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Andrew Putnam’s Success on the Web.com Tour

Andrew Putnam’s Success on the Web.com Tour

Andrew Putnam is a 28-year-old professional golfer whose game is on the rise. During his climb up the ladder of professional golf, the current Web.com Tour money leader reveals how he has been training with Blast to help with both his mental and physical approach to the game

Putnam has been a professional golfer since 2011 and so far in 2017, he leads all Web.com Tour players in earnings and has posted three Top-10 finishes – including a playoff win at the 2017 Panama Claro Championship. After taking time to improve all the major areas of his game at the end of last season, he has dropped his scoring average to 69.63 this season.

We recently sat down with Putnam to get a closer look at his mental and physical approach to golf, while getting his take on fundamental training tips and advice for golfers of all levels.

GETTING ON BOARD WITH BLAST

Putnam first heard of Blast and the exclusive Blast Lab through friends and fellow professional golfers. His curiosity was triggered, and he soon decided to find out more.

“Blast has been in the golf world for a little while,” remembered Putnam. “I just sort of heard of Blast through being part of the game. One of my friends had been connected with Blast Motion founder Michael Bentley, and told me a little bit about his Lab experience. He said he really enjoyed working with the Blast team, and said it might be something worth checking out.”

Once Putnam’s season ended a few months ago, he decided to fly out to Carlsbad, California to meet with the Blast team.

“A couple months before my season ended, I still had a chance to get my PGA Tour card, so I was just trying to stay focused on what I was doing, and not really bring in a lot of new instruction or information when you’re trying to play and perform,” recalled Putnam. “But I knew that after I missed getting my PGA card, I had some time off to go check everything out, and that’s when I flew out to San Diego to visit the Blast facility.”

Once he arrived at the Blast headquarters, Putnam sat down with our Blast team to conduct an interview and analysis of his swing and stroke as well as his mental and physical approach to the game. The team concluded that while his putting was a strong point, there was room for improvement in his long game – particularly on his full swing mechanics.

Putnam then had his swing evaluated in the Blast Lab using various motion capture technologies and data was uploaded to Blast Connect for analysis. Based on the data, our Blast team prescribed Putnam a series of exercises to perform on the course, range and in the gym, Putnam even built a home gym. From there, he was on his way to improving his ball striking and consistency .

“The more that things start to click, the less time I have to put in, and the more I kind of start getting the patterns ingrained,” said Putnam. “That’s the whole goal – to not have to work 10 hours a day on certain patterns.”

Andrew Putnam's changes to his mental and physical approach
THE DAILY ROUTINE

As a Web.com Tour pro, Putnam faces a demanding and sometimes grueling travel schedule. That can make it hard for him to get consistent, quality training in on a daily basis.

“Depending on my schedule, my training varies a little bit,” explained Putnam. “I definitely train pretty hard in the offseason, when I have a lot more time. I have my place with my own tools and with all the resources available to me. So, offseason was a lot more training, a lot more time, a lot more dedication to make changes. Once you get into the tour schedule, there’s a lot of wear and tear on the body. You’re trying to maintain the patterns in season.”

Putnam stressed that he tries to work out and train hard at the start of each week, but that can obviously vary based on that week’s travel and tour schedule.

“When I’m traveling to different countries and not knowing what kind of gyms or facilities are available on the Web.com Tour, it’s a little bit harder,” said Putnam. “On the PGA Tour, they have better facilities set up and you just know what to expect. They have a trailer that travels every week that you can train in.”

“I have to go out and play, and that is taxing on its own. But at the beginning of the week, I try to work out and train, but it obviously is a little bit harder.”

Putnam gets assistance during those taxing times on the road from Blast Golf 360 and Blast Connect. By using the sensor in daily training sessions, Putnam and the Blast team work together using Blast Connect to analyze movement patterns, data from the sensor and more. From there, the team at Blast can provide Putnam prescriptions for any parts of his game that might need improvement.

BACK TO BASICS

Golf is a complex game. Even a pro like Putnam can never stop to rest on his successes – or begin to think he has it all figured out on the course. At the same time, Putnam believes you must also be cautious of trying too hard to perfect your golf game.

“I feel like in golf you’re always chasing to get better, you’re always on the road to trying to improve, and there’s endless ways to improve,” explained Putnam. “And that’s one thing that actually can be harmful – if you’re trying to become too perfect.”

For Putnam, the key is always one constant lesson:

Go back to basics. And and use Blast Solution to keep you on track.

“The basics are so important in golf, and I know that’s something that I’ve kind of keyed in on the last month and a half,” said Putnam. “Just having a good setup is important – and that’s something that I know Blast has definitely helped with. It helps me with just understanding what a biomechanically correct setup should look like and feel like, the way your body can move, what positions it can move from the best.”

These seemingly simple adjustments have resulted in a rather dramatic and consistent shift in Putnam’s golf game.

“It’s not something that’s overly technical, and I feel like when trying to perform and play your best, it’s probably good not to be super technical, but something like just having a good setup is something that has helped me from the beginning of the season.”

SOMETHING FOR EVERY LEVEL

According to Putnam, the power of Blast should not be reserved for professional players. Nor should some of the other training techniques he utilizes in the offseason and while on tour.

If he could provide amateur golfers with just one tip to improve their game, what would Putnam tell them?

