Batter Up

Batter Up: How Technology Influences America’s Favorite Pastime

By DeVry University

They say that baseball is a game of inches, but tech could take it down to a game of millimeters with the competitive edge that advanced technology has to offer. From improved training methods to innovations in scouting to the creation of personalized experiences for spectators, the evolution of technology is making its way to the baseball field.

Baseball technology ups the ante for your favorite players by changing the way they train, but it also transforms things behind the scenes for coaches and scouts while giving fans new and exciting ways to experience America's favorite pastime. 

Tech Changes the Game for Players

What if the best players could be even better? Just as fitness trackers can help people become healthier, evolving technology can help players harness their skills by increasing performance capabilities and offering new vantage points for training. Here’s an example: sensors have transformed the baseball bat into a connected device that tracks swinging and other metrics to give coaches and players important details and data about their hits. Ultimately, this can help create better hitters, both in the major leagues and on amateur levels. Some of the newest examples of this technology include:

Smart Shoes: Sports-technology company Athalonz developed a smarter shoe — the G-Force Cleat — in 2015. The innovative design uses athletic-positioning technology with a slightly raised heel, letting athletes generate more power through their legs to play a stronger game.

Eye-Tracking Technology: In January 2017, RightEye LLC announced a partnership with the Prospect Development Pipeline and Major League Baseball. This marks the beginning of MLB's plan to make use of RightEye's innovative technology platform. It uses eye-tracking research and vision science to identify players' weaknesses, and then offers personalized training programs to improve their performance.

Virtual Reality: You've heard the saying "practice makes perfect." Players already put in ample time practicing. Imagine how much better that training could be when players use virtual reality (VR). Envision pitchers stepping up onto the virtual mound to face off against the best batters on an opposing team, or batters practicing their swings against the fiercest pitchers. Total game changer!

Aspiring Athletes Face a New Scouting Frontier

Technology isn't just changing the game on the field; it's also creating new ways to recruit players. Scouts want access to the best talent, but it isn’t realistic to think they can visit every up-and-coming player in-person. Recruiters have a whole new set of tech tools for finding the next big thing in the game, including the following:

  • Cloud-based assessments like SportsBoard offer simpler solutions for coaches and recruiters by providing features that allow recruiters to do everything in one spot, including collecting and sharing information on prospects in real time to identify top contenders quickly. These tools also feature options for creating custom evaluations and sharing reports with other staff members. This is in addition to syncing all the information to mobile devices, viewing a complete history by player, planning recruiting activities and updating travel information.
  • Neuroscouting is an experimental research technique that may let recruiters and coaches evaluate talent by looking at players' brainwaves. This allows recruiters to see exactly how fast each hitter's brain reacts to different pitches using a combination of functional magnetic resonance imaging, electroencephalography and specialized software.
  • Social networks like FieldLevel and BeRecruited allow players to create online athletic profiles to showcase their abilities and potentially get discovered by coaches. It also allows coaches to take an active role in player recruitment by offering the opportunity to recommend players and provide in-depth player information. 

How Tech Transforms Your Experience

Players, coaches and recruiters aren't the only ones benefiting from technological advancements. Fans can now experience the game in new and exciting ways. For instance, when you can't score tickets, apps like MLB AtBat let you watch livestreaming games, while GameChanger gives you up-to-the-minute live stats and livestreaming. These innovations are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how technology is improving the fan experience. Other examples include:

Smart Stadiums: Beacon technologies — the use of tiny sensors that communicate with apps on mobile devices — give fans an increasingly personalized stadium experience. Impromptu seat upgrades, custom recommendations for finding the best grub and special discounts are just a few of the potential perks delivered from beacons to mobile devices.

Virtual Reality: VR isn't just for players. This evolving technology has the power to take fans inside the game with immersive videos that put you on the field and in the dugout.

Social Media: Gives fans behind-the-scenes looks at their favorite teams. It also offers a new way for teams and players to engage with their fans in comments and content.

As these technological advancements demonstrate, the future of baseball is bright for pros, amateurs and fans. They also underscore how widespread technology really is among sports and other industries while helping explain why technology jobs are so in demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that software development, IT security and web development are projected to grow faster than average through 2024. For anyone who wants to work in technology — baseball technology or otherwise — now is the time to start developing and sharpening your IT skills.

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