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  • Radar Guns: a good tool?

    Yesterday, while web reading, I came across a little square box that supposed to read how fast a baseball swing is. It was called a hands free radar. It can also read how fast you can throw the ball. It was for 100+ dollars. Intrigued, I started to read more in the radar website and there is a handheld radar for 80 dollars. It supposed to NOT read a bat swing but apparently it does as I read it in the customer reviews section. This one also reads how fast you can throw a ball.
    I am considering purchasing the handheld radar since it is inexpensive. Would it be a good investment(and it is cheap), to use as a practice tool to record how fast (bat speed and throw speed). I guess to chart progress from practice to practice or month to month.
    Do you implement a radar when you teach? I know I read in here the video/dvd recorder is a valuable tool for improvement.

    Thank you.

  • #2
    Originally posted by new2thesport View Post
    Do you implement a radar when you teach? I know I read in here the video/dvd recorder is a valuable tool for improvement.Thank you.
    NEVER at the youth level. Anyone worth their salt has weighed in on this topic and few feel it is helpful. They have their time and place and i believe it's somewhere around HS. Here's an article I wrote some time ago.


    Radar Guns Have No Place In Youth Baseball.doc
    Last edited by Jake Patterson; 04-12-2008, 02:42 PM.
    "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
    - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
    Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

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    • #3
      The way they are usually used is not helpful, that's true. OTOH, immediate objective feedback is a big deal in any kind of learning. Used regularly rather than once in awhile like a carnival stunt, they can perform this function. By the time a kid gets to a high school, it's a little late to figure out his basic throwing mechanic is sub optimal and he'll never have the velocity he might have. The poor man's radar gun is long toss. How far you can throw it IS immediate objective feedback. Same same. When we were young we learned to throw by chunking rocks for accuracy and distance. Then we got baseballs and did the same thing. Neither the distance nor the radar gun will lie to you.

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      • #4
        Radar guns are great tools especially for pitching. Its good to gun each pitch every so often to make sure its not too fast or slow with accordance to other pitches ... like changeups and breaking pitches. For swings it can be a good thing just to see what training and such is doing for you but in my mind its not a necessity for hitting.
        “If there was ever a man born to be a hitter it was me.” - Ted Williams
        "Didn't come up here to read. Came up here to hit." - Hank Aaron

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Mark H View Post
          OTOH, immediate objective feedback is a big deal in any kind of learning.
          Come on Mark. How can a gun possibly help a youth coach teaching a ten year old? The objective feedback I would recommend is form and function. I rather see a coach use a camera for slow-mo analysis versus using a gun who's only purpose is to evaluate speed. Have you ever heard a youth coach say "Let me get the gun out I think we need to analyze your change-up and curve ball?"
          This is about as foolish as measuring bat speed at this age.
          "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
          - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
          Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

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          • #6
            I think there could be a use for a gun at the youth level only to know how fast the opposing kids are throwing in games so you can simulate game speed in your practices, but I doubt that would be the only reason it would be on the field and since most dads would probably use it for ego boosting reasons I would say don't buy it.

            My boy faces LL kids throwing maybe in the 40's, but our tourney team opponets say they have kids throwing 55 or so (10yr olds). In the cages we practice at 55 to 60, and when I throw live its probably 50's but closer then the 46 feet they play at. It would be nice to know what the actual speed they are facing. But again I would not dream of telling a kid how fast he is throwing.

            Cally

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
              Come on Mark. How can a gun possibly help a youth coach teaching a ten year old? The objective feedback I would recommend is form and function. I rather see a coach use a camera for slow-mo analysis versus using a gun who's only purpose is to evaluate speed. Have you ever heard a youth coach say "Let me get the gun out I think we need to analyze your change-up and curve ball?"
              This is about as foolish as measuring bat speed at this age.
              Form can fool you. It's not as important how the kid looks to a coach in video as it is the kid knows, almost instantly, what it felt like when the ball went five mph faster. ALMOST INSTANTLY! That's key. Later, even if the coach can look at video and know beyond a shadow of a doubt which throw was better, that information a few minutes or hours later is MUCH less effective in terms of learning than IMMEDIATE objective feedback while the memory of what if felt like is still fresh in his mind. Steve can get you some studies on learning theory research. This applies to anything, not just throwing and I'm not just talking about pitchers when I talk about throwing. The feel a kid needs to know can't be taught by a coach. He can only get a kid close. If a kid is throwing regularly with a gun, the information is the teacher. Kid notices when it feels this way, the gun says X. When it feels that way, the gun says X + 5 for instance. More information is NOT a bad thing. Why would you want a kid to work in the dark? Why would you tell a kid, go out there and work real hard at learning to throw well but we are going to limit the information that could tell you if what you are doing and feeling is working. Having said all that, the same thing can be accomplished with long toss if you don't have any heartburn with long toss though the release angle is more skill specific especially for pitchers with a gun. Again, I agree with your sentiments about the way the gun is usually used, but more information is NOT a bad thing.

