By Glenn Fleisig, Ph.D.
Moneyball revolutionized baseball, revealing improved methods for valuing player performance. All MLB clubs now use analytics, and many have now entered the next revolution for a competitive edge – biomechanics. In addition to quantifying a player’s performance, teams are realizing the importance of measuring and optimizing the biology and mechanics that create the performance. How can a player generate more velocity on a pitched or batted ball? Why do some players get hurt?
Research studies have quantified the biomechanics of elite baseball players and have correlated biomechanical parameters with performance (kinematics and ball velocity) and safety (kinetics and injury). Over the years, biomechanics has been embraced and used by more and more players, coaches, trainers, and physical therapists. However, until recently, biomechanics was limited to expensive, stationary systems at university labs, research institutions, and medical centers. Advances in technologies now enable biomechanics to expand from the lab to the field.
The biomechanics revolution in baseball brings great opportunity but also many challenges. Kinematics and kinetics can be measured, but who is going to interpret the overwhelming volume of data? How should players and their coaches change their mechanics based upon their biomechanical evaluation? Also, how accurate are the various biomechanical systems? And finally, with all of the advances in baseball biomechanics, how come injuries are as common as ever?
For the last few years, more and more teams have been asking me what biomechanics equipment is best and if there is a good biomechanist to hire. COVID-19 might have suspended baseball play at all levels, but researchers continue to investigate biomechanics related to injuries and performance.
From these needs and advances, the American Baseball Biomechanics Society was born. As stated in our bylaws, the purpose of ABBS is to provide valid, valuable biomechanical information to baseball players, coaches, teams, and organizations. Another purpose is to set standards for sports biomechanics evaluations and analyses within a baseball setting. To paraphrase a former U.S. presidential candidate, we hope you join the revolution.