Category Archives: Product Reviews

Zip Balls definitely help fastpitch pitchers learn

Zip Balls fastpitch softballRecently I had the opportunity to see Cindy Bristow demonstrate the use of Zip Balls, a training aid she developed to help fastpitch softball players learn to pitch, hit and field better. It was at the NFCA Coaches College course on team practices; she was working with some D1 pitchers, and used the Zip Balls as part of the training.

I had seen Zip Balls advertised for a while, but wasn’t really sure if they would be worth it. I’m not big on gimmicks and gadgets, so I always tend to look at such things a bit skeptically. But I can tell you now from first-hand experience that they are definitely worth the investment.

If you’re not familiar with them, Zip Balls are little softballs. They are slightly larger than golf balls, with full seams and all, but they weigh as much as regular balls. It’s a little disconcerting the first time you pick them up.

The object of using them is to feel how the fingers are used on the ball. Because they’re so small you’re forced to use the finger pads to throw them.

I’ve used them with several different pitchers and have found them to be great for teaching all sorts of things. For example, with a beginner who was having trouble getting the feel of the basic motion, Zip Balls helped her learn to use her arm properly. With the small ball she was able to relax and lead her elbow then pull her hand through the release zone.

Where they really seemed to be effective, though, was with more experienced pitchers learning movement pitches. For some it was a matter of feeling how to position the hand properly. When Cindy demonstrated them she said to tell the pitcher to be very aware of what her hand is doing. It usually takes a few times before they can actually do it, but they do start feeling it.

With one of my most accomplished pitchers we were able to really sharpen her movement pitches, especially her curveball. She already had good break on her curve, but after using the Zip Ball it broke quicker, sharper and more dynamically.

If you purchase a dozen you also get a DVD that shows you more uses for Zip Balls. Most are pretty intuitive – you can use them for hitting, fielding, training catchers, etc. — but it’s worth a look anyway.

Zip Balls are definitely a good investment, especially for pitchers. Just one word of caution — they can get through the netting on typical batting cages very easily. If you’re using them indoors, be sure there’s a tarp so something behind the catcher or someone outside may get hurt!

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Product Review: Personal Pitcher pitching machine

One of the challenges fastpitch hitters often face is getting the opportunity to get in a lot of quality swings outside of practices. While you can go to the batting cages to work with a live tosser or off a machine, that isn’t always possible — especially for younger players who don’t drive yet. So many players are limited to working off a tee in the back yard or garage.

Don’t get me wrong. Tee work is great for working on your mechanics, and I highly recommend a lot of it. Still, at some point you have to make the transition from a static to a moving ball, to work on your timing and ability to track the ball. 

One product that makes it possible (and within reach of the average softball family) is the Personal Pitcher pitching machine from Sports Products Consultants. For $119 for the standard version or $149 for the deluxe version you can get a machine that shoots dozens ofPersonal Pitcher pitching machine plastic golf balls in a timed progression to give you an opportunity to work on your vision, timing and swing. It’s like the best of pitching machines and soft toss with small objects.

I recently had the opportunity to test the deluxe version with some of my students, from age 10 through 16. (Full disclosure: the machine was sent to me to test by the manufacturer, although with the understanding that my review was my review, whether I liked it or not.) They definitely found it challenging. More on that in a bit.

The Personal Pitcher is a fairly simple machine. A wheel on the top drops balls into the delivery area one at a time. You can set the interval between balls for five or eight seconds, I used eight seconds, and wouldn’t recommend going less than that unless you’re trying to get a workout instead of work out your swing. Personal Pitcher ball loader

Inside the lower area are two wheels that catch the ball that’s been dropped and shoot it out a hole in the front. According to the manufacturer you can set the speed for 35, 45 or 55 mph. Considering you need to set the Personal Pitcher up about 15-20 feet from the hitter that’s plenty of speed. You can also set the unit I had to throw curve balls, sliders and screwballs, although I didn’t have the opportunity to play with those.

