Membership Spotlight: Tina Stefanovic

Tina was born in Serbia, which is a small country in Eastern Europe, in a city called Cacak. Although she spent most of her childhood there, she moved to the US right after high school. Thanks to an athletic and academic scholarship, She got the opportunity to play volleyball and pursue her undergraduate studies at New York Institute of Technology. She is currently a student at Point Loma Nazarene University pursuing her Master’s degree in Kinesiology and Sport Performance.

She is currently involved with biomechanics research as well as being a teaching assistant and sports science intern. As a biomechanics TA/RA she has enjoyed providing support for the undergraduate and graduate biomechanics lectures and laboratories. She also participates in pitching biomechanics research under Dr. Aguinaldo. This includes setting up and running the MoCap system, collecting the data, and post-processing it. Most of their research focuses on professional MLB teams.  With the Sports Science Internship she conducts athlete monitoring and performance testing using sports science technology for the purposes of performance and injury surveillance as well as work-out optimization

She is really interested in understanding the role biomechanics play in baseball player performance and injury prevention. In her future career, She hopes to implement evidence-based recommendations and biomechanical data to develop models for baseball player evaluation, injury risk assessment, and improvement of on-field movement.

Her favorite place to travel is anywhere in Europe, and she love all kinds of food. Home-made, Serbian food is the best though! She does not have the opportunity to eat a lot of home-made Serbian meals, so she tries to prepare them whenever she can. Her favorite meal to cook would be “sarma” – cabbage leaves stuffed with a mixture of ground meat, rice, and spices. She does not have a favorite movie – She is more of a series kind of person! But she loves watching Serbian movies and getting educated on her country’s history. If she could have any pet, she would have a DOG! Her superpower would be the ability to heal others. Outside of baseball, she loves to coach volleyball! her favorite holiday is Christmas!

Here are some fun facts:
Her dad played professional basketball in their home country and is now a successful basketball coach. He’s the reason why she decided to pursue a collegiate playing and later on coaching career in volleyball.

She played in the NCAA women’s volleyball national championship in 2015.

She had a knee injury that required 2 surgeries.

After graduating with a BS in biomedical engineering, She worked in an orthopedic research lab for 2 years while also working as a program manager for USC women’s volleyball team. These experiences opened up the doors to her master’s program, where She fell in love with biomechanics research!
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Member Updates and Information

Hello Everyone,

We have received some questions regarding the posting of the video from the ISBS/ABBS Baseball & Softball session. We are currently waiting for ISBS to send us the link. Once we have the link we will notify everyone that it has been posted on our website.


Just a reminder, the SABR virtual conference is next week (March 11-14th). We are excited to have a panel of ABBS members discussing the role of biomechanics in MLB.https://sabr.org/analytics


The ABBS career board is posted on the website and we encourage everyone to post any baseball biomechanics jobs on the page. https://baseballbiomechanics.proboards.com

We have begun posting the Membership Spotlights weekly on the website and social media accounts. The survey is still open and if you would like to be included in this opportunity, please fill out this Survey Monkey link. 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ABBSMemberSpotlight

We are continuously adding content and information to our WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn accounts. Be sure to follow us. If you would like to have your work featured on our social media be sure to send Megan Stewart an email at socialmedia.ABBS@gmail.com

Thank you,

Hillary

ABBS State of the Society

What a dull year 2020 has been. Nothing unusual.

We all wish that were the case, but of course Covid-19 turned our world upside down. I hope you and your family are doing well this holiday season. Here’s wishing for a better year in 2021 for us all. The purpose of this email is to share the first annual State of the Society with you for the American Baseball Biomechanics Society (ABBS). Specifically, I will share some highlights of 2020 and vision for 2021.

With the growth of biomechanics in baseball, I emailed an interest form in January 2020 to biomechanists involved with baseball. Dozens of people expressed interest in joining a society, including 11 who showed strong interest in creating the society. A founding group was formed comprised of these 11 biomechanists: Anthony Brady, Dr. Glenn Fleisig, Ben Hansen, Dr. Bryson Nakamura, Dr. Gretchen Oliver, Dr. Hillary Plummer, Dr. Robert Shapiro, Dr. Jonathan Slowik, Dr. Matt Solomito, Ethan Stewart, and Megan Stewart. During the next few months, this founding group created the society’s name (American Baseball Biomechanics Society), logo, bylawswebsite, and Facebook page. The society also applied for and received 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the IRS.

