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Details for DD


Real name:
DENNIS DALTON

Location:
PHOENIX, AZ

Division:
Men's 60

Messages posted by DD »Message board home   »Start a new discussion

April 24, 2011
DD
Topic: Associations
Discussion: SSWCI LEADS THE WAY

When it comes to being responsive to its customers, SSWCI (nee SSUSA or SSWC) leads the way.

While not always hitting the mark on some of their rulings, the folks in Sacramento stand out when it comes to modifying their stance if it conflicts with member interests.

For example, two years ago we were subjected to a Pitcher Protection Rule designed to increase safety. Instead, the now-repealed PPR infuriated players, confused umpires, did nothing to protect pitchers, and was a monumental misstep. SSWCI's response to player criticism? The PPR was scuttled and a new method of protecting pitchers was initiated that has resulted in a more balanced approach to this important safety issue.

Another example deals with time limits. In the face of mounting concern about games being over in fewer than seven innings, SSWCI extended 2011 seeding games to 65 minutes and bracket games to 70 minutes. The early results are very positive, with our team's last 3 tournaments featuring all but one game (15-of-16) going the distance. Bravo!

To be sure, there are still areas in the rules that need to be addressed...such as the Major+/Major issue. The concern here is for teams that are pushed to M+...but enter tournaments and are forced to give runs AND play with fewer homeruns...a double-jeopardy equalizer that makes it a sham to be playing Major +. Why have the label if you rarely get to play by those rules?

Another concern is the fallout for players who are labeled Major +...(these are solid players, but not necessarily the 'best of the best')...whose presence on lower rated teams forces the team to, a) elevate to a higher division or, b) drop the players involved so that team can remain at the lower level.

In Arizona we're seeing this apply to several good players who are currently men without a team...they are in limbo because of a subjective ruling made by a distant authority with little or no personal knowledge of the players involved.

All of us can think of other examples of unfair rules and/or practices that affect our playing....but one thing can be counted on...the powers that be in Sacramento will listen carefully to your concerns and if you make a good case, they will very likely act upon it swiftly.

What more can you ask?


April 18, 2011
DD
Topic: Tournaments
Discussion: Laughlin

The 55 Platinum Division provided an interesting mix of teams competing for the Southwest Championship crown. Two 55/Major teams (SoCal 55s and R-n-R/Double Nickels) plus my team, Greco Hitmen, a 55/Major Plus team...plus my OTHER team, GSF 60 Major Plus....all were pitted against each other in a 4 team scramble.

SoCal 55s earned the #1 seed with an undefeated 3-game Round Robin slate; R-n-R grabbed the 2 seed...Hitmen took the 3 seed and GSF 4 with an 0-3 record.

Bracket play was a different story. GSF upended SoCal 55s while R-n-R beat Greco in the first round. R-n-R then beat GSF on Saturday at 5pm and earned a berth in the finals.

A 930am Sunday game saw Greco eliminate SoCal 55s...then Greco took out GSF with a 1-run victory to earn the championship round.

R-n-R then pasted Greco 27-6 in the final game...22-6 if you disallow the 5 runs they were spotted.

One weekend does not always indicate the true strength of a team...and many teams are better than what they seem to be on any given weekend. We understand all that.

Nevertheless, it would be hard to find a better all around squad than the Bullhead City version of R-n-R/Double Nickels. They made innumerable circus catches and most of the routine plays on defense; hit consistently throughout the lineup and with considerable power; their pitcher, Rob Grimm, moved the ball effectively around the plate; and their shortstop is arguably the best all around senior ballplayer in the country.

Congratulations to this fine team for putting on as good a show as we'll see all year.




Feb. 27, 2011
DD
Topic: Rules of the game
Discussion: TIME LIMITS LIMIT ENJOYMENT


With their December announcement that all 2011 seeding games would now go 65 minutes and bracket games 70 minutes, SSUSA/SSWC has responded to member concerns about time-limiting games. The results of the extensions remain to be seen and we hope that is enough to solve the problem.

In 2010, a totally unacceptable 52% of our games in SSUSA/SSWC tournaments were over in 6 innings or less. In the recent TOC in Florida, 4 of our 5 games ended after 6 innings, though some explained the TOC used 2010 time constraints and not the new extensions announced for 2011. I'm not so sure.

