Diamond Kinetics SwingTracker Review

Unit Tested:  1st Generation Diamond Kinetics SwingTracker

Intro

I’ve been working on this review for the Diamond Kinetics SwingTracker for some time, so I’m glad that it’s ready to go in time for the preseason.  I’ll cover all of the features available at the time of publication as I’m sure there will be new things added by the company in time.

Sensors have taken the sports world by storm over the past few years.  Technology that was too expensive in the past has quickly become affordable for the everyday consumer.  Combine that with the smartphone revolution and you now have personalized data that was once reserved for professional athletes, is now easily accessible for anyone from wherever they are in the world.

While Diamond Kinetics (DK) as a company may be fairly new to the scene, their patents and technology have been around for years when the first inertial measurement units (IMU) were being developed for baseball and softball use.  Much of this research took place at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan.  Lately the company has been on a signing spree of premier travel teams across the country to be partners.  They are taking an extremely aggressive approach to getting their unit in the hands of influencers.  Their biggest announcement to date has been the signing of the University of Louisville, Vanderbilt and reigning national champion Coastal Carolina as their first Premier Collegiate Partners, with at least 3 more schools on the way coming from the Pac-12, SEC, and Big 12.

Sign Up/Calibration

Signing up within the DK mobile application was extremely simple and didn’t take much time at all.  Your profile consists of the following information:  what bats you’ve added, player type (baseball, slow pitch softball, fastpitch softball), gender, batting stance (left, right, switch), skill level, competition level, hitting goal, weight, height, zip code and birthday.  While some of the information may seem typical, DK uses what you input to measure your results.

Recently, DK has updated their calibration process.  When I originally opened the sensor, the calibration wasn’t awful, but it was still a little clunky.  I was very happy to see them put out an update with a new process that is much easier to get through and overall makes more sense.  You should only have to perform this once unless you feel like things (3D representation) are off and want to redo it.

Field Testing

Hitting with the DK sensor is pretty straight forward once calibration is complete.  Once that is taken care of, you just turn it on, jump in the box and start mashing.  There’s no need to ever stop what you’re doing or pause in between swings.  The unit will capture every swing that you take for review once you’re ready.  In my case, I was switching between multiple test bats, so it took a little more time to switch the sensor from one bat to the next.  It’s nice that DK includes multiple bands that you can use for an easy transition from one bat to the next.  The only issue I have with swing sensors that mount over the knob of the bat is that sometimes they move off center towards the edge, especially since I tend to drop my pinky around the knob a bit.  This isn’t a knock on DK as the traditional Zepp and Blast Motion units are both the same way.  Zepp has some partnerships that allow for an integrated sensor, which is great but it only works with a couple of bats.  If I were to guess, the sensor integrated into the knob would be the ultimate goal of each company, but they have quite a few hurdles to jump to ever accomplish something like that.

Session Review

This is where things get fun.  When your swing session is over and you’re ready to take a look at how you did, Diamond Kinetics definitely doesn’t fall short in the number of features and metrics they offer.  With so much information available to you about every single swing you take, there is always an opportunity to refine some aspect.  From the main home screen it’s easy to find all of your sessions in the History section.  You’ll be able to see a brief recap of each session by date showing the number of swings and your average score.  Now would be a good time to cover the scoring that DK uses for each swing you take.  They combine the result of multiple tracked metrics to give the hitter 4 main category scores on a scale of 1-10:  Power, Speed, Quickness and Control.  Those are then averaged out to produce an overall score.  The categories are developed using the following separate metrics:

PowerSpeedQuicknessControl
Applied PowerMax Hand SpeedTrigger To Impact TimeDistance In The Zone
Max AccelerationMax Barrel SpeedHand Cast Distance
Impact MomentumSpeed EfficiencyApproach Angle
Forward Barrel Speed

For the sake of not making this review a novel, you can find the definition for each metric within the Diamond Kinetics application.

When reviewing individual swings, you’ll be presented with the 4 category scores along with the overall score.  Here you’ll get your first visual representation of how that particular swing performed on the axis chart.  While the goal is to get that perfect diamond, most of my swings produced some odd shapes.  It’s pretty cool to be able to look through all of your swings and see what part of your swing was sacrificed to improve another area.  EX. Power rated a 9.9, while Control was only a 6.3.  This overview is the summary and just the tip of the iceberg.  By clicking the icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, it presents you with a menu to take a deeper dive into the swing by choosing any of the following options:  Video (if you recorded your swing), 3D viewer, Detail, Focus and Damage Potential.

Video:  Unfortunately I didn’t have a good opportunity to test out the video portion.  Once I do, the review will be updated.

