Tech Makes Baseball a Simple Game: You See the Ball, You Hit the Ball, You Got It?

This is the third story in a five-part series that examines how swing biomechanics and the proliferation of technological tools are helping hitters.

Modern technology is able to illuminate the kinematic sequence of a hitter’s swing, but those assessments top out at the athlete’s torso. What happens above the neck is just as critical, and it’s hard not to lean into baseball’s most famous truism of all: Yogi Berra famously said the game is “90% mental,” which makes perfect sense if you ignore that fact that he said the other 50% is physical.

Pitch Recognition Disciples moving up the ranks in MLB

“He’s super innovative, but that doesn’t mean that he’s just throwing stuff against the wall to see what works. His technique is rooted in the things that he has tried, has tested, that other people have tried and tested. Things that he can almost prove that it works. He teaches what he can prove and has ways to cater the most important parts of the swing to the individual.”

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2018’s Leaders in Innovation: gameSense Sports honored by Coach & AD

The abundance of innovations in team sports has changed the way games are played and managed. Don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

For Coach & Athletic Director’s fourth annual innovations issue, we took a close look at more than 100 new and improved products. In the end, we settled on 10 that addressed specific needs or took a unique approach to solving common problems in athletic programs. This year’s class of innovative products is led by software and digital systems designed to help coaches and athletic administrators analyze athletic performance.

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GameSense Sports

Players who are able to react before everyone else are said to have good instincts. Nobody is born with these types of instincts. They must be learned through countless hours of practice and play.

GameSense Sports created an app that trains the instincts that turn good players into great players by using “video occlusion.” It forces players to focus on the beginning of plays or events within a game, challenging them to accurately predict the outcome with limited information. GameSense Sports currently trains baseball, softball and football players, with more sports to come.

GameSense Sports is described as “Twitter simple.” It doesn’t require virtual reality gear, sensors or a lot of money. Players can use the app on a laptop, tablet or phone. GameSense Sports provides a scientifically sound, effective and efficient way for training the quick decisions athletes must make. Coaches, athletic directors and athletic trainers can give their athletes a faster way to become elite players through brain training. It gives players that extra edge, something to do when the weather is poor, or when they are injured.

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CORE SOFTBALL TRAINING: gameSense Improving Pitch Recognition

Pitch recognition is one of the hardest things to develop in players. The question is; how does gameSense make the process easier? Fadde explains how “the only way to develop pitch recognition is to see thousands of pitches. Chances to practice off real pitchers of equal or better quality are hard to come by. It’s a lot to expect players to “work on it” in the game. Being able to practice “reading” thousands of pitches on video is a lot easier. It can be done on the phone, in the car, lots of places.”

Sportstechie Highlights gameSense Sports Pitch-IQ

gameSense Sports continues to gain recognition in the sports world.

The oft-told standard in baseball is that a 90-mile-per-hour fastball takes four-tenths of a second to reach home plate and, because the act of swinging a bat takes about half the time, a hitter must identify the pitch, its expected location and decide what to do in about 0.2 seconds. Those numbers seem small and impossibly fast, but one can hardly appreciate the reality until seeing a pitcher enter his windup, release the ball and then for the video to stop at the juncture when a decision must be made.

That is the premise behind the work of gameSense, which draws on research that began in the late 1970s into anticipatory behavior based on early visual cues, showing a clear distinction between the abilities of experts and novices at quick-reaction tasks.

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Big Data and gameSense Pitch Recognition in College Baseball

Tigers head coach Steve Bieser was introduced to Dr. Peter Fadde's product during his tenure at Southeast Missouri State University by hitting coach Dillon Lawson. The pair had embraced a "Moneyball" mentality in other ways -- using sabermetric measures like runs created and weighted on-base average to build lineups -- and their investment in plate-approach paid off.