“I think just seeking out solid instruction based in science and something like Blast would be extremely useful and helpful,” advised Putnam. “It’s so valuable having a system and technology that gives you feedback and allows you to understand what is happening, what is going on in your game or your putting stroke. I think that’s something that’s well worth the money for golfers, especially if they’re going to invest a lot of time in practicing and getting better.”

To follow Andrew Putnam’s progress, follow Andrew at @AndrewPutnam1.

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Quality At-Bats with USD Coach Brad Marcelino

Quality At-Bats with USD Coach Brad Marcelino

As the Assistant Baseball Coach at the University of San Diego and a longtime director of youth baseball development, Brad Marcelino is making his mark on both the Southern California and national baseball scenes.

This spring is Marcelino’s sixth season with the 19th ranked Toreros, where he serves as the Hitting Coach, Outfield Coach, and Base Running Coach. From 2013 through 2015, Marcelino coached three consecutive first round MLB Draft picks – including Chicago Cubs All-Star and World Series Champion Kris Bryant.

This past summer, Marcelino was also selected to coach the USA Baseball 14-Under Southwest Region team in the National Teams Identification Series (NTIS) in Cary, NC. Marcelino has been heavily involved in youth development and is the founder of the North County (San Diego) Mavericks high school/college development program, which focuses on development of academics, character, and baseball skills.

Blast Baseball recently sat down with Marcelino to talk about training and how to improve the mental and physical skills necessary for hitters to have quality at-bats.

A MENTAL EDGE

Marcelino’s training methods emphasize developing and fine-tuning a player’s mental approach to the game. Since so much of a player’s performance on the field and in the batter’s box involves extreme focus and discipline, this emphasis helps lay the groundwork for success.

“We talk a lot about the mental side of the game, having a mental edge and performing at the time when it matters most,” said Marcelino. “That’s one of the big things that we do, and I think it really takes our players to the next level.”

Marcelino used his former college pupil, current World Series Hero & NL MVP Kris Bryant, as an example of mental preparation translating to big-time success on the field and at the plate.

“Kris Bryant, and some of these other guys who have been high-round draft picks, they really buy into the mental game,” said Marcelino. “At USD, that consists of visualization for the first 10 minutes of practice, where we take our players through certain aspects of practice and their performance, and just their life. They’re much more productive at practice after we take the time to do that.”

MIND OVER BATTING AVERAGE

Marcelino believes that while starting each practice with mental preparation and visualization is important, so is being willing to accept failure – at least by the conventional measure of success vs. failure, a hitter’s batting average. Baseball is not an easy sport. Understanding and accepting that it’s hard to get hits at any level of the game is key to a strong mental approach.

“We stress from day one that we’re detached from any batting average,” said Marcelino. “You have to understand that you can do everything right in a batter’s box, and on that day, your average could go down. Getting that ingrained into the hitters early, when they first arrive, is huge. You can’t base your success on average. You have to base your success on quality at-bats, which is a big deal for us.”

Just as Marcelino stresses to his hitters not to get caught up in batting averages, he cautions them not to fall prey to the concept of “being in a slump” when a hitter is not putting together quality at-bats.

“I’m the hitting coach, so obviously I hate that term,” said Marcelino. “We make adjustments and we figure out ways to fix things individually, because there’s certain keys to their individual swing that maybe can get them feeling better. A ‘slump’ is when they’re chasing hits. They’re not controlling what they can control. We have four cornerstones that we build for them when they walk to the plate. We want them to control those parts of the game. If they do that and they’re more stable in their thought process, in their preparation, in their visualization before practice or before the game – then the ‘slump’ goes away.”

AN INDIVIDUAL TOUCH

Pairing that strong mental approach with smart adjustments at the plate is where a hitter can find true success – and start to rack up both quality at-bats and hits.

For Marcelino, this is where Blast Baseball 360 plays a role in preparing hitters for success at the plate. He recognizes that hitting is in many ways individualistic – and Blast can help each hitter build and improve their individual swing.

“There are certain checkpoints that have to happen within your swing, and that’s known, but you have your own individual signature on how you hit.”

“We’re trying to teach guys how to hit, not just how to swing,” said Marcelino. “That’s why I think Blast Motion is so important. You can tell a kid something in so many ways, but now with technology and the way it works, the instant feedback that Blast gives is what I’m most excited about.”

The cutting-edge and easy-to-use technology helps provide that individual attention and touch, according to Marcelino.

“We’ve been doing some one-on-one work with the guys,” recalled Marcelino. “So we put their cell phone on the tripod, and they go into their Blast Baseball 360 app, get into the video recording and we record five or six swings, and we play it back and break it down.”

“It’s great because you tell them one thing as far as their hand path or the bat path and figure out how to fix their launch angle by getting down on their legs more and things like that. But then when you show them and then you record it again and they see the result – that’s when you can connect the feeling with what they actually did and that objective feedback. Each guy has something that is going to click different for him. So, each of our guys has an individual hitting plan, which incorporates Blast.”

IMPROVEMENT STARTS WITH MEASUREMENT

Marcelino added that he has even developed his own leaderboard, which he calls the Quality At-Bat World Series. In his eyes, this is more important that leading the team in batting average.

The next step for Marcelino and his coaches is to begin incorporating more and more data from Blast Baseball 360 into these advanced statistics for his leaderboard.

“We’re going to look at their Blast numbers,” explained Marcelino. “We’ll look at what we want from each of them individually – from their target bat path to their target energy transfer to their target swing speed and exit velo. With all the numbers that Blast provides, we know they’re taking a good swing when those are consistent. That’s what we want, number one. We want them to step in with a clear mind and get their best swing on. That’s where Blast makes on impact with our players.”