The founding group assumed the positions as the Board of Directors in accordance with the bylaws. Glenn Fleisig (President), Gretchen Oliver (Treasurer), Hillary Plummer (Secretary General), Megan Stewart (Vice President of Social Media), and Bryson Nakamura (Vice President of Conferences) were set as the society’s officers. The Board decided to set society membership as free without dues for the first year. Eleven companies provided financial support as founding sponsors: DARI Motion (title sponsor), KinaTraxBertecQualisysAMTIViconDriveline BaseballRapsodoDiamond KineticsProPlayAI, and SMT.

Thanks to the ABBS social media committee, we now have over 1,000 followers on Twitter and Instagram. If you are not yet following ABBS, we encourage you to do so. If you have something you would like tweeted or retweeted by ABBS, tag ABBS or contact Megan Stewart.

The inaugural ABBS conference was held online in July, thanks to the hard work of the board and particularly the conference committee. 949 people registered. This three-day event featured presentations on broad topics like technology and careers in baseball biomechanics and specific studies such as the kinetics of pitching and hitting. Videos of all presentations are archived to view.

By August, ABBS had 150 members. The first annual business meeting for ABBS was held online in August, in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Society of Biomechanics. The bylaws were ratified and the acting executives and directors were officially elected. A call for two more directors was announced and 10 members were nominated in the nomination period. An election was held online and Dr. Kristen Nicholson and Dr. Ming-Sheng (Matt) Chan were elected onto the board.

baseball biomechanics career board has now been created. If you have a job, internship, academic position, or other opportunity, please post it on this board. This board is specifically for baseball biomechanics positions with MLB organizations, universities, technology companies, institutions, and others.

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Borrowing a biomechanics term, we plan to carry our momentum forward into early 2021. ABBS has partnered with a number of other societies with upcoming meetings. In January, the ASMI Injuries in Baseball Course will include an “ABBS Challenge” with a panel of ABBS members analyzing and discussing the biomechanics of sample baseball pitchers. In February, ABBS will host a baseball biomechanics session as part of the mid-year symposium for the International Society of Biomechanics in Sports. In March, ABBS will host a panel on baseball biomechanics in Major League Baseball at the SABR Analytics Conference. More courses and events will follow during the year for ABBS, alone and with other organizations. In addition, ABBS social media and career board should strengthen the bonds within our community.

So as you can see, it’s been a remarkable first year for ABBS. Biomechanics is becoming more and more vital for baseball players and organizations to maximize performance and minimize the risk of injury, and we look forward to working with you to improve our great game.

Glenn Fleisig, Ph.D.

Role of Lumbo-pelvic Control in Pitching

By: Hillary Plummer, PhD, ATC

It is no secret that elbow injuries have become exceedingly prevalent in baseball pitchers. Specifically, ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tears continue to increase. UCL injuries that require reconstruction result in significant time-loss from baseball participation and rates of return to competition range from 68% to 94%.1-6 Despite increased awareness in injury prevention and load management measures for pitchers, injury rates do not appear to be decreasing.

Altered lumbo-pelvic control may be a contributing factor to upper extremity injuries. Pitching is a dynamic movement that requires coordinated sequencing of the kinetic chain. Optimal sequencing in which force is generated by the legs during the wind-up and transferred to the trunk, upper extremity to maximize ball velocity. Altered force transfer up the kinetic chain can result in compensations at the shoulder and elbow to make up for any lost force and may contribute to injury.7-10 Chaudhari et al11 examined the role of lumbo-pelvic control during a single-leg raise task on injury in MiLB pitchers. Anterior-posterior deviation of the pelvis was measured using a Level Belt. Pitchers rated as having poor lumbo-pelvic control had a high likelihood of missing more than 30 days during the season (p = 0.023). Anterior-posterior deviation scores were also divided into tertials and pitchers in the highest tertial were 3 times more likely to miss at least 30 days than those in the lowest tertial. It is possible that pitching biomechanics contributed to injury in their sample of pitchers. Recent work by Laudner and colleagues12 examined lumbo-pelvic control during a single-leg balance test and shoulder and elbow kinetics during pitching. No significant relationships with the stride leg lumbo-pelvic control and kinetics were observed. A relationship between lumbo-pelvic control on the drive leg and maximum shoulder abduction torque (r= 0.44, p= .003) and elbow varus torque (r= 0.46, p= .002) were observed. Over time, greater shoulder and elbow kinetics may contribute to injury.

