Baseball bat sensor review for the Swing Tracker by Diamond Kinetics, and why it’s better than the Zepp sensor.
If you aren’t familiar with the newest ways technology is being used in baseball, then you are in for a treat.
Just (1) strap a sensor to the nob of your baseball bat, (2) Use bluetooth to connect to your smart phone, and (3) Swing. Information such as swing speed, bat path, and much more are automatically tracked in your smart phone or computer.
It’s a beautiful thing.
Using a sensor is an incredible way to take the guess-work out of improving the baseball swing, since the feedback is measured and objective. It’s also tracked over time, so you can see if your latest adjustments are working for or against you.
For this product review I tried two different baseball bat sensors. I tried the Zepp baseball sensor and the SwingTracker from Diamond Kinetics. I liked the SwingTracker better and that is the reason I am doing this review.
The main reason I liked it much better is because type of data being collected. The Swing Tracker’s data was much more specific, in depth, and useful. The Zepp collects 5 data points where the SwingTracker collects 11, so with the Zepp I was left wanting more.
Personally if I am going to use one of these sensors I want a reason to use it over and over to improve my swing. I feel like I can accomplish this with the SwingTracker.
After going through the steps to get set up (see below), it’s time to start swinging.
For both sensors, once you start swinging the data will be put on the app automatically (no need to plugin or download data – thank GOD). Not only is it more convenient than say, downloading pictures from your iPhone, but it’s important for actually using the data during your practice session in real time.
The feedback is immediate, which I love.
Each swing in your session will be organized on a page by the date, session number, and swing number.
Reviewing swing data: Looking at the app you will see all of your swings from the last session. You will notice it will give you an overall score that compares you with every other person in your skill level. Click on a specific swing you would like to see in more detail.
- The Swing Summary comes up and it gives you a score in each of the 4 areas (speed, power, quickness, and control). Now click on the icon in the bottom right corner of the page inside the green arrow.
- Video – From here you can view the “video” (if someone used the video feature to capture a swing, this is as simple as using your normal phone video. The only difference is this gives you bat speed and hand speed right away on the video screen. It’s a pretty cool feature)
- 3D viewer – You can also view the “3D viewer”. This is a great feature to really see your bat path and get instant feedback on what needs improving. Inside this feature you will also see hand and bat speed in mph as well as change the viewing angle (4 different angles: front, side, behind, above). You can move frame by frame through the 3D feature and see where in the swing was your max bat speed.
- Detailed metrics – You can go to “Detail” which will give findings in 11 different metrics. This is done by putting a number value either in mph, inches, watts, etc. on different analytics. There are 4 different areas: Power, Speed, Quickness, Control.
11 Data points to analyze your baseball swing
In the “Power” section there are 3 different metrics:
- Applied Power – Measures the power of your swing in watts
- Max Acceleration – How fast the bat gets to top speed
- Impact Momentum – This is a very helpful stat. It’s the amount of momentum in the bat when it makes contact with the baseball. This is determined by barrel speed at impact & the weight of the bat. Many players are using the wrong size bat and don’t even know it! This stat can help determine what a player’s ideal bat size really is.
In the “Speed” section there are 4 different metrics:
- Max Hand Speed* – How fast your hands move through the zone
- Max Barrel Speed – Maximum bat speed during your swing
- Speed Efficiency – Percentage of contact made with the baseball when the barrel is at max speed (This is helpful because it reveals common problems like making contact too deep, too early, or only gaining max speed after contact. Obviously, you want to be at max bat speed when you make contact. Too many of us aren’t doing that and we may not even realize it. This stat reveals if a player is getting the most out of his bat speed.)
- Forward Barrel Speed – The bat speed at the point of the swing when the barrel of the bat is at a 90 degree angle to the pitcher (This is the strongest body position at contact. This is our best point of contact because it’s when you’re perfectly square to the baseball with no rounding momentum. The closer your forward bat speed is to your max barrel speed, the better your contact will be, the better mental approach you have at the plate, and the more fundamentally sound your swing is.)