For updates on the Toreros season, follow them on Twitter @USDbaseball

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Blast Motion Approved for In-Game Use

Blast Motion approved for on-field activities and in-game use

Blast Technology Approved for In-Game Use
With the baseball season opening day upon us and the recent launch of the Blast Baseball 360 next gen app, it’s time to play ball! In 2016, Blast became the Official Bat Sensor Technology of Major League Baseball and for the 2017 season, we have been approved for in-game use in the complex leagues, which are the Gulf Coast League and the Arizona Summer Leagues (Minor League). The players assigned to this level are first-year players who are drafted into the MLB. As in 2016, we have also received approval for on-field use.

MLB, Teams, and Players Benefit from Blast Sensor Data
Blast has developed the most consistent and accurate swing analysis sensor in the market. Through an independent study completed by the Center for Human Performance, the Blast sensor delivered industry-leading results. And, when you’re working with the top athletes in Baseball, accuracy maters. (Center for Human Performance case study) By using bat sensor technology in-game, players, coaches, and front office personal will be able to gain new insights into recently drafted player performance through objective data (metrics). Armed with this data, MLB teams can create player profile baselines and begin to see how a player’s performance changes between practice and in-game situations. This also allows the teams to make validated comparisons between the rookies and their franchise players. Teams can start correlating various factors that can affect a player’s swing including stress, home / away field, weather, and other variables.

With teams using Blast sensor data to make better draft decisions at the amateur and now, rookie level, it’s clear Blast technology is changing how a new generation of players are being developed, assessed, and recruited, creating the standard for performance in the big leagues.

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The Next Generation of Blast Baseball 360

At Blast, we know the daily drive to improve starts with the right tools. We recently launched the next generation Blast Baseball 360 app (available in the App Store and Google Play), giving players and coaches a new toolkit to train smarter and get better.

The update brings a very different look and feel to the app. Our own Armando Santana, Director of Product Management, and Julia Putzeys, Product Manager, provide an in-depth look at the new features and functionalities, along with the inspiration behind the update.

Experience the Difference

After extensive research, feedback, and testing to see what players and coaches wanted out of Baseball 360, our team found several ways to improve the overall experience.

“We have an amazing technology in our sensor, and it’s something that’s super valuable to the people who are using it to train and be better in their sport,”said Putzeys. “But really, that’s not helpful to them unless they have an app that goes with it that is just as great. It needs to be easy to use and perfectly showcase all the functionality the sensor has, and we think that’s what we’re bringing to our customers with the new generation of our app.”

From a fresh new user interface to enhanced ease-of-use to smarter, faster technology, the update was designed with coaches and hitters in mind, for a quicker path to improvement.

“With our new Baseball 360 app, you’re going to see some general improvements of the interface,” explained Santana. “You’re going to be able to find things easier. You’re going to be able to see where your swings are, where your videos are, where your metrics are, and how you’re progressing. The overall flow fits with the way you’re going to be able to digest this information and train faster.”

From research and development to planning and implementation, many people and perspectives were involved in the new Blast Baseball 360 app.

“Early on, we spent a lot of time talking to our users and our ambassadors,” said Santana. “We have designers on staff who really take that feedback in, and we have these collaborative design sessions. We whiteboard ideas. We work together, then we work with engineering, who is coming up with solutions to those problems that our customers are sharing. They’re figuring out ways we can make this app faster, sync with the cloud, and provide video capabilities that are differentiating features in our Baseball 360 app.”

Users Played a Big Role

In addition to our in-house team, our loyal user base, along with our valued Blast Coaches played an important role in the introduction of this next phase of Baseball 360 technology.

“Our users give us feedback on a daily-basis about how they’re experiencing the product, what they like about it, and also what they don’t like about it,” explained Putzeys. “So we really take that to heart and work with our users. We get feedback from all different kinds of channels – through our customer support team and on the app stores. We also bring a lot of users and ambassadors into our lab and we work with them on the product, and we come up with ideas from there and ways that it can improve based on how they use it.”

“We started with the customer first, and we realized that we needed to build something that worked the way they work,” added Santana. “So we spent a lot of time talking to our ambassadors and pro users, and really understanding how they’re using Blast Baseball today.”

Two Audiences, One Solution

When designing and implementing this update, it was important to keep two distinct audiences in mind:

Baseball and softball hitters of all levels. And their coaches and coaching academies. In the end, we came up with one solution to meet the needs of both groups.

“We’re targeting two different people,” explained Putzeys. “The first is a player that just wants to get better. So we want to provide them with all the tools they need to train on their own, including drills, ideas, and content from our ambassadors to help them get better, then teach them how to use the Blast sensor and our application to train on their own.

“But we’re also targeting coaches who have a team of players that may be using a sensor that they share among them – or each player on the team might have a sensor and the coach is running a practice while using our solution with all of their team members. It’s a very different use case, but I think a lot of times they’re looking for the same results. So, we focused on those main users and optimize a solution that would work for both of them.”

“We wanted to build this app for anybody who wants to improve their swing,” added Santana, who is also an active coach himself. “So the Baseball 360 app needs to be really easy to use, whether it’s the youth coach who is just learning about Blast Baseball and really want to improve a youth player, all the way up to the pro player who’s really trying to take their game to the next level. And it needs to satisfy everybody in between.”

A Bold New UI

A big part of meeting those needs lay in developing an intuitive new user interface – or UI, for short. This revamped UI needed to be not only easier to use, but more enjoyable to interact with.

