated and making the athlete more aware of what they are doing.”
Rubinoff is a learned man who reads 50 books per year. His knowledge in softball and baseball have led him to many places, including to work with pro softball players in Japan and with the Olympic softball team in Australia.
It was through his work in Australia that he was able to earn a master’s degree in sports science.
“That really helped with the basis, what I like to call getting underneath the skin of the athlete,” Rubinoff said. “Putting a complex skill together, your message has to be simple. I’ve learned how to understand how the human body moves, movement patterns, how to help people learn, and try to get my message to that.”
Rubinoff, who has coached at Cal State Fullerton, Riverside Community College and with the Corvallis Knights of the West Coast League — a summer collegiate baseball league — has worked mostly in softball.
He currently owns Martin’s Field of Dreams in Waco, Texas.
“It’s basically driven by girls softball, and I have some baseball players,” Rubinoff said. “I do lessons six days a week.”
Rubinoff said the difference between hitting in softball and hitting in baseball is minimal at best.
“There really is no difference, except from the standpoint with the actual slap game in softball,” he said. “But, for the most part, I have been teaching baseball and softball the same way as far as that is concerned. The movement patterns, to me, are basically the same. Baseball hitters don’t want long swings, they don’t want to be pulling out.
“I actually teach the same as far as how people move. Balance is balance and coordination is coordination and timing is timing. The timing element, yes, is much quicker in softball because of the (shorter) distance (from the pitcher’s mound to home plate) involved, and also because of the release point in softball compared to baseball.”
Cost of the two-day clinic is $50. For more information, call 304-673-2159 or 304-673-2160, or go online to www.upperdeckwv.com.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @GaryFauber.