We want to encourage other managers to watch this closely and monitor their own game results. While SSUSA/SSWC represents the biggest provider of tournaments here in the western US, they are by no means the only alternative. SOCALSSA, NCSSA, SPA, and other groups offer tournaments for seniors. To my knowledge, only SPA guarantees ALL BRACKET GAMES TO GO 7 INNINGS...NO TIME LIMITS FOR BRACKET GAMES.

We will be watching this VERY closely and our team (Greco/AZ Hitmen) will not return to tournaments where organizers consistently end games before the completion of 7 innings. While we respect the intentions of time limits, we also believe they should be invoked less than 10% of the time.

While I commend SSUSA/SSWC for their response to our concerns, we reserve the right to evaluate the results after a representative sample of tournaments.

We also urge all tournament organizers to take the lead SPA has given you and figure out a way to guarantee 7 innings for your paying customers. If SPA can do it...so can you.
Dec. 20, 2010
DD
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Then There Were 14!

Andy...I meant to add a Merry Christmas to that last post, too!
Dec. 20, 2010
DD
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Then There Were 14!

Andy, you spend far too much time worrying about the level you team is rated. I saw it when I played with you in 2009 on Double Nickels...we were very competitive in 55/Major, although you whined about us being overrated all year; and you whimpered quite publicly about Double Edge until you won the 60/Major World Championship. Now, you're quitting so you can play down again.

You are a very good hitter, quite an accomplished pitcher...and a Major Plus WHINER.


Dec. 3, 2010
DD
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: RAISING MONEY FOR YOUR TEAM

See me in Hemet, CA this weekend for a chance to win $5000 for your senior softball team.

Or respond here with contact information and I'll share what we're doing to raise money and how it can work for your team.

I'll get back to you next week when I return from Southern California.
Nov. 1, 2010
DD
Topic: Tournaments
Discussion: rules of the game

This thread raised two major points...the first (and far more significant one) is TIME LIMITS ARE CAUSING TOO MANY SHORTENED GAMES.

As for height limits and/or incorrectly called pitches, one need only see a recent Major League playoff game to understand the INHERENT problems in umpires calling balls and strikes. Even the best professional umpires are missing almost half the close calls...as measured by the TRAC-ZONE TV screen feature. We learn to live with this part of the game...always have been good and bad umps...always will be. Deal with it...it's part of the game.

But time limits are ruining the experience by shortening too many games and having DIRECT IMPACT on game results. Time limits are NOT part of the game. They are an artificial construct based in economics and used to deprive paying customers of value. Time limits need to go away, except in rare cases.

Shoretening a game hurts those teams who have the steel to come back from late-inning deficits and are skewing results by eliminating the final frame.

We tracked game results in five SSWC tournaments this year and found 52% of our games were called after 6 innings or less. FIFTY-TWO PERCENT.

This is an epidemic problem and will send us to other organizations in 2011 (like SPA) who find a way to make time-shortened games a rare exception, instead of the rule.

Teams want seven innings, DON'T WE?

SPEAK UP...UNLESS THEY HEAR FROM YOU LOUD AND CLEAR...YOU WILL CONTINUE TO GET LESS AND LESS FOR YOUR MONEY.
Aug. 20, 2010
DD
Topic: Rules of the game
Discussion: TIME TO EXTEND TIME LIMITS

E4/E6: The trouble with making statements such as you have made is that there is no way to prove them...or refute them. Your contention that scores have doubled is only your perception of the matter…there is no data to support your claim other than the scores we see at tournaments that are posted by the organizers upon completion.

Scores in 14 games at Woodland for the 60/Platinum Division averaged 19-12...are you claiming all games in 1970 were 9-6 affairs or lower? I don’t remember it that way it all…I remember a lot of scoring…ALWAYS…in slo-pitch…and an occasional low scoring game…just like today.

Scores have doubled since 1970? For whom? For 50 AA? For 60 Major Plus? There was no senior softball in 1970, so are you comparing what your teams/leagues did back then with what seniors do now? What is the basis of your claim? If you do the research, you’ll find scores in SSUSA events today are a lot lower than you think.