“We have this amazing solution and we want to have an app that really helps our users use our sensor,” said Putzeys. “We want our app to be fun to use and easy to use, where it makes someone want to pick it up every day and train with it. We want to provide new content for our users and we want to provide an ultimate training experience.”

Training Center + Blast Connect

One of the major improvements is the development of the Training Center, an online and in-app repository for videos and other content that focuses on training and interactive drills. Some of those drills are even offered by luminaries like Blast Baseball Athlete, and Houstons Astros shortstop, Carlos Correa.

The Training Center resides in the main bottom navigation of the new Blast Baseball 360 app – making it easily accessible from anywhere in the app.

“We’ve gotten some feedback on our new training center, which provides something that users have really been asking for,” explained Putzeys. “It’s a place to learn how to get better, and also learn how to use our sensor and integrate it into their training and really get the most out of it. This way, they can make sure they’re using the sensor the way it should be used, and improving on all the metrics we measure. It outlines each metric, along with ways to improve on each.”

This new focus on content-rich training is also fully integrated into Blast Connect, to create the total improvement solution.

“If you’re using the full solution, you get all your workouts and practices from your coach, you can access them on your mobile phone, and you can complete the workouts and practices while you’re on the go” said Putzeys.

“With the new Blast Baseball 360 app, coaches and academies can expect some improvements on how we have integrated with Blast Connect,” said Santana. “Coaches can capture swings and videos and sync that to the cloud, then they can go to Blast Connect and really analyze that information. One of our goals with this new app is to empower athletes to improve and just work smarter. And as they work smarter, they are going to master the game and ultimately enjoy the game more.”

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Putting Consistency and Confidence with Champions Tour Pro, Jeff Sluman

Any golfer will tell you, putting isn’t easy. In fact, it’s almost a game within the game of golf. Success in putting consistency can elude even the most experienced golfers – including the pros. Just ask Champions Tour Pro, Jeff Sluman.

putting consistency jeff sluman
 

Decorated Pro. Improving Putter.

Sluman, the 59-year-old veteran golfer, has collected six PGA Tour victories, six Champions Tour victories, and over 150 top-10 finishes. And like many golfers, consistent putting has at times gotten away from Sluman.

In fact, Sluman went from the 33rd-ranked putter during the 2015 Champions Tour season all the way to the top-performing putter in 2016. But how did he climb the putting ranks so quickly?

Jeff doesn’t hesitate to credit Blast technology when it comes to improving his putting mechanics. His belief in Blast is so strong that he now serves as an official Blast Athlete.

“If you try to be perfect in the game of golf, you’re going to be disappointed every day,” said Sluman. “But when I saw what Blast could do for me, the lights went on. It was the keystone to support the rest of my game.”

Getting a Grip on Your Putting.

Sluman insists that he was a very strong putter from the time he picked up his first club as a young boy in Rochester, New York. He’s even held onto the same grip he had back then.

“I’m still using the same grip that I used when I started playing golf at age five – a little cross-handed grip,” said Sluman. “I don’t think anybody has the same grip I have. I can’t even describe it, but it works for me. It feels comfortable for me, which is obviously what you want.”

Sluman started toying with different grips later in his career, when his putting performance started to slip a bit. He realized it wasn’t his grip that was costing him strokes and money, and eventually returned to his signature cross-handed grip. Instead was his putting motion – the mechanics, rhythm, and timing behind the stroke itself. It was about him and his body – and learning how to be more efficient and effective with each and every stroke.

That’s where Blast’s Golf 360 comes in. Golf 360 was designed to help golfers understand their metrics, focus on mechanics to improve putting consistency, and lower their scores. The Golf 360 app combines video from your smartphone with real-time motion metrics and in-app video prescriptions. All of this allows you to gain greater insight into what exactly your body is doing during your stroke – and how and where to improve your performance. With the latest app update, Golf 360 supports not just putters, but drivers, irons, and wedges as well.

Blast technology has been hailed by golfers of all levels over the past few years, including over 150 tour players, and was awarded by Golf Digest as one of the top products at the 2016 PGA Merchandise Show. Once Sluman got his hands on Golf 360, he knew it was exactly what he’d been searching for.

“When I first used Golf 360, it was startling to see how poor my putting motion was,” remembered Sluman. “Then I spent about 15 minutes every day on tour training with it after every round. And for me, there’s a window for the data of where I need to be. If I’m inside this window, I’m going to putt well. It’s real simple. I’m not trying to be (fellow Blast Athlete) Brad Faxon or some of the other guys that are great putters. I see their numbers, but I’m not striving to get there.”

So what is Sluman striving for on the course?

Putting Consistency First.

Jeff Sluman recognized that his golf putting consistency was the area he needed to focus on. “What I’m striving to do now that I’ve recognized where I need to be, is stay in that window. As long as I do that, I’m going to putt really well every day,” said Sluman. “And I could tell you that I haven’t had that feeling for at least 15 years, that every day I came out, I was going to putt well. And now, I know it.”

For Sluman, consistency – and the confidence it can breed – is the key to putting success. Sluman claims that he knew right away that Blast technology was going to help refine his putting performance.

Sluman recalls practicing with fellow Champions Tour pro and Blast user Bob Tway – and being stunned when he discovered the incredibly affordable price of the then-beta version of the Golf 360 sensor and app.

