After you have now hopefully read my article about video analysis and which app and camera to use, I want to further help you improve your game. How is that? By talking about baseball sensors. These little things will help you improve your game massively, without demanding you to do anything more than what you are currently doing already: playing baseball.

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What do baseball sensors do?

Baseball sensors are small gadgets that capture your swing or pitching data, depending on what kind of sensor you look at.

Thanks to the smartphone era, you can connect the baseball sensor to your phone and get all the data immediately.

There are multiple different data points available, that a baseball sensor can track. Generally you can divide them into the following categories:

  • Power
  • Speed
  • Quickness
  • Control

These categories include a variety of different metrics. I will tell you more about these, when I talk about the different sensors that are on the market.

Why should I use baseball sensors?

A cute little robt smiling at you. This is not a baseball sensor of course!

Let me ask you something. Why shouldn’t you use baseball sensors? They never really break the bank, they do not demand extra workout sessions or more time consuming practice sessions, they are easily attachable and they objectify your sessions.

Actually that is the main reason for me, why you should use a baseball sensor. As you have probably already read in this post about video analysis (it is a must read, if you have not read it yet!), our brain loves to trick us. What we feel and what really happens are more often than not two totally different things. In order to really improve it is great to have objective data, like videos of yourself or certain metrics, that a baseball sensor tracks.

It is moreover super motivating to see your progress as a player. You might not feel that your average batting speed over the last three months has increased by 10 mph, but the numbers do not lie.

On the other hand side, data might also show that maybe you are overtraining and should take a longer rest period, as your hand speed and accuracy have declined by 25% the last two weeks. The gathered data can motivate and protect yourself and it might show some weaknesses you have never really realized you had.

Get your expectations right!

Let me stress it again, baseball sensors are an incredibly cool and helpful gadget for everybody. Nevertheless they cannot do magic and transform you into a much better player. Practice is still king and just because you have a cool sensor doesn’t mean that you should stop practicing.

But why shouldn’t you take advantage of the technological progress we are witnessing. Baseball sensors just track data, which is extremely helpful. Why not use every possible resource in order to improve? Attach the baseball sensor to your bat and go out on the field and hit some balls. Nowadays it is either hitting the ball and not gathering useful data, or hitting the ball with a baseball sensor attached and gaining helpful insights.

I would always choose the latter.

In short: A baseball sensor gives more meaning to your practice. But without practice, a baseball sensor is worthless.

Baseball sensors for batters

How do I attach a baseball bat sensor

“Okay Will, you got me here. I am curious. But how do I attach the sensor and won’t it hinder my swing?”

First of all, don’t worry. A baseball sensor will definitely not hinder your swing.

Also attaching it is easy as 1-2-3, as most sensors are just attached to the bottom of your bat. They always come with some special mounting, so it is actually self-explanatory.

Metrics

There are a lot of metrics out there. If you google them, you will be buried in numbers and formulas and physical equations.

Baseball sensors make it easier for you. In general these are the metrics that are tracked by baseball sensors:

Bat Speed: This is the king metric, as a high bat speed also means that the ball is hit hard. The bat speed tells you how fast the bat is swinging through the hitting zone. The faster the bat travels through the hitting zone, the more energy is transferred into the ball which leads to a longer flight time and more home runs. Nevertheless bat speed alone does not really help much, as the point of impact on the bat is also a huge factor. If you hit the ball in the sweet spot roughly 50% of the energy stored in the bat is transferred into the ball. If you do not hit the ball in the sweet spot, this number decreases massively. A slower bat speed with a great point of contact might be the better combination than a high bat speed with a bad point of contact. Why is that? Physics…

Hand Speed: This is pretty similar to bat speed, as it tracks how fast your hands are moving through the hitting zone. Faster hand speed equals faster bat speed which equals more power. Moreover the faster your hands, the more time your have to read the pitch.

