This thesis proposal will investigate how to increase a baseball pitcher’s muscular strength while they perform pitching mechanics drills. Since a pitcher’s strength is related to ball velocity and therefore overall game-time performance, trainers have been attempting to increase fundamental strength in their athlete’s through weighted/resisted movements in a fitness setting. Unfortunately, in order to affectively target the proper muscular groups, strength-training movements are separated and therefor mentally disconnected from throwing mechanic training drills. If strength training and mechanic training could be linked, overall pitcher training would be more effective, leading to better game-time performance while resulting in a more prosperous pitching career. This thesis proposes an in-depth study of the anatomy breakdown in a pitcher’s throw, from foot placement on the mound up to hand action on the ball. Data will also be collected on how pitchers are currently trained as well as muscle resistance techniques through methods such as observation studies, interviews, and contextual inquiries. With use of gathered research, an on-body resistance training solution will be designed and prototyped, establishing a full-bodied human interaction design solution. Designing a product able to resist pitcher motion while they perform throwing drills will combine the multitude of training techniques, thereby increasing a pitcher’s performance in a shorter duration of training.
Thesis Summary Video Award Submission
E.M.-T.O.S.S. utilizes wearable technology to enhance training for major league pitchers, making training more efficient, reducing the amount of repetitive strain on the body, potentially leading players to a safer and more prosperous pitching career.
An overview of the final physical model for E.M.-T.O.S.S. constructed to fit the 97.5th percentile male. Created in a flat-pattern form to simulate a fully constructed suit, equipped with technical housing and wire casing running down the arms, back and leg which terminate into the suit.
Enhancement of Human Lifestyle
Baseball pitchers, both while training and in-game, continuously go through the repetitive motion of throwing.
The stress on their bodies from this act alone can often lead to injuries and surgeries such as Tommy John surgery. Unfortunately, there is currently no way to affectively resist the motion of the pitch, meaning that training such as strength training, is resorted to additional weighted exercises that are physically and mentally disconnected from the throwing motion. Through study of pitching biomechanics, E.M.-T.O.S.S. was designed to provide training benefits, such as strength-training resistance, to more efficiently train pitchers, consequently increasing overall performance while reducing injury from traditional over use.
Instead of having a piece of equipment that comes with an instruction manual, E.M.-T.O.S.S. was designed with user interaction and semantics in mind.
The reason for the overall look is to construct a sort of user map. By incorporating symmetry and humanistic qualities, the user can visually see when parts of the suit are not in the right orientation on the body. Therefore the aesthetics of the suit ensure the underlying electrical nodes are in the proper place on the user.
With EMS technology, the user has physical indications of activation, but the secondary user (i.e. trainer) has little indication. To solve this, activation lighting was woven into the wire casing down the arm and leg. This allows the system operator (secondary user) to receive feedback such as activation and mode setting. Lighting was also used for the primary user at the top of the wrist. An easily accessed embossed power button along with indication light provides quick feedback and ease of use.
Human Factors and Ergonomics
Through research study and advisor help, the biometrics of the pitch were broken down and analyzed.
With this information, electrical nodes for electronic muscle stimulation were mapped across the body. With access to the 50th percentile height male, mapping and measuring of node lengths were evaluated with an ergonomic buck worn on the subject. Measurements were later converted to the 97.5th percentile male, covering the demographic range of currently practicing Major League Baseball pitchers. For ease of assembly and maximum movement, wiring for the nodes run inside a flexible wire casing down the arms, leg and back to a power and CPU pack located on the lumbar area. With the complexity of the suit, right and left-handed variations reduced the amount of technology around the body.
Materials of the suit consist of a sustainable alternative to neoprene called Yulex and T162R. Yulex is similar to neoprene, but is grown from the guayule shrub.
Variations of the material can be used to make a breathable, elastic and durable fabric, which can be seen in both the outer protective layer. The inner node-housing layer is comprised of a sustainable spandex variant currently known as T162R.