Method and apparatus for analyzing a pitched ball

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First Claim
1. One or more nontransitory computer readable media having computer executable instructions thereon for performing analysis regarding a ball pitched from a pitcher to a batter that are separated by a first distance, the computer executable instructions including instructions configured to operate one or more computer devices to perform the steps of:
 processing a measured first speed of the ball thrown over the first distance;
processing a destination of the ball within a region proximate to the batter;
determining a mathematical expression of the ball calculated from the first speed of the ball and the destination, wherein the determining of the mathematical expression further comprises quantifying a hit reaction value for the pitched ball that embodies timing information as to when the batter should swing the bat to strike the ball, wherein the mathematical expression is calculated from the first speed of the ball and a product of a velocity and a multiplier corresponding to a numerical value that varies according to spatial location of the pitch arrival destinations relative to the batter, wherein the multiplier and the first mathematical expression increase as spatial locations of the pitch destinations transition along positions of greater height above ground, and wherein the multiplier and the first mathematical expression increase as spatial locations of the pitch destinations transition along positions incrementally closer to the batter in a lateral direction; and
providing the mathematical expression as an output associated with a training program, wherein the output is used in giving feedback to a pitcher and/or a batter to better prepare the pitcher for throwing more effective pitches or to better prepare the batter to hit pitches more effectively.
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Abstract
Analysis of pitches to determine both their velocity and the location at which they arrive at the batter. The speed of the pitch is adjusted according to an adjustment value whose magnitude is a function of the location of the pitch relative to the batter. For example, high outside pitches would have a different adjustment value than low inside pitches. These adjustment values are calculated to take into account the fact that hitters must swing at different pitches at different times. That is, they must swing at some pitches earlier than others, depending on the location of the pitch. The adjusted speed, or “effective velocity,” of the pitch is thus a function of both the pitch's velocity and its location relative to the batter, making it a more useful metric than velocity or location alone.
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20 Claims
 1. One or more nontransitory computer readable media having computer executable instructions thereon for performing analysis regarding a ball pitched from a pitcher to a batter that are separated by a first distance, the computer executable instructions including instructions configured to operate one or more computer devices to perform the steps of:
 processing a measured first speed of the ball thrown over the first distance;
processing a destination of the ball within a region proximate to the batter;
determining a mathematical expression of the ball calculated from the first speed of the ball and the destination, wherein the determining of the mathematical expression further comprises quantifying a hit reaction value for the pitched ball that embodies timing information as to when the batter should swing the bat to strike the ball, wherein the mathematical expression is calculated from the first speed of the ball and a product of a velocity and a multiplier corresponding to a numerical value that varies according to spatial location of the pitch arrival destinations relative to the batter, wherein the multiplier and the first mathematical expression increase as spatial locations of the pitch destinations transition along positions of greater height above ground, and wherein the multiplier and the first mathematical expression increase as spatial locations of the pitch destinations transition along positions incrementally closer to the batter in a lateral direction; and
providing the mathematical expression as an output associated with a training program, wherein the output is used in giving feedback to a pitcher and/or a batter to better prepare the pitcher for throwing more effective pitches or to better prepare the batter to hit pitches more effectively.  View Dependent Claims (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
 processing a measured first speed of the ball thrown over the first distance;
 10. A method of analyzing a pitched ball from a pitcher to a batter that are separated by a first distance, the method comprising:
 measuring a first speed of the ball thrown over the first distance;
locating a destination of the ball within a region proximate to the batter;
determining a mathematical expression of the ball calculated from the first speed of the ball and the destination, wherein the determining of the mathematical expression further comprises quantifying a hit reaction value for the pitched ball that embodies timing information as to when the batter should swing the bat to strike the ball, wherein the mathematical expression is calculated from the first speed of the ball and a product of a velocity and a multiplier corresponding to a numerical value that varies according to spatial location of the pitch arrival destinations relative to the batter, wherein the multiplier and the first mathematical expression increase as spatial locations of the pitch destinations transition along positions of greater height above ground, and wherein the multiplier and the first mathematical expression increase as spatial locations of the pitch destinations transition along positions incrementally closer to the batter in a lateral direction; and
providing the mathematical expression as an output associated with a training program, wherein the output is used in giving feedback to a pitcher and/or a batter to better prepare the pitcher for throwing more effective pitches or to better prepare the batter to hit pitches more effectively.  View Dependent Claims (11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20)
 measuring a first speed of the ball thrown over the first distance;
1 Specification
This is a continuation of application Ser. No. 12/504,640, filed Jul. 16, 2009, publication No. US2010/0081524A1, now U.S. Pat. No. 8,152,658, which is a continuation of Ser. No. 11/202,857, filed Aug. 11, 2005, publication No. US2008/0035731A1, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,575,526, which claims the benefit/priority of provisional application No. 60/601,148, filed Aug. 11, 2004, all of which are hereby incorporated by reference in entirety.
