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Middle School Case Study: Data Driven Programming Creates Results

Data Driven Programming

When a company is data driven it means they make strategic decisions using collected data, analysis, and interpretation. This often leads to successful decision making and increased performance! Baseball and softball instruction shouldn't be a guessing game with random drills, no assessment, and no monitored progress. In this article, I want to show you how we use data and technology to drive instruction and increase the performance abilities of our clients.


The first day of work with a new hitter always starts with an evaluation and assessment. The hitter will hit batting practice before receiving any instruction. The batting practice session is tracked using professional technology and the information is collected and analyzed to identify strengths and weaknesses.


Blast Motion bat sensors and an iPad allow us to record video and swing information. Some of the key things we measure and track are 1) Plane 2) Connection and 3) Rotation. We particularly look at some key metrics such as: vertical bat angle, attack angle, connection at impact, and bat speed.


Rapsodo Hitting is used to track each batted ball during batting practice. Rapsodo allows us to track a hitter's exit velocity, hit distance, and provides a breakdown of hit types such as ground balls, fly balls, line drives, etc.


4D Motion Capture is used to track the proper sequence of a hitter. It provides a 3D view of how the hitter's body and bat move through the swing.

In the clip above we see an ideal sequence - the hitter's pelvis leads rotation before the shoulders or torso.


Middle School Player Initial Data August 29

Below is a representation of batted ball and swing data collected from the initial evaluation.



Looking at the data we can draw a few conclusions. The player was hitting 60% of his batted balls on the ground and 57% of his hard hit balls were on the ground. Hard hit balls are the most well hit balls and they are defined as any impact that is at least 90% or better than the player's max exit velocity. Unfortunately, this player was driving his most well struck batted balls right into the ground as indicated by the spray chart.


Rapsodo gives us the ability to track batted ball launch angles and helps us train hitters to hit their hardest hit balls in an ideal launch angle range. According to this player's initial assessment, his average launch angle was 4 degrees and his launch angle of hard hit balls was also only 4 degrees. Launch angle is simply the measured trajectory of the ball coming off the bat after impact. We want to see players hit in the 10-30 degree range for well hit line drives and fly balls. Ropes are defined as hard hit balls between 10-20 degrees and bombs (where extra base hits live) are defined as hard hit balls with a 20+ degree launch angle.


November Progress Update

After using video, blast, 4D motion, and rapsodo data we identified areas of improvement to create an individual player development plan. Below are the improvements over a few weeks of training sessions:






As noticed in the spray chart, the player is now maximizing his hardest hit balls. His average launch angle is 24 degrees and his launch angle of hard hit balls is 24 degrees. This has resulted in higher maximum distance and more consistency with higher average distance. The percentage of hard hit balls has increased to 57% while also increasing his "bombs" to 35%.


The most amazing change is in his hit classifications. From 60% ground ball contact to 13%. The last round of batting practice produced 100% hard hit ball contact in the line drive and fly ball range! He has set new highs for max exit velocity and average exit velocity. The ability to hit the ball hard into the air will greatly increase the amount of production this hitter will provide for his team.


Summary

Training is not a guessing game. With the proper use of data and technology we can definitively provide hitters with a plan for improvement that can be tested and tracked over time. There's so much to the story of the swing that the eyes alone cannot tell you.


Hope this helps.


See you on the diamond.

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