December 10, 2022

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Hitting Biomechanics – Driveline Baseball

11 min read

Bat Pace, Level of Contact, and Rotational Velocities

Since finalizing the hitting set-up in our movement seize lab (The Launchpad) in July of 2021, we’ve had a whole bunch of hitters are available in for a movement seize evaluation, together with a number of MLB All Stars and high collegiate and professional prospects. On the time of writing, Driveline has collected biomechanical information on over 2,000 swings throughout a variety of participant expertise from excessive schoolers as much as a few of the greatest hitters within the MLB.

This provides us a wealthy and distinctive database to assist us reply the query: what separates the most effective hitters on the earth from their friends?

Numerous books may very well be written on all of the challenges we’ve encountered and the failures we’ve made getting up to now; nevertheless, from these classes we discover ourselves effectively positioned to leverage our rising database and the hitting biomechanics insights are starting to trickle in. So let’s check out a couple of fast ones!

Blast Movement vs. Movement Seize

One of many coolest elements of hitting movement seize is that we’re in a position to acquire all types of high-fidelity, full sign information on bat traits through the swing. For instance, we’re in a position to see what a hitter’s bat velocity or assault angle is at any given level within the swing (see figures 1 and a pair of). This provides our trainers a full image of what an athlete is doing moderately than needing to depend on discrete metrics at affect to deduce swing and path high quality.

Determine 1. Full sign bat velocity information exhibiting how briskly the candy spot of the bat is shifting at each level within the swing.

Determine 2. Full sign assault angle information may give a greater concept of a hitter’s bat path all through everything of the swing.

Utilizing instruments like Blast Movement bat sensors each day offers us quick suggestions throughout a coaching session, however swinging within the Launchpad permits for larger precision and element. A lot of the guesswork that comes from video will be eliminated, serving to our trainers extra exactly pinpoint what a hitter does effectively and what they should enhance. 

The precision of the lab additionally means we will receive extra constant reads on issues like bat velocity or assault angle and full sign physique + bat kinematics, whereas avoiding variance resulting from incorrect sensor placement. This final level will be seen by wanting on the variations in the usual deviations of paired bat speeds measured with Blast and our mocap lab. These variations could not look big at first look, however when you think about that these values had been calculated after eradicating any apparent misreads from Blast, the variations seem fairly eye-opening.

Desk 1. Bat velocity averages and customary deviations (SD) measured each by the mocap lab (left) and Blast (proper).

Bat Pace

We’ve already talked fairly a bit in regards to the significance of bat velocity in a number of blogs authored previously, and within the desk beneath one can see that our outcomes from the Launchpad present much more proof as to why that is the case.

Desk 2. Common bat metrics from our lab break up up by taking part in stage.

We see that, on common, our professional hitters swing the bat slightly below 72 mph, which is about 4 mph sooner than our faculty hitters and nearly 10 mph sooner than our highschool hitters. Not surprisingly, our professional hitters additionally hit the ball about 6 mph tougher than our faculty hitters within the lab and about 12 mph tougher than our highschool hitters on common.

We are able to additionally see from the distributions beneath that there’s a lot much less variability in bat velocity and exit velocity amongst skilled hitters when in comparison with each faculty and highschool hitters. The important thing takeaway right here is that as batters transfer up in taking part in stage, they have to swing the bat sooner and hit the ball tougher than a sure threshold.

Determine 3. Distribution of peak bat velocity break up up by taking part in stage. We see a a lot wider distribution of bat speeds amongst each faculty and highschool hitters when in comparison with skilled hitters.
Determine 4. Distribution of exit velocity break up up by taking part in stage. Similar to with bat velocity, we see a narrower distribution of exit velocities amongst our skilled hitters when in comparison with highschool and faculty hitters.

Level of Contact

HitTrax and related applied sciences outline POC as the purpose the place contact is made relative to residence plate. Whereas this metric does present a number of helpful info, it does have some limitations resulting from the truth that not each hitter stands in the very same spot within the batter’s field or has the identical size stride. This will make it a bit harder to match one hitter’s POC to a different’s. So what if we had been in a position to measure POC relative to a hitter’s physique?