The Personal Pitcher mounts onto any standard camera tripod, allowing you to adjust the height to suit the hitter, and make up for non-level ground. The entire unit with the tripod is very light weight, making it easy to move around a field. It operates on a battery that carries a roughly four-hour charge, making it perfect for setting up as a hitting station at a team practice as well as setting up and taking down around the house. You can use it in the back yard, on the driveway, in the garage or even in the basement if you have the space.

While the unit comes with an instruction sheet that tells you to check for some things shifting during shipping, mine was perfectly set up and charged, so it was almost ready to go out of the box. The only things I had to do were connect the wires for the circuit board and battery — simple operations that require no technical expertise.

So, what did I think about it as a hitting device? Well, my first recommendation is the hitter should already have good swing mechanics before moving to the Personal Pitcher. Hitting those little golf balls, especially when they start veering off in different directions, isn’t easy. A hitter with poor or under-developed mechanics will probably abandon any sense of having a good swing in order to try to make contact with the ball. That will be counter-productive to your goals.

Once good mechanics are in place, however, it is definitely challenging. One of the toughest parts for hitters, at first, was getting the timing down. The Personal Pitcher has a green LED light on the front that glows brighter as it gets ready to deliver the ball, then goes dim right before it shoots out. For the first three trials, however, we used it in bright sunlight, making it difficult to see the changes in the LED. On the last one we tried it in the evening, when it was still light out but the sun was low. Definitely easier to see changes in the LED that way.

Not knowing when the ball was going to come out made it difficult to get the “load” part of the swing down. Since I emphasize load it threw everything else off. However, after a little while I would watch the balls get ready to drop into the lower chamber and say “load.” That helped the hitters figure the timing better. An audible alert, such as a click or electronic “beep” before delivery, would be a nice enhancement.

Once they got the timing down the Personal Pitcher really helped the hitters to learn to focus on seeing the ball. You would also see their determination go up after the first few misses, which was a positive in my book as well. The more hitters can learn to focus and concentrate at the plate the more their performance will improve. The Personal Pitcher definitely helps on that score.

I believe the more hitters work with the Personal Pitcher, the better they’ll get at dealing with its nuances, such as timing issues, which will allow them to take more quality swings. That was certainly my experience with it. Each hitter struggled at first, but improved as the session went on and they figured out how to work with it.

One other improvement I’d like to see made is a battery meter or some other type of warning that lets you know the battery needs recharging. If you’re using it at home it’
s probably not that big a deal. But if you’re using it in a team practice it would really be helpful to know how much time you have left on that charge, so you don’t show up to a field and have it shut down 10 minutes into practice. Of course, that would probably shoot the price tag up as well.

The standard version comes with 24 balls, while the deluxe version comes with 48 balls. Two loads of 48 balls is just shy of 100 swings, which is a pretty good workout. At eight second intervals you can hit 48 balls in roughly six minutes. That’s a lot of swings in a short period of time — as long as they’re good swings.

For more help with vision drills you can also purchase a dozen Focus Balls — a set of plastic golf balls with different colored stripes on them. Hitters can either stand and call out the color of each ball, or do so while trying to hit them. Use them alone or mix them in withFocus Balls standard white balls to help train hitters to see the ball better.

The construction of the Personal Pitcher is mostly plastic, but it seemed sturdy enough for normal use. If you treat it with the same care you would use for a camera or porcelain bowl (set it down, don’t throw it around) it should last a long time.

All in all, I think the Personal Pitcher is a great investment for serious fastpitch hitters and teams. It breaks up the monotony of endless tee work, and the different variations provide plenty of challenges to keep things interesting. The best part is hitters don’t need anyone else around to use it. They can set it up and get it going all by themselves.

If you’re looking for a device that gives the feel of hitting a moving ball with some speed yet is still affordable, check out the Personal Pitcher. At half the cost of a good bat it’s definitely worth the investment.



