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Fun ways to bring the games to your backyard

Can't make it to Greece for the Olympics? "Today" contributor Paul Hochman talks about fun ways kids can bring home the gold.
/ Source: TODAY

Even though your kids won't be competing in Greece this summer, that doesn't mean they can't score some perfect 10's of their own. "Today" contributor Paul Hochman talks about some fun ways your kids can bring home the gold in their own backyard.Derek Jeter Pick-a-Pitch Machine by Rawlings
Now, as with most parents, even if you have a lousy arm, your kids can practice hitting for their backyard Olympic trials without waiting for you to finally put one over the plate. A really cool, inexpensive pitching machine system that has a radio control button right on the bat. Your little slugger clicks the button, and the ball is released from the pitching machine. Perfect pitch every time, and you can even control the speed. $49.99

Easy Score Basketball Set by Little Tykes
Custom designed for the Gear Guy, whose stature stopped being significant somewhere around 3rd grade, now kids can stuff a basketball and even take long-range jumpers with a height-appropriate hoop. The Easy Score Basketball set adjusts to height, has a size-appropriate hoop, and is made of durable plastic. The over-size rim (1 foot across, with a nylon hoop) can be set anywhere, as it only rises from 2.5 to 4 feet high, putting lay-ups and treys just within reach. Sturdy base won’t let it tip over. The set comes with a tot-sized (6-inch-wide) rubber b-ball. $22.99

Gared Pro VIII Adjustable Basketball System
For the slightly more advanced, the Gared Pro VIII is perfect for the developing musculature of kids – in other words, most people under 10 have a tough time putting the ball in a 10-foot-high regulation hoop. But the Pro VIII is a crank-adjustable hoop-and-backboard that takes the hoop from 10’ all the way down to 7.5’.  Lets kids learn the game and develop good technique from their current height. Amazingly easy to adjust. $879.00

Children's Archery Set
With over 50,000 registered archers in this country, and many more who are attracted to the ancient sport, it's nice to know there are fun, safe ways to learn. One key item: a bow that's right for younger kids — they can pull back smoothly on the string — and which is easily packable for long trips. This fiberglass bow, from a company called By The Sword, is part of a series of bows that are built for kids as young as 7. The fiberglass shaft is wrapped, so there is no risk of splintering, as with some cheaper bows, and the top and bottom shafts come out of the center handle for easy packing. Comes with three arrows; all tip styles are available, including blunted rubber. $60

Muscle Power 44 Badminton Racquet by Yonex
If you care about performance whatsoever when you’re playing badminton, it might be a good idea to take a step up from the $9.99 version of a badminton racquet and get something that really works. Yonex, which is the acknowledged industry leader in badminton, created a futuristic design, by which rounded corners help realize the frame's full power potential. Instead of seating the string on the sharp points of a traditional grommet hole system, Muscle Power seats the string on Round Archways that cause no binding whatsoever in the strings, so you get lots of power. The construction creates total unity of the frame and string because they are in much closer and tighter contact. The face stability that results from rounding the corners lets you hit harder and more accurately. $99.95

Backyard Obstacle Course By Wham-O
If you’re into obstacle courses (and what middle-aged parent isn’t), this cool, inexpensive kit will keep the kids in a Steeplechase mood for hours. Or, call it the neighborhood decathlon – the kit has a choice of any or all of 11 classic games, including hurdles, cones, hoops, and even a stopwatch to record the local records. $24.99