Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Batter Up!

“Swing level.”
“Keep your back elbow up.” 
“Lead with your hands.” 
“Just see the ball and hit the ball.” 

If you ever played baseball or softball growing up, you likely heard similar instructions. But what about, “See how your bat is at 38.7 degrees here? It is causing your exit velocity to drop to 85 mph, so try to get it at 40.2 degrees.” Okay, maybe something so technical sounds silly, but one company, Blast Motion, is at the forefront of delivering cutting-edge technology to help players, coaches, and teams measure and improve swings using similar analysis.

Among other things, Blast Motion’s product package involves attaching a sensor to either end of your bat and equipping you with a mobile app and cloud services to access swing data, video and 3D visualizations, and personalized performance reports. In other words, open the app on your phone, jump into the batter’s box, take some cuts, and then check out your swing’s launch angle, the ball’s speed/exit velocity, and an estimated ball flight distance, while also getting real-time swing analysis and voice feedback. And then jump back in and take better cuts.

Despite being a rather new innovation, the product is already in full swing and is seizing the market’s demand for data-driven coaching technology. Founded in 2010, Blast Motion is already Major League Baseball’s official bat sensor, and CEO Michael Fitzpatrick has said that the majority of Major League Baseball teams use Blast Motion (although so far only the Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros have publicly acknowledged its use). 

Making matters more lucrative for Blast Motion and others like it, beginning with the 2018 season, MLB has permitted the use of in-game swing-tracking sensors on bats throughout the minor leagues after a successful pilot program last year that included only Rookie ball. The ability to collect in-game swing data has the potential to be a game-changer, improving the ability of players to analyze (and, ideally, correct) their swings in real time and hit that pivotal line drive in the bottom of the ninth.

And it does not end there. Blast Motion also offers a golf product that might finally offer better putting results than when Chubbs taught Happy Gilmore how to find his “happy place.” So get out there and improve your game.

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