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Wednesday 20 Sep 2017
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Written by Joe Birchfield   

The Knoxville Explosion Fastpitch Program

The Knoxville Explosion Fast Pitch Softball Organization is a volunteer organization with a 100% dedication to the proper development of players such that the player BECOMES THE BEST PLAYER SHE CAN BE.  We have meticulously assembled a highly structured, well articulated developmental program to maximize your player mental and physical skills set.  Our one of a kind program addresses all fundamental elements of game play while focusing on critical elements of player development that are traditionally glossed over or even ignored on other teams.

Our focus is on the player’s development, not the wins and losses.  This is accomplished through the use of professional training, state of the art training equipment, mental and visualization training, and player performance tracking.  We honestly not only care about your player becoming a great softball player, but a great teammate, student and community asset.  We are part of a wonderful organization known as the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) which is a national organization committed to coaching kids the right way.  All of our head coaches are certified PCA Instructors so you have assurances that we are teaching positive methods with 2 goals in mind: 1. Competing and winning and 2. Playing the game the right way, everytime.  If you believe that players should be subjected to verbal abuse and physical torture, then the Knoxville Explosion Fast Pitch Softball Organization is not a good fit for you and your player.

Physical Training

The Knoxville Explosion Fast pitch Organization has an off-season strength and agility workout program that specifically targets muscles, tendons and ligaments utilized in fast pitch softball.  Typically player core, hips and leg muscle groups are the focus.  Team and individual sessions span a 4 month time period at Johnny Long Training Academy and professional training is provided by baseball/softball certified trainers to ensure that player development is achieved.  All players within the organization are afforded the opportunity to participate in this program regardless of the player’s family financial situation.

Mental Training & Visualization Techniques

Each family of our organization receive audio and e-books of a mental training program that specifically addresses important mental elements that will help enable their player to build self-confidence, deal with adversity and perform at a consistently high level.  Each player will receive a visualization technique audio training program that was developed by U.S. Naval Academy sports psychologists to reinforce positive thought and consistent on-field performance.  In 2016, our program now utilizes Chalk Talk Pro which is digital playbook that allows our teams to hold virtual practices with their teams.  What does this mean?  It's simple, Chalk Talk Pro is a digital play diagramming system that allows each coach to electronically diagram plays and actually draw on the diagrams as the play progresses allowing the players to see and visualize when and where they are supposed to be when a particular play is being executed!



Professional Training

All Knoxville Explosion pitchers, catchers and hitters receive professional, one on one instruction with a wide variety of coaching experts that have aided many local and regional fast pitch players.  Individual lessons are scheduled at the various Explosion coach’s discretion and player schedules.  This professional instruction provides expert input to elevate the performance of an individual player and thereby strengthening overall team performance.

Academic Excellence Program

All Knoxville Explosion Players are expected to be excellent students.  To provide encouragement and positive reinforcement, each player receives special team awards for achieving A/B Honor Roll, A Honor Roll, perfect attendance, spelling bee or other academic recognition by their respective school systems.  Performance is tracked on a semester and yearly basis by the various Knoxville Explosion Team Coaches.

State of the Art Training Equipment

The Knoxville Explosion Fast Pitch Softball Teams have the latest in pitching, fielding, sliding and batting tools.  Various hitting aids, pitching machines, sliding mats and defensive tools are utilized to teach proper muscle memory and many are specially designed to focus on individual weaknesses.  These are but a few of the state of the art training aids that the Knoxville Explosion use to develop our young hitters:

As Ted Williams stated, the secret to hitting is hitting a strike.  The Knoxville Explosion has purchased and implemented the VFlex Pitch Recognition System to help all of our hitters.  This 2-stage system actually programs the hitters brains to recognize a ball from a strike.  The recognition for the players comes up to speeds of 105 mph and is currently being utilized by the University of Tennessee Softball Program.  Our program has both the 2-stage academy and travel versions.  The Knoxville Explosion was the first travel fast pitch team to own this system and all of our hitters utilize this system during off-season workouts.

The Jugs Small Ball system is a portable pitching machine that travels to the tournaments with the Knoxville Explosion Teams.  This system has it's own portable battery system and throws 1 inch diameter balls at speeds up to 70 mph.  It's 2-wheel design also allows it to throw some nasty breaking pitches.  The advantage to using this system is that it accurately simulates the pitching speeds the girls will see in a game and makes them focus on hitting a small ball at rapid speeds.

The Advanced Pro 500 Hitting System is a one of a kind, state of the art machine that actually holds a spinning baseball or softball at high velocity in a precise location of the plate.  The machine uses high velocity air flow to produce a rapidly spinning ball that the batters must hit the center to make solid contact.  Contact with the ball anywhere but the middle of the ball will result in a popout or weak groundball.  In addition, this machine will rotate the ball location, in mid air, for utlimate focus!  The latest technology in real time pitch tracking is also used, the Hero3+ camera system is mounted to our catchers helmets during pitching sessions to track and evaluate the development of our pitchers pitches.  Videos are analyzed for pitch location and break.  Flaws in our pitchers mechanics are also noted and corrected!  Pitching videos of 1080p high definition are collected and archived for all of our pitchers.