The Batterz Box — now you can try before you buy

Anyone who has ever purchased a fastpitch softball bat knows that unless you’re getting the same bat a teammate has it’s an act of supreme faith. You basically have two options.

One is to go online, check out a few user reviews and make a selection. You then wait one to ten days (depending on how much you’re willing to spring for freight) to see if you’ve made a good choice.

The other is to go to a local store, where you can pick it up, feel it, and see if it looks like it might be good. If you’re really gutsy, you might try to find a little open space in the store where you can take a few swings. (Just remember to look around to see if anyone is near you before you take that home run cut.)

Either way, it’s the equivalent of buying a car without a test drive. And given that a good bat these days costs about as much as a car payment you’re taking an awful chance — especially if you’ve waited until right before the season to make your purchase.

That’s why I was excited to check out a new store that opened in Libertyville, Illinois called The Batterz Box, which my friend Jill Griffin turned me on to. First of all, they offer a nice selection of the top-level bats from Louisville Slugger, Demarini, Easton and more instead of the low-to-mid-end bats you’ll usually find at a big box store. But what is really cool about it is you can actually try the bats out before you buy them, to make sure you find the one that’s right for you.

The Batterz Box has six small batting cages where you can bring a baseball or fastpitch softball bat you’re interested in, and then soft toss or front toss to see what it feels like when you swing it full out — and make contact. No more worrying about hitting some little kid running through the aisle at a big box store! I didn’t notice any tees there, but hopefully they’ll be putting some of those in as well.

The entire store is very clean and well-lit. They have a very good selection of bats, as well as catcher’s gear, gloves, mitts, bat bags and other gear. They say they’ll be getting more in as well, so if you check it out right now and don’t see what you want just let them know what you’re looking for.

It’s all serious gear too. You won’t find track suits or other clothing items made for people who want to look like they’re athletic when they’re really going to sit on the couch and eat potato chips. This is a store for players.

The director of softball operations is Michelle Oswald, who is an accomplished private instructor and the hitting coach for the Lake Forest College Forresters fastpitch softball team. Michelle has obviously put a lot of thought into what type of store she would’ve wanted as a player, and has advised the owners well.

So you’re probably wondering at this point how much of a premium you have to pay for this radical comment. But actually their pricing is the same as you’ll find on the Internet. Oswald told me they’re very careful about that. So not only do you get to try before you buy, you pay the same as on the Internet but without the wait. Or the freight charges.

If you’re in the Chicago area, either as a resident or a visitor, be sure to check it out (and tell them Ken Krause sent you; it doesn’t get you anything special but it always sounds good). The store is located at 1336 S. Milwaukee Avenue in Libertyville, in the Red Top shopping center. Their website is a work in progress right now, but you can like them on Facebook too to get more information.

Wish I would’ve thought to take a couple of photos while I was there. But I’m sure I’ll be back again, so I’ll take couple and post them then. Or if Michelle sees this maybe she can share a link.

And in case you’re wondering, no, I have no financial stake in The Batterz Box. I just think it’s really cool, and a place that will help fastpitch hitters (and players in general) up the level of their games by getting the equipment that’s right for them.

So what do you think? Cool concept? Do you know of anywhere else that you can do the same thing?

Product review: A Coach’s Guide to Training Catchers DVD

Ok, I will admit I am a little behind the times on this one. A couple of years ago (at least I think it was a couple of years ago) I received a complementary copy of a video called A Coach’s Guide to Training Catchers from Dave Weaver, owner and head instructor of the New England Catching Camp.

