Yesterday, I was able to get some blast data on our players for the first time. This was an exciting day as it’s the first time we’ve been able to get bat speed and attack angle data. This data will help us to know where some of our issues lie within our team. I wrote previously about making our environment more competitive, which we need to do regardless, however, we also need to know where our swings break down and if there are some mechanical fixes we need to make before we challenge our guys with velocity. Here is how we set everything up last night (I need to preface this by saying that no coaching was going on, as washington state has very strict no coaching guidelines in the off-season): Each athlete took 5–10 swings off of a pitching machine that was throwing fairly hard (we did not have the gun with us to take the exact MPH). We were only looking at two measurements, Bat Speed and Attack Angle. Here is what we found based on our measurements and what we can take from them.
- ) Average Bat Speed and Attack Angle’s were positive
I posted last night on twitter the averages for 72 swings, not realizing that 77 more swings hadn’t downloaded yet. So out of 149 swings, our average bat speed was 61.9 MPH, which was higher than what I was expecting, as well as our attack angle being 4. Our initial goal for our high schoolers is to have an average bat speed of 65 or above, but we are happy with anything above 60 at this point, especially with a positive attack. We are looking for our attack angle to be between 5–15, so our initial test showing an attack angle average that is positive at 4 is exciting to see as a coach. This shows me that we may be able to challenge these guys with more velocity and spin right off the bat, because the swings are trending in the right direction in the bat speed and attack angle department.
2.) Our lows and highs show we have some big discrepancies as a team
As expected in a high school program there were some big discrepancies amongst the team. Last night we had a mixture of previous varsity players and junior varsity players. The low for bat speed therefore, was 48.8, where the high was 72.7. Our attack angle low was -19, whereas the high was 21. However, 113 swings had a positive attack angle and only 36 had a negative attack angle, showing that overall, the average of 4 should still be looked at as a positive because the majority of swings were in the positive as well. Where bat speed is concerned, 86 swings were taken in the 60’s and 70’s and 63 were taken in the 40’s and 50’s, with the majority of those in the 50’s. Therefore, the 61.9 average is still a positive, but some of the high 60’s and 70’s may be making that number look better than what is actually happening for the team.
3.) Bat speed doesn’t mean solid contact
One thing I found interesting was looking at how many swings didn’t make solid contact, even though their bat speed numbers looked good. However, a majority of the time if the bat speed numbers were good, as well as, the attack angle numbers, then we would see barreled contact. I thought it was really interesting to see that bat speed may not be an athletes issue, but there were still swing flaws that were causing them to mis-hit the ball. Some of that may have to do with hitting off velocity as well, mimicking a game-like environment instead of hitting off a tee or front toss. Another thing that caught my eye was one of our athletes would have an attack angle that was positive if he was on time with the pitch, but because he was late it was always in the negative. He had one of our lower bat speed scores and struggled to catch up to the velocity off the machine. He is a sophomore who doesn’t have a ton of strength and explosiveness yet. Therefore, though his attack angle looks like it’s negative, he really just needs to create more bat speed, or have better timing, and catch the ball out front and his attack angle will be just fine.
This was my first time using blast motion and I had a ton of fun doing it. I’m excited to be able to apply the data in season and help our athletes dig in to their swings to fix different issues, while still challenging them to hit different velocities and types of pitches.