How do you enhance upon a season wherein you have been named an All-American? In his freshman yr at Oregon State, Travis Bazzana hit .306/.425/.478 with 16 doubles and 6 dwelling 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 Whereas most gamers and coaches would use the outdated “if it ain’t broke, don’t repair it” mantra, Travis got here to Driveline this summer season with the objective of hitting the ball tougher and making higher contact with pitches up within the zone.
With the ability to measure how a hitter’s physique strikes all through the swing is crucial for understanding tips on 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 stage hitters even have a superb really feel for what their strengths/weaknesses are and the way they will tailor their sport to deal with them. However how does one method improvement 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 a good way to observe 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 option to determine and monitor adjustments to a hitter’s swing however that is subjective and doesn’t inform the complete story of how the hitter was producing the swing, particularly in elite hitters when the margins are smaller. For this reason 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 knowledge 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 abilities and swing selections. In different phrases, Travis was already nice at realizing when to swing and making stable contact when he did, so rising his bat pace and decreasing his assault angle would enhance his means to hit for energy and canopy all elements of the zone.
That is the place leveraging biomechanical knowledge from movement seize assessments makes all of the distinction in monitoring motion adjustments and making certain 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 obtrusive adjustments in his swing depth, posture, and the way he was “turning” the barrel seem, which seemingly performed a task in his improved bat pace and assault angle.
One of many first changes Travis’ hitting coach, Andrew Aydt, recommended 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 method angles. Utilizing movement seize knowledge, 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 take care of a extra flat swing path as he rotates by way of contact. As you may see, the 6.98 diploma lower in aspect bend was all it took for Travis to put his physique ready to generate a flatter swing aircraft.
With 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 we’ve got to take a look at how the barrel is shifting by way of area. To try this, we are able to take a look at the whole vertical displacement of the candy spot (a degree measured 6 inches from the top of the bat) through 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 through the swing. When evaluating Travis’ two movement seize periods, his common vertical barrel displacement decreased by over 5 inches, indicating a flatter swing arc. As you may see, his bat traveled a higher distance vertically in his preliminary evaluation (pink), making a steeper swing profile that doesn’t enable him to match planes with pitches up within the zone.
Because of this Travis was capable of set up a extra environment friendly swing sample through the use of much less area 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 aircraft is nice, but it surely doesn’t actually matter if the hitter is “pushy” with their fingers 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 knowledge. By prime 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 means to withstand releasing their barrel too early. Extra prime hand wrist supination may 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 general worth on the finish of the graph or round contact.
So, let’s do a fast recap of what precisely Travis Bazzana was capable of do throughout simply six quick weeks of coaching at Driveline this summer season: he elevated his bat pace by 5 mph, elevated his prime 8th exit velocity by 4.3 mph, and developed a flatter swing that may enable him to match his swing aircraft to pitches up within the zone. We will quantify these issues and rather more, particularly as the combination of ball-tracking methods into movement seize methods improves. Monitoring a participant’s exit velocity and bat pace exhibits what an athlete’s means is and this sort of know-how has develop into rather more prevalent in participant improvement because of commercially obtainable methods, the identical can’t be stated of the kinematic variables that assist clarify to athletes and employees the how of their improvement. As we’ve seen occur with the event of pitchers, the day will come the place movement seize and biomechanical knowledge are conditions for any group that’s critical about creating hitters.