“He explained to me what it did then asked, ‘How much would you pay for this?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, $10,000?’ (Blast) was just going in the stores at the time, I think it was something like $150. Flabbergasted, I said, ‘This is the last bit of information that I need with the other things I was doing with my putting.’ I felt I was getting better, but I was getting no results on the golf course in tournament play, which really means, you’re not getting any better, right? You can miss closer, but it’s still a miss.”

Confidence Next.

After implementing Golf 360 into his 15-minute training segments, Sluman was able to develop the confidence through putting consistency that eventually led to his surge to the very top of the putting ranks on the Champions Tour.

“It’s funny, because you get the confidence now, and you don’t look at a three-footer and your stomach’s rolling or say, ‘Well, I don’t like this putt, because it breaks a little left to right, and I always miss it right,’ related Sluman. “There’s none of that going on anymore. It’s just, ‘OK. I’m going to go out and make it.’ And that has been an unbelievable feeling this year.”

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Attacking Bat Path Angle with John Peabody

We recently sat down with  John Peabody to talk about bat path angle, its importance to successful hitting, and much more.

As a former minor league baseball player and the current director of Peabody Baseball, John Peabody is a highly respected and sought-after hitting coach. Peabody works with hitters of all ages and levels – from youth baseball to the college ranks, all the way up to the top pick of the 2016 MLB Draft, Mickey Moniak.

Bat path angle
BlastMotion recently sat down with John Peabody to talk about bat path angle, its importance to successful hitting, and much more.

The San Diego-based Peabody has also teamed up with Blast to serve as a Baseball 360 Ambassador. Peabody is a big believer in Blast’s technology and regularly utilizes Baseball 360 in his training sessions.

Getting on Plane.

Baseball today is awash in statistics and metrics. But there’s one metric that Peabody believes is more important than the others. That metric? Bat path angle – also known as “attack angle.”

“Bat path angle is the angle that you’re attacking the ball at with your barrel, pre-contact,” explained Peabody. “For me, when it comes to Blast Motion, it’s ultimately the most important metric that they measure. I want to know if my guys are swinging up, because I know if I can get a guy to hit the middle of the ball – that he’s going to give himself a chance to hit something hard in the air; hit a line drive.”

“When you’re swinging down on the ball, you’re only on the plane of the pitch for so long. Beside the fact that you’re swinging down on it, the time that you’re in the zone isn’t long. So, your timing has to be that much better (to make up for it). You have to be that much better at hitting the perfect part of the ball with that kind of downward swing. Working slightly up promotes all those things, and gives yourself more opportunity for successful contact.”

Peabody is quick to stress that bat path angle is not “the end all-be all” when it comes to hitting success, but was equally eager to emphasize its importance.

“Making contact with the right part of the bat on the right part of the ball is the other main aspect of it, but the attack angle is huge,” said Peabody. “Being able to be in the zone a little bit longer, whether that be earlier in the swing or later in the swing – makes it so you don’t have to be perfect. You can be a little off, but make contact because you’re still on plane and you’re still in the zone.”

Simple Fixes.

So how exactly does a hitter create a better bat path angle?

“It’s not always that easy,” explained Peabody.

“Sometimes it’s a simple fix, just tell a guy to try to hit a ball a little bit higher than what he’s trying to do. And to do that, most of the time, they’re going to figure out how to get the barrel working slightly up, to make the ball go a little bit higher. There are things that we try to do, as far as getting your top hand under the bat, or getting your elbow under the barrel. Mechanics that we talk about to help get behind the ball or to get on the plane a little bit early – so we can make sure that we’re giving ourselves a chance to work level to slightly up, depending on the pitch location.”

Mechanics and Metrics.

In addition to making adjustments to hitting mechanics, cutting-edge technology is an invaluable tool. By recording and clipping video and measuring metrics like swing speed, time to contact, power and bat path angle, Baseball 360 helps hitters train smarter and get better. It also empowers their coaches, like Peabody, to make changes to attack angles that are less than ideal.

“It helps players and coaches, because a lot of the times, we can’t see that part of the swing,” explained Peabody. “When I’m throwing live to my hitters or I’m working in front of them, I know I can’t see that – especially when you’re working with guys that are swinging the bat from 80-85 miles an hour.

Baseball 360 also helps hitters themselves understand what, where and how they can make improvements to their swing.

“It gives them factual data to whether they are doing what they want to do,” said Peabody. “And I think that’s the bottom line. We talk about wanting to swing slightly up. Well, now you have something that tells you whether you are doing it or not. So gauging the metrics of what’s happening, I think is a good thing. It can be taken too far, but in Blast’s case, to be able to have the sensor tell you whether you are doing it or not, to me, only makes sense to use as a player or to train your players with if you’re a coach or a parent.”

Think Positive.

In addition to utilizing Baseball 360, Peabody runs his players through a variety of drills and exercises during his training sessions.

“Sometimes it takes some time to do these things, but I’ll do anything from high-tee drills to low-tee drills, use pads to squeeze between your bicep and your forearm to help the barrel get flat and get in the zone earlier and stay through the zone a little bit longer.”

Peabody does his best to tailor each set of drills to specific hitters, including when it comes to bat path angle.

“There are some big leaguers that I’m sure have negative attack angles that are successful, but I know the majority of guys don’t. I think when you look at the group of guys that are really the most consistent hitters – and ultimately the best hitters in the world – they’re using their swing to get on base, and you’re going to see those guys with positive attack angles.”