1. Field
This invention relates generally to sports. More specifically, this invention relates to the analysis of a pitched ball.
2. Description of Related Information
Pitchers and hitters in sports such as baseball and softball are still commonly taught according to largely anecdotal methods that neglect various aspects of the mechanics of pitches. Conventional thought remains that by throwing pitches at various elevations, hitters will be forced to change their eye level up and down and offset their focus to many different heights. Pitchers are also taught to throw different speed pitches, in order to upset a hitter's timing. Pitchers also attempt to confuse hitters by locating the ball on the inside, outside, and middle parts of the strike zone. However, each of these aspects are often simply varied randomly, without regard to any systematic method of characterizing pitches.
Accordingly, continuing efforts exist to analyze the mechanics of pitches, and characterize them in ways that yield better instruction for both pitchers and hitters.
The invention can be implemented in numerous ways, including as a method, an apparatus, and a computer readable medium. Several embodiments of the invention are discussed below.
As a method of analyzing a pitched ball from a pitcher to a batter, the pitcher and the batter separated by a first distance, one embodiment of the invention comprises measuring a first speed of the ball thrown over the first distance. A destination of the ball is located within a region proximate to the batter. A second speed of the ball is then calculated from the first speed of the ball and the destination.
Another embodiment of the invention is a computer readable medium having computer executable instructions thereon for a method of analyzing a pitched ball from a pitcher to a batter that are separated by a first distance, the method comprising measuring a first speed of the ball thrown over the first distance. Also included in the method are locating a destination of the ball within a region proximate to the batter, and calculating a second speed of the ball from the first speed of the ball and the destination.
As a method of facilitating the pitching of a ball, another embodiment of the invention comprises measuring a first speed of a ball as it is thrown from a pitcher toward a batter, and locating a destination of the ball within a region proximate to the batter. An adjusted speed of the ball is then calculated according to the first speed and the destination, so as to determine an adjusted speed of the ball.
As an integrated apparatus for analyzing a pitched ball from a pitcher to a batter that are separated by a first distance, another embodiment of the invention comprises a housing, and a speed measurement unit coupled to the housing and configured to measure a first speed of the ball thrown over the first distance. A computing unit is also coupled to the housing and configured to determine a second speed of the ball, the second speed calculated from the first speed of the ball and a destination of the ball within a region proximate to the batter. Also coupled to the housing is a display unit configured to display the second speed.
Other aspects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the invention.
The invention, together with further objects and advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
Like reference numerals refer to corresponding parts throughout the drawings. Also, it is understood that the depictions in the figures are diagrammatic and not necessarily to scale.
In one embodiment of the invention, pitches are analyzed to determine both their speed and the locations at which they arrive at the batter. The speed of a pitch is then adjusted according to an adjustment value whose magnitude is a function of the location of the pitch relative to the batter. For example, high inside pitches would have a different adjustment value than low outside pitches. These adjustment values are calculated to take into account the fact that hitters must swing at different pitches at different times. That is, they must swing at some pitches earlier than others, depending on the location of the pitch. The adjusted speed, or “effective velocity,” of the pitch is thus a function of both the pitch's velocity and its location relative to the batter, making it a more useful metric than velocity or location alone. Accordingly, pitchers can be taught to pitch so as to avoid patterns in the effective velocities of their pitches. Conversely, batters can be taught to look for patterns in the effective velocities of pitches, and anticipate future pitches accordingly. Embodiments of the invention thus improve the performance of both pitchers and hitters.