I sat down to watch it then without realizing how long it was. I didn’t have enough time to complete it so I stopped it and set it aside, meaning to come back to it. But then life happened, and I didn’t get back to it. Until recently, that is. A change in my work schedule has me on a train three days a week, which gave me plenty of time to give it a look.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive resource for training catchers, this is it. The DVD is 2 hours and 40 minutes long (more on that later), and covers everything from stances to receiving the ball to blocking to fielding bunts to throwing out runners. It appears to be shot during one of Coach Weaver’s camps, so the kids demonstrating are not necessarily the “best of the best,” hand-picked athletes but instead regular players. Some of them may indeed be excellent catchers, but it doesn’t appear that the video was skewed toward it like so many are. Instead, their skills are the results of training, making what’s shown more relatable to the bulk of the people toward whom the video is aimed.  

I liked many of the techniques demonstrated by Coach Weaver. A good example is his take on displaying the ball for an umpire, aka framing the pitch. For many people, framing means catching the ball and then pulling it in toward the plate or making some other sort of move that is likely insulting to the umpire’s intelligence. Coach Weaver shows it as catching the part of the ball that’s furthest away from the plate, i.e. if the pitch is high, catch the top half of the ball.

The stances and blocking are pretty much the same as what I teach, so of course I like those as well. Catchers make their bones through their ability to block balls in the dirt, especially with a runner on third. All too often catchers want to “catch” those balls, which leads to disaster when the ball takes a bad hop and gets away. Coach Weaver shows how blocking the ball keeps it close, so runners (especially those on third) stay put. It takes some work to get catchers trained to let the ball hit their gear instead of trying to get it with their gloves, but it will definitely help you win a few more games.

One technique he advocates that I am not a fan of is having the throwing hand in a closed fist behind the glove with runners on base. His take is that it creates a faster transfer of the ball from the glove to the throwing hand. Honestly, I’m not convinced of that. And that comes from an ex-catcher who used to keep his throwing hand behind his glove at all times, because that’s how old I am. The Johnny Bench hand behind the shinguard didn’t come in until after I was pretty close to done. That being said, I wouldn’t stop a catcher from doing it if she’s comfortable. I’m just not sure it’s necessary. I’d need to see some hard numbers to convince me it’s the way to go.

The one thing I found as a negative to the video was it seemed a little ponderous to me. One of the reasons it runs 2 hours and 40 minutes is Coach Weaver has several kids, male and female, demonstrate the techniques. In a live setting it’s probably not a problem. On video it can feel like it’s taking forever. I actually found myself running it a 2X speed or more, which give Coach Weaver a bit of a chipmunk sound to his voice but speeds things along.

Here again, I will note that I’ve been teaching catchers for a while so a lot of the information wasn’t new to me. That may have colored my thinking as I watched it. If you’re coming at it new, all the repetition may be necessary so you can grasp the concepts. On the other hand, it’s video. If you need to see it again you can just run it back as many times as you want. A little judicious editing would be appealing in my book. Coach Weaver says he’s coming out with a new video soon, so perhaps he will incorporate that suggestion (which I have made to him directly).

It is definitely worth owning, though, especially at $39.99. Parents of young catchers, or coaches who understand the value a top-notch catcher can bring to their teams, will want to invest in this video. Catchers are the backbone of your team. Be sure that backbone is strong.

Book review: The Talent Code

Here we go, as-promised, my review of the book The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. Its premise is that talent isn’t something you’re born with — it’s something you acquire over time. High performers are the result of practicing a particular way (deep practice) for 10,000 hours, or roughly 10 years.

I had heard about the book a couple of years ago, and then again recently. Howard Carrier (aka Hitter) recommended it to me too, so I figured it was time to take the plunge and added it to my Christmas list.

The book examines three parts of being a high performer. The first is the deep practicing I just mentioned. High performers tend to practice differently than most. They break down a skill into pieces, and work through the individual pieces. When they practice, the part of their body that is most fatigued at the end is their brains because of the effort they go through to understand what they’re doing. They make mistakes as part of the learning process, and each mistake takes them closer to their ultimate goal of performance.

The second part is ignition — getting the performer to perform. Getting him/her excited in a way that leads to the desire for that performance level. The final part is master coaching — someone pointing the way and helping them along.