There is also evidence to suggest that lumbo-pelvic control is related to pitching performance. Chaudhari et al13 used the same single-leg raise task to assess the role of lumbo-pelvic control on pitching performance. Pitchers with better lumbo-pelvic control (score of <7° of lumbo-pelvic movement) had lower walks plus hits per inning pitched (1.4 ±  0.3 vs. 1.6 ±  0.36, ES = 0.79, p = 0.013) and a greater number of innings pitched during the season (78.9 ± 38.7 vs. 53.4 ±  42.5, ES = 0.64, p = 0.043) compared to pitchers poor lumbo-pelvic control.

These studies highlight the role of lumbo-pelvic control on injury and performance in baseball pitchers. Prospective studies examining lumbo-pelvic control and pitching biomechanics and injury throughout a season are needed. Clinicians who work with pitchers should monitor and target any deficits in lumbo-pelvic control in pitchers to improve performance and reduce injury.

1. Thompson WH, Jobe FW, Yocum LA, Pink MM. Ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction in athletes: Muscle-splitting approach with transposition of the ulnar nerve. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2001;10(2):152-157.

2. Dodson CC, Thomas A, Dines JS, Nho SJ, Williams RJ, Altchek DW. Medial ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction of the elbow in throwing athletes. Am J Sports Med. 2006;34(12):1926-1932.

3. Rohrbough JT, Altchek DW, Hyman J, Williams RJ, Botts JD. Medial collateral ligament reconstruction of the elbow using the Docking Technique. Am J Sports Med. 2002;30(4):541-548.

4. Dines JS, ElAttrache NS, Conway JE, Smith W, Ahmad CS. Clinical outcomes of the DANE TJ Technique to treat ulnar collateral ligament insufficiency of the elbow. Am J Sports Med. 2007;35(12):2039-2044.

5. Paletta GA, Wright RW. The modified docking procedure for elbow ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction: 2-year follow-up in elite throwers. Am J Sports Med. 2006;34(10):1594-1598.

6. Erickson BJ, Bach BR, Jr., Cohen MS, et al. Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction: The Rush Experience. Orthop J Sports Med. 2016;4(1):2325967115626876.

7. Chu SK, Jayabalan P, Kibler WB, Press J. The kinetic chain revisited: New concepts on throwing mechanics and injury. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2016;8(35):S69-77.

8. Davis JT, Limpisvasti O, Fluhme D, et al. The effect of pitching biomechanics on the upper extremity in youth and adolescent baseball pitchers. Am J Sports Med. 2009;37(8):1484-1491.

9. Kibler WB, Chandler JB, Shapiro R, Conuel M. Muscle activation in coupled scapulohumeral motions in the high performance tennis serve. Br J Sports Med. 2007;41:745-749.

10. Lintner D, Noonan TJ, Kibler WB. Injury patterns and biomechanics of the athlete’s shoulder. Clin Sports Med. 2008;27(4):527-551.

11. Chaudhari AM, McKenzie CS, Pan X, Onate JA. Lumbopelvic control and days missed because of injury in professional baseball pitchers. Am J Sports Med. 2014;42(11):2734-2740.

12. Laudner KG, Wong R, Meister K. The influence of lumbopelvic control on shoulder and elbow kinetics in elite baseball pitchers. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2019;28(2):330-334.

13. Chaudhari AM, McKenzie CS, Borchers JR, Best TM. Lumbopelvic control and pitching performance of professional baseball pitchers. J Strength Cond Res. 2011;25(8):2127-2131.

Tips for Choosing a Graduate Biomechanics Program

By: Hillary Plummer, PhD, ATC

During the Inaugural ABBS Virtual Conference we had a panel discuss baseball biomechanics in academia. This topic proved to be extremely popular and many students had questions for the panel. Choosing a graduate school can be a stressful endeavor for students looking to jumpstart a career in baseball biomechanics. Baseball biomechanist can work in a variety of settings such as industry, non-profits, professional baseball, and academia. The education a biomechanist receives can help set them for whichever setting they are interested in pursuing following graduation.

