Pocket Radar A Key Recovery And Training Tool

Image credit: (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

The days of Pocket Radar serving as a portable radar gun to simply measure velocity has evolved well beyond tracking the fastball. The handheld radar gun popular in baseball at a range of levels is now playing a key role in injury recovery and prevention and training.

“Velocity in the gun is used for so many other things,” says Steve Goody, Pocket Radar owner.

Craig Lefferts, the Oakland A’s’ rehab coordinator, says that Pocket Radar has been invaluable. “We really work on effort level and getting our pitchers back, they have to start slow and build into the process,” he says. “A lot of times it is difficult for the pitchers to judge their effort. I have taken them out of the equation because the Pocket Radar lets me know exactly what type of effort by velocity they are putting into it. Now our program is really based on the effort from the Pocket Radar, which I use with every throw with every pitcher all year long.”

That baseline of data stretches beyond just rehab. It can help in injury prevention, such as when a pitcher sees velocity drop without pain, alerting coaches to a potential fatigue issue. The device can also ensure a structured warmup routine, such as how Los Angeles pitcher Shohei Ohtani uses the device during every warmup to ensure he is hitting the correct level of exertion. 

Goody says that as an engineer and business owner when he first saw his product have a range of alternative uses, he was excited. In the early days of Pocket Radar, coaches were using it to train pitchers to feel speeds, using the data from the device to train them to understand the velocity differences between their fastball and changeup, for example. After repetition, pitchers were able to understand the “feeling associated with the speed,” helping them hit the desired marks for different pitchers.

That training use opened up additional uses, such as rehab. Goody says trainers were telling him they wanted players returning from Tommy John’s surgery throwing at 50% but they didn’t know what that felt like and still threw too hard. “They could train them what 50% really feels like,” Goody says. “You have to be really careful after surgery. You have to keep your velocity down, your reps down. You can control those velocities and be diligent about following your protocols with a radar gun.” 

Medical departments at professional clubs and major collegiate programs are buying sets of guns for the entire staff, but Goody says the value of Pocket Radar is that it puts pro-level data in the hands of any player at any level, opening up proper training and rehab opportunities from the backyard to the diamond.

It is the data, Goody says, that allows for control and precision in both rehab and training. “Data is power and knowledge,” he says, “in athletics it is about high fidelity feedback. Is what I am doing what I want to be doing?”

With that, Pocket Radar has continued to highlight training tools, especially with its Smart Coach platform that tracks data and marries it to tagged video to help players and coaches understand everything from pitching data to exit velocity for batters and overhand throwing velocity for position payers. “Athletes from every level use feedback to accelerate their performance,” Goody says. “If you aren’t using data, it is subjective on if you are getting better.”

Having the velocity knowledge can help a coach reinforce feedback or give an athlete understanding on if mechanical modifications or workout and nutritional changes have had an impact on performance. “Training uses the velocity feedback as an indicator that it is right,” Goody says. “It proves your training is working.”

Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.

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