by: Matthew de Marte – September 9th, 2018
Previously, I wrote an article on how I utilized the Blast Motion sensor as a player in my own development and how I build my swing. While I have found a method to utilize the sensor in my own development, I also use the sensor differently with hitters I work with. For those of you who follow SOTG consistently, you know I am a firm believer that every hitter is different and therefore needs a different process and different instruction tailored to benefit him the most. Hence, I use the Blast Motion sensor in different ways for different hitters.
Here is an example. With young hitters, I focus on unlocking their intent. With hitters like this, I am not looking to help them make swing changes or find their ideal swing path or anything along that nature. These hitters’ first task is to learn how to swing fast. It is that simple. It does not matter if you have the prettiest swing in the world, if you are a high school kid with 50 MPH bat speed that is a major problem. Your bat simply will not travel fast enough to create enough power to do damage. For those who read my independent study on the Blast Motion Sensor, you may remember that Power Output is one of two key metrics that correlate best to on field success. The key component of power is force. The force equation is (mass) x (acceleration). To create maximum force, you must create maximum bat speed. This means young hitters need to learn to swing fast! There are not any Major Leaguers with poor bat speed, which means we need to be training it, so by the time a player gets to college, he doesn’t need to worry about gaining bat speed anymore.
Using the Blast Motion sensor with little kids, for me, is often about increasing bat speed, but also monitoring their attack angle, and ensuring they take their best swings in games. Monitoring bat speed is fairly straightforward using different tools such as weighted bats, ensuring my hitters are lifting, and giving them different constraints, over time I can track if their bat speed is progressing. One simple game I like to use is a bat speed game. The hitter is tasked to best their bat speed from their previous swing. The more they do it the more points they get. The goal of this is to unlock intent they did not previously use and to create better bat speed. Furthermore, it is a ton of fun for the hitter and helps them stay engaged! Using Blast to monitor attack angles is something very beneficial. A lot of young hitters are taught to swing down on the ball, creating negative attack angles, and ultimately, unproductive angry hitters. Using the Blast easily identifies this swing flaw, and from there, it is just a process of giving the proper external constraints that help create better attack angles for hitters. The last thing I use the Blast for with young hitters is the most challenging. A problem I see with a lot of young hitters is their batting practice swing and game swing are not the same. One thing I love doing with hitters I work with is challenging them in game like situations. Often times in these situations I look at the data, and notice significant decreases in key metrics of a hitters swing in competitive situations compared to their swing off a tee or batting practice. Seeing this is great information because it becomes my job to help the hitter take the aggressive, fearless swings he takes in batting practice and utilize them in game. It does not matter how good your swing is if you do not even use it in games!
For older hitters, my use of the Blast is different. For these guys, more often than not, they already possess adequate bat speed and attack angles. My use of the sensor with them is geared more towards increasing their blast factor and power output. Power, of course, is tied into bat speed, but it is important to monitor hitters and ensure they are lifting and getting strong, to produce enough force to create power to do damage. Blast factor is a little more difficult. Creating a better blast factor means creating a more efficient sequence. This means focusing on hitters sequencing and making sure they stay connected throughout their entire swing. Doing this is not a daily fix, but one that can surely be made. For hitters who check all of these boxes, I am not using the Blast Motion to try and improve any metrics. I am using it more to monitor their swings to ensure they are not getting worse, and their swing metrics are consistently in the ranges we want them to be. The goals with these hitters are to challenge them more with more game like situations, and help them increase their exit speed.
Coaching is not easy. You can have the best eye for anything, but that still makes your skillset as a coach inferior to what objective data measurements can provide. Using technology takes the guessing out for you, and provides feedback that cannot be dismissed. Using the Blast sensor as a coach provides a roadmap for how to help improve each hitter, and what areas are most important for them to improve in. I hope this helps readers, if anyone has any questions or would like to talk more about this subject in further detail, please do not hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org!