“Most of the guys that I run into that are “negative” guys are trying to figure out how to make it positive,” said Peabody. “You should be swinging slightly up, but swinging slightly up is not the end-all, be-all to a line drive. There’s an art to being on time. There’s an art to hitting the bottom middle of the ball with the middle top of the bat. All those things combined with working slightly up will equal a good hitter.”

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Building Efficient Swings with Time to Contact

Time to contact
When coaching and developing young baseball players, metrics like time to contact can play a prominent role in improving a player’s swing efficiency.

To discuss the ins and outs of an efficient baseball swing, we sat down with veteran coach and hitting instructor Rick Strickland. In addition to overseeing Sandlot Elite Baseball in St. Louis, Missouri, Strickland also serves as a pro scout and Blast Baseball Ambassador.

As the director of the most tech-prominent and progressive baseball academy in the Midwest, Rick has accumulated a wealth of knowledge, insight and experience – while helping pro players and young hitters refine and enhance their approach and execution at the plate.

We already know the value of swing speed when it comes to hitting for power and average – as well as building overall confidence as a hitter. But what about the aspect of timing and efficiency?

We’re talking about time to contact. With Rick Strickland.

Part of the Puzzle

Just what is time to contact? We asked Strickland this question, and his answer was equally informative and interesting.

“Everybody’s looking at swing speed and efficiency,” Strickland told us. “One of the big things that we see is that most kids are in a race to see how quickly they can get to the ball – but one of the things we saw right off the bat is that they weren’t very efficient with their swing. They were getting to the ball quickly, but they weren’t in the zone long enough with their swing. They basically went with the bat down directly at the ball. Yes, we want to be quick to the ball, but we want to be quick in a fashion where the bat’s traveling through the zone the longest.”

Strickland says that at Sandlot Elite Baseball, this balance of speed and efficiency is vital to developing smart, successful hitters.

“We want to make sure the time to contact is paired to what your efficiency index is,” explained Strickland. “And all those things tie together. If time to contact is too slow or too fast, we start to look at the video and see if there are some things on the video that tell us what could be affecting that number. That’s how we look at time to contact. It’s a part of that big giant puzzle. It’s a metric that, once we figure out what that range of that player is, we’re always trying to move that needle forward and make them better and improve that number.”

Every Moment Matters

So just why is time to contact so important for hitters?

“It’s a measurement of how fast they can move some mass,” said Strickland. “You’ve got a situation where you want the ability to wait and process information as long as you can, but to also have the ability to take the bat and be able to move it in a correct path through the strike zone – as fast as you possibly can.”

According to Strickland, time to contact can be a misleading metric at times. Because it’s not just about how fast you get there – but the route you take to get there.

“It’s a race, of course, to see how fast you can move the bat through (the strike zone), with the longest possible distance you can move it through. But sometimes, you may see a good hitter who has a little bit slower time to contact – because of how long the bat stays in the strike zone. You may see a slower time to contact, but that means that bat’s traveling through the zone longer.”

Drill, Drill, Drill…

When it comes to looking closer at a hitter’s swing path – and identifying an ideal swing path – Strickland uses an analogy related to another physical activity.

“When your path with the barrel of your bat is not very efficient, it’s almost like instead of walking around the sidewalk, you’re cutting across the grass to get there. What we try to do is we try to get them to stay on the sidewalk as fast as they possibly can to get to the other side.”

When it comes to improving time to contact – and taking the right route to the other side – Strickland says that certain drills can add great value and accelerate development.

“You’ve got to focus on the bat path. The bat path is critical,” says Strickland. “If you put these guys in a contest to be quick to the ball, they’re going to competitively try to win that race every single time – but they’re probably not going to do it very efficiently. So you’ve got to attack it both ways. You’ve got to attack it by path, and you’ve got to attack it by quickness.”

In addition, Strickland believes good old-fashioned strength training must also always remain a top priority.

“The other thing is kids have to have strength,” said Strickland. “We do a lot of overload, underload type of activities with the swing, so we can build some strength, and the ability to move that bat as quick as they can.”

Ongoing Evolution

Developing a deeper understanding and “awareness” of metrics like time to contact is doing more than helping hitters raise their games – it’s also forcing the game of baseball to evolve and grow in new directions.

Strickland sees this as a positive development for hitters, coaches and instructors, because the more you know, the less you have to guess.

“We all played somewhere where people thought that you should hold your hands in this position or that position,” said Strickland. “All of that, the ‘guessing’, put us further away from what the truth was about the swing.”

Just the Facts
To really understand the swing, a developing hitter can use a variety of tips, tactics, training and tools. Few training tools available on the market today are as versatile and valuable as Blast’s Baseball 360.

By automatically clipping video in slow-motion, and overlaying the applicable metrics, the sensor and app help hitters analyze and improve upon key hitting metrics like time to contact.

“It takes the guessing out of it,” said Strickland. “Being able to know your time to contact, bat path, efficiency index – all the things that Blast puts into the sensor are extremely important. It really takes the guesswork out of it, and it becomes more fact-based teaching.”

To Strickland, you can’t beat objective metrics, evaluation and insight. Once you absorb the information, you can fine-tune the mechanics, efficiency and timing of your mechanics and swing. When all these pieces begin to fall into place, you start building a better hitter.

“The sensors actually tell us exactly what your body’s supposed to be doing. And when you know what the body’s capable of doing and what it should be doing, it’s easy to teach a kid or a player to swing the bat the way that he needs to swing it to be successful.”

