How do you enhance upon a season by 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 dwelling 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 season with the objective 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 crucial for understanding methods to enhance hitting efficiency. No two athletes share the very same motion sample, however there are frequent positions and actions that one of the best hitters within the sport routinely exhibit. Elite stage hitters even have a superb really feel for what their strengths/weaknesses are and the way they’ll tailor their sport to deal with them. However how does one method 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 a good way to observe the end result of the swing, movement seize is invaluable as a result of it permits one to know the underlying mechanisms resulting in these outcomes. Up to now, coaches and athletes have used 2D video as a approach to establish and monitor modifications 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 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 talents in two of the three elements of Driveline’s “Massive 3”: bat-to-ball abilities and swing choices. 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 capability to hit for energy and canopy all elements of the zone.
That is the place leveraging biomechanical information from movement seize assessments makes all of the distinction in monitoring motion modifications 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 modifications in his swing depth, posture, and the way he was “turning” the barrel seem, which doubtless 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 facet 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 information, we will have a look at the angle of the torso all through the swing to quantify facet bend.
When evaluating Travis’s preliminary evaluation in June along with his 6-week retest, the lower in facet 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 may see, the 6.98 diploma lower in facet bend was all it took for Travis to put his physique ready to generate a flatter swing airplane.
Having the ability to measure the quantity of facet bend a hitter has can inform you a large number about how flat or steep their swing is, however to know for positive we now have to have a look at how the barrel is transferring by area. To do this, we will have a look at the overall vertical displacement of the candy spot (some extent measured 6 inches from the tip 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 best & lowest vertical positions of the candy spot through 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 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.
Which means that Travis was capable of set up a extra environment friendly swing sample through the use of much less area 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 airplane is nice, nevertheless 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 doubtless a number of various factors that may result in a pushy swing, however we will 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 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 beneath with the next total 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 brief weeks of coaching at Driveline this summer season: 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 enable 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 reveals what an athlete’s capability is and such a expertise has grow to be 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 workers 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 growing hitters.