Here are some tips for choosing a graduate school:

  • Choose a program that has a faculty member performing baseball biomechanics research. While some schools may offer more general biomechanics programs, gaining hands on experience performing baseball research is critical. Graduate school is a great time to gain as much experience as you can working with baseball player and learning about the various types of motion analysis equipment.
  • Motion analysis technology is rapidly advancing and choosing a program that has access to various types of equipment can set you apart from other job candidates’ post-graduation.
  • Talk to students currently in a biomechanics program you are interested in and get their opinions on the program. What are the expectations of your potential mentor? What projects are in progress and do they align with your interests? Are students able to develop their own research project or do they only work on the mentor’s projects? Do students get the opportunity to publish? What is a typical day like? Are there opportunities to collaborate with other labs? How many individuals work in the lab and how well does everyone work together? How are lab related conflicts resolved?

The insight gained from the current students can help you decide if a program is the right fit for you. Depending on if you are seeking a Master’s degree or a PhD, this will be anywhere from 2-5 years of your life. You want to make sure the school you choose is going to be the right fit.

  • See the settings where typical program graduates end up working. Has the program had graduate take jobs in the setting that you are interested in? For example, if you are interested in working in professional baseball then choosing a program that has a history of placing students with a professional organization may be beneficial. 
  • If you are interested in a career in academia or at a non-profit, then choosing a program that emphasizes grant writing and publications is important. In these settings, the ability to obtain funding is critical to being able to perform baseball related research. Choosing a mentor who has been successful in obtaining funding is something to consider. These individuals can help you develop skills with grant writing and successfully mentor you through the grant writing process. 

ABBS Inaugural Business Meeting

Everyone please look to join the American Baseball Biomechanics board members as they lead the inaugural business meeting on Friday, August 7th at 5:00pm EST in conjunction with the American Biomechanics Society conference. During this event we will discuss the bylaws of the organization and give an update from all the ABBS officers. We will also be talking about the remaining two board seats and how individuals can get involved. We are excited to host this event and look forward to seeing all of our new and potential members there!

ABBS 2020 Inaugural Conference Recap and Video Availability

By Koby Close

The American Baseball Biomechanics Society kicked off their first inaugural conference with three days of virtual research presentations and panel discussions. The mission of ABBS is to provide valid, valuable biomechanical information to baseball players, coaches, teams, and organizations and to set standards for biomechanical evaluations and analyses within a baseball setting.

Over 900 people registered for the event and were given the opportunity to see new research, learn about emerging technologies, and hear from world leaders in biomechanics. Those who were able to attend the live presentations also had the chance to ask questions during research and panel discussions.  

If you missed the conference you can see recordings of each day here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.

Glenn Fleisig, Ph.D. and President of ABBS, opened the first day with an overview of biomechanics history and why this was the appropriate time to found the society. PubMed search results for baseball biomechanics demonstrated the rapid expansion of the field and the need to create a central body that individuals, companies, and organizations can rely on. As stated in his letter to ABBS on April 30, 2020, “The biomechanics revolution in baseball brings great opportunity but also many challenges.”

“PubMed Research Results from Dr. Glenn Fleisig’s keynote presentation”

Emerging technologies such as markerless motion capture, pitching mounds with embedded force plates, and wearables will continue to increase the accessibility and interest in biomechanics research in the wider baseball community. ABBS has a tremendous opportunity to spread research and establish best practices for these new technologies that will help push the game forward.

Applications to Player Development

Many of the board members and guest panelists are employed by MLB teams and called out the fact that players and coaches from their organizations were increasingly interested in biomechanics research and how it could be applied to player development. This idea quickly became the popular theme of the conference as live questions were focused on how academic studies and new technologies could be leveraged to increase player performance or prevent injury. Panel discussion topics were polled from participants near the end of the conference with 50% asking for discussions around translating biomechanics findings to applications on the field/in training. 