3D Viewer:  This is where your swing path is represented in 3D.  The graph below the 3D rendering tracks your barrel and hand speed throughout the full swing.  You can play the swing over and over again, use your finger to drag it at whatever speed you would like or use the forward/backward buttons to see your swing frame by frame.  On top of this you can use your finger or the eye button to watch the rendering at multiple different angles.  If you just want to cut to the chase and not mess around with frame by frame, you can click the button that looks like a timer and it brings the swing to the point of contact, which is an awesome feature.  When you thought it was over, they just keep giving you more.  You can choose another swing in your session and compare the 2.  When working on your phone vertically, it will lay the swings on top of each other, but if you turn the phone or tablet horizontally, it puts the swings side by side.  Technology like this used to cost college coaches thousands of dollars to do this, now you have it for free.

After seeing these, I may run through calibration again.

Detail:  This section allows you to view the category metrics identified above for each swing in the session compared right next to one another in a bar graph format.  DK has inserted an average line and top 20% line across the graph so you can see how often you hit each threshold.  The average and top 20% are determined by the skill level that you picked during sign up, but it can be changed at any point at the bottom of the application.  Choose your category, choose your metric and admire your work!

Summary:  This is the main screen that first shows up when comparing swings from your history. It will show the individual scores along with the graphical representation.

Focus:  This section allows you to choose 1 metric from each of the 4 categories to “focus” on.  These can be changed at any time so you can always adjust what you’re really working on at that particular time.  The 4 quadrant layout shows you the results for the particular swing you’re on or the session as a whole.  It’s a really nice way to get a quick analysis on what you care most about.

Damage Potential:  This is a fun one.  DK states that the damage potential is still in beta, so they are still working hard on it.  It shows the potential exit velocity and potential ball distance based on each swing.  It is assumed that the ball was struck perfectly on the barrel to get these possible results.  Even though I’ve lost a step since college ball, I think there’s a little left in the tank!  What do you guys think?

Trends

On the main menu of the application, you’ll find the Trends button towards the bottom right hand corner.  Once pressed it will bring you to a screen where you can view the overall trends of the previous 30, 60 or 90 days (your choice). It lists 4 different metrics that you can change at any point by pressing the edit button.  Once you have the metrics you’d like to study, DK allows you to dive deeper into each one by expanding it.  The zoomed in view will show hitters a graph along with an overall average, overall max and overall min for the time period selected.  This is a nice feature to show how the different metrics of your swing have changed over time.

Drill Session

As of right now DK has two different drills for hitters to work on:  swing plane and hand cast.  Once you’re ready to start a drill it allows you to select the difficulty of your choice:  bronze, silver and gold.  For the swing plane drill, bronze shows you the largest of the three plane areas while gold shows the smallest.  Likewise for hand cast, the gold option brings the “wall” closest to the body.  Once either drill starts, you must successfully execute the drill 10 times and are allowed three strikes.  I do like the gamification as it adds a little flare to what can sometimes become monotonous.  I do wish that there were more drills to choose from that would focus on the different metrics provided by the application.  I’ll take a wild guess and say there are more on the way.

Support

The support menu can be accessed from the main page of the application and also from the top left menu that pops out.  DK offers nice video tutorials to get everything set up from the get go if you get stuck at any point.  Support also includes metric definitions, different help topics and the ability to message or email DK for assistance.  From what I understand, they are focused on all players and coaches having a great experience with the sensor and application, especially when you need some extra help.

DiamondCLUB

When you crave even more information than what the app provides, enter the DiamondCLUB.  A one year free subscription comes with the purchase of every Diamond Kinetics SwingTracker.  The web based analytics give you all of the information located within the application and then some.  It allows hitters to focus on any of the four major categories and look at them at a high level or on a swing by swing basis.  DK uses bar and line graphs to display all of the available metrics for every swing you took in a particular time frame.  The plotted swings are time stamped so you can get extremely detailed for each session.

Side Notes

1.  There is a separate Diamond Kinetics softball application available for download in the app store.

2.  The SwingTracker has built in integration with HitTrax if you have access to one.  The combination of the two systems provide a powerful analysis of a swing.

Conclusion

The Diamond Kinetics SwingTracker is a great option if you’re in the market for a swing sensor.  The combination of swing information provided, tools, and support allows all hitters to get a detailed report of what’s going on with their swing.

As you can see, there is a world of information captured by the DK SwingTracker that can help you craft your swing.  With that being said, don’t let the sheer amount of information give you paralysis by analysis, because it’s easy to get lost in all of that data.  When reviewing your sessions alone or with a coach, sit down and come up with a plan for adjusting your swing.  Focus on 1 or 2 things to start with and build on your progress.  Although it happens to every hitter at some point, the worst thing you can do is overthink.  Use the great data that DK provides as a tool to improve.  Build the muscle memory and execute when you’re at the dish.  

When you’re ready to give a shot, you can order the SwingTracker here Diamond Kinetics SwingTracker

 

 

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