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Blast Baseball 360 Is The Most Accurate Baseball Sensor On The Market

Blast Motion recently took part in a third-party validation test to verify its accuracy against the top two baseball swing sensor competitors on the market: Diamond Kinetics and Zepp. The results from The Center for Human Performance are in. And they confirm the earlier findings:

• Blast’s swing sensor is the most accurate baseball sensor on the market.
• Dynamic calibration makes the Blast sensor much easier to use in an athlete’s natural environment than any available alternative.

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Blast Motion is the most accurate sensor on the market.
Blast Motion is the most accurate sensor on the market.

About the Center for Human Performance

The Center for Human Performance is a state-of-the-art motion analysis institution based in San Diego, CA. With expertise in kinesiology, biomechanics, engineering, athletic training, and orthopedics, the Center offers a comprehensive suite of sports science and motion-capture services – all backed by extensive experience and clinical research. Center Director Arnel Aguinaldo also serves as Assistant Professor, Kinesiology at Point Loma Nazarene University and VP of Applications Development for Motion Analysis Corporation.

An Accurate Baseball Sensor? The Swing Sensor Comparison Study

Led by Aguinaldo, the study compared the baseball swing sensor and analyzer of Blast to those manufactured by chief competitors Diamond Kinetics and Zepp. Fifteen male college and minor league baseball players over the age of 17 swung a 33-inch, 30-ounce baseball bat equipped with four reflective markers, allowing for 3D motion analysis of the bat during each swing at a sampling rate of 300 Hz. Each of the three swing sensors was attached to the bat in random order and the 15 subjects all hit a baseball off a tee 10 times with each sensor – while marker locations were captured from the motion-capture system.

All trials were performed inside a 100-by-15-foot enclosed batting cage. Baseball swing data was recorded from each sensor using each respective sensor’s mobile apps – then compared to Motion Analysis MoCap camera 3D motion-capture data to measure the error in swing speed (i.e. degree of accuracy).

Baseball Bat Swing Sensor Validation

An Accurate Baseball Sensor Defined: About the Test Results

Blast consistently outperformed its competition in several areas of the swing sensor study the most important being accuracy and ease of use.

Accuracy: When it comes to swing sensors, accuracy is the name of the game. It’s the key metric in play, and was the main focus of this study. Blast’s swing sensor exhibited the lowest margin of error – and was significantly more accurate than Zepp’s sensor. Blast’s standard deviation was 3 mph, compared to 5 mph for Diamond Kinetics and 7 mph for Zepp.

Setup time: Setup time for Blast’s sensor was a mere 90 seconds, on average. Diamond Kinetics’ sensor setup, on the other hand, took anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, due to more involved calibration procedures. Talk about a big difference.

Blast Technology Key Differentiators accurate baseball sensor

Conclusion

Leading-edge accuracy, paired with the invaluable ability to not disrupt the natural routine of athletes and coaches, makes Blast the best swing sensor solution available to hitters on the market today.

Learn more about Blast Baseball 360 today.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Source: The Center for Human Performance, August 2016.

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With Your Putting Stroke, Timing Really IS Everything

Putting Stroke, Blast Blog, Timing is Everything

It has been said that in life, timing is everything. And if you’re a golfer, you know that this is especially true when it comes to your golf swing – particularly when it comes to your putting stroke.

But just what is timing all about in golf, exactly? And why is it so important to a successful putting stroke on the green?

We recently spoke with Blast Motion Founder Michael Bentley and Lead Biomechanist Patrick Cherveny to learn more. In addition to creating Blast Motion and helping grow Blast Golf, Bentley also has extensive experience as a PGA instructor and former international tour player.

Applying the FORCE.

“If we look at timing, as just an element of force, we’re really looking at how a golfer applies force to the putting stroke,” explains Bentley. “We break it down into the specific elements including timing, length and speed. By timing the back stroke time and the forward stroke time, we can see how well or how efficient the golfer is moving during their game on the course, and on the practice putting green.”

This element of timing is so vital to a successful golfer’s performance that Bentley made sure it was a primary focus of everything Blast Motion did upon the company’s founding.


Finding the RIGHT Time.

It’s one thing to understand the ins and outs of timing in a golf swing or putting stroke. It’s another to know what constitutes ideal timing – and how to attain it. By compiling massive amounts of data on numerous golfers, Blast Golf has been able to come closer to putting an actual number on the value of timing.

“By collecting so many strokes of all the best players in the world, as well as the amateur golfers, we can see big changes in those players,” explains Bentley. “The best players in the world are able to keep their timing variances down within a few hundredths of a second, where beginners are maybe as high as sixth, seventh, tenths of a second.”

“From a timing standpoint, it relates more to the motor control process,” adds Cherveny. “Michael’s referring to force, torque, those type of movements. While the golfer doesn’t have as much knowledge of how to control force, timing makes more sense to them, so it’s an easier way for them to replicate it. They’re always going to be differences between different skill levels, but it’s also something that anyone can actually work at – through feedback and repetition – to actually increase that capability.”


It’s ALWAYS the Right Time for BLAST.

One way a golfer can get that feedback and repetition and increase his or her capabilities is through the use of Blast Golf technology. But just how does Blast help a golfer build and maintain that ideal timing?

“The best players in the world have figured it out through thousands and thousands of motions. The beginning golfer doesn’t have that much time to spend on honing his skill, so we’re able to give him a clock that he can carry with him anywhere he wants to go. With a portable clock, you can get really tight with those variances – and you’re going to make a lot more putts.”

