In today’s technology-driven society people all over the world are finding ways to enhance their lives like never before. Look no further than your smartphone. But what about on the baseball diamond? What technologies exist to help give today’s baseball player an edge over their competition?
If you think about the dynamics of a baseball swing or a throwing motion, there’s a ton of information that could be captured and turned into data through the use of accelerometers and gyroscopes. That same data can interface with a smartphone app to give the player valuable information about their swing or throwing motion. The player can then make some immediate adjustments and see how those changes actually impact the results in real time. By having access to the mobile app right on the field or in the dugout, both players and coaches now have the opportunity to make more data-driven decisions that help the player improve their individual mechanics, speed, and form.
These same technologies didn’t really exist five years ago. What’s even more exciting is that most of these technologies have become available for the everyday player. The price points of these technologies have dropped to the point where the youth travel ball player can actually leverage them to improve his game at home or the local ball field.
I’ll highlight three technologies that are true game changers for helping players to improve their hitting and throwing mechanics which in turn will enhance two key recruiting metrics that are getting the most attention from scouts. Of course, I’m talking about batted-ball exit speeds and throwing velocities.
Pocket Radar Ball Coach
The number “one” must have is the Pocket Radar. Why? It’s about the size of your smartphone and the radar technology is extremely accurate. I was certainly skeptical at first but once I saw how easy it was to use and how amazing the accuracy stood up against those $1,200 premium radar guns used by the scouts, I was sold. As their website puts it, “Pro-Level Speed Radar in the Palm of Your Hand.” The technology utilizes a Doppler-radar signal sensing and processing system which is coupled with re-engineered microwave and antenna components. Just like the big boys but they’ve created their proprietary algorithms and intelligent target acquisition techniques to fit in your shirt pocket!
There are two models of Pocket Radars on the market: Classic and Ball Coach. Do yourself a favor and stick with the new and improved Ball Coach (blue button). The Ball Coach has easier triggering, hands-free use and deeper memory than the Classic model (red button). Plus they’ve improved the technology with the Ball Coach. They now tout the Classic model for measuring speeds of cars, horses, dogs, cycling, not baseballs, hockey, Lacrosse, and tennis. If you want to measure the speed of baseballs a high degree of accuracy, go with the Ball Coach.
So how does it help with training and improving his game? By owning the numbers.
The obvious use is to track your pitcher’s velocity. It’s so easy to create a baseline velocity for all his pitch types. Plus it’s incredibly encouraging for a pitcher to put in a ton of hard work over several months and then see his incremental gain in fastball velocity. Having him create a mental picture of what the Pocket Radar is going to read a couple months from now is extremely motivating and tends to drive better results.
But besides the fastball, I see the biggest gains in terms of off-speed pitching. You can get instant feedback from different types of pitches in his arsenal. If he’s trying to build a deeper differential in velocity between his fastball and off-speed pitches then with Pocket Radar you can get instant feedback. If he re-works his grip to something different, how does that impact velocity? Instant feedback. If he changes how he releases the ball, how does that impact velocity? Instant feedback.
It also is helpful to better understand those days when his velocity is not up to par. If you have a Pocket Radar and test his velocity every time he pitches, but see he is 5 MPH lower than usual, this is actually good feedback to know! What is causing the decrease? Is he tired? Is it towards the end of the season? Did he not warm up enough? What about nutrition the last couple days? Hydration? Did he do something different during his warm-ups like forget his bands? All good information to help him understand his body and what may or may not be causing the decrease in velocity.
Besides pitching, we mainly use it to get a baseline velocity for infield throws from third and shortstop, as well as from the outfield. Your infielder can really focus on how best to position himself with his footwork to achieve the best velocity for each throwing scenario: straight up, backhand, forehand, and slow roller. He can receive instant feedback on his velocity if he carries himself towards first after the throw or simply throws and stops. It’s a great teaching tool to show him how much faster the ball travels when he gets his momentum going towards first as he throws.
