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(1) PREDICTING BALL EXIT VELOCITY WITH AN INERTIAL MEASUREMENT UNIT IN COLLEGIATE BASEBALL PLAYERS


Authors:

Reyhan Eusufzai – Student, University of North Texas

Chris A. Bailey – Clinical Assistant Professor, University of North Texas

Abstract:

Inertial measurement units (IMU) are increasing in popularity in research and in practice as a method of acquiring kinematic data, likely due to their minimal spatial constraints. This technology has been applied to several sports, including baseball, but their utility for performance monitoring and identification of key performance indicators (KPI) needs to be evaluated. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the association between batted ball exit velocity (BEV) and kinematic performance variables assessed with an IMU. METHODS: 13 collegiate baseball players (NCAA DIII) volunteered for this study (82.2 ± 10.9 kg, 178.3 ± 5.5 cm, 19.9 ± 1.3 yrs,). After a total body dynamic warm-up and 10 practice swings (5 dry swings, 5 hitting off of a batting tee), 3 maximal effort swings were completed. During each maximal effort trials, athletes used a standardized bat to hit a ball off of a batting tee at a self-selected height. Kinematic swing performance data were collected via an IMU collecting data at 1,000 Hz. Variables included bat speed at impact (BSI), hand speed max (HSM), time to impact (TTI), bat vertical angle (BVA), and attack angle (AA). BEV was simultaneously collected a with radar gun positioned directly behind the batter. Association between IMU derived variables and BEV were evaluated via bivariate Pearson’s product moment correlations. RESULTS: BSI was the only variable shown to produce a practically significant relationship with BEV (r = 0.53, p = 0.06) but statistical significance was not achieved at the p ≤ 0.05 level. All results can be seen in Figure 1. CONCLUSIONS: While, the small sample size associated with this study likely decreased the chances of achieving statistical significance for many of the variables, only BSI was predictive of BEV from a practical standpoint. BEV and all the IMU variables are likely still important and should continue to be monitored, but further research is necessary to evaluate their importance to performance. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: Based on the findings of this study, BSI may be moderately predictive of BEV. It is important to note that the current investigation only looked at BEV as a performance measure and there are many other KPIs associated with hitting that should be evaluated in the future. Furthermore, changes in IMU variables in response to different training volumes and associate fatigue may be of value.

 

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