It really is a fascinating study of the way people learn, and the way performance is brought out in some and not in others. Coyle spent a lot of time visiting talent hotspots — Brazillian soccer training, musicians on the east coast, baseball players in the Caribbean — in an attempt to look for the commonalities and see if there are particular things that make it happen.

He also looks at research that has been done on how people learn as additional datapoints. Some of it is the same as I read in Talent is Overrated, which covers some of the same ground. But each book presents a facet of the jewel, helping the reader gain a better understanding of the factors behind great performers.

The book is an easy read. Coyle’s style is to illustrate by telling stories rather than lecture, and he makes it easy to move from one topic to the next. He also adds some personal insights from his own life and family that show he not only took the intellectual pursuit, but also applied the principles himself.

If you are interested in what drives high performers to achievement, or you want to improve your own coaching to help your players, I highly recommend this book. It will give you a whole new perspective on practicing.

Kodak Playsport an excellent teaching tool for fastpitch players

I’ve talked before about the value of video as a teaching tool for fastpitch players. Different people learn differently — some are best at reading information, some are best at hearing instructions, and some are visual learners. Actually, in my experience most can comprehend what they’re doing (versus what they think they’re doing) best when they see it.

The problem is video can be difficult to work with. Setting up a camera to a computer to provide analysis takes a while, and often limits you as far as what you can show. I know personally it’s a pain to have to drag a table with a computer and a camera on a tripod around to various angles. True, you can use the camera’s display screen without a computer, but it doesn’t lend itself very well to stepping back and forth through the video or showing specific points in the movement.

That’s why I’ve been waiting so excitedly for the Kodak Playsport personal video camera to come out. And after using it this weekend that excitement was definitely justified. But before I get into specifics, here’s a little background.

I first came across news about the Playsport when I was on the Discuss Fastpitch Forum site. One poster had talked about using the Kodak Zi8 personal video camera. What attracted me was the idea of shooting 60 frames per second (fps) video. That was a capability I’ve always wanted but never had. So I was getting ready to buy it when I saw someone else post something about the Playsport, which would do what the Zi8 did, but came in a more rugged package and would cost $30 – $50 less. I dialed down my impatience and elected to wait for that camera. I’m glad I did.

The Kodak Playsport is ideal for doing spot checks during lessons or grabbing a quick video of a game swing. Usually during lessons I use my cell phone’s ability to shoot video, but it is really tough to get the video to stop at a certain point. The Playsport, which is actually the size of a smallish cell phone, solves that. You can set it up to shoot 720p HD video at 60fps, which gives you plenty of stopping points along the way to show exactly what you want — such as a pitcher releasing a changeup a little too early or a hitter dropping her hands before swinging.

What really makes it a great teaching tool, though, is you can get to that point by stepping through the frames one at a time. You can go back and forth so you can get to the exact point you want, and rapidly step through to simulate slow motion. The LCD screen is a little small — only 2 inches square — but it’s good enough to see what you need to see. I used it Friday night to show a pitcher that her release on the changeup was a little early, and she was able to see the blur of the ball. More importantly, it helped her make an immediate correction.

The basic operation is simple. Turn it on — it comes up immediately — point it at the subject, hit the large center button to start and stop the recording. A 4X digital zoom lets you move in somewhat closer if needed, although if you’re used to the 20X zoom of regular video cameras it won’t seem like all that much.

When you want to watch the playback, you hit one of four buttons arrayed around the edge of the center wheel and it switches to playback mode. You can then play the current video or scroll through to find the one you want using the four-way wheel on the outside of the center button. If you want to step through a video, hit the play button, then hit it again to pause, then use the left and right arrows to step through frame by frame, forward or backward. 

If you want to watch the video in a larger format, you can hook it up to your computer through the supplied USB connector, or to an HD TV using the supplied HDMI cable. I did download the video to my computer, though, and it looks great. The only caveat is that it records in QuickTime’s .mov format, so if you use video analysis software that requires .avi format you won’t be able to use it with that. But the free QuickTime player will be find to step back and forth through the video. You just can’t draw on it or use other analysis tools. The included software also makes it easy to upload your video to Facebook, YouTube and MySpace.

