When working through the world of softball hitting there is no shortage of coaches tips, methods, and “best practices” to try, but many of these methods lack a real measure of if they work. It can take a full season to see the impact to your batting average from just a mild change so it’s important to get earlier feedback.
We are big fans of analyzing a swing using video (if you haven’t yet check out the Swing Perfect review for great video clips) but when you want even more data about a swing sometimes sensors are the way to go. So, in an effort to get the most data from a bat swing we borrowed a Blast Motion Swing Analyzer sensor and used it for some batting practice.
Softball hitting technology has developed substantially and makes getting good feedback much more accessible at all levels. This article summarizes the experience with a blast sensor and highlights what you can find out when using a softball swing analyzer.
Setting Up Blast Motion
Attaching the blast sensor is as easy as pulling a rubber band over the knob of your bat. Pairing over Bluetooth is also easy enough and the Blast apps work with iOS and Android. There are different apps for baseball and softball but the technology is the same. The difference between the two is in the tips and content provided within the app to improve your swing since baseball tips differ from how to hit in softball.
Once we got everything paired we eagerly trotted out to the net and a tee for a hitting session. Choosing the right activity, tee vs soft toss vs full batting practice, makes a difference when it comes to estimating ball flight. Generally though bat speed stats, which are front and center in a hitting session, should be similar regardless of what you are hitting.
Is Blast Motion Sensor Bat Speed Accurate?
We were unable to validate if the blast motion sensor for swing analyzing was accurate. To do so we would need to setup other systems like HitTrax and Rapsodo, and compare. But based on having a little leaguer and an adult hit we can confidently state the the general accuracy is fine.
Even from just a feel test the swings that were done as warmup or three quarter speed always wound up less than a full power swing. There may be some precision concerns if you are trying to eek out 1mph difference at the upper levels but for the most part the numbers matched the feel of a swing.
If you are planning to use the sensor just for a single hitter than there is no need for getting the app subscription. The advanced features are useful but they are unnecessary for delivering measurable output.
Core stats are included in the free version, although the advanced visualizations and feedback from the subscription are fun to have. If you do want some of the other features the cost of a Blast Connection subscription is $60 a year. Considering that the sensor itself is more than $100, this cost seems reasonable to maximize the impact it will have. Also, if you are using the sensor across many athletes or a team than having the team management tools included in premium is a huge benefit.
Blast Motion Softball Metrics Explained
The standard blast motion metrics are fairly easy to understand. Still, as you dig deeper the exact metrics and their impact on your swing and ball flight may be tougher to understand. Focusing on each of these metrics at the same time is difficult, but it is possible to zero in on one or two during an individual hitting session to see how changes in your swing impact them. Here are a few summaries of the most useful Blast Motion softball metrics (and baseball ones too).
- Bat Speed – How fast the bat is traveling when it hits the ball. Although this is a good indicator of hit distance, it is only half the process since you still need to transfer this energy to the ball (rather than the ball transferring it’s momentum to your bat). Not that lighter bats result in more speed but also may not always equate to more distance.
- Hand Speed – How fast your hands are traveling when the ball makes contact. Again this equates to bat speed, but good wrist action and a longer bat will both result in higher bat speed than just hand speed predicts.
- Attack Angle – The angle of the bats path when it hits the ball. Upward angles result in higher balls, pop flys, or top spinning grounders. Lower angles result in more backspin on a ball which will make it travel further.
- Exit Velocity– The speed the ball leaves the bat. Higher speed means harder hit ground balls and further fly balls or dingers.
- Launch Angle – An angle above or below horizontal that the ball leaves the bat.
- Distance – This is a projected measure of how far the ball would travel given the other stats (exit velocity and launch angle). Real world situations will differ a lot from this including any added drag on the ball from scuffs, wind, and even the altitude at which you are playing.
- Time to Contact – Measured in seconds (or fractions of), this is the time from the start of the swing to contact. Hit a ball out in front of you and the same swing will have longer time to contact than a ball hit earlier in the swing.
Are Blast Swing Analyzers Worth the Money
For anyone who has already dropped some money on hitting lessons and gear, the Blast softball sensor is a great investment. It provides measurable feedback on how training, coaching, and lessons are paying off. For some players it will also provide the gamified practice that will keep them motivated to get out there while having fun.
Blast is one of the lower cost options for getting hitting stats. If want to check out other options see our review for using Rapsodo for hitting analysis or the top competitors HitTrax for batting. Both of these options are more expensive and significantly harder to get access to.