Ever since I started to look at the mechanics of the baseball swing I have always been interested in how we can measure the bodies movements to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses of hitters. After a long time of trying to figure out what the best solution would be I think we now have a pretty good way to assess and gauge a hitters swing without any bias. KVest.
How hitting can be assessed as changed dramatically over the past 3–5 years. We have gone from using 2D video to try to mark different parts of the swing are useful or ineffective. When are able to do this we are left with limited information to truly assess how a hitter is moving. We have also had sensors which provide some of the best metrics that we can test at this same point in time. My favorite tool to look at bats internal body metrics is the Blast Motion Sensor. These sensors have changed how we understand the swing and how we are able to learn about specific players swings. At the time of the Blast Sensor coming out, it was (IMO) the most revolutionary thing that hitters could get as an (regular) consumer. From there the development of multiple camera angle video feeds synced up give us a better idea of what the batter is doing. Obviously the more angles we have when looking at 2D video the better off we are. If you were extremely involved in this you might also have high speed cameras to capture the swing.
Come 2018 we now have the KVest for baseball. To me it is an ideal solution to looking at players swings at the present moment. What is the KVest you ask? Essentially it is 4 sensors that feed information back to an antenna that provides players with immediate feedback on their swing (No joke you can get all of the information below within seconds after the swing).
The the sensors are placed into what the company garments which are really high quality straps that secure the sensors to the body in the correct positions. The sensors go on the top of the spine, around the pelvis, upper arm, and clip onto the hand. You can feel the garment for the first couple of minutes but with my experience after that you don’t really feel it.
Immediately after you install the software and connect the sensors via Bluetooth (This takes some time to figure out. You need to pair them after plugging in the antenna. Try to FIO on your own before you panic) Right after you set up the system you get a pretty good idea what the KVest can do when you measure your first swing. The software is very easy to use if you have at least taken a cursory glance at the different courses they have available. You get a decent idea of what the graphs are reading to you.
Enough about the set up let's get into the part of this system that makes it so valuable for coaches and players. Simply put: Feedback, Feedback, Feedback. The system is designed to give players and coaches a much better idea of what is happening in player(s) swings. Which will continue to remove the idea of being a “feel coach”. After taking each swing you are asked if you would like to look at a couple of different reports that KVest has made for that specific swing. I’ll put a few below to give everyone a better idea.
The efficiency summary will give you an idea of where each body segment peaks in the swing. KVest also provides you with an example graph of an efficient swing looks like in the top left, with your swing taking the majority of the graph on the lower half. This gives you a good idea of how fast your body is moving and where each body segment peaks or begins to peak.
You also get this really nice looking report looking of both sequencing of the swing as well as peak speeds by the different body parts. For reference KVest provides you with professional ranges to let players know what they should be aiming for in their swings. The sequence of the swing is noted for each swing and the “Correct Order” is placed right below (As you can tell not an efficient swing).
Along with the sequencing information the KVest also pulls up really nice reports for you to compare your peak velocity to different professional ranges. With a small note on the side to let you know what might be happening. Which can take the burden off of some coaches who are looking to be more hands off when it comes to the bio-mechanical side of the swing.
One thing you need to be very comfortable with when using the KVest is different angles in the swing. If you are not familiar with the right hand rule then you should familiarize yourself with it before trying to dig into this system. Angles are a big part of the power of the KVest. Immediately you become a overwhelmed with the amount of data. Once you take a step back from the information you get a bigger picture of what it all means.
There are three main parts of the swing that KVest measures. Everything to “heel strike” then to “first movement” and lastly “contact”. These three parts of the swing are the main focus when examining different metrics and trying to make sense of the data while using the system. The vest gives you posture reports but also feeds you a bunch of other pieces of information to give coaches and players a much more detailed look at the inner-workings in the swing. (See below: I have placed all three different parts to the swing below for you to get a better idea of what is measured. It gives you consistent measurements throughout the biggest focus is on the three spots below)
You might be saying that graphs are really cool Josh but what else can it do. If graphs were all this system spit out I would be worth the investment for any professional team. But what makes this thing over the top is the fact that hitters also get 3D animations of the swing. I’ll tag a couple of them here and I will meet you at the bottom after watching the videos.
The animations can give players and coaches a lot of feedback about body positioning and where they should or need to be to improve hitters. It can also give hitters a better idea of limitations that they might have in the swing. The KVest saves all the swings that a player takes for you to be able to go back to later on and review. Which would be very helpful to get players on the system when they are on a hot streak or at the beginning of the season to get a baseline and potential gains.
To me if you are able to get on a KVest system do it. Run to it don’t walk. It will give you a great idea of what is going on in the swing. Real information to walk away with. It isn’t going to feed you misinformation. To me it is an easy opportunity for any professional organizations to have on hand. To me it is the golden standard for evaluating hitters on October 12th 2018. Next time we will look at some of the key takeaways that hitter can have from using this.