A pitch duration P and time for the pitch to travel a specified distance increment (referred to as a time unit, TU) are then determined (step 108). The pitch duration P can be measured, or it can be calculated according to the speed of step 102 and the distance d. The time taken for the pitch to travel the specified distance increment can be determined in like manner. The specified distance increment is simply a measure of the amount by which batters 12 must vary or adjust their swing according to pitch destination, and can be determined by any known method, whether empirical, experimental, or theoretical. It has been found that a distance increment of 1.5 feet is effective for predicting the amount by which many batters 12 must adjust in order to compensate for varying pitch location. For example, a change of 812 inches in pitch height corresponds to approximately a 1 TU change in the effective velocity of the pitch, making 1.5 feet a convenient value. As this quantity can be selected at least somewhat on the basis of convenience, the invention includes the use of many different values of this specified distance increment.
Once these quantities have been found, adjusted velocities V_{±} are determined (step 110). These adjusted velocities are determined according to the formula:
Note that two adjusted velocities are calculated: one each for positive and negative values of TU. Velocity adjustment units ΔV_{±}, or the difference between the measured speed V and the new adjusted velocities, are then calculated (step 112):
An adjusted speed, or effective velocity EV, is then calculated as (step 114):
where
X=a multiplier, determined as described below
As will be explained below, the value of X can be positive or negative. If X is positive, ΔV_{+} is used in equation (3), whereas if X is negative, ΔV_{−}is used. So for positive values of X:
and for negative values of X:
Attention now turns to the multipliers X of step 114, and their determination. In one embodiment, the multiplier values can be determined as numerical values that vary according to spatial location of the pitch relative to the batter 12 (as the pitch passes the batter). More specifically, the strike zone and “pressure zone” (i.e., the region surrounding the strike zone) are divided into a number of regions, each of which is assigned a numerical multiplier value. When a ball 14 is pitched through one of these regions, that region's multiplier value is used as the value of X to calculate EV, according to equation (3).
In one embodiment, the strike zone and pressure zone are collectively divided into a 5×5 array of regions, representing 25 contact points that are reachable by the batter 12. In this embodiment, the strike zone is divided into nine regions that are each approximately six inches wide by about eight inches high (the dimensions of the regions will vary, as the total height of the strike zone is commonly defined as extending from the knees of the batter 12 to his/her armpits, so that different batters 12 will have their own unique strike zones), and the pressure zone is divided into 16 regions of the same dimensions.
The 5×5 array can be thought of as a division of the strike and pressure zone into five elevation levels, each having five lateral location lanes. Accordingly, a ball 14 passing through the strike or pressure zones will pass through one of the five lateral location lanes on one of the five elevation levels.
Thus, the 100% on time contact point varies according to the height of the pitch. As shown in
In addition to being divided into five elevation levels, the strike and pressure zones are also divided into five lateral location lanes.
From the above, it is recognized that effective batting must take into account not just pitch speed, but also pitch location, i.e., the location at which the pitch enters the strike/pressure zone. Accordingly, as embodiments of the invention determine an effective velocity of a pitch that takes into account both speed and location, the invention yields a metric capable of more accurate pitch characterization.
