How do you enhance upon a season through which 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 house runs enroute to Freshman All-American and All-Pac-12 honors. Whereas most gamers and coaches would use the previous “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 more durable 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 how one can enhance hitting efficiency. No two athletes share the very same motion sample, however there are frequent positions and actions that the perfect hitters within the recreation routinely reveal. Elite stage hitters even have a wonderful really feel for what their strengths/weaknesses are and the way they’ll tailor their recreation 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 an effective way to observe the 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. Because of this 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 “Large 3”: bat-to-ball expertise and swing choices. In different phrases, Travis was already nice at understanding when to swing and making stable contact when he did, so growing his bat velocity and decreasing his assault angle would enhance his capability 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 info 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 doubtless performed a task in his improved bat velocity and assault angle.
One of many first changes Travis’ hitting coach, Andrew Aydt, urged for Travis was to give attention to sustaining a extra upright posture in his stance and swing. The thought was that this is able to 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 will 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 by contact. As you’ll be able to see, the 6.98 diploma lower in aspect bend was all it took for Travis to position his physique able 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 certain we’ve to take a look at how the barrel is transferring by house. To try this, we will take a look at the whole 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 wanting 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’ll be able to 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.
Because of this Travis was in a position to set up a extra environment friendly swing sample through the use of much less house and swinging the bat quicker. And a flatter, extra environment friendly swing sample led to outcomes like this:
Swinging the bat quicker and producing a flatter swing aircraft is nice, nevertheless it doesn’t actually matter if the hitter is “pushy” with their fingers or lacks adjustability and the power to show the barrel accurately. There are doubtless a number of various factors that may result in a pushy swing, however we will quantify this with movement seize knowledge. 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 will get a reasonably good sense of a hitter’s capability to withstand releasing their barrel too early. Extra high hand wrist supination may inform us that the hitter is popping the barrel too early. As we will see, Travis decreased his wrist supination, demonstrating that he wasn’t releasing the barrel too early. This may be seen within the picture under 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 in a position to do throughout simply six quick weeks of coaching at Driveline this summer time: he elevated his bat velocity 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 aircraft to pitches up within the zone. We are able to quantify these issues and way more, particularly as the combination of ball-tracking methods into movement seize methods improves. Monitoring a participant’s exit velocity and bat velocity reveals what an athlete’s capability is and this sort of expertise has turn out to be way more prevalent in participant improvement due to commercially accessible methods, the identical can’t be mentioned of the kinematic variables that assist clarify to athletes and workers 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 stipulations for any group that’s critical about growing hitters.