Rob Crews: Advice for Coaches on Implementing Diamond Kinetics Technology
March 15, 2022 | Abbi Nicolella
Rob Crews is a hitting expert in both softball and baseball. Crews is the founder and CEO of Complete Game, a player development company in New York and has consulted for numerous big time college softball programs including Stanford, UCLA, LSU, the University of Florida, and Central Florida, among others. In baseball, Crews has consulted in player development for the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners. Coach Crews uses Diamond Kinetics Technology to make his players better in both sports.
DK: Many coaches think it is challenging to implement technology into a team practice versus working with a player individually. How do you use Diamond Kinetics technology in a team setting?
Crews: When I am working with a team I always bring about five to ten sensors with me so multiple players can be getting measured at once. I will have the players warm up without the sensors while doing tee work, and then we have them with sensors on for any work with a moving ball (front toss, BP, etc.). When I get home after practice, I will be able to sync up the swings with their data and be able to see the metrics I am looking for. Usually, I use two metrics at a time that work together to see how they are affecting each other. For example, I will look at max barrel speed and max acceleration together, or vertical bat angle together with attack angle. This helps me get a more complete picture of what is going on with a player’s swing. I also try not to have video of the swings because I don’t want to have any biases of what I think a player should do with their swing; I let the metrics speak for themselves. The metrics tell me what is or isn’t happening and not using video ensures that I do not taint the numbers with my own biases. I’ll then give the team a report where I group players into similar categories based on the data with suggestions on how to improve in those different areas.
DK: Some coaches see using technology as intimidating or overwhelming when they are just starting out. What advice would you give to coaches who are looking to implement Diamond Kinetics technology into their work for the first time?
Crews: It is definitely harder starting out in a team or facility setting versus just working with one hitter in the cage, just because there are more players to work with at once. A lot of coaches think it will be too time-consuming and don’t want to be fidgeting with connectivity and wifi and things like that during practice time, which can be discouraging if they don’t have patience or with a lot of prior knowledge about tech. I encourage coaches to practice using tech as much as they can so they can become faster at the setup. Once you master the setup process, it becomes a lot easier to use. I also tell coaches that are just starting out, just take two or even one metric every week or every month and focus on it. Then add another one the next week or month. Then add another one, and so on. By the time you are six months in, you are really familiar with and comfortable with six or so key metrics. A lot of coaches have a tendency to jump around to different metrics all the time and they never really master how to train the metrics.
DK: Some hitters that use technology will try to “chase numbers.” Meaning, they are trying harder to reach certain metric thresholds rather than working on finding their best swing that they will take into games. How should coaches balance improving metrics while still trying to make them as good of an in-game hitter as possible?
Crews: We need ego. Ego is important. What I mean by that is ego drives competitiveness that is important to have in baseball or softball. Ego is a big part of what will make players chase numbers, they do it because they are competitive. That isn’t a bad thing. What we need to do is mix intelligence with ego. As a coach, I have to coach the perspective of the athlete. Going into it, I need to let the athlete know that just because they can swing the bat 70 MPH doesn’t mean they are going to be a good hitter and it doesn’t mean that they will maximize control of the barrel. There is a trade off between speed and control and I have to help the athlete find the sweet spot of barrel control and bat speed that makes them the best hitter they can be. Seeing is believing, so I’ll use Diamond Kinetics in the cage and use exit velocity in conjunction with it. Now I can show the athlete that their highest barrel speed doesn’t always mean they are hitting the ball harder, because their contact quality is lower. The key is finding the appropriate bat speed for you, not chasing high numbers because that isn’t always the best number for you as a hitter. It’s personal and changes from hitter to hitter. A lot of hitters that swing really hard are sitting on benches across the country. It’s about being a good hitter, not chasing numbers.
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