Furthermore, your assertion ignores the #1 reason umps and TDs give us for delayed games…namely that teams take too long to get on and off the field. Lemons’ idea about changing sides half as often has some merit. With pitchers needing to put shin gurads on before taking the mound, they should never be left on base with two outs...run for them so they can get their gear on before the inning starts…that’s a huge waste of time MANDATED BY ORGANIZATIONS, NOT PLAYERS.

Finally, as recent experience proved conclusively at a rain-shortened tournament in Prescott, AZ, reducing the number of pitches permitted per at bat DRAMATICALLY speeded up the game. When officials adopted the unusual one-pitch format, games were played to seven innings without even a hint of being shortened. How one can claim a lower pitch count won’t speed things up is beyond my comprehension.

All of these methods will help…but the burden of faster play should not be TOTALLY on the players and teams…organizers need to consider a modest time extension as well to make shortened games A RARE EXCEPTION instead of happening 40% or more of the time.

Good business is good business…and in this climate companies who thrive are looking for ways to keep their customers happy instead of giving them reasons to look elsewhere.

Aug. 18, 2010
DD
Topic: Rules of the game
Discussion: TIME TO EXTEND TIME LIMITS

Unlike other sports, baseball (and its offspring, softball) is meant to played without a time clock.

But, economics and other factors have made it prudent to enforce time limits in order to complete the entire slate of games at tournaments and even in rec league schedules. We have accepted this reality...until now.

Our recent experience in the Cal Cup at Woodland/Davis, however, suggests time limits have reached the point of diminishing returns. Our first four games all ended after 5 1/2 or 6 complete innings. The only two played to completion were the "championship" games in which no time limit was invoked.

If you do the math, that's 67% of our games shortened by time constraints.

In five previous seasons with 50, 55, and 60 aged teams I play on, no less than 40% of ALL games played are ended before the completion of 7 innings. THAT'S TOO MANY.

If you check your team's stats, you will probably find a similar situation.

If you agree with me that too many games are shortened by time limits...then help me send a message to Sacramento and other tournament organizers to stretch that time limit and make the time shortened game a RARE exception...instead of the common occurrence it presently is.
July 22, 2010
DD
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS

Our team, Greco Hitmen, recently competed in the SPA Nationals in Georgia, finishing 3rd behind High St. Bucs (MD) and Texas Legends.

Congratulations to all the 55/Major teams who attended, especially to those who finished ahead of us...with a special tip of the cap to the defense BOTH teams showed during the tournament.

There is a strong tendency to say "we didn't hit" as an explanation for losing...and I suppose if you could guarantee 25-30 runs every ballgame you probably would win more than your share.

The problem is teams rarely, if ever, hit consistently all weekend long. And, unless you make the plays you are given the opportunity to make, you will not win those games when the offense is underperforming.

Such was the case for us last weekend. Our failure to make even one of the 3 routine doubleplay chances we had on Sunday morning spelled the difference in a close, 23-22 loss...and elimination from contention.

Our opponents, on the other hand, made the plays they were given the opportunity to make...and that is why they played the for the championship instead of us.

It's always tempting to put the blame for defeat squarely on offense because there is so much of it in slowpitch...but the old adage, "Offense wins games, BUT DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS" was never more apparent than last Sunday in muggy Dalton, GA.

Once again, congratulations to SPA National Champs, High St. Bucs, who played better than we did on Sunday, overcoming a 9-run deficit, and winning with a dramatic 2 out, 3-run walk-off in the bottom of the 7th. And to the Texas Legends, who beat us twice and held our potent offense to 16 runs TOTAL in those two games....WITH OUTSTANDING DEFENSE. You guys were terrific. Hope to see you again soon.

Dennis Dalton
#22
Mgr/Greco Hitmen
Jan. 28, 2010
DD
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Want to play! # 2

Something to ponder in the area of OBP vs. the traditional batting average. The last two teams I've played for kept offensive stats based solely on OBP (On Base Percentage.) This meant plenty toward elevating one of the most important stats we keep...raising levels to almost Ruthian proportions.

Example: Player A singles his first time up; he walks his second time up; he hits a routine doubleplay grounder in the 5th inning but the ball is booted by the shortstop and all hands are safe; and his last time up he hits a crisp 2-hopper that clanks off the thirdbaseman's glove for an error.

