The bat has come a long way since the early days of baseball. What was once an object sloppily cut out of a tree trunk by hand is now a fine-tuned hitting device produced by dozens of manufacturers in various lengths, weights, and materials. Over the years, the baseball bat has evolved under the notion that the newer, better model will bring hitters more success. And it just so happens to be that the first step to successful hitting is making sure that you have the right bat. So how do you tell if the bat you’re planning to purchase is the best fit for you? With such an overwhelming variety of options out there today, it can be quite confusing making this decision. But don’t you worry! We’re here to help.
Better Baseball is proud to introduce the Sweet Spot Bat Sizing System – our new and improved bat selection process. With the use of a Zepp sensor, a Hit Trax Batting Simulator, and the expertise of the Better Baseball staff, we guarantee a fun and interactive experience in choosing the correct bat, while also offering valuable feedback on swing speed and mechanics. By implementing this system, we at Better Baseball truly believe that our customers will greatly benefit by being able to make the most informed purchase decision. It’s our way of taking pride in outfitting players with the right gear and a means for us to stay on the cutting edge of the latest and greatest baseball technology. Let’s take a deeper dive into this new system.
The first component of the Sweet Spot Bat Sizing System is the Zepp Sensor. This device consists of a motion sensor placed on the knob of the bat that transmits swing data straight to your smart phone. The Zepp Sensor provides instant feedback on bat speed, hand speed, swing plane, time to impact, bat angles, and more. It displays a 3D model on your smart phone that allows you to replay and analyze your swing. It also provides personalized coaching tips and drills that you can work on to fix those imperfections. You can say that this part of the Sweet Spot Bat Sizing System is all about the pre-contact mechanics of your swing. By using the Zepp Sensor, we are able to determine which bat size you are swinging fastest and most consistently. So what about post-contact ball trajectory? That’s where the Hit Trax Batting Simulator comes in.
The second part of the Sweet Spot Bat Sizing System is the Hit Trax Batting Simulator. This revolutionary technology, composed of multiple high-speed, motion-sensing cameras and a display screen, is the first and only batting simulator of its kind. The Hit Trax Batting Simulator offers instant feedback on exit ball velocity, hit distance, launch angle, and much more. View spray charts, batting averages, and line drive percentages with the simulator that allows you to train as you play. By using the Hit Trax Batting Simulator, we are able to determine which bat size is best suited for you based on the hitting display you simulate for us.
The third part of the Sweet Spot Bat Sizing System is the knowledgeable Better Baseball staff. We’re here to help you understand that everyone’s swing is different and not everyone should be using the same model bat even if it’s the “hottest one out.” We’re here to teach you the difference between a “balanced” and an “end-loaded” bat and what type of swing best matches each. We’re here to give you the pros and cons of 1-piece alloy bats, three-piece composite bats, and everything in between. We’re here to show you all the unique features of different bats, such as composite end caps, rotating handles, and rubber vibration dampeners. We’re here to tell you what the heck a “drop number” is. For years, we have outfitted players of all ages with bats of different sizes and makes. Our expertise and experience in this field is something we take pride in and always try to improve on. The Sweet Spot Bat Sizing System is the next big step.
“Each softball hitter is unique with their own technique, hitting style, and power. Each player needs a bat designed with their exact preferences in mind. Power hitters need a bat that packs a big punch while slappers need a bat weighted closer to the hands for maximum barrel control. Not all bat sizes are created equal. Each model bat swings differently even when advertised to be the same size. If you’re still using a sizing chart to find the perfect bat for you then you’re doing it wrong. Thanks to the innovation of Zepp and HitTrax, there are tools to help make a more thorough decision when choosing a bat. Not only can you measure you bat speed alone, but with these tools you can measure swing trajectory, distance, time to contact, and much more. We have both sensors here at Better Softball and are prepared to help you find the perfect bat for you!”
The Sweet Spot Bat Sizing System is now open to the public, no appointment needed. The Hit Trax Batting Simulator is located only at our Marietta location. Don’t forget about the Swing Speed Challenge in both Marietta and Chamblee over the weekend of May 22 – May 24!
The Hittrax Baseball Simulator Now at Better Baseball Marietta
2015 Better Baseball Swing Speed Challenge
Friday May 22nd- Sunday May 24th
So you think you can swing a bat pretty fast, huh? Do you exceed the average swing speed of your age group? Come see for yourself at Better Baseball’s First Annual Swing Speed Challenge on Friday, May 22nd to Sunday, May 24th at both the Marietta and Chamblee Locations. Using a Swing Speed Radar, a Zepp Sensor, and a HitTrax Batting Simulator (Marietta only), we will analyze players’ swings and determine who has the fastest bat speed of their age group. The competition will be broken down into 5 age groups for the boys and 5 age groups for the girls. The top three performers from each age group will earn a prize as well as a photo posted on Better Baseball’s social media outlets! So get ready to step in to the box and swing out of your shoes. The challenge is on!
Each participant will be put into one of 5 age groups (one for boys & one for girls)
4-7yrs, 8-10yrs, 11-13yrs, 14-16yrs, 17 & up. a total of 10 groups
Each participant gets 3 swings, and their top swing speed counts for their total Score. They are allowed warmup swings, but must swing a bat that is legal for their age group.
i.e Billy is in High school and must swing a -3 BBCOR. Timmy is 12 yrs old and can either swing a -10 senior league bat or a legal small barrel bat
i.e. Billy swings 45, 45, and 48. on his 3 swings. 48 would be his score. tie breakers: First tie breaker: Average of three swings. Second Tie breaker; Speed of Second Swing; Third Tie Breaker: Youngest age.
One entry per person. Scoring must be witnessed and recorded by sales associate to count towards the contest. All winners will be announced on Sunday at 6 PM.
