Last month, the Kia Tigers dispatched five young pitchers including Lee Ui-ri to the Driveline Baseball Center in Seattle, Washington. “We expect increased ball speed and improved ball power through customized training,” the Kia Tigers said.
The Lotte Giants also dispatched pitchers and coaches in 2020. The Hanwha Eagles also started to tour the facilities and facilities of the team at the U.S. spring camp in February last year. KT Wiz ace Ko Young-pyo even learned training methods indirectly through social media videos. Rather than sweating at the ground or indoor training site in winter, it has become a trend to go on a short-term study abroad to a research institute in the U.S.
‘Biomechanic pitching program’ is all the rage 꽁머니
Driveline is a baseball player development academy established in 2012 by Kyle Vardy, a data expert. Vardy was fascinated by the biomechanics pitching theory claimed by Mike Marshall, a doctor of athletic physiology and a winner of the 1974 Major League Baseball (MLB) National League Cy Young Award, and even established a research institute to find ways to play efficient pitching with small power.
Body formed a group of experts. He worked with experts in various fields, including Alan Yeager, the current CEO of Yager Sports, who was a trainer for many big leaguers, including Marshall and Barry Zito, and Kup Diren, a former baseball player and doctor in kinesiology and author of The Scientific Approach to Hitting, University of Hawaii professor.
They concluded that expanding physical mobility by throwing heavier or lighter balls than baseballs that are 145-150g could have a significant impact on improving ball speed. In addition, they argued that if an appropriate pitching mechanism and sufficient recovery are made, the more balls thrown, the stronger the arm can be.
The driveline gave hope to those who wanted a faster ball at a time when the perception that “restraint should be born” was dominant. It has also become the epitome of a pitching development program that combines biomechanical data into pitches. Top MLB pitchers with poor performance and skills, such as Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jensen, have set the stage for their comeback at the academy.
Unlike the early days when the team focused on increasing physical speed, Driveline analyzes players’ physical characteristics and muscle utilization by mobilizing high-tech equipment and experts to suggest ways to achieve the best physical condition. The number of batters has also increased. Shohei Ohtani, currently the best player in MLB, was also provided with data to measure fatigue.
In particular, the facility’s independently developed program, “Plio Care Ball,” received a great response from players and leaders. It is a program that improves pitching mechanisms, manages muscle strength, and even provides blood flow to the body by utilizing balls of different weights (100-1500g).
KIA coach Lee Dong-geol, who received training in the driving line with his players, said, “There is an attitude that must be implemented, not thrown recklessly. In the process, you develop a habit of minimizing unnecessary movements.”