Technology has made in-roads into so many parts of daily life that sometimes they easily get overlooked. But more areas of life have this aura of tradition and the “old school” feel of life. But even in those areas of life, technology can and should help push the envelope of development. Youth baseball is no exception.
Many people probably know more about the Super Bowl betting odds than they do about how technology can help train and develop their youth baseball players. Companies have made big in-roads in baseball with all aspects of the game, especially hitting and pitching, arguably the two most important parts of baseball. Let’s look at a couple of pieces of technology that can be used for training youth baseball players.
Bat Sensors & Video
On the hitting side of baseball, bat sensors have become very useful and easy to use in the past five to six years. They are devices that simply slide over or attach to the knob the baseball bat and then use a Bluetooth connection to actively read out and record data metrics of each swing to a phone or tablet. These mostly work to show measurable metrics throughout the swing and have ranges where all hitters should be.
These sensors and the use of video also work hand in hand. When finding a metric that is deficient in some way, the use of video can help pinpoint where in the swing the deficiency happens and why. This leads to a better chance of fixing the issue and then retesting the swing to ensure that it was corrected.
A video alone can be very helpful to players and parents just by filming little Johnny’s swing during a game and then analyzing it afterward over ice cream. Everyone has a mobile device with a camera in it now, so put that thing to work. And sensors tend to be fairly inexpensive at $100-$150.
Hitting And Pitching Tracking Technologies
There are now many hitting and pitching tracking technologies that exist to help understand swings and help with training in general. These tend to be a little more expensive for individual players and their families to own, but there are likely trainers or facilities near you that offer these services as part of their training or as a rental type of service.
Rapsodo is one of the least expensive technologies, coming in at $4,000, that offer both hitting and pitching units to track swings and pitches. These again use recordable metrics to show if the player is hitting or throwing the ball well or if there are areas that the player needs to work on. For example, on the pitching side, players who struggle to command the strike zone will show that their release point height is very erratic and therefore probably have some mechanical deficiencies that need to be looked into. This is also a great machine for players to see where they are hitting the ball when they are stuck inside a batting cage and can’t get out on a field.
Other technologies such as HitTrax and TrackMan are much larger systems that do both pitching and hitting in one unit but also carry hefty price tags of over $10,000. These use a much bigger computer and video system that allows you to track individual swing data with information and pinpoint accuracy to where the flaw is located at. These also allow the player to enter into game modes where they play against the computer in a more realistic experience that can pay dividends when training to ensure that training practices are producing the results intended.
Benefits of Technology Use
Many might think that these technological advances are overkill on what is a fun kids game, but the game is getting more and more competitive every year. Technology is pushing baseball to new heights. The benefits that technology provides are numerous.
Feedback is necessary to show that the player is improving and progressing. An initial test should give baseline data and areas that need improvement. Once those have been worked on for a period of time, retesting and checking that baseline will show if improvements have been made instead of arbitrarily saying the player has gotten better.
And you want to see kids get excited about training? Show them the numbers in real-time. Show them their bat speed numbers with a sensor and tell them to beat it. Watch their training quickly become a game and watch the improvements come rolling in. Kids love the feedback and seeing their numbers immediately. All this can be accomplished with the use of technology.