One of the other things that attracted me to the Playsport, as I mentioned, was the ruggedness. It is designed to be used during activities. One of the big selling points is that it is waterproof down to 10 feet. Now, I don’t anticipate taking it under water. But if I have it in my bag and it starts to rain, it’s nice to know I don’t have to worry about whether it will get damaged. I’ve also read in other reviews that people have tried dropping it and it still worked fine. I don’t plan on trying that since I purchased mine out of my own money and would hate to find out it didn’t work, but it sounds like it ought to hold up to the softball environment. Just to be safe, though, I also purchased the two-year product replacement plan at Best Buy.

Again, as a teaching tool the Playsport seems ideal. You can easily slip it in your pocket, and pull it out as needed. If you’re outdoors on a sunny day, you can change the display to use a glare shield. I used it for both hitting and pitching this weekend, and it was effective in helping those players see what they were doing and make quick corrections. And now here’s the really good news: all of this capability comes for just $149.

If you’re looking for a great little pocket video camera that can help you make a difference with your players, check out the Kodak Playsport. It packs a lot of capability for the money.

Learning spins with the TightSpin Trainer

A little while ago I received a very interesting product — the TightSpin Trainer from Spintech. It looks like a softball on the end of the handle of a paint roller handle, but it’s a lot more than that. There is actually a braking wheel that allows you to adjust the tension to go from free spinning to very difficult to turn.

The manufacturer says that the TightSpin Trainer was originally developed to help pitchers build wrist strength. I can see where it would. The idea is you turn the ball 20 times in a row, quickly and powerfully. As the pitcher finds it easier to turn, you increase the tension. In that aspect it’s like any other weight lifting program. In conversations with George at Spintech, he says a pitcher can add 3-4 mph by training regularly with it.

I have not been able to confirm that part yet. But what I have discovered is that it’s excellent for helping pitchers learn the wrist snap for the curve ball. I have used it with several pitchers, and every single one was able to improve the spin on the ball after 10-20 turns of the unit.

This is important because true curve ball spin can be difficult to learn (as detailed in my post Getting Proper Spin on the Curveball). You have to be able to get the hand under the ball, palm up and fingers pointed to the side. And you have to be able to snap the wrist sharply from side to side rather than upwards as with a fastball or peel drop.

When pitchers are struggling with the curve ball, both of those aspects become a problem. The TightSpin Trainer helps them learn it quickly. Here’s how to make it happen.

Start by having a coach, parent or friend hold the handle straight up and down, with the ball at the bottom. The pitcher then grasps the ball palm-up. Don’t worry about getting the proper grip relative to the seams. Any grip will do. Then instruct the pitcher to snap the wrist quickly. Odds are she will turn it slowly and/or just a little bit. Encourage her to snap it quickly. Watch out for the elbow flying out — make sure it stays tucked in. Once she has the feel of turning it properly, go back to pitching.

TightSpin Trainer tips

The TightSpin Trainer can also be very effective for training the rollover drop. It is another pitch that requires the wrist to move in a direction that is other than the standard up-snap.

One of the nice things with the TightSpin Trainer is that it comes with an instructional DVD if you catch it at the right time. Otherwise the DVD is $14.95. The DVD is helpful for learning how to use it — especially for me, who thought it should always spin freely.

Cost for the TightSpin Trainer is $39.95. In my opinion it’s well worth the price. Especially with its “guarantee with teeth” — if you haven’t increased your strikeouts in 90 days after following the program, call them and you’ll get your money back. Can’t beat that.

If you’re looking to improve the spin of various pitches, or just want to increase wrist strength, check out the TightSpin Trainer.

