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Sage Creek freshmen baseball coach Guy Sabala, left, and Bryant Kitisin go through hitting drills Tuesday using the SwingTracker app to help with perfecting the player's swing. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Carlsbad high schools use app to improve swings

CARLSBAD — Taking a cue from 16 Major League Baseball organizations, the Sage Creek freshmen baseball and Carlsbad High School softball teams are going the route of analytics.

The two local clubs are coming off successful seasons —CHS was a DI semifinalist — but are not resting during the offseason. Instead, the two have taken up with Diamond Kinetics and its SwingTracker app to improve their hitting.

“We are just a baseball, softball company,” said Joey August, business development manager at Diamond Kinetics. “It allows us to dig a lot deeper into the amount of information and the experience we can give the baseball, softball athlete. We always use the line, ‘We can be an inch wide and a mile deep’ with the stuff we do.”

August, who played ball at Stanford and in the New York Mets organization, a sensor is attached to the knob of a bat and collects 10,000 data points and 11 different metrics in four categories.

In short, the app collects the information to develop the perfect swing, August said. However, he said with the data provided, it is up to the coaches and players to implement the information and apply it on the field.

SwingTracker, though, uses four categories including power, speed, quickness and control to improve a player’s swing.

The information is transferred to the company’s mobile app and web portal, which then is read by coaches and players, August said.

“You have a new level of connection between the coach and the player … and develop a hitting plan,” he explained. “Our 11 different metrics are built into four categories that in our mind are relevant and relative to a baseball/softball swing.”

August, meanwhile, approached SCHS freshmen coach Guy Sabala and CHS varsity coach Danielle Kinley to pitch the app.

Sabala said the SCHS staff opted to test the program on the freshmen during the end of the season. He said the results have produced better swings much quicker than using older methods.

Sabala said thanks to the app and the 3D video capability, coaches can identify holes in their player’s swings in an hour or less. Prior to the technology, it could take the coaches weeks of tinkering with a swing before solving the problem.

“We liked it,” he added. “Now we are ready to for next season, full bore with it. We like how we can watch the video, break it down and show the kids.”

In addition, the data shows the players how hard they striking the ball, if they are hitting the ball square and their exit velocity after making contact.

Sabala said many of the players thought they had good power or contact, but the results said otherwise.

“They might think they are hitting the ball hard, but they are not squaring it up,” he added. “I am able to show the video … and they are able to see they are not making really good contact with the ball. They can see how they are striking the ball, whether they are topping it, under it, off the end of the bat and getting their hands out too far in front.”

Kinley, meanwhile, is using SwingTracker on 15 varsity players this summer and said it has already helped several athletes improve their swing mechanics.

“I can verbally tell an athlete what they’re doing in their swing and I can provide visual confirmation with video, but I can’t provide concrete data without technology like SwingTracker,” she said. “This tool provides assurances to the athlete and allows them to further by into the process of improving their swing as well as setting concrete goals for improvement.”

SwingTracker was developed by William Clark, an applied sciences professor from the University of Pittsburgh. According to August, Clark wanted to develop a more objective way of tracking a player’s swing, which included his son and daughter.

From there, the project grew into a national company, which includes MLB, collegiate, travel, high school youth clubs.

“He was pretty much a baseball, softball dad,” August said. “A lot of it started with a dad wanting to help his kids and help bring some objectivity instead of subjectivity to the recruiting process.”