This hitter is credited with a perfect day...4-for-4...and is batting 1.000 when only OBP is considered. Yet, he was actually 1-for-3 and is really hitting .333, pretty unacceptable for slowpitch softball.

By what standard do you measure this hitter? As a manager, this effort would not warrant a high spot in the order, but his stats are perfect.

What say you?
Jan. 5, 2010
DD
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Something to ponder!!

Let me weigh in here with some demographic information that might be helpful. Census data confirms the US population at just over 300 million people. Men aged 40-64 comprise a little over 14% of that number, meaning there are approximately 42 million men aged 40-64 out there.

The Baby Boom Generation generally refers to people born between 1946 and 1964. So, the oldest Boomers are turning 64 this year while the youngest Boomers are turning 46 in 2010. Prime senior softball playing age!

If we allow for an extremely generous headcount of 50,000 seniors registered and actively playing in all the senior organizations combined throughout the country, it still seems evident that there is much that can be done to recruit vast numbers of players among the 42 million prospects we have in the country.

As players ourselves, we are the best salesmen for the sport. If we all recruited just one player in 2010 we would have close to 100,000 registered, active players by the end of the year...that would help provide more teams in more tournaments at all age levels.

To be sure, SSUSA, SPA, and other senior softball groups could help with advertising...sports radio would be a great place to start...call your favorite talk show and let the audience know about senior softball and the various websites men (and women) can go to hook up with the sport. It's free and might generate great response.

Senior softball organizations that have non-profit status might be able to get free Public Service Announcements from local radio stations---FREE---that encourage seniors to get active by playing senior softball.

All of us love playing and want to share the experience with others who don't know about the wonderfully organized and competitive tournament structure we enjoy.

As a primary goal this year...why not commit to getting new people into the sport? There is no down side to the idea and you'll be glad you did.
Dec. 22, 2009
DD
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: OVER THE SHOULDER FLY BALLS

Paco 13---the best advice is to take as many flyballs in practice as you can. We all tend to focus on BP as the primary way we work out...but you can practice your flyball technique during BP very easily. Also, have a coach fungo flyballs to you when the team gets together...or even right before a game there is usually time for few flyballs.

Some hints: if you are on the left side of the outfield with a righthanded hitter up, the towering flyball he hits will (usually-not always) hook toward the line...while a lefty's ball will tend to slice toward the line. In addition to the distance you estimate the ball will travel, you must also allow for some drift as you track those balls.

On the right side of the outfield, the effects are generally opposite... the lefthanded hitter's high flyball will hook toward the line while the right handed hitter's ball will slice toward the line.

Remembering these tendencies can help with the all-important first step as you turn your body to give chase. Also, be sure to measure the wind direction by tossing a few blades of grass every couple of hitters or so...to know which direction the ball might be blown.

The hot bats we use can put an amazing amount of movement on some flyballs and line drives...but in general terms, the movement described above is consistent in most game conditions.

When you get near the fence, be sure your outfield teammate is talking to you about how much room you have before hitting the fence...and try to find the fence first with your bare hand while keeping your eye on the ball...then move forward if possible to catch the ball. Warning tracks can be a big help in this, but we don't always have them...so outfield communication can mean the difference between a catch, a hit, or worst of all, an injury by running into the fence.

Defense wins.
Oct. 26, 2009
DD
Topic: Tournaments
Discussion: Phoenix 55 Major Results

Roberts won the National Championship game 15-8 on Friday
Aug. 24, 2009
DD
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: senior leagues in phoenix

Rich-
The only senior league I'm aware of will begin in Surprise, AZ (west side, about 40 miles from Mesa) in October. There might be others, but I'm not aware of them...perhaps in Mesa, but they might be the day leagues you referred to.

As for tournament teams, there are several good ones...AZ FanGrabbers (50/M+), AZ Rogue (55/M+), Tucson Bandits (50/M); Chicano Cubs (55/M) and some others forming for next year.

Breeze 53 has left my phone # on an earlier reply to your initial post...perhaps you can share a contact email or phone # and I can call you to discuss other options.

Welcome to AZ...you'll enjoy playing here year round...most fields are top notch and the action is competitive. We need a few more teams, but we're working on that, too.
May 23, 2009
DD
Topic: Bats
Discussion: COMPOSITE BATS ARE UNSAFE

Several independent researchers have studied the use of composite bats such as Miken's Ultra 2 and have concluded they produce Batted Ball Speeds (BBS) that are unsafe.

