Advanced Analytics and Progressive Technology Fuel Iowa Baseball Player Development


The Hawkeye baseball program has been at the forefront of adopting new technology to aid player development and consistency.

Jerod ringwald

Iowa second baseman Michael Sergers hits head coach Rick Heller in a baseball game between Iowa and Minnesota at Duane Banks Field on Sunday, April 11, 2021. The Hawkeyes beat the Gophers 18 -0.

Advanced analytics have been at the forefront of college and Major League Baseball teams for over a decade.

The University of Iowa baseball program did not hesitate to adapt to the times.

Even before the Statcast era began in 2015, MLB front offices and Division I programs began investing thousands of dollars in the latest baseball technology to improve player development and performance.

“We were pretty quick for the toss,” said baseball head coach Rick Heller. “I feel like we were ahead of most. We were able to get the Trackman pretty quickly and were using a lot of pitch gear. “

Heller took the helm of the Hawkeye baseball program in 2013 – his fourth stint as a head coach. He began his managerial career at the University of Upper Iowa in 1987.

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Since arriving in Iowa City, Heller has taken the Hawkeyes to two NCAA regional championships in 2015 and 2017, won the first Big Ten Tournament title in program history in 2017, and averaged 30 wins per season.

Hawkeye’s eight-year head coach said almost all of the cutting edge technology his program uses today was not available when he took over as manager.

“We’ve always been the staff and the program that have tried to be at the forefront,” said Heller. “I think the most important thing is that once we have [the technology], we use it. We don’t let it sit in the closet and pick up dust like a lot of places do.

The Hawkeyes have used a number of technological tools since Heller’s arrival.

“Rapsodo, HitTrax, motion sensors Blast, Trackman, Yakkertech, Motus, Edgertronic cameras, Senaptec vision station, then a lot of machine learning for all the data we collect,” said pitch coach Robin. Lund.

Trackman and Rapsodo use different radar technologies to help track metrics such as RPM, axis of rotation, launch speed, and pitch side launch height. For hitters, it tracks exit speed, throw angle, and throw direction.

According to Rapsodo’s website, one unit costs $ 4,000, with a monthly subscription of $ 185. A portable Trackman unit retails for $ 18,995.

HitTrax measures real-time metrics, such as point of impact, strike distance and outcome of play. In the batting cage, players can see how far the ball has been hit and project if that swing is going. will result in a bang. A HitTrax home unit costs just under $ 10,000.

Blast Motion sensors attach to the knob of a baseball bat, using sensor-based swing analysis and edited video. The mobile app provides the hitter with the pitch angle, angle of attack and more stats, along with a visual and score for each metric.

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One unit is priced at $ 150 and with an annual subscription of $ 100 for advanced swing information for each hitter.

Each tool is used in all facets of the baseball program, including player development, scouting and recruiting.

“I don’t think it will ever be absolute when you recruit, but [the advanced analytics data] that’s of course good to know, ”said Heller. “We’re also the ones who want to be the best at developing the players once they’re here.”

Heller said the fundraiser helped the program acquire the new technology, and he is grateful to the donors who made it possible for the Hawkeyes to purchase the tools.

“I would say we probably use more technology than most [schools], but I would also say that we do more with the technology than we have than most people, ”Lund said.


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