Automatic Detection of Pitching and Throwing Events in Baseball With Inertial Measurement Sensors

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose:

Throwing loads are known to be closely related to injury risk. However, for logistic reasons, typically only pitchers have their throws counted, and then only during innings. Accordingly, all other throws made are not counted, so estimates of throws made by players may be inaccurately recorded and underreported. A potential solution to this is the use of wearable microtechnology to automatically detect, quantify, and report pitch counts in baseball. This study investigated the accuracy of detection of baseball pitching and throwing in both practice and competition using a commercially available wearable microtechnology unit.

Methods:

Seventeen elite youth baseball players (mean ± SD age 16.5 ± 0.8 y, height 184.1 ± 5.5 cm, mass 78.3 ± 7.7 kg) participated in this study. Participants performed pitching, fielding, and throwing during practice and competition while wearing a microtechnology unit. Sensitivity and specificity of a pitching and throwing algorithm were determined by comparing automatic measures (ie, microtechnology unit) with direct measures (ie, manually recorded pitching counts).

Results:

The pitching and throwing algorithm was sensitive during both practice (100%) and competition (100%). Specificity was poorer during both practice (79.8%) and competition (74.4%).

Conclusions:

These findings demonstrate that the microtechnology unit is sensitive to detect pitching and throwing events, but further development of the pitching algorithm is required to accurately and consistently quantify throwing loads using microtechnology.

Murray, Black, and Cole are with the School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Whiteley is with Aspetar Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar. Gahan is with the Northern Territory Inst of Sport, Darwin, NT, Australia. Utting is with Softball Australia, Coomera, QLD, Australia. Gabbett is with Gabbett Performance Solutions, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, and the Inst for Resilient Regions, University of Southern Queensland, Ipswich, QLD, Australia.

Address author correspondence to Tim Gabbett at tim@gabbettperformance.com.