Daniel Russell in ongoing research; Mark McDoewll and Michael Ciocco in a 2005 study reprinted in The Sporting Journal and the British Journal of Sports Medicine; and R.K. Adair in a 1997 paper entitled "The Physics of Baseball" were all able to prove empirically the ball speed attained by hi-performance bats (in Adair's case, he accurately predicted composite bat speeds because they were not available in 1997) WERE UNSAFE FOR PITCHERS. (emphasis added)

Moreover, many studies conducted for ASA, USSSA, and other national softball organizations have concluded the same thing. In some studies, BBS exceeds 104mph and travels at a height of 5'10" making it almost impossible for pitcher to get a glove up in time to protect his chest or face. Factor in slower senior reaction times and you have a recipe for disaster.

There is little or no debate in the arena of softball safety. The universal assessment---empirically proven with conclusive and incontrovertible data---is simply COMPOSITE BATS ARE UNSAFE. This is why they are not allowed in virtually all major softball associations and city-sponsored tournaments.

In that light, then, if you were running an organization that allowed composite bats, how would you deal with the reality that any injury occurring as a result of the use of composite bats would almost surely expose you to a lawsuit?

In the ongoing debate over the use of "dumbed down" balls...let's keep our eye on the real issue. It's the bats, not the balls.

Are we willing to allow a screen to be put on the field? Are we willing to live with home run limits? Are we willing to have an unenforceable and wildly subjective PPR---and who knows what further changes are being contemplated in the name of "safety"? Are we willing to suffer the use of a 52/275 pillowball? All because we insist on using bats that are proven unsafe?

What say you?




April 4, 2009
DD
Topic: Rules of the game
Discussion: PPR DISCUSSION UPDATE

To Wick, Wood, FOFO, and others discussing the PPR...

Although many have registered opinions about the PPR, Don Newhard of OLR Nighthawks and I have been among the most outspoken critics of the PPR. (See "WHY THE PPR MUST GO" and "REPEAL THE PPR-TAKE ACTION HERE" and other threads elsewhere on this board.)

The petition drive had some initial traction, but momentum has slowed recently due to the perceived acceptance by players/managers that the PPR is here to stay---at least until the end of the year. At that time, sufficient data will evidently exist to provide SSUSA/SSWC officials what they need to decide if the rule a) remains intact; b) is dumped; or c) is modified in some fashion.

One reality will go unchanged, according to a top-ranking SSWC exec: There is a need for a rule protecting pitchers because of the litigious nature of our society.

We could yet see one or more of the following alternatives: mandatory safety gear for pitchers; a screen; umpire discretion to eject egregious middle-shooters or other changes. But, according to this same SSUSA/SSWC official, "There will be a rule that protects pitchers. There is no getting around it."

With that reality set in stone, attempts to repeal the PPR at this time are mostly symbolic and will have little or no effect with regard to changing the status quo---although the current petition drive will communicate the widespread dissatisfaction among players with the current situation. But, the alternatives to the current PPR might be actually worse than what exists at present.

If you were at St. George, UT for the recent Spring World Championships, you saw very few invocations of the PPR. In our 6 games, it was not called once, and most of the players/managers I spoke with had no problems with it.

This is undoubtedly a result of a concerted attempt by SSUSA/SSWC to achieve consistent application of the rule from their umps AS IT IS WRITTEN. There is little or no problem with the rule AS IT IS WRITTEN. The problems have come from the wild enforcement and inconsistent application by umps and TDs, and by the temptation some umps have to inject their personality into the game by attempting to "legislate" safety in the name of the PPR.

The petition drive has generated an estimated 150-200 signatures in less than 30 days, reflecting the overwhelming dissatisfaction with things since the rule was instituted in October 2008. For a copy of the petition, please email me at daltons11@cox.net

Hope this update helps in providing some context as to where I believe things stand at present regarding the PPR.






March 6, 2009
DD
Topic: Rules of the game
Discussion: WHY THE PPR MUST GO

The absolute WORST thing I can think of on a softball diamond is for the game to stop to allow an ambulance on the field to deal with a serious injury. We've all seen it, and the image of our teammate being carried off never goes away. None but a fool would think anyone actually hopes a pitcher (or anyone else) gets injured in our tournaments and leagues.

