By Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, FMS)
The world of hitting is changing and it’s changing fast. As new technology is working its way into the world of baseball at break-neck speed, the information becoming available is opening the eyes of both baseball coaches and strength coaches alike and across multiple avenues as well. But once again as in pitching, this extremely explosive sport, leads us back to anatomy and the body’s ability to move through space quickly. So explosive in fact, that we are looking at microsecond movements only measurable by motion capture technology.
We’ve recently added a K-Vest to our arsenal. It’s a 3D motion capture sensor technology by K-Motion geared towards baseball players. It measures a number of metrics and provides a summary including a kinematic sequence of the player’s baseball swing. The metrics it provides are revolutionary, at times turning the batting cage into a laboratory by providing miscellaneous information on the pelvis, torso, shoulders and hands. This information ranges from how players sequence through their very specific angular movements (posture) at different points in the swing, and the speed at which they do so. What do you know? The body dictates the swing!
While the K-Vest provides us with very useful information on the kinematic sequence, this article is more about how we take that information and bring it back to the body and train it in the weight room to help achieve a more powerful and repeatable swing. Because like Frans Bosch said, “the body cares very little about what the coach has to say”.
Below is a motion capture of one of our college guys currently in our summer. His initial assessment presented among other things with a late pelvis and torso rotation as well as a steep vertical bat angle (VBA) -38 degrees. He also informed us that he was struggling with pitches away and at the top of the zone. When looking at his sequence, we can see that torso bend at heel strike is 48 degrees, much higher than the 10-35 degrees we would generally like to see.
(Torso Side Bend at Heel Strike)
This can not only have a negative effect on VBA but can also cause this hitter to come up and out of his swing in order to be able to get to a more optimal position at contact to create adequate side bend.
(Torso Side Bend at Contact)
At contact, we can see that while an adjustment was made, torso bend is still 20 degrees higher than the 0 to -5 degrees we would like to see. This is more than likely since this athlete was starting “way behind the line” at heel strike to begin with.
(Pelvis Side Bend at Contact)
So much positive bend (flexion) in his upper half is likely contributing to not only his late torso rotation (47 deg at contact), but his pelvic turn at contact as well (42 deg, above). Late rotation is probably also playing a role in his Rotational Acceleration and Power, which are also lower by comparison.
In the gym, we addressed this athlete’s anterior pelvic tilt by strengthening his lumbar extensors (Q.L.) and doubling up on his anterior core strength and posterior chain work with the intention to enable him to hold posture sooner AND longer coming into heel strike.
After 4 weeks of mobility and strength work along with some re-mapping drills in the cage, we’re starting to move in the right direction as shown by his VBA and power trends per his Blast Motion metrics.
If you’re one of those guys who doesn’t believe technology is changing the game, then this article probably isn’t for you. But I can tell you this type of information is going to separate the men from the boys.
See ya in the gym!
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