January 21, 2020
The influx of technology to track data and analytics in sports over the last decade is not contained to just the professional level. This addition of technology, data and analytics has now started to flow down through the ranks into college – not just at the Power 5 programs, but at all levels.
Each of the past two years at December’s NFCA Convention, the biggest groups of coaches (college and travel coaches) on the exhibit hall floor have congregated around data tracking platforms and technologies – especially around Rapsodo and Blast Motion, because of their relative ease of accessibility, low price point and high-value power. For many of these coaches, these platforms offer new ways to assess their players, and to more effectively coach them through the next stages of their development. These tools give not only a clearer picture of where a player sits, but also gives a good picture as to what they can do next to continue to grow.
The other side of this equation for college coaches is in recruiting. Tools like Blast Motion and Rapsodo are able to give recruiting college coaches more in-depth information about prospective student-athletes, to help them assess their “projectability” and on-field potential. While the human element to recruiting will continue to be absolutely crucial – especially for the high-academic programs that we partner with for Honor Roll Camps – we believe that giving college coaches more and more insight into the student-athletes they’re recruiting through data and analytics will be key to the recruiting process moving forward, and will ultimately better serve both coaches and student-athletes to find the right holistic fit in the college recruiting process.
To better help both coaches and players, we recently announced our 2020 partnership with Blast Motion, which will now be an option for student-athletes at Honor Roll Camps moving forward. The unique position of Blast Motion within the ecosystem of data and analytics is that it is both a swing analyzer and a player development platform which gives in-depth insights about the pre-contact input from a hitter. Rather than just assessing the post-contact metrics of the ball in flight, Blast gives players and coaches a detailed picture of the player’s swing, giving concrete steps for development. Post-contact metrics like launch angle and exit velocity are key results and can help players work backwards to their mechanics – but Blast gives direct insight into these mechanics that ultimately translate to this important post-contact data.
Blast for Student-Athletes:
Benefits to Recruiting –
Ultimately, the college recruiting process is a search to find the right overall fit for a student-athlete – and players and families need efficiency in how they find, target and gain high-quality exposure to the right schools to advance their recruiting. By delivering this swing analysis data to college coaches at Honor Roll Camp, families take an important stride towards more efficiency – because coming out of Honor Roll Camp, college recruiters now have virtually everything that they need to move on to the next step with prospective student-athletes. All in one place, student-athletes can now give college coaches everything they need in recruiting –showcase assessments, live gameplay, video (provided at no cost to college coaches), in-person and face-to-face engagement – and now, advanced, in-depth data and analytics.
The addition of these analytics also allows student-athletes to showcase their play in a different way. By providing in-game swing analytics, this gives coaches recruitable insights that go far beyond watching what happens after the ball is put in play. Regardless of the outcome of the ball in play, each swing gives coaches more information about your approach at the plate – meaning even more opportunities for you to stand out as a player. Coaches learn a lot from your approach at the plate – how you swing (even on a miss), how you take a pitch – but now they can learn even more from all of your swings.
Benefits to Player Development & Instruction –
One of the key strengths of Blast Motion is its platform for identifying areas of development for hitters, and then equipping student-athletes with the tools to take the next strides in their performance.
After you take swings with the Blast swing analyzer on your bat, it will generate a model of your swing, as well as specific scores in different areas (Plane, Connection, & Rotation) to help you identify which pieces of your swing need adjustment, and also where your strengths as a hitter are. This process of modeling your swing and then identifying areas that need work is crucial to continue your development as a hitter.
Once you’ve identified the areas of your swing that need some additional work, the Blast platform also equips you with the tools to grow with their training and drill videos. Each area of your swing (Plane, Connection, Rotation) has certain drills associated with it to help you develop on your own, well after your time at Headfirst. We at Headfirst believe that simply pointing to data and analytics without reference, context or next steps is simply throwing numbers at the problem of player development – but one of the key reasons that we pursued this partnership with Blast Motion is their focus on and dedication to equipping players with the development tools to continue to improve.
Blast for College Coaches:
For college coaches, the implementation of Blast at Honor Roll Camps benefits them in a handful of ways as well – many of them related to the benefits for student-athletes.
Efficiency in Recruiting:
Just as with student-athletes, coaches at our partner programs need to gain efficiency in their recruiting. Recruiting days and resources are limited, and recruiters need to maximize their efforts by a.) pursuing opportunities that allow them to see as many well-qualified student-athletes as they can efficiently, and b.) get as much great insight as possible into these student-athletes while they’re with them. Using Blast analytics at camp helps these coaches get even great depth on their recruitable insights while they’re at Honor Roll, as compared to other showcases or large-format tournaments. While at Headfirst, they have the chance to assess and evaluate student-athletes, engage directly with them on the field, and also walk away with video and in-depth data to inform their next recruiting steps with student-athletes.
More Certain Recruiting Decisions:
College coaches recruiting high school players are looking at on-field play, tools and character with one ultimate aim in mind: find out who that player is going to be in three, four or six years when the athlete is in their college program. While college coaches are looking at your play on any given day, they are looking for a window into your “projectability” and “recruitability” – not only who are you as an athlete right now, but what is your potential for growth and development, what is your on-field future. Each piece of data that a coach has can help connect the dots of your potential and projectability – making coaches more and more certain of their recruiting decisions. Knowing who you are beyond the on-field results and having as much data and depth as possible on you as a player helps make coaches more confident in their judgments about your future development and fit in their program.
Blast Motion is also the platform that a lot of these programs are using with their own student-athletes. So, as they evaluate and recruiting prospective student-athletes for their program, they can compare these prospects to the current performance of their players, again giving them more insight into the potential fit of a prospect for their program.