For purposes of clarity,
For purposes of further explanation,
One of ordinary skill in the art will realize that the invention need not be limited to embodiments that divide the strike and/or pressure zones into 5×5 arrays, but rather simply discloses the division of a region close to the batter 12 into subdivisions, and the assigning of multipliers to these regions. Similarly, the invention is not limited to the division of only the strike and pressure zones. Rather, embodiments of the invention can subdivide only the strike zone or only the pressure zone, if these are the only zones of interest. For example,
Attention now turns to applications of the above described effective velocities EV. Advantageously, the calculation of such effective velocities has benefits for both pitchers 10 and hitters 12. For pitchers 10, it has been found that batters 12 tend to focus (perhaps subconsciously) on patterns of effective velocities. That is, they begin to anticipate subsequent pitches having effective velocities near the effective velocities of past pitches. A pitcher 10 having knowledge of the EV of his past pitches can thus vary both pitch speed and pitch destination, in order to vary the EV of his subsequent pitches and keep hitters 12 off guard. Prior to this, pitchers often thought to vary one of either pitch speed or pitch destination, but not both. Similarly, pitchers 10 were not aware that different combinations of speed and pitch location can have the same or similar EV. Consequently, pitchers 10 armed with the methods of the present invention can avoid subsequent combinations of speed and pitch location that were different than those of past pitches, but that still had similar EV values to those of past pitches. Armed with the methods of the invention then, pitchers 10 can be more effective. A graphical illustration of this can be found in
For batters 12, knowledge of the EV values of past pitches, and particularly patterns of EV values from a particular pitcher, can assist the batter 12 in anticipating future pitches. As an example, if a pattern of pitches having particular EV values is recognized, the batter 12 can anticipate subsequent pitches having differing EV values. As a corollary to this, the batter 12 can be made aware that varying EV values means varying both speed and location, and that some different pitch speeds/locations can be eliminated as they have similar EV values to past pitches, even if their speed or location are different. Accordingly, the invention encompasses the determination of patterns of EV values from a pitcher 10 (which can be any recognizable number pattern), and the identification of likely future pitches that deviate from this pattern.
The methods of the invention, and particularly the calculation of EV values, have many applications. In one such application, hitters can reinforce their training by use of both EV values along with associated audio signals. For example, audio signals such as those stored on conventional audio CDs can be used in conjunction with current visualization techniques. Hitters 12 currently visualize anticipated pitch types and velocities as part of their training This can be extended to include the use of effective velocities, where hitters 10 visualize pitches of certain effective velocities, while the sound associated with a pitch of that effective velocity is selected from the audio CD and played. Thus, while they are visualizing a pitch of that type, batters 12 can hear the sound that pitch would make, followed perhaps by the sound of that pitch being hit.
In another application, hitters 12 can be shown visual images of spin types that they can expect to see from certain pitchers 10. Visually, hitters 12 would train by watching spins of pitches they would want to hit, and would not want to hit. This can be done in two ways. First, hitters 12 can watch video closeup of a pitcher 10 releasing pitches, watching the associated spin patterns. Second, pitchers 10 can pitch live balls of that spin to the hitter 12. In both cases, the pitches are thrown at the same effective velocities that the batter 12 can expect to see, thus better preparing batters 12 for pitches of those effective velocities and spins.
A next application involves hitting with bats or other objects that have different weights than the bats that hitters 12 typically use. Such “time training sticks” simply anything that can be utilized by a hitter 12 in a batlike fashion for striking the ball 14, and are used to throw off a body's sense of timing, on the theory that it then fights to regain the lost sense of timing, making the body more immune to bad timing. Accordingly, hitters 12 can train with balls 14 or other objects thrown at effective velocities they may be expecting from pitchers 10, hitting them with time training sticks so as to improve their immunity to bad timing.
With reference to
Consistent with aspects of the innovations herein, for example, such processing/computing may be implemented via a computer readable medium having computer executable instructions thereon for processing a method of analyzing a pitched ball from a pitcher to a batter that are separated by a first distance, wherein an exemplary method may comprise measuring a first speed of the ball thrown over the first distance, locating a destination of the ball within a region proximate to the batter, and determining a second speed of the ball calculated from the first speed of the ball and the destination. Methods embodied on such computer readable media may comprise and/or include any of the features set forth or incorporated herein.
The foregoing description, for purposes of explanation, used specific nomenclature to provide a thorough understanding of the invention. However, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that the specific details are not required in order to practice the invention. Thus, the foregoing descriptions of specific embodiments of the present invention are presented for purposes of illustration and description. They are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. Many modifications and variations are possible in view of the above teachings. For example, the invention is not limited to the subdividing of strike and/or pressure zones into a 5×5 array, nor is it limited to strike and pressure zones, but can encompass the subdividing of any area near a batter 12 into an arbitrary number and configuration of subdivisions. Also, while baseball is provided as a context for embodiments of the invention herein, the invention is not limited to this game, but instead can be applied to analyze projected objects in any sport that utilizes them. The embodiments were chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical applications, to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the invention and various embodiments with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated.