Understanding the mechanics of a softball swing just got a whole lot easier with the help of Zepp Labs. Last week, Zepp and the Premier Girls Fastpitch (PGF) league announced a partnership to bring advanced data technology into the softball world.
Zepp created a sensor that attaches to the end of a bat. It only weighs six grams, but hidden inside the tiny gadget is a processor that gives softball players a never-before-seen look at their swings.
“It captures thousands of data points per second, and sends it all via Bluetooth to a mobile device,” says Jason Fass, CEO of Zepp.
What makes the sensor so innovative, though, is that it can deliver a 3D picture of a swing, which can be rotated and seen from different perspectives. “It’s almost like the movie Matrix, like when for the first time people saw camera angles spin around a character,” Fass says.
For Sue Enquist, a former player and head softball coach at UCLA for 27 years, the notion of a 3D image of a swing is unprecedented.
“I’ve been in the game over 36 years, and I’ve never seen something so beautiful regarding swing playback,” Enquist says.
PGF players now have access to information about their time of impact to the ball, the barrel angle of their swings, and how fast their hands are moving. With the right coaching, all of this can help to improve bat speed and contact hitting in new and innovative ways.
“For many years we have taught mechanics that have really been passed down generation to generation and often times it’s not accurate,” Enquist says. “We were anecdotally teaching what happens in the swing, [but] now we’ve got instantaneous feedback. That immediate micro adjustment you can make on each swing is invaluable.”
A partnership with the premier softball league in the US is especially important for the sport itself. Zepp is already being used in Major League Baseball (members of the San Francisco Giants helped beta test the sensor). But now softball and baseball players are on an even playing field when it comes to in depth information about their hitting mechanics.
“This tool is going to bring baseball and softball together because it’s going to prove and show that the swings are identical,” Enquist says. “And I love that, because now dad, who has a son and a daughter, they all can speak the same language.”
Photo courtesy Zepp Labs