The Line Drive Pro hitting system focuses the player on proper swing mechanics and bat swing plane every swing.  This state of the art device develops proper muscle memory and allows for development to be fun with a game target for point score generation!


Speaking of catchers, the Knoxville Explosion has purchased the revolutionary Solo Throw Catcher Training System for use with all of it's catchers!  This system involves the use of 36", 24" and 12" interchangeable high durability steel hoop nets to train catchers to throw to spots at the various bases.  The system is totally transportable to any field and can even be used in the absence of bases!

State of the Art Computer Software

We utilize a wide variety of software packages to aid our players in taking their game to the next level.  Batters can be videoed and analyzed by Right View Pro Software® and ZEPP® which is used by the majority of the Major League Baseball Teams and NCAA Fast Pitch powerhouses UCLA, Washington, Arizona State, etc.  Knoxville Explosion players are analyzed in side by side fashion with USA Professional Softball Players such as Jenny Finch, Crystal Bustos, Jessica Mendoza, etc.  The results of the video analyses are printed and provided to the professional hitting instructors working with each of our players in order to quickly identify and correct batting deficiencies.  Our ZEPP module allows measurement of bat and hand speeds, bat angle and angles of attack.  A 3 dimensional rendering of players is also utilized to measure plain of contact and swing path.  Put simply, it is the most advanced hitting analysis tool in the game of softball!

 Jennie Finch


A complete electronic statistical scorekeeping package is utilized for older Knoxville Explosion Teams (starting at 12u).  Using IPADs and smart phones, Knoxville Explosion scorekeepers track over 300 statistics using Game Changer Software and each of the coaches provide rapid player performance data on a regular basis to keep both the parents and players appraised of their individual progress during the season.  Each player is evaluated at mid season and at the end of the spring season.  Grades are given based on performance and coach’s goals are established for the team and individual players.  Batting, defense, pitching, base running and catching statistics are tabulated, evaluated and scored for each player and distributed at the year end party.

We have a professionally developed website that is available for use by all parents, players and relatives of Knoxville Explosion Players.  Each Knoxville Explosion Team has their own section specifically designated to their activities complete with team game schedules, parent contacts, photo galleries, videos and even event calendars that each parent can register family activities such as vacations to inform the respective coaches when tournaments are being planned.  Insurance policies, tournament schedules, coach’s tips and specialized sections highlighting players from the various tournaments are also available.  The website also contains an entire side devoted to the players.  They can develop their own Explosion Space accounts that contain information, songs, pictures, etc.  The players can also establish their own clubs, chat, etc.  All of these activities are performed in a secure environment behind the website firewall.

College Exposure Profiles

Knoxville Explosion Teams (starting at 14u) will distribute and gather vital information that will be captured, formatted and synthesized into a professional player profile sheet.  This sheet not only includes pertinent family contact information but it also contains key player statistics, as well as high school information, Grade Point Average and other important academic and community activities that each player is involved.  Copies of these profile sheets will be taken to College Exposure and Showcase Tournaments for distribution by the coach to college scouts and coaches.  Players will also be videoed batting, defensively and pitching/catching, if applicable.  Are recruiting videos difficult to make?  No!  We use the latest in video technology including the GoPro Hero 3 and the revolutionary Soloshot3 robotic camerman system!  This system utilizes a digital tag that the players wear and the camera tracks their every movement from up to 2,000 feet away (5 football fields)!  With a 25x zoom lense, this system has it all.  Did we mention that it autoedits highlights of each player automatically!

DVDs will also be available for scouts and coaches.  All of this information, along with other key documents are assembled, with professional photos, official Explosion Letterhead and Spring/Fall Schedules are distributed in professional recruiting press kits developed for each player!  These are sent to the college coaches selected by our interested players demonstrating their commitment to get to the next level.  In 2016, our very first graduating class, we have a total of 5 seniors, all of which have signed to continue playing college softball!  Our efforts in helping our players attain scholarships dramatically helps those that want to continue their playing careers!

Community Outreach Program

We are all incredibly blessed to be involved with the game of fast pitch softball and understand how fortunate we are.  Unlike our families, we recognize that there are those in our surrounding communities that are less fortunate than us; it is in this spirit that all of the Knoxville Explosion Teams voluntarily participate in off-season community outreach programs to help those less fortunate while appreciating what we have in our short time on this earth.

Team Activities and Social Events

We hold a number of social gatherings to allow the players to not only become familiar with each other but to have fun!  Every year we schedule various Christmas parties, as well as an end of the year extravaganza.  All players receive unique gifts to commemorate their experience over the various seasons.  We also attend various NCAA regional softball games, major league baseball games and other fun activities.  The players absolutely love it!

