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High-tech visual training improves baseball skills

High-tech products that claim to improve a baseball player’s hitting skills have been around a long time. The technology is much more advanced today, resulting in several that are now widely used.

One example is I-trac, a vision-training system from Chicago-based Drive Performance. It provides an alternative to facing live pitching that appeals to players, said Derek Shelton, hitting coach for the Cleveland Indians.

Beyond I-trac, there are similar products such as Vizual Edge, Visual Performance and Baseball Vision. A product from Sports Motion, a New Jersey company, uses a video system to capture images from two different angles and plays it back in one synchronized file.

More sophisticated is the video system offered by JZZ Technologies, which links video with software to produce data that analyzes motion. It can also show instability in the body during various parts of a hitter’s swing.

The company’s technology has incorporated data from 50,000 swings and biomechanical research compiled over 50 years. “We’re not going to tell anybody how to hit,” Martinez said. “We’re going to tell them they need more flexibility in their left hamstring; we’re going to tell them they need more right rear [deltoid] strength.”

Coaches in the big leagues aren’t dismissing this technology. “If we were going to use something like that — and I don’t know if experiment or test is probably the better word — we’d do it during spring training,” Shelton said. “We’d never do it during the season.”