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Batter up! New app puts a batting coach in palm of your hand

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Posted at 10:06 AM, Oct 03, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-04 17:40:43-04

(Inside Science) – Professional baseball players make hitting the ball look easy.  But developing a great swing takes a lot of practice and skill. Coaches can give tips to improve a batter's swing, but some players need a little extra help.

Greg Roble, co-founder of Sensori Athletics and baseball enthusiast, can make hitting a ball look easy. But he spent years practicing on his own to perfect his swing.

“Back when I was in high school, I really didn’t think that I needed a hitting coach or an instructor or anything like that," said Roble.

Many athletes rely on coaches for tips to improve skills and professional teams use expensive motion capture equipment to analyze player's hitting styles. Roble got together with Peter Opperman, co-founder and CEO of Sensori, and developed an affordable device to help players of all levels and ages improve their swing.

The device, called Leadoff, has sensors to measure the bat's speed during a swing, the path and angle of the bat, and an estimate of the ball's speed when hit. An app then gives the  batter feedback with visual graphs and information to help players track their performance.

“An athlete can see how many swings they took, they can see the specific measurements on each swing, what that bat speed was, what that swing plane was for each swing," Opperman said.

The device is designed to be used by coaches and players together to gather information to improve batting skills over time with practice. Something that Roble took to heart.

“When I look back at the app, and I was looking at all the data, I could pick out which swings were bad from the data,” said Roble.

Leadoff can be ordered online and includes an phone app and access to an online portal to track your progress.

Reprinted with permission from Inside Science, an editorially independent news product of the American Institute of Physics, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing, promoting and serving the physical sciences.