Competitive Schedule and Game Play

We are primarily a regional team that plays within the northeast Tennessee area; however, all teams select one significant out of state tournament to participate.  The older Explosion Teams will play in college exposure and showcase events during the seasons to showcase their skills.  The schedule is primarily 50 to 60 games per season.  The younger teams (12 and under) begin play in March and end in July.  The older teams start after high school play in late April and early May.  Tournament play typically ends with State and/or World Series tournaments.

Financial Commitment and Fundraising

We charge a nominal $150 nonrefundable commitment fee per player per year.  In addition, a $100 refundable uniform deposit is required.  In addition, each team is responsible for meeting the budgetary requirements as established by the respective Knoxville Explosion Team Coaches.  Coach Birchfield's teams hold a small number of established baseball tournaments in the Fall of each year and every family is required to work these events.  Most families only have to work (1) 8 hour shift.  All profits from the tournaments go to the respective teams holding the event.  Typically, budgetary requirements are met with one tournament, meaning your one and done!  Other Explosion teams have a variety of fundraising opportunities that allow our teams to purchase their style of uniforms for their own unique explosion experience!

The Proof

Still not convinced that this program works?  From 2011 to 2017, the Knoxville Explosion Organization netted 15 ASA, ISA and SEAA State Championships for it's 8u, 10u, 12u, 14u and 16u Teams.  We finished the 2017 Season with the 18u USA Big Orange Showcase Championship and 10u ISA Class A World Series Championships.  We also grabbed the 2015 10u ISA World Series Championship, 2014 8u and 2013 10u SEAA World Series Championships, 8u TSFA Southern Nationals Championship, The 2014 ISA Class A Tennessee 14u, 12u, 10u and 8u State Championships, 2015 ASA Roane State and Lincoln Memorial University College Showcase Champions, as well as finishing runnerup in the 2013 USSSA Gold 12u North Florida State Championship, and finished as the 2014 Runner-up in the 14u Division of the Alabama USA/ASA Heartland Elite Showcase in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  Our program also achieved a 3rd Place Finish in the ASA Diamond High School World Series in 2015 and finished in the top 20 of the 18u division of the prestigious Scenic City Showcase Tournament that featured over 250 of the nations top softball teams.  Additional proof our program works, we have had 10 players sign with 8 different colleges in our first 2 high school graduating classes!  Our program works for younger to older players.  Those that just started, as well as those with existing crafted skill sets.  Our program works and is proven throughout the year of play, Fall and Spring.

Thanks!

We truly hope that the information presented is helpful to those considering joining our organization.  We welcome coachable players with supportive parents in the northeast Tennessee and surrounding states.  We are serious about softball, but we love the game and want all of our players to learn in a fun atmosphere.  If this sounds like a program that might interest you, we invite you to observe practices or games that our teams participate and contact the various coaches of the respective teams!

God Bless You and Your Family,

Joe Birchfield

Knoxville Explosion Fast Pitch Softball Organization Chief

 

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Important Numbers

'09 Explosion (8u)

Head Coach Steve Wolfgram- (865) 740-8488 - jalynhomes@charter.net

'07 Explosion (10u)

Head Coach Scott Barnes- 865-387-3264sbarnes1100@gmail.com

10u Explosion (9u and 10u)

Head Coach Amy Dorsett - 865-850-9100 - jadorset@aol.com

'06 Explosion (11u)

Head Coach Jason Darnell - 865-776-1351jdarnell@crackerbarrel.com

2024 Explosion (11u)

Head Coach Harold Lynn - (865) 228-8082 - tn02softball@gmail.com

2K5 Explosion (12u)

Head Coach Kevin McCord- (407) 619-7808 - klmccord@ymail.com 

'05 Explosion (12u)

Head Coach Shane Alvey - (865) 621-5200 - salvey10@aol.com

'04 Explosion (13u) 

Head Coach BJ Henderson - (865) 389-3777  - bj23henderson@gmail.com

Coach Pemberton - mandi3pemberton@gmail.com

'03 Explosion (14u)
Head Coach Scott Blankenship - (865) 388-9778 -
scottsequipment@hotmail.com

'02 Explosion (15u)

Head Coach Keith Gray - (865) 323-7249 - KGray@utmck.edu

'01 Explosion Navy (16u)

Head Coach Tim Baldridge - (865) 659-6016 - tim@hotzlaw.com

'01 Explosion (16u)
Head Coach 
Matt Fowler- (865) 604-9153 - fowlers123@comcast.net

'00 Explosion (17u Developmental)

Head Coach David - (865) 803-5807 - lilshoe@charter.net

2019 Explosion (17u Competitive)

Head Coach Ricky Johnson - (865) 258-2572 - rickyjohn1322@gmail.com 

Explosion Select (18u) 
Head Coach Joe Birchfield - (865) 363-0728 - birchfieldj@earthlink.net

Coach Jason Holt - (423) 608-5933 - jasonholt41@gmail.com

Introducing the Explosion Select Players

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The Knoxville Explosion are Proud Members of The Positive Coaching Alliance

Click here to go directly to the PCA Website

The Knoxville Explosion are Proudly Sponsored by Dicks Sporting Goods


 

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