BUT...the current PPR must go now before it does irreparable harm to the game. How so?

1) It does NOT protect pitchers; it punishes hitters, but if a pitcher is hit does he not still bleed regardless of the DBO? Let me ask you...if you really want to protect the pitcher, would you start a game at 5pm with the setting sun so BLINDING that the pitcher asked his catcher to rioll the ball back to him because he could not see it? This actually happened at Romeo Park/Las Vegas at last November's Winter Worlds...I witnessed it and it involved our game. Incomprehensible---and completely irresponsible to think the PPR was in effect for that game. Think it would have averted an injury?

2) By telling hitters they cannot place the ball in the middle, you are tampering with one of the most basic concepts of hitting theory. ALL hitters are taught from the age of 8 to dial in the middle of the field; when a hitter is slumping, one of the most basic techniques used to bust out is to track the middle...for timing, placement; contact...it all starts in the middle.

3) The inconsistent application of the current PPR is yiedling inaccurante and unusable data. The rule as it was applied in October/Worlds differed dramatically from the application in Menifee; which differed substantially from the rule we saw in Phoenix in January; and that was different from what the umps were calling in Vegas/Winter Worlds. THESE RESULTS WOULD BE THROWN OUT OF ANY WORTHWHILE SAMPLING EFFORT;

4) The resultant protests and arguments are ruining the "positive social" aspect of softball interaction. The vitriol I've heard spewn at teams/players and umpires who are trying to make sense of this senselessness is shameful and there is no reason for it to continue. Umpiring is difficult enough without handing a metaphorical loaded gun to opposing managers and players to use to argue;

5) The time wasted on these unproductive arguments takes away from the allotted time for playing the games...we're already being squeezed on time (MONEY'S WORTH???) and if you want to do a real honest sampling effort, find out how many 7 inning games have been played since the PPR was instituted---I'll wager less than 50% of ALL games now last 7 innings;

6) Umpires HATE the PPR and do NOT want to deal with it...several asked for the petition and signed it in Arizona last weekend;

7) There are better ways to protect the pitcher; nobody thinks twice when they see a baseball catcher in shin guards, mask, and chest protector...even Little Leaguers wear protective equipment; many ballplayers wear a protective cup as a precaution; how many times do you see knee braces, ace bandages, ankle supports, neoprene thigh sleeves, elbow guards and dozens of other protective attempts. WHAT'S SO SACRED ABOUT TELLING PITCHERS TO PROTECT THEMSELVES WITH APPROPRIATE GEAR INSTEAD OF TELLING HITTERS TO CHANGE 50 YEARS OF COACHING???????

To paraphrase former president, Ronald Reagan, "Mister Hennessy, TEAR DOWN this rule!"

To take action to have the PPR repealed, find the thread titled REPEAL THE PPR...somewhere on this board.
March 2, 2009
DD
Topic: Rules of the game
Discussion: REPEAL THE PPR-TAKE ACTION HERE

The "REPEAL THE PPR" movement kicked off this past weekend in Arizona with many teams requesting a petition to circulate among players. In addition, 3 other managers have emailed off line to request a copy.

The most surprising support came from several umpires who indicated strong dissatisfaction with the PPR and hopes for its hasty abandonment.

Tournament officials suspended the PPR for the weekend invitational in Peoria, AZ. There were no reports of injured pitchers.

If you want to help abolish the PPR, please see the original statement above for more information about how to get involved.
Feb. 27, 2009
DD
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Achilles treatment

There is a supporter available from a company called Cho-Pat...website is www.cho-pat.com. Click on Products and find the Achilles Tendon Support.

My left Achilles was inflamed last year and an orthopedic surgeon, a foot specialist, a chiropractor, and a physical therapist all told me such inflammation and pain is often a precursor to an Achilles tendon rupture, which concerned me greatly.

A course of ultra-sound and laser therapy, manipulation of the affected area, ice, helped. Ankle braces did nothing for me, but this little Cho-Pat strap really helped relieve the stress on the area and made it possible to play pain-free. I still wear it everytime I play or practice, or run.

Cost about $25 as I recall.

Hope this helps...take it easy on that Achilles.
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