Motionview! video analysis software

This is a reprint of a product review I wrote last year for Softball Magazine. The product is definitely worth checking out, so I thought I would post the review up here. Hope you find it helpful.

One of the best and most popular tools for helping player development is video. With a simple camera and playback device (such as a TV), players have the opportunity to see themselves in action and perhaps gain a better understanding of what their coaches mean. After all, it’s one thing for a coach to say “you’re dropping your elbow when you throw.” The player may think the coach means the elbow is dropping to a point just above the shoulder. But when watching the video, he/she can see the coach means it’s dropping to a point just above the bottom of the rib cage.

The camera/TV combination is fine for basic viewing, but it makes it difficult to really get into the topic. Downloading the video to a computer and watching it on Windows Media Player, Apple QuickTime, or RealPlayer is somewhat of an improvement, but those applications are still very limited in their ability to show and explain exactly what’s happening.

Recently I downloaded such a product. It is called MotionView!, a software application from AllSportsSystems. It is a feature-packed program that allows a coach to provide a thorough, multi-point analysis of a student’s performance, either from live or previously captured video.

The version I downloaded is called MotionView! Coach. It is their mid-level product, but it provides everything I (and most coaches or parents) will need.

The drawing toolbar is robust but easy to use. The basic drawing tools include the ability to draw lines, circles, and squares. An extended toolbar adds the ability to draw angles, arrows, freehand shapes and more. You can choose from six different colors, and even change the thickness of the lines as needed.



One interesting tool, especially when working with pitchers, is the ability to add an analog clock face. When you’re telling a pitcher that the hand should be between 10 and 11 o’clock when the stride foot toe touches it helps to be able to draw that clock. Keep in mind a lot of kids these days rely solely on digital clocks, which means they aren’t really sure where 11 o’clock is. But they’ll never tell you. They’ll just nod as if they understand.

               

Another handy tool is called the “kite tail.” This one is a bit more complicated because it first requires you to carve out a brief section (called a canister) of your video. Once you have the small clip, though, you can mark each point of a moving object to create a continuous line. MotionView! advances the frames for you automatically. Once all the frames have been marked and you hit the “play” button, the video traces the line, showing the motion. For example, if you mark the tip of the bat during a swing, you can see the whole path the bat takes. The only problem is it doesn’t give you the smooth curving line that’s shown on the Web site. It’s more of a polygon – a series of straight lines that create a shape, Still, you can gain a lot of insight regarding the path of moving object with this tool.

There’s more to MotionView! than drawing tools, though. You can run the video backward and forward, adjusting the speed from regular to slow to frame-by-frame. You can also reverse the view, turning a left hander into a right hander or vice versa. You can open two videos at once for side-by-side comparison, say between your student and a top-level player or a before-and-after comparison, and even synch them together. With the Coach version you can overlay one video on top of another, and export still shots to pass along to the students.

Sounds like a lot for just $85 (with the online coupon). But as they say on all the Popeil commercials, wait! There’s more! There is a built-in timer that shows the elapsed time in the video. You can convert a section of the video into a film strip so you can see the entire movement at once. You can zoom in on sections of the video and adjust the display to different sizes – including  full screen mode. You can even type in titles or instructions that can then be exported along with the video.

The download itself is a little kluge. No matter what version you want, you have to start by downloading the free “Lite” version. Once you have done that, if you have purchased a higher level version you have to send an e-mail or go online to request the code to unlock your version. AllSportsSystems is pretty responsive but you still may have to wait a few hours to get your key code depending on the day and time you make your purchase. After I did the download the application started looking for a file that didn’t exist, and would give me an error message. But an e-mail to AllSportsSystems solved the problem quickly. They responded within 12 hours on a weekend, so I give them an A for customer service.

This is an outstanding, feature-packed application that allows you to perform an unbelievable variety of analysis. If you’re a coach looking for a better way to show students what they’re doing, or a knowledgeable player who wants to improve his/her game, check out the MotionView! family of products. You won’t be disappointed.

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