              Comment


              • #8
                Mark could not disagree more. We have discussed this before and we will have to agree on disagreeing on this point.

                To the youth coaches who visit here. Several years ago I spoke with several pitching gurus at the World Baseball Convention and several D1 coaches, D3 coaches, Cape Cod League coach, Legion coaches, many HS coaches (During my years as a HS coach), etc... On the point of Radar guns all agreed... I think Dick Mills said it best:

                The point is when working with pitchers who are growing and developing the main focus must be on skill development...not on velocity since velocity will be determined by the stages of growth and development.

                It really doesn't matter how fast a youth pitcher pitches since that is no indication of how he will pitch in the future. Hard throwers at the Little League level will not necessarily throw hard when they get to high school. Late developers with better skills will normally bypass the early developers.
                Dick Mills 6/23/06

                I have never seen a youth coach, especially one who is a dad use a gun responsibly and few at that level understand the art of pitching well enough to intelligently modify idiosynchracies based on gun input.

                More bad comes from guns than good.
                "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post

                  It really doesn't matter how fast a youth pitcher pitches since that is no indication of how he will pitch in the future. Hard throwers at the Little League level will not necessarily throw hard when they get to high school. Late developers with better skills will normally bypass the early developers. [/B][/I]Dick Mills 6/23/06.
                  I wouldn't take Dick Mills word for the time of day.

                  Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
                  I have never seen a youth coach, especially one who is a dad use a gun responsibly.
                  I don't doubt that. It's not the tool's fault though.

                  Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
                  and few at that level understand the art of pitching well enough to intelligently modify idiosynchracies based on gun input..
                  No one can modify anything at the last few percent level to achieve excellence except the athlete themselves using immediate objective feedback. I'd like to see you read up on this subject in motor learning research as part of your considerable efforts at preparing yourself to help kids.

                  Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
                  More bad comes from guns than good.

                  Perhaps so but is this a technology problem or an education problem?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Jake and Mark H disagree - wow!

                    My son was in a "power throwing" class last fall where they tracked their speed to guage the progress of each kid. This seemed to work ok. It's a fine line but used correctly it's ok IMHO.
                    "Tip it and rip it" - In Memory of Dmac
                    "Hit the inside seam" - In Memory of Swingbuster

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
                      NEVER at the youth level. Anyone worth their salt has weighed in on this topic and few feel it is helpful. They have their time and place and i believe it's somewhere around HS. Here's an article I wrote some time ago.


                      [ATTACH]39808[/ATTACH]
                      Thanks for the article Jake! I understand where you are coming from and I totally agree. The child's safety is far and foremost the most important issue and from the misuse of the radar gun(in your article) can lead to unwanted injury.

                      My son is not interested in being a Pitcher and has no intentions of pitching.



                      This is what I wanted to use the radar gun for:

                      1. When we practice, we form a small perfect triangle (Mom, Dad and Son) and he warms up by throwing for around 5 minutes. The triangle then changes as he stands on first, mom on second, and dad on the pitchers mound. He throws to Mom, she throws it back to him and he performs a quick set and fires at dad. I then throw it to him and he peforms a quick set and fires at mom. He is smiling and gigling throughout this practice as he gets better and better the longer we do this(about 5 minutes). He will sometimes drop the ball when he quick sets but giggles and picks it up and fires the ball. Mom and Dad sometimes miss the ball and he giggles and laughs. He is enjoying the drill.
                      We take a break since it in usually hot and mom sits down and doesnt participate anymore. I then set up a basketball on the chair and have him throw balls from pitcher mound, shortstop and second and he tries to hit the ball off the chair(We do this because mom is under the shade and there is a fence close to 1st base and the balls dont roll far away so it is easy to pick up). He wont leave a station until he hits the basketball off of the chair. Which is usually 5 throws from the 3 stations.Never more than 8 throws. Eventually, he would like to throw from 3rd to 1st the same way he can throw it from the other positions.(he one bounces it to 1st) Then he would like to throw far from outfield.

