Whether he was a player, instructor or coach, Aaron Vail always understood the need to use the best training tools available.
He still does, as a first-year assistant coach with the Division I Oregon State softball team. And when it comes to quality, Vail says Valle training gloves stand above the rest.
“It’s the quality of the leather,” he says. “It’s a high-quality glove that’s cut for your size, and the customer service is great. (Owner) John Valle will do anything to make sure your experience is first rate.”
Vail, 32, has 14 years of experience in coaching, operations, management and playing at the club, high school and college levels. The St. Paul, Minn., native believes an emphasis on offense has changed the way softball players train.
“The world of showcase softball has groomed players to be less trained for the mental and physical challenge of a full seven-inning game,” he says. “Overall game IQs are less, with more and more coaches calling pitches and instructing throughout the game vs. teaching them in practice.”
Vail’s most recent collegiate coaching experience prior to Oregon State was at Utah Valley University, where he was a softball assistant in 2013-14 while also serving as the program’s recruiting coordinator. The Wolverines won the Western Athletic Conference in 2014 to secure their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth.
Vail says he is looking for “athletes” when he recruits.
“Preferably five-tool, but with that being few and far between, we are looking for versatile players who can run, play multiple positions and knock the ball out of the yard. Typically, this means there is a specific and clear focus on pitchers, catchers and shortstops.”
Vail was introduced to Valle training gloves in 2012 by then-Syracuse University assistant softball coach Wally King, now the head coach at Division II Ferris State in Big Rapids, Mich..
“I used one for an entire camp and implemented a drill series,” Vail says. “I went from paddles to Valle training gloves. From then on, I was sold. It has absolutely improved the hand speed, hand eye coordination and the intentional focus on the acute fundamentals necessary to field at a high level.
“The paddles weren’t able to simulate a natural and relaxed hand position as they keep the fingers extended outward vs. stimulating any flexion in the fingers. Valle training gloves were the ones I most wanted my players to use.”
Vail stresses that the game has changed.
“While defense is extremely important, and we practice it during a significant portion of our practice time, it has become an offensive game,” he says.
He stresses that training gloves are essential for any player from youth to the college and pro level.
“The fundamentals never change,” Vail says. “Training gloves are essential from the time the player is learning the game to honing in on the finest points of glove work.”
Vail is thrilled to be back at the Division I level. His players will be using Valle training gloves from the preseason on, and one thing he knows is the gloves will be as durable as Cal Ripken Jr.
“I’ve used 50 of them and only wore through one pocket,” he says. “That’s pretty darn impressive. The quality of the glove, coupled with the fact that there are multiple gloves or styles to use, and that they are built specifically for adult hands, makes this product superior to any other glove I’ve seen on the market.”