Time to impact: This metric basically tells you how compact your swing is. The lower this number, the more compact your swing is. This is great, as it allows you to wait longer for the pitch, so you can react to different pitches better.

Elevation angle: A negative elevation angle is what you want to see, as this indicates that the barrel of the bat was below the knob of the bat at the impact. This logically results in a ball flying up and away, which increases distance. A positive elevation angle means the opposite and will result in ground balls. But watch out that your elevation angle is not too negative, otherwise balls will just fly high and not far. These balls are super easy to catch and will strike you out.

Attack angle: If your bat is moving up through the impact, you will have a positive attack angle. If your bat is moving down through the impact, you will have a negative attack angle. Generally a positive attack angle is what you want to achieve. But same as with the elevation angle, a too positive attack angle will result in easily catchable balls.

Some sensor track even more data points, but these five are the main ones. Of course I will present the other data points, if there are any.

Garmin Impact Bat Swing Sensor

The Garmin Impact Bat Swing Sensor features an on-device display which gives you an immediate feedback for your swing.  

This means you do not just hit and analyze the data after the session, but you can check the screen after every hit to get an instant feedback about some of the most important metrics.

This baseball sensor tracks only the above mentioned data points.

Furthermore the data points are being tracked via a mobile app. This app helps you understand the metrics better.
You are able to create different profiles, but this option is only interesting for coaches, who want to track their whole team.

Garmin Impact Bat Swing Sensor, On-Device Display for Instant Metrics and Analysis

In Summary

I really love the built-in display for immediate feedback. The 3-D Swing Animation is also pretty cool. Overall a great sensor!

In case the sensor detects anything wrong or not optimal, Garmin also provides some basic instructions on how to improve your swing. They are really basic, but still better than nothing. And after all, a baseball sensor is not meant to replace a great coach.

Moreover, you can capture a video via the app, so you can visually see your swing. If you do not have anybody to take a video of you, just use the 3-D Swing Animation function. This function shows a 3-D graphical representation of your swing, while also showing information about the tracked metrics. For example a fast bat speed is shown with red color coding. Pretty cool, huh?

Another great feature of this baseball sensor apart from the accurate data measurement is the super long battery life. It lasts up to 10 hours, which means it is good to go for a lot of practice sessions, before you have to charge it up.

Features:

  • tracks the five main metrics
  • easy mounting
  • comes with a very helpful app (available for iOS and Android)
  • app allows for video recording (you should nevertheless get a real video analysis app)
  • great display for immediate feedback
  • basic coaching tips via the app, if something suboptimal is detected
  • 3-D Swing Animation

Pros:

  • Super light-weight
  • easy mounting
  • Very helpful app
  • Built in display for immediate feedback
  • long battery life
  • measurements are pretty accurate

Cons:

  • battery can not be changed
  • app looks a bit outdated
  • coaching tips are super basic

Diamond Kinetics Swingtracker

This is another well known manufacturer of sensors. The Swingtracker is the baseball version. Apart from this one, Diamond Kinetics also offers sensors for golf or for pitching. I will tell you more about the pitching sensor in a later section.

The most striking thing that differentiates the Diamond Kinetics Swingtracker from other sensors is the amount of data that is gathered.

With this sensor you have four categories, that contain eleven submetrics in total. That is eleven different data points compared the five, which is what other sensors use.

Diamond Kinetics SwingTracker Baseball & Softball

In Summary

Sooo much input. This sensor will allow you to measure everything you need. Great tool with a great price!

$99.99

Let’s take a closer look at the categories:

Power

  • Applied Power: This tells you the power of your swing in watts
  • Max Acceleration: Gives you the time it takes for you to get the bat to speed
  • Impact Momentum: Probably the most useful stat of these three. This tells you the the momentum the bat has when it hits the ball. This is dependent on the bat size and speed. This data point might show you, that you are actually using the wrong bat size.

Speed

  • Max Hand Speed: I think this is a telling name. This data point shows you how fast you accelerate your hands through the strike zone.
  • Max Barrel Speed: Again pretty clear what this statistic will tell you. It gives you your maximum bat speed during your swing.