                      Today, we started to change his throwing technique. I utilized Chris O'Leary pitching/throwing suggestions. Not much of a change for my son but very noticible because even I am practicing how to throw. The main thing that was different was the setting up sideways and then allowing the hips to rotate before our shoulders rotate. It was natural for him as I believe he was doing that but just not setting up sideways. For me, it was very difficult! I would rate my progress as still in first grade and he is in 5th grade. We just practiced in our driveway since it was almost sunset.

                      The radar gun would be used to monitor the progress of velosity as he starts to change and eventually master the correct technique. It is in my opinion that with improved technique, will equal more velosity, will equal a perfect throw from outfield or infield without a risk of injury. The radar would track progress of his throw without going over his limitations thus creating a safer practice. I also believe that sacrificing form in order to throw farther, harder or faster is the quickest way to injure your body. Knowing your limitations is a great way to avoid injury.

                      2. Hitting. As we have recently started to practice "rotational" hitting, the radar gun would be used to monitor his bat speed. If you can get a reading on his best hits in a single practice(in perfect form and "not looking up, twisting around and falling down on his knees and grinning" form), wouldnt it be advantageous to know his optimum bat speed? With the radar, we can monitor and track any improvements or lack of it in his bat speed while trying to improve and master his swing.

                      My intentions for the use of the radar gun is to use it as a tool to help chart progress and to utilize the information to know limits and practice safely within safe parameters of his limits that is previously unknown. Now if no progress is made or if he starts to regress, then we are doing it wrong and we will have to adjust and make changes.

                      After I read Jake's article about the subject of radar guns in youth baseball, I can definetly understand why he wouldnt recommend using it. But if you read my intentions for the use of it, would it be a good tool?

                      I would never use it to bolter any ego or track other childrens pitches etc. It is only for my son. My son is shy, quiet and timid. No stroking of big egos of athleticism or wants to be better than anyone else. He just strives to better himself and when he asks for help, mom and dad are more than happy to help him. (This is what led me to the internet to learn more about baseball)
                      A little about my son. He was trained in Gracie Jiu-jitsu since he was 2 years old. When we played around, I was teaching him arm bars, shoulder locks, knee bars, guards, guard passes,etc. To him, it was the way daddy and him played. At age 4, we implemented Muay Thai and again the wasy daddy and him played.(Which is funny because nowadays, there is mixed martial arts on television and one day it was on and while he was walking and looking at the tv, he stopped and said, "Dad! I know how to do that! It was a fighter applying an arm bar and I smiled and said, yes you do, but only with daddy) Age 5, he was the youngest to be accepted in Aikido Academy. Sensei doesnt let children under 8 attend. It has a huge honor.
                      In school, at age 6 was recommended by his teachers as "Gifted and Talented". At age 7, solving linear equations in pre-algebra and assigned two gifted and talented teachers who challenge him . (They said they need to challenge him because regular classwork was too easy and he will get bored and uninterested and will be detrimental for him.) His reading skills were at the 5th grade level. He is 8 now and he just took a state/national assessment exam this past week. He still has two more days of testing next week. From what he tells me, he is positive that he got 100% correct on the 4 tests he took last week. In fact, one of the teacher/monitors for the tests came up to my wife and I on friday and told us this story." Your son was sitting there doing nothing while the tests were being given. I came up to him and asked him if he is finished. He replied, "Yes". I then told him that there is alot of time left and to check his test to make sure he did it correctly. He replied, " I did, 16 times".

                      There is never a day, where I will force him to play baseball. He will ask us , " Can we practice baseball today?" And of course we will always say, sure we can. Just like the changes in his swing. He saw it on chris oleary website and wanted to implement the changes. Nothing is forced on him. I am glad that he likes to play baseball after school or whenever. It gives him exercise. Other than that, he is reading books and may I add, alot of them!

                      Sorry it is long. Also thank you eveyone for all the advice!!
                      Last edited by new2thesport; 04-13-2008, 01:43 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Stealth View Post
                        Jake and Mark H disagree - wow!.
                        Yes but in a friendly, respectful, honest manner just as you and I discussed an issue recently.

                        Originally posted by Stealth View Post
                        My son was in a "power throwing" class last fall where they tracked their speed to guage the progress of each kid. This seemed to work ok. It's a fine line but used correctly it's ok IMHO.
                        Exactly. The problem is the novelty, once in a blue moon, carnival challenge atmosphere the gun is often/usually used in. If it's used regularly to the point it becomes old hat, then it's just more information and one part of one area of improvement.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by new2thesport View Post
                          Thanks for the article Jake! I understand where you are coming from and I totally agree. The child's safety is far and foremost the most important issue and from the misuse of the radar gun(in your article) can lead to unwanted injury.