That Blast-manufactured “clock” Bentley references is much more than a clock, however. Its technical name is Blast Golf 360 – and it’s the industry’s most accurate sensor and mobile app available. It has been carefully designed to capture every action and stroke metric, then deliver unique analysis and insights. It also can provide the user with drills designed to improve and refine your timing.

It’s also incredibly easy to apply and implement. Just attach your sensor to the included grip attachment, place that attachment onto the butt of your club, and sync it up with the companion smartphone app.Then simply start swinging. Learning. Improving. The end result? You start making more putts.

Drill Down.

When it comes to perfecting timing in your golf swing or putting stroke, there are included specific drills you can practice and work on.

“Go out and hit a three-foot putt, a six-foot putt and a 30-foot putt,” says Bentley. “Forget path attack or face angle, forget all those things. Keep it simple. Get timing first, get consistent with it, and then you’ll start seeing the other elements start to be constrained. And if you constrain those other elements, you will increase my performance.”

This approach works for golfers of all levels – including decorated PGA Tour professionals (and Blast Golf Athlete) like Jeff Sluman. Thanks in large part to his work with Blast Golf technology. Sluman improved from 33rd place on the PGA Champions Tour in putting in 2015 to the very top of the list during the 2016 PGA Champions season.


Use Blast in ALL Areas of Your Game.

It’s pretty clear that refining the timing of your swing can make a huge difference in your golf game – starting with your putting stroke. But improving your timing can impact your overall golf game
While it might all begin with putting, it doesn’t end there.

“We started the story very easy with putting, because it’s a simple concept,” says Bentley. “Now I can make it more complex as I go into the full swing, and look at those elements. You have a guy like a Brad Faxon who’s phenomenal with the short game – he’s not as strong with his driver, but he is one of the best at the short game. And is his timing different with his driver than his wedges and putter? Yes. And then you have other guys that are phenomenal with the driver, but not so good with the putter. Rory McIlroy is a great example. Look what Rory’s been doing with his ball striking for a long time. And look what he’s been doing with his putter, and you’ll see those signatures. The great news is all of these players are working on their weaknesses and making them strengths with the Blast feedback. The stories are there.”

Cherveny agrees. Timing really is everything.

When an athlete struggles mechanically, they often get caught in a paralysis by analysis state where they focus on every small detail of their swing. This often times results in even worse performance, especially in their ability to perform an action in a repeatable manner. “A lot of times it’s innate from the athlete, because they want to try and control it even more – but that actually leads to increased variance. There’s a lot going on in terms of what the athlete’s trying to change. But the timing and the tempo of the swing really kind of drive home the end goal, that it is such a simple concept that you can actually train to. And that’s why it’s so powerful.”

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Tees and Tots: How Kids Can Benefit From Playing Golf

kids golf

Golf is picking up in popularity with America’s youth these days, and it couldn’t come at a better time. With childhood obesity rates skyrocketing in recent years, there’s no time like the present to get kids out of the house and moving around. However, there are many advantages to the early adoption of golf, in addition to the physical benefits, that are valuable for our youths. Along with requiring children to adhere to proper etiquette and follow rules, golf provides many other social, physical, and emotional benefits as well.

Social Benefits

Golfing has always been a social sport, and that benefit is not reserved for the adults who enjoy the game. With a relatively low barrier to entry, individuals of any age can step onto a course and play, making it a sport well-suited to demographic diversity that can introduce children to a gamut of social interactions. Golf also offers a perfect venue for positive parent/child interactions. It can be a great way to encourage quality time and bonding between a parent and child, which can set the stage for a lasting relationship.

This sport also requires that children mind their manners and conduct themselves respectfully while on the course. In addition to etiquette, golf helps children learn to problem solve, use numbers, and be confident in their abilities while also improving on their weaknesses.

Physical Benefits

In a world of technology, it’s easy for children to stop playing outside and start spending more and more time indoors, in front of screens. This can make it challenging for parents who are trying to get their kids to participate in more physical activities. Golf can provide an alternate means of enjoyment outside of the realm of video games. And because it’s open to all skill levels, it has the benefit of being an easy choice for children that might otherwise shy away from sports. As a non-contact and low-impact sport, it doesn’t require a child to be the strongest, fastest, or biggest in order to be successful or enjoy themselves.

Emotional Benefits

Children require development of their emotional fitness just as much as those physical and social counterparts. Golf helps develop the youth’s emotional health by encouraging self-improvement and challenging them to persevere through frustrations. It requires players to self-analyze, practice, and accept encouragement and constructive critique from coaches and peers. With both achievements and disappointments on the horizon, little players must learn to sustain a positive outlook, learn from their mistakes, and “shake it off” when they fall short so that past faults do not affect current performance or future results.

Because golf is a game of self-improvement, it requires the player to focus on their performance, and it eliminates the opportunity to easily ascribe shortfalls to team members. This can help instill autonomy and responsibility, and nurture the self-confidence that is so vital to living a long and happy life.

Golf is a great way to encourage the home-bound child to get out and spend a day in nature having some good old-fashioned fun on the green, and it can offer many lessons to today’s youth. Several parallels can be drawn between this game and the challenges and successes inherent in society. Golf requires the child to practice emotional management, positivity, proper planning, clear focus, good social skills, and perseverance. It also helps them assess both the task at hand as well as the bigger picture. As children learn how to conduct themselves properly while they are on the course, they are also learning how to become happy, healthy, successful members of society.