Tweaks to his footwork can certainly result in better velocity to first. But without seeing it on Pocket Radar, the player might not be sold on what you are trying to get him to do. But if he gets instant feedback and it shows another 5 MPH in velocity, then I think he’s going to want to repeat the change in technique! Remember, in showcases where they are testing and fielding, they would rather see the player throwing 85 MPH over the head of the first baseman versus that same player throwing 75 MPH into the mitt. Velocity is such a very important metric for your son. Why wouldn’t you have a way for you to quickly measure his velocity at any time? It’s that important.
And then you have batted-ball exit speeds. Whether you are aware or not, it is quickly becoming one of these most important hitting metrics for your son. Many showcase tournaments today gather a ton of hitting data for every at-bat your son has. You may not even realize it until you see a tweet by a tournament scout that says something like “Joe Smith just hit a 436-foot bomb to left-center with a 102 MPH exit velocity and 33-degree launch angle.” Now that’s the type of technology that they put behind the backstop or on the field! Absolutely incredible what they can track today. Plus they are gathering spray chart data and much more.
But what gets the scouts going is exit velocity. It’s the exit velocity that allows the ball to go deep. Without it, the ball wouldn’t have traveled 436-feet. On average, every 1 MPH added to exit speed gives an extra 4-6 feet of travel distance on a well-hit ball.
What’s your son’s batted-ball exit velocity? If you don’t know, you need to. He needs to understand where he stands. The good news is that he can work on his lower-half mechanics as well as hand speed to improve exit velocity but it’s kinda like pitching. Some people have the natural ability to throw 90 MPH with good mechanics. Some people just have the natural ability to hit a ball off the bat at 90 MPH with good mechanics. Most don’t. You have to work hard for many many months or years to see a significant improvement. Most of the improvement will come from growth and strength to his body.
That’s why scouts get so excited to see a skinny kid hit with a 90+ MPH exit velocity. Given his frame, they know that when he fills out that he’ll be hitting moon shots with 100+ MPH exit velocities.
And it’s so easy with Pocket Radar to measure his batted-ball exit velocity. Just stand behind him (with a fence or screen between) and push the button! You can use it during each at-bat in a game. You can use it during batting practice. You can also use it off a tee. It’s not uncommon today that before a batter takes his BP round in a showcase that he first goes to a station set up with tee so they can measure his exit velocity. Know what his exit velocity is before you spend money on showcases. It may not yet be the right time to show his stuff. Read this post to better understand timing and preparation for showcases.
The game of baseball is all about speed. Not just foot speed. Throwing velocity and batted-ball exit speeds are critical. And now that professional and college coaches are routinely measuring and comparing speed data between high school players, you’ll need to have a very good understanding of your player’s “speed”. Be very interested in speed and making it quicker for your son!
For current pricing of the Ball Coach at Amazon, click here. Or you can just click the Pocket Radar Ball Coach photo earlier in the article and it will automatically take you to the Pocket Radar store on Amazon.
Blast Baseball Swing Analyzer
The swing sensor market is no longer in the first inning of the technology game. With players like Zepp and Diamond Kinetics at the forefront, it was easy for Blast Motion to get lost in the shuffle. Not anymore. Blast Motion recently won a patent infringement lawsuit against Zepp which required Zepp to stop selling its sensor products which infringed on Blast Motion’s patents. Blast Motion also has a similar lawsuit against Diamond Kinetics.
All that being said, Blast Motion now appears to be the driver’s seat for implementing this exciting new technology to the masses. The MLB has now chosen Blast Motion to be their official bat sensor. Carlos Correa is currently their main endorsement figurehead. MLB and Correa, not so bad!