In the “Quickness” section there is one metric:
- Trigger to Impact Time* – The time from start of forward bat motion to contact. You can compare your numbers to everyone in your skill level. If your score is below average, it can indicate several inefficiencies in a swing, such as barring the front arm, improper use of legs, too heavy of a bat, and too much upper body tension.
In the ”Control” section there are 3 different metrics:
- Distance in the Zone – How long your barrel is in the hitting zone. This is another BIG one. For obvious reasons. The best hitters in the world excel in this area.
- Hand Cast Distance – How far your hands get away from your body. The closer your hands stay to your body, the better you’ll be at staying inside the baseball. When your hands are closer to your body, it’s easier to drive balls the other way and pull balls correctly. This also creates “the ice-skater effect.” Once an ice skater starts spinning in circles, they spin faster when their hands closer to their body. The same thing happens in a baseball swing. Hands closer to the body can result in better bat speed. The further your hands are from your body, the more you get “around” baseballs. This tends to cause a lot pull-side ground balls and top-spin line drives – none of which are good.
- Approach Angle at Impact* – There’s 3 types of bat paths… uppercut, chop swing and level swing. A positive number shows an uppercut and a negative number shows chopping down on the baseball. A score of zero indicates a perfectly level swing. Since the average pitch comes into the hitting zone between 6 and 14 degrees, an approach angle between 6 and 14 degrees is an ideal bat path (Full disclosure – This bit of info actually came from Zepp.)
All of the swing data that is recorded to the app is sent automatically to the Diamond Kinetics website under the Diamond Club section. It has all of the data collected and video (if taken) on one simple to navigate page. The only feature that is not in the Diamond Club is the 3D viewer.
For anyone who plans to purchase the Swing Tracker sensor, I am planning to write more in detail what is indicated by each metric, as well as strategies for improvement.
Swing Tracker vs Zepp Metrics
Comparing the Swing Tracker to the Zepp sensor. There are 5 metrics provided by the Zepp (You’ll see a star* by the ones above that both sensors have in common).
- Bat speed impact – bat speed at impact, measured in MPH; The Swing Tracker equivalent would be Max Barrel Speed + Speed efficiency. Personally, I like to the measurements separate rather than combined. Just knowing speed at impact doesn’t reveal if contact is being made at the optimal point of the swing path (as I mentioned above, this can be caused by a number of different swing problems).
- Attack angle = “Approach angle at impact”
- Bat Vertical – Angle of bat at contact ( There’s no equivalent to this one with Swing Tracker. I personally felt this metric would vary greatly based on the location of the pitch, so not sure how helpful it would be.)
- Hand speed max = “Max hand speed”
- Time to impact = “Trigger time to impact”
Swing Tracker Set-up
- Charge the sensor. In the box you receive a sensor, bat straps, USB charging cable, and a storage pouch. Take the sensor and cable out of the box and charge before the first use.
- Download the app. While its charging is a good time to download the SwingTracker app for your iphone or ipad.
- Create your account. Create an account so you can log in to the app and have Diamond Club access on the Diamond Kinetics website. Fill out your profile which includes: gender, baseball or softball player, righty or lefty, skill level, height, weight, type of bat, length and weight of bat.
- Attach the sensor to baseball bat. Once that is complete and the sensor is done charging, attach it to the knob of the bat.
- Sync the sensor to your device via Bluetooth.
Final step. Setup your personal load position and where you stand in relation to the plate.
After this is done it’s time to start hitting.
Once the novelty wears off that you have a cool piece of technology on your bat, the SwingTracker sensor is by far the best device to help improve your swing.
If you want to purchase a sensor, we talked to Diamond Kinetics and got a PBI exclusive discount code. Use Pbi10 to get 10% off and free shipping. And also a portion of it goes to supporting the 100’s of pages of free baseball instruction on PBI, so thank you!!!
Coming soon – I will do many follow ups on how to get the most out of your sensor, understand the data, to improve your swing.