How do you enhance upon a season during which you had been named an All-American? In his freshman yr at Oregon State, Travis Bazzana hit .306/.425/.478 with 16 doubles and 6 house runs enroute to Freshman All-American and All-Pac-12 honors. Whereas most gamers and coaches would use the outdated “if it ain’t broke, don’t repair it” mantra, Travis got here to Driveline this summer time with the purpose of hitting the ball tougher and making higher contact with pitches up within the zone.
Having the ability to measure how a hitter’s physique strikes all through the swing is vital for understanding find out how to enhance hitting efficiency. No two athletes share the very same motion sample, however there are frequent positions and actions that the very best hitters within the sport routinely reveal. Elite degree hitters even have a wonderful really feel for what their strengths/weaknesses are and the way they will tailor their sport to handle them. However how does one strategy growth with elite hitters in order that they enhance their deficiencies with out sacrificing the traits that make them particular?
Whereas using applied sciences like Blast Movement and HitTrax to trace the bat and ball-flight is an effective way to watch the end result of the swing, movement seize is invaluable as a result of it permits one to grasp the underlying mechanisms resulting in these outcomes. Prior to now, coaches and athletes have used 2D video as a strategy to determine and monitor adjustments to a hitter’s swing however that is subjective and doesn’t inform the total story of how the hitter was producing the swing, particularly in elite hitters when the margins are smaller. That is why we use movement seize, which permits us to quantify the motion of the swing and get on the smaller coaching margins that exist when working with elite-level athletes. To see how movement seize can be utilized to assist elite hitters improve their swing, let’s check out information from Travis’s evaluation in June of 2022 and his retest in August.
WHAT CHANGED AND HOW DID IT CHANGE?
Previous to coming to Driveline, Travis already possessed elite-level skills in two of the three elements of Driveline’s “Huge 3”: bat-to-ball expertise and swing selections. In different phrases, Travis was already nice at realizing when to swing and making stable contact when he did, so growing his bat pace and decreasing his assault angle would enhance his potential to hit for energy and canopy all components of the zone.
That is the place leveraging biomechanical information from movement seize assessments makes all of the distinction in monitoring motion adjustments and guaranteeing that the hitter isn’t creating new issues for his or her swing throughout coaching. When evaluating the information from Travis’s preliminary movement seize evaluation to his retest evaluation, some obvious adjustments in his swing depth, posture, and the way he was “turning” the barrel seem, which seemingly performed a job in his improved bat pace and assault angle.
One of many first changes Travis’ hitting coach, Andrew Aydt, urged for Travis was to deal with sustaining a extra upright posture in his stance and swing. The thought was that this could produce much less aspect bend in Travis’ swing, making a tighter rotation and permitting him to make higher contact with pitches up within the zone or pitches with decrease vertical strategy angles. Utilizing movement seize information, we are able to take a look at the angle of the torso all through the swing to quantify aspect bend.
When evaluating Travis’s preliminary evaluation in June together with his 6-week retest, the lower in aspect bend is simple to see and permits him to be in a extra upright place that will get his lead arm to keep up a extra flat swing path as he rotates via contact. As you may see, the 6.98 diploma lower in aspect bend was all it took for Travis to position his physique ready to generate a flatter swing airplane.
Having the ability to measure the quantity of aspect bend a hitter has can inform you numerous about how flat or steep their swing is, however to know for positive now we have to have a look at how the barrel is shifting via house. To try this, we are able to take a look at the full vertical displacement of the candy spot (some extent measured 6 inches from the top of the bat) in the course of the swing to see how flat or steep it’s. In different phrases, we’re trying on the distinction between the very best & lowest vertical positions of the candy spot in the course of the swing. When evaluating Travis’ two movement seize classes, his common vertical barrel displacement decreased by over 5 inches, indicating a flatter swing arc. As you may see, his bat traveled a better distance vertically in his preliminary evaluation (purple), making a steeper swing profile that doesn’t permit him to match planes with pitches up within the zone.
Which means that Travis was in a position to set up a extra environment friendly swing sample by utilizing much less house and swinging the bat sooner. And a flatter, extra environment friendly swing sample led to outcomes like this:
Swinging the bat sooner and producing a flatter swing airplane is nice, however it doesn’t actually matter if the hitter is “pushy” with their palms or lacks adjustability and the flexibility to show the barrel accurately. There are seemingly a number of various factors that may result in a pushy swing, however we are able to quantify this with movement seize information. By high hand max wrist supination in tandem with the speed at which the hitter is supinating their wrist from the loaded place till contact, we are able to get a reasonably good sense of a hitter’s potential to withstand releasing their barrel too early. Extra high hand wrist supination might inform us that the hitter is popping the barrel too early. As we are able to see, Travis decreased his wrist supination, demonstrating that he wasn’t releasing the barrel too early. This may be seen within the picture beneath with a better total worth on the finish of the graph or round contact.
So, let’s do a fast recap of what precisely Travis Bazzana was in a position to do throughout simply six brief weeks of coaching at Driveline this summer time: he elevated his bat pace by 5 mph, elevated his high 8th exit velocity by 4.3 mph, and developed a flatter swing that may permit him to match his swing airplane to pitches up within the zone. We are able to quantify these issues and far more, particularly as the mixing of ball-tracking techniques into movement seize techniques improves. Monitoring a participant’s exit velocity and bat pace exhibits what an athlete’s potential is and the sort of expertise has change into far more prevalent in participant growth due to commercially obtainable techniques, the identical can’t be stated of the kinematic variables that assist clarify to athletes and employees the how of their growth. As we’ve seen occur with the event of pitchers, the day will come the place movement seize and biomechanical information are stipulations for any group that’s severe about creating hitters.