How is new sports technology transforming softball?
Technology has undoubtedly impacted many industries, from health care to manufacturing and everything in between. Sports is another billion-dollar industry that has benefited from implementing new technology. As a result, the industry has seen increased attention and revenue.
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Whether it’s a full instant replay or improved safety features for professional athletes, various types of new tech can significantly impact many sports games or matches. In fastpitch softball, some NCAA teams have leveraged technology to gain more insights into player metrics, which can help improve performance long-term.
Below are a few ways softball teams have used technology to benefit both coaches and players on the diamond.
In many industries, technology can help increase efficiency and provide data and analytics to help leaders make informed decisions. This can be extremely useful for softball players and their coaches. Below are some other benefits softball organizations can reap by using advanced technology:
- Gain a competitive advantage over other softball teams
- Helps coaches better understand their players
- Allows players to perfect their pitching and batting skills during practice
- Provides instant feedback to garner player success
- Leverage a range of devices to track different metrics and aspects of the game
- Simulates real-life game situations
The softball teams that leverage technology have a better chance of outperforming their competitors, especially at the Division I level, which is fierce. The Women’s College World Series tournament in 2021 had a total attendance of 115,114 fans, setting a new record.
Softball and baseball equipment have come a long way since their early days. Take stadium netting, for example. The first stadium netting was introduced in 1879, but as seats moved closer, fans being distracted by their phones and the speed of the game increasing, it can put their safety at risk from flying bats or foul balls.
Aside from fan safety, other softball and baseball equipment have become more advanced. Traditionally, speed guns, a spin metric, visual markers, and eyeballs were used by coaches to analyze metrics for pitchers and batters.
However, new tech is creating more possibilities for coaches to gain valuable insights into player performance, helping them improve upon their coaching abilities and building a successful organization. Below are some examples of technologies revolutionizing the sport of softball.
In 2018, the NCAA Softball Rules Committee approved swing-tracking bat sensors during live gameplay. It was the first major baseball or softball organization to support these devices for use in live competitions. The committee ruled that data captured by the sensors would only be accessible after the games but can provide another reference point for coaches and players.
Essentially, bat knobs are hollowed out to include a sensor, as long as the device is secured by a primary and backup locking mechanism, has an offline mode to prevent in-game access, and does not affect performance in any way. When using these sensors, one goal coaches have is to bridge the gap between practice and in-game swings. The old saying, “how you practice is how you play,” certainly applies here.
In January 2022, V1 Sports announced a partnership with Louisville Slugger Hitting Science Center to deliver video analysis software and ground pressure mat technology for baseball and softball teams. The portable mat interaction tool allowed coaches to measure velocity, pressure and dynamic force.
State-of-the-art sensors are inside the mat and measure the quantity and quality of forces that an athlete uses to hit, pitch and field. Additionally, the mat syncs with high-speed video software to create a motion and ground force analysis so coaches can accurately evaluate and understand a player’s movements.
In Oklahoma City, competitive softball athletes now have access to a high-tech virtual reality (VR) pitching simulator. The ProBatter PX2 is a piece of VR technology that recreates the experience of facing a live pitcher during a game. Computer and video technology is used and has a precision ball delivery mechanism.
The PX2 delivers an assortment of pitches at professional speeds — for example, some pitches reach a speed of 70 miles per hour (MPH). Coaches can adjust the PX2 to include a variety of pitches, including drop balls, risers, screwballs, fastballs and changeups, allowing players to improve their batting skills and get used to these types of pitches.
A new technology sold by Diamond Kinetics is helping softball pitchers learn more about their motion and leverage a “smart” pitching experience. Diamond Kinetic’s science-based technology provides easy-to-understand metrics, pitching analysis and data to help competitive softball pitchers level up their game.
The PitchTracker Smart Softball mimics the look and feel of a regulation softball, so pitchers would not have to worry about using an unfamiliar ball. This helps with buy-in, so coaches can better teach their pitchers new skills and improve their existing skills.
These pieces of technology are truly transforming the game of softball. Whether it’s young girls in Little League or Division I athletes, coaches should consider leveraging new technology to support their coaching abilities. They can enhance player development, evaluation and game strategy to outperform competitors.
As female athletes gain more recognition for playing at a competitive level, the use of the latest technologies can help them improve their skills and allow coaches to leverage valuable insights from data and analytics. Players, coaches, and softball fans can expect to see more emerging technologies to bring the game of softball to the next level, and it’ll be fascinating to see how the game changes as a result.
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Last Updated on March 11, 2022.
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