by: Matthew de Marte – September 5th, 2018
In May, I released a study regarding the Blast Motion Sensor and how to utilize it in your training. After that study, I never really posted a follow up about it, and let those interested in reading it draw their own conclusions from the study and utilize it how they pleased. In this article, I want to briefly describe how I personally utilize the sensor in my own training and development.
I use the Blast Sensor for most swings I take while hitting. However, what I am doing that day depends how I utilize it. On days where I am playing I generally stay away from using the sensor because I am not trying to focus solely on my swing. My in-game goal is to get on base and hit that ball hard in the air. I do not want to over-complicate things. This is my focus, and if I go into a game thinking my bat speed is not what I am used to or Blast Factor is down or something along those lines, I am not focusing on my task at hand. So on game days, I generally steer clear or using the sensor, but if possible I would suggest using a Blast Motion Sensor in game. I tried using it this summer, and unfortunately, for whatever reason, it would not work whenever I tried, but a ton of MLB organizations have their minor league players use the sensor in games.
I like to use the sensor in my training, and there are a few different ways I utilize it. When I am making a swing change, I want to ensure objective data backs it up. What that means is when I make an adjustment, I want to ensure the swing metrics provided by Blast are improving, or staying consistent with where they are. During a lot of my training days, I am using weighted bats. While using weighted bats, I do not use the sensor, but once I start swinging my regular bat, I use the sensor to ensure my swing is where it is supposed to be. On days where I am hitting and working in season or on days where I am not doing weighted bats, I use it to see how my swing is on a particular day, and if my metrics are below where I expect them to be, I will tailor my day to get my swing back to where it should be.
While those are the general ways I use the sensor, I will go into further detail with the hope that you guys can learn from it. The metrics that I focus on most are Bat Speed, Attack Angle, Blast Factor, Power Output, and On-Plane %. While the other metrics each offer differing benefits, these are the metrics that I find most important for me, and the majority of hitters. One thing I should point out about my use of the Blast Motion Sensor is I am 22 years old. I consistently swing above 80 MPH, and produce Blast Factors of 90 and above and Power outputs above 6.0 kW. So my usage of the Blast sensor will differ from that of a younger player. SOTG will be releasing an article on how I use the sensor with kids I work with that will go into more detail on that subject. So, keep in mind how I use the sensor will differ from how a middle school, or high school kid utilizes it because I am close to maximizing my physical capabilities. For instance, if you are a kid who swings the bat 50 MPH, your sole focus has to be to create more bat speed, and that will help improve other swing metrics. This is not a problem I have personally.
I quickly want to explain what I look for in each metric I mentioned above. I monitor Bat Speed to ensure I am swinging as hard as I can. As my day progresses from tee work, to flips, to bp, to a challenge, after that I want to make sure my bat speed is rising throughout the day. I look at my power output interchangeably with this. As my bat speed increases, I expect my power to throughout today. I am content with where I am at in both of these metrics so I mainly look at maintaining these. I want to make sure my attack angle is above 5 degrees. This is something I monitor constantly. Along with this, I monitor my Blast Factor. If my Blast Factor is below 90 consistently, then I do work to improve this for the rest of my session. On plane % is tricky, I like to see it as high as possible and am constantly looking for new ways on how to improve this.
Now let’s get into how I use the Blast Motion Sensor during the three different kinds of days I listed above. As I mentioned previously, the first kind of day I use the sensor is weighted bat days. On these days, I only use the sensor when swinging a regular bat. I look to see my metrics are consistent with where they usually are. If I notice my bat speed start to fall, I can generally tell it means I am getting tired and fatigue is setting in, so I try and wrap up my day. I then analyze the data after to ensure everything was where I expect it. Occasionally, I notice my metrics are off, and I generally contribute this to my drill selection with the weighted bats, and I analyze what I did that day in terms of drills and adjust accordingly.
The second kind of day I mentioned was when I am making a swing change. When I am making a swing change, I understand that improvement takes time. Due to this I allow for a significant sample size to track improvement. For example, last summer I made significant swing changes. This first video is my starting swing.
This video displays the changes I made.
These changes you can see in the videos were made because my Blast Factor was too low. I was consistently in the 70’s and I knew there was something I could change. So, I did a bunch of trial and error and first found something that felt comfortable with and then worked at it for a while tracking my Blast Factor, which eventually rose to consistently sit above 90. I gave myself time for these changes to work, trusted the process, and every week or so evaluated improvements. If my average blast factor and peak blast factors were rising even 1%, I knew I was making improvements and trusted that. You should do the same when using Blast to evaluate swing changes. Do not look for immediate monumental improvements rather small increases over time. Also, you can use the Blast to identify bad swing changes. There are times where I have made changes and the Blast said it was a bad idea. For instance, I went through a period where I tried following one particular instructors methods. I felt good, but noticed my attack angle was negative. I tried to ignore this, my desire to hit this way was getting in the way of my brain making decisions, and I went through a slump because I was not listening to the data. Always listen to the data, it does not lie.
The last example I gave is that I monitor my swing on general hitting days. On these days, I generally do drills I feel help prepare me to swing for the day. During these days, I track my metrics. If anything is below where it usually is, it means I will tailor my day to getting my swing right before advancing. For instance, if my attack angle is too low I will do drills, and give myself external cues and constraints that force my attack angle to get back to its desired range. I can do the same with bat speed and blast factor, but on these days I hope my metrics are where they generally lie, and I can go about my business as usual. If not, then I use them as a roadmap to guide my day to get myself back on track.
This is how I generally utilize the Blast Motion sensor in my training. Getting objective data feedback is so important, especially for me. It is where I find truth, and learn more about my swing. Objectivity is so important , especially today when so many coaches say they can make you improve through subjective measurements that cannot be quantified. If you use a Blast sensor in your training, I hope this helps gives you a guideline to better utilize it. Thank you for reading, and as always please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or would like to further the discussion!