I recently ran across a Facebook quiz “Who’s your baby’s daddy?”
Sadly, my mind read, “Who’s your baby data?”
Sounds crazy, I know. But I want you to think about it. The quiz was designed to trace back your signs and symptoms of pregnancy. The testing (data) in place would let you know that you’re pregnant but it couldn’t tell you why you were pregnant. You get the point, I hope. Anyways, the same holds true in baseball. The key to finding the cause is what each of us is chasing. To do so requires looking at the process from a holistic approach and combining the advantage of tech with common sense.
Before we get started I want to start by asking you a question. Look at the picture below.
Inside this post, we are going to discuss why data, technology, and common sense can mesh together. Personally, if you’re not using technology and data to help you find better solutions, you’re missing the point. Honestly, I look at data as a resource to ask better questions, it’s never the answer for me. As you can see inside our facility in Huntington Beach California, we use modern technology every single day.
Over the past few years, we’ve used motion capture via 4D Motion Sports as well as hiring an outside consulting company to measure our athletes with SIMI motion capture. Originally, I believed motion capture would tell the whole story. I believed it would eliminate guessing, but quickly realize like everything else, it’s simply a tool to measure the results of an action. It’s not the action hero. Technology is simply a tool on the action hero’s belt to help guide him through his day to make better decisions.
The problem I’ve found with motion capture and data is that even though the same information could be handed over to 15 different pitching coaches, you’re going to get 15 different answers. Why? Because the information is only as good as the interpretation, communication and application.
The irony of baseball science is that 99% of the technology and equipment used today is limited in its ability to tell the entire story. Most of the science we use to predict and quantify velocity and injuries are based on correlations, not causation. Because of the access we now have to information, research, and scientific studies, it’s led us down the wrong path in many ways. Our entire belief system for what leads to increased velocity and injury rates are based upon what the body does after front foot strike.
Because what happens before foot strike can rarely be measured, it doesn’t matter.
What does each of these have in common?
Each is correlated to what happened after foot strike. Very few studies have focused on what the body is doing prior to foot strike. That’s a problem, why?
Because what happens at foot strike has already happened.
Let’s take dominos for an example. Dominos is very similar to human movement for a couple of reasons.
In the video below, I want you to watch the dominos and ask yourself, why didn’t the last dominos fall? If this were human movement and motion capture, the data would focus on the problem, not the cause of the problem. Below is my view on motion capture and slow-motion video analysis.
Now, let’s look at the video from beginning to end and see if you can find the actual cause. I want you to place your focus on the first move. How does it affect the rest of the chain?
Obviously, you saw how the action of the first domino affected the action of the last standing domino.
If you have a faulty movement prior to foot-plant, you can’t expect to have efficient movements after foot-plant.
Because of our built-in beliefs about what’s most important to pitching, we tend to reduce science. We fail to view the process from end to end because we believe the data and technology tell the entire story. It doesn’t. Technology will give you signs of what’s wrong, but it won’t give you causes. Because the data and feedback are telling what happened, not why it happened. Unfortunately, we mistake feedback as the cause.
For example. If the motion capture reports show’s poor hip shoulder separation, we focus on hip shoulder separation drills.
As you could see in the video, the changes he made in his mechanics or movement patterns were night and day. The best part is they occurred in minutes, not weeks. Personally, we never use motion capture feedback to design drills or address movement problems. Instead of viewing motion capture results as the answer, we take a different approach by viewing the feedback as a tool to ask better questions, in hopes of finding the Why.
Therefore, I’d never created a training program with hopes of transfer by addressing correlations or signs of the problem.
In my opinion, we treat players as if they’re Headless Horseman. We place such a high value on what math is telling us the body is doing. However, we fail to consider the impact of the brain and nervous system. Instead of viewing the body as the car, we view it as the driver. Because of our view of data as the answer, we often complicate the problem. What we as a pitching community must realize is that movements are orchestrated by the brain and spinal cord. Through a continuous feedback loop from the brain/body and body/brain.
Truth is… The Kinetic Chain starts at the brain!
The purpose for which something exists can be traced back to the purpose for why it was done.
To find the purpose you must know the purpose… the only way to answer is by asking.
Many times in pitching mechanics, the problem can quickly be traced back to the player's purpose
— LantzWheeler (@LantzWheeler) May 5, 2020
Intent could be used many different ways.
However, I think the context and understanding of the concept is misinterpreted. Quite often I hear coaches on social media referring to intent as effort or intensity level. “Throw with sub-maximal intent.”
Therefore, I found this following post very interesting and at the same time, very misleading. As I stated earlier, I think we undervalue the almighty brain and the power of intention. We never consider how intentions impact on movement because we are viewing “intent’ as effort or intensity. Over the past five years, technology has been made available to the masses. It’s common to scroll through any of your social media platforms and find video analysis and motion capture reviews within minutes. But, as I’ve found over the past several years, science is often used to validate beliefs.
Here’s an example of a recent study on the effects of kinematic sequencing of a towel drill vs throwing a baseball. Obviously, there are many variables inside this equation that would affect the outcome. We aren’t comparing apples to apples in this scenario. Moreso than anything, studies like this don’t prove the difference between using a towel or a baseball.
What studies like this truly show is the power of intention and the influence it has on movement sequencing.
Earlier I asked you to look for the trash found downstream. Where would you focus your attention to find the answer for where the trash originated? Obviously, you’d look upstream due to the flow of energy. However, in baseball, we don’t view it this way. Instead of finding the cause of the problem, we focus on the correlations of the problem.
Again, I believe data and technology are effective tools. They should be used to ask better questions in the future, and not seen as the final answer to your problem. I’m all about keeping the slow-motion capture systems, I’m just asking that we view the process from a different lens.
Hopefully, this post will give you a better chance for finding out “Who you baby data is.”
Trust what you FEEL!