What is Blast Motion? Well, it all starts with the Blast sensor that fits under the knob of the bat. Having swung with it, I originally thought that it might bother my swing, but I didn’t even notice it was there. The sensor is extremely accurate and undergoes an extensive calibration prior to leaving the factory. The product uses miniaturized inertial measurement units (IMUs), specifically accelerometers and gyroscopes, along with wireless technology to track the motion of the bat during the swing. Entirely cool.
Then you can combine with smartphone video of each swing and have a portal that can track incredible amounts of data and video. But more importantly, it can validate what a hitter is doing or not doing with their swing.
It also shortens the feedback loop for coaches and players. You can get instant results on a swing by using their Blast Motion app. Real-time metrics with video annotation. If a player makes an adjustment to his swing, he can see the quantitative results immediately. Plus you can hold players accountable to work their swings because it tracks every swing!
What else does it do? Included with sensor purchase is free tracking for Bat Speed, Peak Bat Speed, Time to Contact, Attack Angle, Peak Hand Speed, Blast Factor, and Power. With a premium subscription service you can also track Body Rotation, On Plane, Vertical Bat Angle and a bunch of other things.
The apps are very easy to use and intuitive. It comes with a simple dashboard and metrics view. Every opportunity to improve his swing is here for the taking.
For current pricing of the Blast Baseball Swing Analyzer on Amazon, click here. Or you can just click the Blast Baseball Swing Analyzer package photo earlier in the article and it will automatically take you to the Blast Motion store on Amazon.
motusBASEBALL Arm Sleeve
Touted as the sleeve that can save baseball or the “Tommy John solution,” the motusBaseball Arm Sleeve from Motus Global is quickly on the rise as the main wearable sensor used to analyze throwing motion mechanics with the goal of keeping players safe and preventing UCL injuries.
The famed Dr. James Andrews founded the American Sports Medicine Institute to spend time researching the very injuries that he fixes in his operating room. In the last ten years, Tommy John surgeries alone have increased by 700%. Top surgeons like Dr. Tim Kremchek are saying that the percentage they see of youth pitchers needing the procedure is growing at an even faster rate.
Motus Global has one of the premier biomechanical research facilities. They’ve developed a compression arm sleeve with a small sensor near the elbow which uses the same miniature inertial measurement units, specifically accelerometers and gyroscopes to track arm motion and provide valuable metrics.
The true benefit of the Motus sensor is workload tracking which means your player has to wear it all the time when throwing. The Motus sensor tracks workload to help athletes improve readiness and optimize performance. If your player hasn’t trained and safely built up their tolerance to heavy workload, then he will not be ready to perform his best, and more importantly, could wind up with a serious arm injury.
Charge up and slide the lightweight sensor into the compression sleeve and start throwing. The sensor collects biomechanics data with every throw and the all-new motusTHROW iOS app provides clear actionable feedback.
Workload calculations are based on many factors, but mostly on the highly researched concept of Acute-to-Chronic Ratio. The motusTHROW app will guide him through the process of increasing his workload at a safe rate to improve performance and avoid injury.
With motusDASH, the online analytics dashboard, anyone can track players, teams, or entire organizations easily with the ability to monitor workload, flag potential issues and drill down into daily trends.
Simple to understand numbers, explanations, and summaries bring player data to life.
For those needing help improving readiness and performance, motusTHROW now provides personalized training programs. Athletes are guided through a carefully crafted training process to increase sustainable workload amounts while improving overall performance and reducing risk of injury.
Our advanced users, trainers and facilities still get direct access to high level, detailed data. Various features like Live Throw, Interactive Bullpen, Long Toss, and Video Modes provide real-time metrics and feedback.
motusTHROW also makes the perfect workload-tracking companion for those currently following a throwing rehab program. Monitoring arm stress plays a vital role in restoring performance and confidence.
The Motus sensor and arm sleeve is the first wearable technology approved for in-game use by Major League Baseball and is currently a key part of pitching programs across MLB, NCAA, and elite travel organizations.
For current pricing of the motusBaseball Arm Sleeve on Amazon, click here.