Little side note: Make sure that there is a pretty significant difference between your max hand speed and your max barrel speed. If this isn’t the case, it might mean that you are using a wrong bat size. Why does there have to be a difference between these two data points? That has to do with leverage, rotational forces etc. Physics stuff.

  • Speed Efficiency: Efficiency is always relative. In this case it tells you the relation between your point of contact and the max barrel speed. This means that if you have max barrel speed at your point of contact, you have the best efficiency possible as the maximum amount of force is transferred into the ball. If there is a difference between the point of contact and the moment you have max barrel speed, your efficiency is going to suffer. A low speed efficiency indicates a suboptimal point of contact. Really useful to know!
  • Forward Barrel Speed:  This metric goes hand in hand with Speed Efficiency, as it tells you the bat speed at the optimal point of contact. This is the point when the barrel is at a 90° angle to the pitcher (yeah this is not a mistake. Use the pitcher as a fixation point so you can see the 90° angle). At this point in your swing you should hit the ball and also have the highest bat speed possible. So if your Forward Barrel Speed and your Max Bat Speed differ massively, your timing is most likely off.

Quickness

  • Trigger to Impact Time: This is the only quickness data point that this sensor measures. It tells you the time from the moment the bat starts moving forward to the point of contact. The shorter the time the more compact your swing is. If you can keep a high bat speed with a compact swing, that is a great advantage as it gives you more time to read the pitch and react better to it.

Control

  • Approach Angle at Impact: In case you have not already guessed it, this metric tells you the angle at which you hit the ball. There are three ways you can hit the ball. From above, directly from behind (highly unlikely that this will happen) and from below. It is best to hit the ball slightly from below, which is indicated by a positive angle.
  • Distance in the Zone: This metric is really important. Why is that? I let another pro explain this:
  • Hand cast distance: This metric tells you how far away your hands are from your body. The close to your body you are, the more control you will have and the better you can transfer the power into the ball. The further away your hands are from your body, the higher the risk of hitting topspin balls, which will make it really hard to hit home runs for you.

All those metrics are really helpful, which is why I can only recommend the Diamond Kinetics Swing Tracker.

The Diamond Kinetics Swing Tracker has a lot more advantages over some other trackers. Check out this video by probaseballinsider to see how the app works and what other cool features you get with this sensor.

Features:

  • tracks ELEVEN metrics
  • easy mounting
  • comes with a very helpful app (available for iOS and Android)
  • app allows for video recording (you should nevertheless get a real video analysis app)
  • great display for immediate feedback
  • 3-D Swing Animation that also allows for swing comparisons
  • Angle of the 3-D Animation can be changed

Pros:

  • Super light-weight
  • easy mounting
  • Very helpful app
  • measures a lot of different metrics
  • long battery life
  • wireless charging
  • Live support
  • measurements are pretty accurate

Cons:

  • you need a Premium Hitter subscription to get everything out of the sensor
    • additional $60 a year

Blast Motion

Last but not least, let’s take a look at the big player in the sensor game. If you have ever searched for a baseball sensor online, it is highly likely that the blast motion swing sensor was the first result you found.

This sensor is used by many MLB teams like the Houston Astros and many collegiate teams like the USD Toreros.

Blast Baseball Swing Analyzer | Instant Feedback | Track Progress | Capture Video | 3D Swing Tracer | App Enabled, iOS and Adroid Compatible (900-00040)

In Summary

The big player on the market! Great tool that sadly comes with some hidden costs.

