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How Baseball Training Facility Uses Motion Capture Technology to Train Their Players

Achieving Peak Performance

Rockland Peak Performance

Rockland Peak Performance (“RPP” or “RPP Baseball”) is a high-performance baseball training facility located in Paramus, New Jersey that provides an unparalleled atmosphere combining extensive strength training knowledge with a cutting-edge scientific approach to developing their pitchers and ball players.

With a 10-camera Qualisys Miqus mocap system, they can perform in depth analyses of baseball pitchers for postural and kinematic metrics to help streamline the athletes’ pitching mechanics, increase pitch velocity, and decrease the risk of injury. After creating an in-house database of the appropriate metrics from the system, the group has assembled internal ranges for what they consider to be the proper benchmarks for high performance pitchers.

Given the explosive nature of the sport and athletic movement, the information is invaluable when you’re trying to analyse an athlete’s strengths and weaknesses. It has become part and parcel to how the team at RPP analyses and evaluates their senior athletes (16 and older).

In addition to performing pitch analyses, the team at RPP is enthusiastic about sharing their findings and results. Their website contains a blog which encapsulates the curiosities that many in the baseball biomechanics industry have wondered about. It starts from the basics, as in “What happens to all the data from motion capture?” to specific focus areas such as hip-shoulder separation, foot landing, kinematic sequencing, scapula load efficiency, among others.

 

What happens to all the data from motion capture?

capturing motion data

Much is written about the value of data and its potential application to training pitchers. But a full-blown motion capture system takes this type of discussion to a whole new level. A typical mocap session involves attaching over forty markers to a pitcher’s body. After a pitch is thrown off the mound, the system combines the views of a dozen or more cameras to create a 3D avatar of the athlete, which then allows for preparing angular measurements of various body parts, up and down the kinetic chain.  What happens to all that data from the avatar is what is going to be reviewed here.

Before proceeding, it is important to note that the human element should never be replaced, just simply “enhanced”.  So, it is not motion capture vs. the naked eye.  It’s all about increasing the amount of information one can get their hands on, in order to make the best decisions for each athlete.  And there are elements that the human eye can not see when the total pitching movement takes approximately 1 sec.

What Happens After All That Data is Collected?

The next step in the process after a motion capture session is a bit of a black box that people rarely get to observe. Athletes go through the testing but do not quite realise the amount of data that is generated from the Qualisys motion capture system.

The data is synthesised into a coherent summary comparing each measurement to a target range (based on the database) which allows them to analyse and identify the markers that contribute most to performance gains and what seems to cause backslides in ability or even worse, injury. The measurements are recorded at foot plant (FP), maximum external rotation (MER) and release point. For analysis, they break this up into four distinct categories for further analysis:

maximum external rotation analysis

1. Arm / Shoulder

These metrics are looking to capture the movement in the shoulder and elbow during abduction or flexion. In essence they measure the arms movement through space from the “take-away” phase (ball out of glove), through release at designated times along the path. Some of these are shoulder abduction, external rotation, horizontal abduction, and elbow extension/flexion to name just a few.

 

2. Trunk Movement

These metrics record the trunk, torso, pelvis, and hip movements, especially during the stride and acceleration phases as well as at foot plant (FP). This can go a long way in determining things like hip and shoulder separation (both torque and timing), early upper-half rotation and efficient distribution of an athlete’s COM (center-of mass).

 

3. Lower Half

It is known that much of what happens up top in the delivery is initiated through the lower half. Often, making lower half adjustments alone can positively change arm action metrics. Some of the “big players” they look at are timing of the pelvis, lead leg flexion and extension and foot positions from FP to ball release.

 

4. Angular Velocities

These metrics record the angular velocities at which the knee, pelvis, torso, and shoulder are moving / turning. They assess how velocity is built up the kinetic chain from one to the other, provided by a graph which demonstrates how these body parts speed up and slow down as the next part begins the transfer of energy. Quite honestly, they have found the biggest correlations to velocity when looking at angular velocities and timing as compared to static positions in the delivery.

motion capture data chart

Benefits of Motion Capture

With that said, let’s quickly review some of the benefits of motion capture and why the information can be extremely valuable.  There is a great deal that you can conclude from a motion capture analysis that is not visible to the naked eye.

There are several dozen specific metrics to track and each one can highlight potential issues that one can address through programming either inside the nets or in the gym. This is about as sophisticated an analysis as you can get.

 

To learn more about Qualisys Motion Capture devices, visit our page at https://bmec.asia/my/qualisys

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