A specialized lab at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is using motion capture technology and data to help baseball pitchers improve their pitch speed and spin rate, understand deficiencies in their delivery, and reduce their risk of injury – helping them be at their best on the mound.
Using dozens of reflective markers and motion sensing cameras, UNO biomechanics researchers are able to capture each intricate movement pitchers go through as part of their pitching motion. The technology used by the UNO biomechanics pitching lab tracks how each part of a pitcher’s body, from the ground up, contributes to how a pitch is delivered. This provides insights into how pitchers can improve their delivery while also reducing the risk for injury.
“We really look at the whole athlete for a baseball pitcher and try to understand their injury risk and their performance, how they move, and how we can help them get better,” Brian Knarr, Ph.D., associate professor of biomechanics at UNO and co-director of the UNO Pitching Lab said.
Tyler Hamer, Ph.D., a research associate in biomechanics and former UNO baseball pitcher has assisted with the analysis under Knarr’s advisement. “It gives us the ability to see what’s going on under the hood of every pitcher’s movement, have concrete data as to why they’re moving how they are, and, if they’ve experienced a history of injury, really understand that and predict it going forward. It’s very beneficial that a wave of technology is sweeping over baseball right now.”
High school and collegiate student athletes from across the Omaha community and across the nation often travel to UNO for pitching assessments.
Kyle Seebach, a pitcher for Northern Illinois University, is one such athlete who has traveled to Omaha for an assessment through the UNO Pitching Lab. After hearing about the lab through other pitchers who have benefitted from the lab’s assessments, Seebach came to UNO hoping to learn more about his strengths and where he could improve his pitching.
“I’ve been able to overcome deficiencies in my delivery while also being able to maintain my strengths. I gained six miles per hour over the summer, and it’s helped me on the mound to understand the basics of pitching,” Seebach said. “My pitching coaches are helping me and teaching me new things that I can comprehend a lot better.”
Data from these assessments are also utilized in additional research such as how specialization for certain roles in athletics, such as being a baseball pitcher, impacts an athlete’s overall performance as they develop.
The UNO Pitching Lab was recently featured on KETV, and has had a presence at the 2022 College World Series.
Housed within the Biomechanics Research Building, the UNO Pitching Lab is a collaborative effort between UNO’s Department of Biomechanics and UNO’s School of Health and Kinesiology – both under the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. Additional information on assessments provided through the lab and how athletes can schedule an appointment can be found on the UNO Pitching Lab website.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.