Amherst Softball Leveraging Performance Technology

New technologies have made their way into athletic practices at the college, especially now, when safety precautions make it much easier to practice with a machine, rather than a socially-distant person. With softball in particular, technology has proven especially crucial. Diamond Kinetics, Blast Motion and Dartfish are technologies that have helped softball players improve their batting and pitching skills, as well as track their overall improvement. 

Diamond Kinetics has introduced the PitchTracker and SwingTracker to aid softball players in improving their batting and pitching skills. The SwingTracker sensor is a device that can fit onto almost every bat, and when you download the SwingTracker mobile app, you get in-depth analysis about your swinging technique on your phone. The app provides easy-to-understand metrics, data and swing analysis that gives softball players of all levels a way to improve their batting techniques from anywhere. The PitchTracker, also used with a mobile app, mimics the exact look and feel of a normal softball, while providing data and pitching analysis. 

Julie Bolduc, the assistant coach of Amherst women’s softball, commented that the PitchTracker has been very helpful in helping the team’s pitchers improve their skills: “It’s super helpful because it tells the coach and pitcher if the ball is spinning correctly; it also tells the pitcher how much the ball is spinning, revolutions per minute, [and] the velocity of the pitch.”  Not only does the PitchTracker help players analyze the spin and velocity of their pitches, but Bolducdiscussed how, with Covid, these technologies have proven to be even more useful: “As far as Covid, this device is super helpful because, if a pitcher that lives in California has a smartball from Diamond Kinetics and gives me permission as a coach, I can see the data on my device when they workout.” Even with many softball players practicing away from their teams, Diamond Kinetics provides apps that can keep players and coaches up-to-date with what they need to improve on. 

Dartfish, a video performance and data analysis provider, has also been crucial to the team’s remote practices. Bolduc explained, “It’s a program that allows you to do side-by-side motion comparison videos. So they can send me a video of them pitching and I can find a ‘pro pitcher’ video that has a similar motion and compare. It also lets you draw lines and shapes to show the differences.” 

Blast Motion is another company that has created a mobile app connected to a smart ball, called the Blast Softball. Similar to Diamond Kinetics, this technology combines sensor-based swing analysis with auto-edited video clips in the mobile app, all while providing real-time feedback. On this app, coaches can also provide feedback to the player. Users can compare current sessions to previous sessions, and a performance graph tracks progress on certain skills.

Softball Head Coach Jessica Johnson mentioned that even the most simple technologies can be helpful for softball players to improve their skills: “Just capturing video on a phone, iPad or even laptop can be helpful.”