                          My son is not interested in being a Pitcher and has no intentions of pitching.



                          This is what I wanted to use the radar gun for:

                          1. When we practice, we form a small perfect triangle (Mom, Dad and Son) and he warms up by throwing for around 5 minutes. The triangle then changes as he stands on first, mom on second, and dad on the pitchers mound. He throws to Mom, she throws it back to him and he performs a quick set and fires at dad. I then throw it to him and he peforms a quick set and fires at mom. He is smiling and gigling throughout this practice as he gets better and better the longer we do this(about 5 minutes). He will sometimes drop the ball when he quick sets but giggles and picks it up and fires the ball. Mom and Dad sometimes miss the ball and he giggles and laughs. He is enjoying the drill.!!
                          How cool is that? Way to go Mom!







                          Originally posted by new2thesport View Post
                          The radar gun would be used to monitor the progress of velosity as he starts to change and eventually master the correct technique. !!
                          Exactly. Immediate objective feedback. For instance, maybe he looks like he's got the correct form one day but the velocity is way down. Instead of being happy, you know some small thing really isn't right. Sure, you keep him within some "form" parameters, but the information from the gun is what teaches him what it "feels" like to him when when the ball really goes fast instead of just feeling like max effort to him. That feel is an individual thing and is what he needs to learn. You saying yeah, that looked good as you watch him at full speed is unreliable information because you can't see everything to the degree you need to and because even the slow motion camera can't see which muscles are firing when. The instructor, in this case you, can get him close. After that, he has to teach himself and he needs real, immediate objective feedback to do that.

                          Originally posted by new2thesport View Post
                          2. Hitting. As we have recently started to practice "rotational" hitting, the radar gun would be used to monitor his bat speed. If you can get a reading on his best hits in a single practice(in perfect form and "not looking up, twisting around and falling down on his knees and grinning" form), wouldnt it be advantageous to know his optimum bat speed? With the radar, we can monitor and track any improvements or lack of it in his bat speed while trying to improve and master his swing.!!
                          You understand the primacy of bat quickness over bat speed I hope? For the sake of any others reading, bat speed is not enough. Slow pitch men's hitters have much higher bat speed than MLB hitters. MLB hitters have enough bat speed but what they have that others don't is a very quick swing from decision to contact allowing them to track the ball longer before they commit.

                          Originally posted by new2thesport View Post
                          My intentions for the use of the radar gun is to use it as a tool to help chart progress and to utilize the information to know limits and practice safely within safe parameters of his limits that is previously unknown. Now if no progress is made or if he starts to regress, then we are doing it wrong and we will have to adjust and make changes.

                          After I read Jake's article about the subject of radar guns in youth baseball, I can definetly understand why he wouldnt recommend using it. But if you read my intentions for the use of it, would it be a good tool?!!
                          I think so. Sounds like a remarkable kid by the way. Enjoy the journey. It is so soon over and you are discussing how to live life with a wife as he gets fitted with a tux and you wonder where the years went so fast.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by new2thesport View Post
                            Yesterday, while web reading, I came across a little square box that supposed to read how fast a baseball swing is. It was called a hands free radar. It can also read how fast you can throw the ball. It was for 100+ dollars. Intrigued, I started to read more in the radar website and there is a handheld radar for 80 dollars.
                            What I've seen with radar guns is that you get what you pay for. The cheap guns are cheap for a reason. If you intend to use it to simply record increase in velocity, I suppose that's fine, but the cheap guns (the ones we've seen other parents buy) give inaccurate readings. Friends of ours bought one from an online company and never got any response at all when they contacted them (via e-mail and their 800 number) about the inaccuracy.

                            If there are inexpensive guns out there that are accurate and durable, maybe someone here can share the brand name.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by epic View Post
                              What I've seen with radar guns is that you get what you pay for. The cheap guns are cheap for a reason. If you intend to use it to simply record increase in velocity, I suppose that's fine, but the cheap guns (the ones we've seen other parents buy) give inaccurate readings. Friends of ours bought one from an online company and never got any response at all when they contacted them (via e-mail and their 800 number) about the inaccuracy.

                              If there are inexpensive guns out there that are accurate and durable, maybe someone here can share the brand name.
                              Yep. Unless someone is puttting up the money for an expensive Jugs or Stalker they're not getting an accurate reading.

                              Comment

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