Louisville Slugger Creating Diagnostic Hitting Lab, Bat Fitting Center
By early 2022, Louisville Slugger will open the doors on a new diagnostic and analytic swing lab for baseball and softball players. And it comes just a few miles from the Louisville Slugger wood bat factory.
The upcoming Louisville Slugger Hitting Science Center, located in the new Norton Sports Health Performance & Wellness Center in Louisville, will place exercise scientists in a lab to analyze a wide range of data points from a player's swing and reaction time to then design custom training programs to help them become better hitters. It will also allow for more data-driven bat fitting.
"Our mission is to become the gold standard in baseball and fastpitch softball education and instruction," says Chad Miller, Louisville Slugger Hitting Science Center founder. "We will have an authentic baseball laboratory using the latest technology to help players fine-tune their game through measurable analytics like neuro response times and other important neurological and physical factors. Numbers don't lie, so we can identify specifically what each player needs to work on and then create individualized programs to help those athletes improve."
The Bat Fitting Lab will get housed within the Hitting Science Center, helping provide guidance to amateur, college, Minor League and Major League players on selecting bat models suited for them, including aspects such as barrel size, handle and knob style, length, weight distribution and specific species of wood for players selecting a wood bat.
The proximity of the Bat Fitting Lab to the Louisville Slugger wood bat factory will allow players to hit with their new bats and make adjustments in the same day. The Louisville Slugger Hitting Science Center will be inside a renovated 26,000-square-foot training space at the site of the former Louisville Athletic Club on Westport Road in Louisville.
"Pro players have always selected bats based on feel," says Kevin Uhrhan, Louisville Slugger manager for professional baseball. "Feel will remain part of it, but now we'll be able to take the data from each hitter's analysis and help them narrow down to the bat models and specifications that will help them have the most success."
The Louisville Slugger Hitting Science Center will feature VIP training service packages and a Spring Training Warm-Up Program for professional players. An academy program for amateurs and a hitting coach certification program, along with a series of hitting science camps and clinics, all come part of the plans for the space.
"Hall of Famer Ted Williams, one of the greatest hitters of all time, said that hitting a baseball is the single hardest thing to do in sports," says Jim Hackett, general manager of Wilson Baseball & Softball, parent company of Louisville Slugger. "Now players at every level will be able to come to the Louisville Slugger Hitting Science Center's Bat Fitting Lab and have their swing analyzed. Our exercise scientists will review the data and then work with each player to determine which of our wood and non-wood bats best fit their game."
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.