Thursday’s panel of Bryson Nakamura, Ph.D., Ethan Stewart Ph.D.(c), and Ben Hansen, B.S. showed the need for technology validation and standards as they discussed some of the differences in how MLB teams use technologies in their player development departments. Ethan Stewart specifically pointed out that teams largely use the same technologies but how they integrate them into their existing programs is what set organizations apart. The accuracy and application of these technologies in player development has major implications and the need to understand the limitations of a new biomechanics tool was evident.

The final panel on Friday consisted of the ABBS board and, as requested through the poll, spent a good amount of time discussing how their work could be presented to players and coaches in a way that enabled them to make positive changes. Each panel member offered their personal approach to conveying information to players and how they adjust to different audiences. Concepts that were effective at all levels included:

  • Using video and demonstrations to effectively convey concepts
  • Gaining an understanding of the player’s goals
  • Working with coaches/parents to integrate biomechanics findings into their development plan

Many panel members pointed out that the increasing number of coaches and players with fundamental knowledge of biomechanics and data analysis allowed them to have more technical conversations and the ability to introduce plots and tables to convey important information. The ability to communicate with those involved in player development has clearly helped the biomechanists on the panel be successful and is key to the growth of biomechanics for player development.

The emphasis on player development raised some questions about how biomechanists should balance the apparent tradeoffs between performance gains and injury prevention. Dr. Fleisig took his stance on this balance by calling on biomechanics research to continue to quantify and define the risk/benefit while allowing the individual player to weigh the tradeoffs. He also recommended moderation in any training program and reminded the audience that small studies on training effects would add up to deeper understanding over time. 

Promoting Growth of Young Biomechanists

Another area that was touched on throughout the panel discussions was helping young biomechanists build a career in baseball. Wednesday’s panel of Gretchen Oliver, Ph.D., Hillary Plummer, Ph.D., and Megan Stewart, M.S. focused on the research opportunities in academia and how to choose a Ph.D. program. 

The program at Auburn University, led by Dr. Oliver, puts an emphasis on injury prevention and understanding the throwing motion in baseball and softball pitchers. Her advice to aspiring Ph.D. students was to research advisors more than the schools themselves because their research interests need to align with yours for the experience to be mutually beneficial. The other panel members reiterated this idea and added that speaking to current students was another great way to understand what is expected of a Ph.D. candidate at that school. A drive to learn was the number one characteristic needed to be selected and successful.

Thursday’s Major League Baseball panel also took some time to chime in on the skills needed to be successful as a biomechanist. Ethan Stewart encouraged those who aspire to work for an MLB team to reach out to biomechanists and player development personnel regularly. Making yourself known in a deep talent pool is the first step in getting an interview for an internship or job opening. Ben Hansen added the need for programming skills and Dr. Nakamura said his diverse experiences before joining the Brewers allowed him to see things with new, innovative perspectives. 

The baseball biomechanics industry professionals also offered their experiences and recommendations. The panel consisted of William Clark, Ph.D., Patrick Cherveny, M.S., Scott Coleman, M.S., and Patrick Moodie, M.S. Each panelist entered industry with a desire to spread objective measurement and offered insight into the challenges a technology provider faces in the world of baseball. An aspiring biomechanist with the ability to communicate with users and understand their needs would make them an extremely valuable employee. Programming skills were also highly desired in industry in addition to critical thinking skills.

Research Presentations and Guest Speakers

ABBS would like to thank all the individuals who presented research during the conference. Without your contributions the conference would not have been possible. Speakers included Jon Slowik Ph.D., Garret Bullock PT, DPT, Zachary Domire Ph.D., Matt Solomito Ph.D., Cal Haefke, Avery Avina, Arnel Aguinaldo Ph.D., Jacqueline Alderson Ph.D., Eric Burger M.S., Dan Aucoin, Christopher Curran Ph.D., Mike Reinold PT, DPT, SCS, ATC, CSCS C-PS. 

ABBS would like to give a special thanks to our sponsors for their support: Dari Motion, Kinatrax, Rapsodo, Vicon, AMTI, Bertec, Qualisys, ProPlayAI, Driveline Baseball, Diamond Kinetics, and SMT.


This summary was written by Koby Close. Koby received his undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 2017. He currently works as a data analyst and posts his baseball and biomechanics research on the Phanalytics blog.

Tw/IG: @ThePhanalyst 

Photo Courtesy of SportTechie