Utilizing our movement seize information we will use a hitter’s middle of gravity (COG) to find out how far out in entrance or deep within the zone contact is made relative to that hitter’s physique. We are able to merely calculate the gap between a hitter’s COG place and the place of the candy spot of their bat to get what we’ll check with as their MoCap POC (determine 5). 

Determine 5. How MoCap POC is calculated.

Each hitter is aware of the sensation of hitting a ball too deep within the zone or too far out in entrance and can have the ability to inform you that these totally different swings are going to yield a lot totally different outcomes. For instance, this can be a swing from our lab with one of many deepest factors of contact:

Determine 6. A swing with a POC of -6.94 cm. Contact is definitely made behind the hitter’s COG.

Evaluate that to a different swing from our lab which had the furthest POC in our database:

Determine 7. A swing with a POC of 83.18 cm.

These two swings are going to end in a lot totally different spray and launch angles and, as we’ll see shortly, would seemingly have a lot totally different bat speeds.

As a result of hitting is so reaction-based and largely depending on the incoming pitch, we anticipate there to be way more variation from swing to swing. Measuring POC relative to the physique offers us one option to examine related swings throughout totally different athletes.


When POC throughout totally different ranges of play we see an attention-grabbing development the place POC will increase with taking part in stage. The plot beneath exhibits the distribution of POC break up up by taking part in stage.

Determine 8. MoCap POC by taking part in stage.

Highschool hitters are inclined to make contact nearly 12 cm (or about 5 inches) deeper within the zone relative to their physique when in comparison with skilled hitters. Nonetheless, this will not be a generalizable development that we might observe outdoors of our lab. Throughout movement seize assessments, we arrange the pitching machine 45 toes from residence at a normal setting of 65 mph. One doable clarification is that it’s marginally simpler for hitters at increased ranges to hit towards these settings than decrease stage hitters and, thus, why we see POC enhance with taking part in stage.

However, we see that, on common, POC will get barely farther out in entrance as you go up in taking part in stage. Whether or not this can be a results of us controlling the issue of the incoming pitch or not is difficult to say, however it’s seemingly that this development doesn’t maintain in the identical approach in additional game-like settings at totally different ranges of play.

Why Energy Hitters Dwell Out In Entrance

Ask any hitter and most will inform you it’s a lot simpler to hit a house run to the pull-side than to the alternative subject. Having a look at POC and its relationship to bat velocity offers us some perception into why it might be simpler to hit the ball tougher to the pull-side. 

Hitting a ball to the pull-side requires a POC that’s farther out in entrance of the physique than hitting a ball to the alternative subject. This may seemingly end in a barely increased bat velocity than if contact was made deeper within the zone. Once we plot MoCap POC towards bat velocity we see that there’s a optimistic linear relationship the place bat velocity will increase with POC when evaluating swings from totally different hitters (determine 9).

Determine 9. MoCap POC vs. peak bat velocity.

This relationship intuitively is sensible because the bat has extra time to speed up the farther out in entrance contact occurs. Once we management for a participant’s common bat velocity and common level of contact – to additional tease out the anticipated impact if an athlete had been to make contact additional out in entrance on a few of their swings – we see that this development stays the place a rise in POC is related to a rise in bat velocity.

Determine 10. MoCap POC above common measures how a lot farther in entrance/behind a hitter makes contact relative to their common POC throughout a given session. Bat velocity above common measures how a lot increased/decrease a hitter’s bat velocity is in comparison with their common bat velocity for a given session.

Utilizing that relationship plotted in determine 10, an extra 10 cm (~4 inches) of POC corresponds with a rise of roughly 0.6 mph for that athlete. Now, this isn’t essentially to say that everybody needs to be making an attempt to make contact as far out in entrance as doable to maximise their bat velocity. In truth, there are going to be trade-offs with making contact farther out in entrance equivalent to the next assault angle (see determine 11).