Prizes for Winners
Top 3 performers in each age group gets a prize package; as well as photo posted on our social media outlets.
First Place; BB Hat, T-shirt, $50gift card
Second Place: BB hat, t shirt, $25GC
Third Place: BB hat $15GC
Over-all Boys and Girl winner (Fastest Speed of the Challenge regardless of age) Zepp Sensor!
In the beginning, radar guns had their place… hidden behind a bush off the side of the highway trying to catch the red Mustang doing 95. It wasn’t until the mid-1970’s that radar guns made their way into the ball parks. Ever since, they’ve proven to be popular tools for baseball players, coaches, and scouts. And there’s good reason for it. Radar guns provide the most accurate, unbiased performance feedback for throwing, hitting, and pitching velocities.
Over the years, many radar guns from various manufacturers have strived for one thing: accuracy. A radar gun that doesn’t read the correct speed is like a glove with a hole in it. It’s safe to say that after 40 years of product testing and advanced engineering that the top companies have a firm grip on the accuracy issues. However, from a design standpoint, there is only one radar gun that leaves the others in the dust, and it’s called the Pocket Radar.
Unlike all big and bulky radar guns, the award-winning Pocket Radar is the first radar gun you can actually fit in your pocket. Instead of resembling the shape and grip of a gun, the Pocket Radar is more like a cell phone. It’s very discreet, at a great price, and it’s just as accurate as some of the most expensive radar guns on the market (+/- 1 mph). From a scouting standpoint, it can be problematic to have a standard radar gun pointed at a kid on the mound. If a younger player sees that he’s being clocked, he’s much more likely to try to throw harder than he actually can, which can result in a poor performance or an arm injury. The discretion of the Pocket Radar is a unique and invaluable feature for scouts to stay off the players’ radar… pun intended.
The Pocket Radar comes in two different models: the Classic and the Ball Coach. The Classic model was designed as an all-purpose radar gun for clocking anything in motion. Though it wasn’t designed for reading pitch and swing speeds, this model still does the trick. The Ball Coach is a more improved model designed specifically for clocking speeds in sports. It has a Constant-On mode that allows for hands-free use and a recall memory of 25 speed readings. If you’re looking for a radar gun for the purpose of clocking baseball and softball speeds, the Pocket Radar Ball Coach is the way to go.
Slap-Happy; The Art of Slap Hitting in Fast-Pitch Softball
It is no secret by now that people love the long-ball. The girls with the walk- off homers and high RBI’s are the ones that get most of the glory in the softball world. As impressive as power hitters are; unless you’re launching solo shots on a regular basis, someone has to set the table for your big moments. Those table-setters often come in the form of a slapper. We caught up with Emily Allard, current Chicago Bandit (NPF) and all-time stolen base leader at Northwestern University.
“Not only is your job to get on base and "set the table," but just by being a slapper, you are automatically a threat the moment you step into the box. We have an incredibly unique ability to change the momentum of a game simply by putting the ball in play.”
Allard has enjoyed tremendous success as a slapper both in college and professional play. Her passion for the hitting style has driven the creation of her company, Be The Momentum with Kristin Jensen (formerly Scharkey) another former NU slapper standout. BTM, in Allard’s words “… focuses mainly on clinic instruction and social media support for slappers, but recently has expanded into speed, baserunning and defensive work as well”.
The slap hitter is an incredibly versatile and CRUCIAL hitter in the line-up. Often seen in the 1,2, or 9 spot; the slapper’s job is to get on base and move runners into scoring position. Newbie spectators of the game are often shocked to see that a slapper begins stepping into her route to first before contact is made with the ball. The purpose of the run-through is to get out of the box faster and lessen her time to first base. Allard adds, “As a slapper, your entire existence relies on your ability to get on base in any way possible, most often with short game or challenging the defense to make a play against your speed”.
The art of slapping can come in multiple forms. There is the slap-bunt (or drag-bunt), where the slapper makes her steps and drops a quick bunt down. The purpose of these bunts are for base hits so they are not considered sacrifices. Although, if a slapper gets thrown out on a drag bunt but also moves her runner, she was still productive! The second, and most authentic form of slapping is the infield slap. This can come in multiple forms (soft roller/high bounce), but is hit with the intention of beating the throw to first. This is a slapper’s opportunity to really showcase her speed and one of Allard’s favorite parts of slapping. “Our speed forces defenses to be PERFECT in order to get us out. That's fun“. Placement and bat control are crucial pieces to this technique. The final addition to the slapping repertoire is the power-slap. This technique is pretty self-explanatory. These slaps are base hits that make it through the infield. Power slaps come into play when an RBI is needed or if the outfield is playing you incorrectly. A quick analysis of the defense is all it takes for a slapper to strategize her power slap approach. When the outfield is playing deep, just a strong poke into shallow left-center is all it takes (the infield will typically play tight to defend the tap/drag leaving a gap in shallow OF). If the outfield is playing close (which is very commonly done), then unleash the full power slap and turn the would-be single into a double or triple.
Athletes who are able to master each slapping technique become virtually indefensible. Slappers are the ultimate triple threat at the plate and deserve major props for their production. They are able to speed up game and keep EVERYONE on their toes.
"Setting the table is just as important as clearing the bases." This is the BTM motto and a very true statement! Fortunately, with the accomplishments of big time slappers such as Allard, Caitlin Lowe, and Natasha Watley, the art of slapping has been put on the map and forced people to pay attention. Demarini has caught the slapping bug and created the FIRST and ONLY slapper specific bat. With a longer barrel and weighted even closer to the hands, the CF8 is tailored completely to the unique needs of the slapper. The CF8 Slapper is now available and we have it here at Better Softball. Come on by and try it out at our in-house demo stations!