$127.74

The blast motion sensor measures the following ten data points:

  • Blast Factor: This is a score between 0 and 100 and is the weighted average of the other metrics. It is just an easy way to see improvements, without going too much into detail.
  • Time to contact: This tells you how long it takes from when you start your swing to the moment you hit the ball. The shorter this number, the better, as this indicates a compact swing. This allows you to wait for the pitch longer and react to the ball better.
  • Bat speed: Check this metric to know how fast the sweet spot of your bat is at the point of impact. The sweet spot is measured six inches below the tip of the bat here.
  • Peak Bat Speed: As the name already suggests, this data point tells you the highest speed the sweet spot of the bat reaches. The closer Peak Bat Speed and Bat Speed are together, the better your swing.
  • Peak Hand Speed: Peak Hand Speed tells you the maximum speed of your hands (to be precise: the spot six inches above the knob) during your swing.
  • Attack Angle: This metrics tells you the angle of the bat’s path at impact. A positive number tells you, that you are swinging up (which is good) while a negative numbers means that you are swinging down (not good).
  • Vertical Bat Angle: This metric tells you the relation between the knob and the barrel at the point of impact. This is measured in degrees and you should aim for a negative numbers here. A negative number indicates, that the barrel is below the knob.
  • Power: This is pretty self-explanatory again. This data point tells you the power of your hit in watts.
  • On Plane: Tells you the percentage of your swing, that the sweet spot is considered on plane (meaning at the same level as the pitch is coming towards you).
  • Body Rotation: This is a relational metric and tells you how much of the total rotation during your swing happened with your body. This metric allows for an analysis of the connection between body and bat. This is a really useful stat.

As you can see most of these metrics are also covered by the Diamond Kinetics Swing Tracker.

Blast Motion also has a great app, called Blast Vision. The app allows you to visualize the results of your swing via your iPhone or iPad. Of course you can also use an Android device.  You simply have to set up your phone somewhere (best to use a tripod, in order to have solid and good footage) and then take some swings. The app will automatically clip each of your swings and then also display the above mentioned metrics. Pretty cool in my opinion.

Blast states, that Blast Vision is extremely accurate. Once calibrated by you, it will have just minor variabilities in launch angle and exit velocity.

Blast vision moreover allows you to visualize your swings with an interactive spray chart. That means that you will see a virtual baseball field where you can see where each and everyone of your swings landed. If you click on a particular ball, you see the stats for this swing.

Blast vision also works as a video analysis application. You can draw on the video, record voice commentary and share the videos with your coach or fellow teammates.

Really cool stuff!

Check out this video to understand all of the features you have with Blast Vision:

Of course not everything is perfect with this sensor. The problems I have with this sensor all have to do with its pricing. First of all the sensor is by far the most expensive one with a price point of $150. To be honest, if you compare it to the Diamond Kinetics Swing Tracker and include the yearly subscription fee for the Premium Hitter upgrades, both sensor cost the same. But with Blast you also need a premium services subscription in order to get the most out of the sensor. This is another $60 a year for you as a player or $100 if you are a coach. And it does not stop there. Blast Vision, which is a must have for the sensor, is not free but costs you $10.

To me it feels like Blast tries to squeeze out every last penny out of its users, which I am not really a fan of. Nevertheless, the product you will get is absolutely top tier and maybe it is worth it for you.

Pros:

  • tracks ten metrics
  • easy mounting
  • comes with a very helpful app (available for iOS and Android)
  • app allows for video recording (you should nevertheless get a real video analysis app)
  • great display for immediate feedback
  • app includes tips from MLB players and coaches
  • interactive spray chart is really cool and helpful

Cons:

  • most expensive sensor
  • yearly subscription needed
  • app is not free

Baseball sensors for pitchers

Of course there are not only sensors for batting but also for pitching. Data does not only help batters, but is also helpful to increase your capabilities as a pitcher. I have found two different sensors that are designed to help pitchers improve their performance on the mound. Interestingly these two sensors work in two completely different ways and have different goals in mind. This is also why there will not be a pro and con list, as you cannot compare these two sensors.

MotusBaseball

Motus has developed a sensor that you need to wear on your throwing arm. This is also why you will receive a compression sleeve with the sensor in order to keep it steady on your arm.