Determine 11. MoCap POC vs. assault angle.

Sequencing Effectively

Movement seize permits us to not solely observe the motion of the bat throughout a swing, it additionally permits us to trace totally different segments of the physique and see how they could affect the swing. One of many extra frequent methods to find out how effectively a participant strikes throughout a swing is to take a look at how briskly and in what sequence they rotate their physique. We sometimes take a look at the angular velocity of the pelvis, torso, higher arm, and hand to get an concept of how effectively a hitter makes use of their complete kinetic chain to create bat velocity. Ideally a hitter could have a sequence that appears one thing like this:

Determine 12. The kinematic sequence of the pelvis (purple), torso (inexperienced), higher arm (blue), and hand (yellow) exhibits how every section builds off the rotational velocity created by the earlier section.

We see right here that the section velocities peak so as as we transfer up the chain from the pelvis, to the torso, to the arm, and to the arms. On this approach, every subsequent physique section builds off of the rate that was generated by the earlier section. For extra context, the visuals beneath reveal precisely what we’re on the lookout for once we speak about angular velocities of various physique segments sequencing effectively:

Determine 13. Pelvis angular velocity measures how shortly the pelvis (highlighted section) rotates through the swing.

Determine 14. Torso angular velocity measures how shortly the torso (highlighted section) rotates through the swing.

Determine 15. Higher arm angular velocity measures how shortly the higher arm (highlighted section) rotates through the swing.

Determine 16. Hand angular velocity measures how shortly the hand (highlighted section) rotates through the swing.

Transferring Quick = Hitting the Ball Tougher

Maybe unsurprisingly, a comparatively simple statement we’ve been in a position to make with the info we’ve collected in The Launchpad is that rotating sooner is correlated to swinging the bat sooner and hitting the ball tougher. The desk beneath exhibits a handful of rotational velocity metrics and their relationship to each bat velocity and exit velocity:

Desk 3. Correlations for various rotational velocities vs. bat velocity and exit velocity. The values within the desk are Pearson Correlation Coefficients (also referred to as the R worth) the place a price of 0 represents no relationship and a price of 1 represents an ideal 1-to-1 relationship.

All six of those rotational velocity metrics are considerably correlated to each bat velocity and exit velocity at contact. Thus, the sooner these segments rotate, the sooner the bat strikes and the tougher the ball is hit. 

Curiously, the connection between rotational velocity and bat velocity / exit velocity will get stronger the additional one strikes up the chain (or towards the bat). So, it might be doable for an athlete to beat slower pelvis and torso rotational velocities with increased arm and hand speeds later within the swing to generate bat velocity.

One other attention-grabbing takeaway from this desk is that max pelvis angular velocity has a weaker  correlation to bat velocity and exit velocity than pelvis angular velocity at foot plant. In different phrases, it might be extra essential that the pelvis is shifting shortly as a hitter lands with their lead leg than it’s to max out pelvis rotational velocity at every other level through the swing.

To get a way of simply how briskly hitters in our lab are shifting, check out the desk beneath. In doing so, you’ll see that the correlations mentioned above appear to carry true when wanting throughout all taking part in ranges.

Desk 4. Common angular velocities of varied physique segments seen in our lab, break up up by taking part in stage.

Similar to with bat velocity, we see that rotational velocities seem to extend with taking part in stage with bigger variations in arm and hand speeds.

What’s Subsequent?

With our preliminary foray into hitting biomechanics, we confirmed a few of the extra fundamental hypotheses associated to the basics of hitting. Higher hitters swing tougher, make louder contact, reside additional out in-front when hitting pitches of equal problem, and rotate sooner / extra effectively. With these truths supported, we’ll leverage The Launchpad to assist us examine questions and quantify mechanical traits we had been beforehand unable to. A main focal point in our future analysis will probably be in understanding and quantifying what makes for an environment friendly and optimum bat path. Together with this we hope to be taught extra about how totally different mechanical attributes affect batted ball outcomes. Keep tuned for extra insights into hitting biomechanics as we dive deeper and deeper into the info!

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