MotusBaseball comes with the MotusThrow platform, which is a training platform for baseball player of all ages. This is where all your data is saved. But what data exactly is saved?

If you take a look at the parameters that are measured by the sensor, you notice that they are not really what you would expect.

MotusThrow tracks the following metrics:

  • Acute and Chronic workloads
  • Arm Stress (elbow valgus torque)
  • Throw Count
  • Arm Speed
  • Arm Slot at Release
  • Max Shoulder Rotation

Let me guess, you expected things like ball speed, rotations per minute etc. to be measured by a pitching sensor.

In Summary

A great sensor for everyone who is prone to injuries.

I fully agree with you, but Motus has a different goal in mind. Motus built a sensor to optimize your training schedule with regards to your health. It is not about improving your pitch per se, but instead telling you valuable health metrics about your arm, which I find extremely useful. If you have ever been injured, you know how important it is to take care of your body.

Features:

  • measures six valuable metrics to check your arm health
  • comes with a compression sleeve
  • one month free access to MotusDash (in depth analysis platform)
  • approved for in-game use by the MLB
  • ONLY for iPhone

Diamond Kinetics Pitchtracker

The Diamond Kinetics Pitchtracker is a baseball sensor that aims to improve your pitching.

The sensor is an actual baseball with the specs of a normal baseball. But inside the Smart Baseball there is a sensor measuring a multitude of different metrics to help you improve your game.

The PitchTracker includes the Smart Baseball and an app. Moreover you will receive a docking station to charge the Smart Baseball.

Now here comes the problem with these baseball sensors: The Smart Baseball is able to track seven different metrics, which is per se really helpful. The metrics are:

  • Release Velocity
  • Spin Rate
  • Spin Direction
  • Extension
  • Delivery
  • Reach Back to Release
  • Time to plate

You are also able to record all your pitches to see your history and trends how you improve.

Diamond Kinetics PitchTracker Softball

In Summary

Apart from the subscription, that makes the sensor twice as expensive as the price you see online, this sensor is absolute dynamite.

$99.99

You can do all of that, if you buy the Premium Pitcher Baseball subscription, which costs $90 a year. The Diamond Kinetics PitchtTracker costs $100 itself, so you will have to spend $200 in order to get the most out of this gadget. And you only get one ball. It is not a sensor you can attach to every ball. You will have to throw the same ball over and over again. I am not really sure if it is worth it to be honest.

Features

  • Smart Baseball
  • Great App
  • Measures seven metrics (if you have the subscription)
  • Docking Station
  • Smart Baseball holds up to 64 pitches if there is no device nearby

These are all batting and pitching baseball sensors you are likely to encounter online when you search for one. I hope this article was helpful for you and makes it easier for you to decide, which baseball sensors to buy.

During my research I also found another company, that is very well known for baseball sensors. They are not specifically targeted to baseball players, but work perfectly for us. This is why I wanted to show you these ones as well.

But beware, they are really not cheap and probably too sophisticated for the average baseball player.

For pros: 4D Motion

4D Motion offers sensors, that are attached to the body via a band. It is actually a pretty sophisticated idea, so I think it is better for you to watch this video here instead of reading a millions words written by me.

As the video shows you, these baseball sensors are made for professional players or people who take baseball extremely seriously. The data you gather via these sensors is extremely valuable and the analysis tools are great in my opinion.

I especially like the graphs that show you in what sequence different parts of your body “fire”. That way you have a visual representation of your kinetic chain, which is incredibly valuable. It allows you to spot timing errors and make your swings and pitches much more efficient.

Here comes the downside to these sensors: They are expensive. Like really expensive.

You need more than one sensor to really get the most out of this system. This will decrease your savings by $600 or more, which is massively more expensive than any other sensor here.

Apart from the crazy price point, I think this is the best system out there currently.

Features:

  • Kinematic sequence analysis
  • functional swing plane
  • body specific measurements
  • visualization for everything
  • Biomechanic analysis

Get home safe,

Jan