C.J. Handron foresees a rapid acceleration of baseball tech
Sports tech is making its way to you faster than ever before.
Baseball and softball players and coaches are using motion-sensor technology to advance their game from youth leagues up to the pros.
This means that games are becoming more competitive as players become more consistent. With motion-sensor technology, players using Diamond Kinetics can get analytics on metrics like their output velocity and spin rate for pitching, and hand speed and impact momentum for hitting.
C.J. Handron, Co-Founder and CEO of Diamond Kinetics, is helping progress the game of baseball and softball along with his team based in Pittsburgh, PA. Via sensors in baseballs, softballs, and bats, Diamond Kinetics’ mobile motion technology and data enables player development, objective scouting and recruiting, and engagement-driven entertainment.
Before founding Diamond Kinetics, C.J. served as director of an early-stage technology program at the University of Pittsburgh. He also serves on advisory boards of several Pittsburgh-based startup companies.
We asked C.J. what his technology is bringing to the sports tech world:
What do you envision for the future of sports tech as it relates to Diamond Kinetics?
C.J.: I think sports tech has sort of come out of nowhere in the last five years. Those of us who have been working to build and develop things in that time don’t always feel that way, but sports tech is now coming out in a much bigger way. When we talk about that as it relates to Diamond Kinetics, we’re at a point where our users and customers range from eight-year-olds to Major League Baseball teams and players, all using the same product at the same time on a daily basis, which is pretty neat.
I think, for us, we see this continued expansion of the use of data, information, and tools to learn and get better. In particular, it’s this continued development of making that information much more usable; how do we make it easier to use for a parent with a younger kid, or for a coach who’s coaching his kids team and could use any help he can get teaching baseball basics and fundamentals?
Then we want to marry that together with some of the cool, fun stuff. Almost every kid today has a phone in his back pocket at practice, so how can we make practice a little bit more fun and engaging? We're excited about the entire future of sports tech. It's around everything now at this point and every sport, but we’re really excited about the opportunity to expand things up and down the game of baseball.
What’s your wildest prediction for what’s to come in baseball?
C.J.: One thing that makes baseball great is that it has this incredibly long history and tradition. It changes and moves pretty slowly - and that’s not a bad thing. I think that in a lot of ways Diamond Kinetics and other similar technologies are probably helping baseball move maybe as fast as it probably ever has.
I don’t know if I have one particular “wild thing” that I think is going to happen. What I do think is going to happen is this continued rapid acceleration of what’s starting. We live in it every single day.
Even at the absolute highest levels of the game, technologies are basically wrapped around every player, whether it’s on their body, in their bat, or tracking everything around them. I think you’re going to see all of that a lot more. I think you’re going to see tech be one of the biggest changes in enhancements to the game.
What’s one thing you’re actively learning?
C.J.: I didn’t think I was going to be actively learning it, but I am. I would call it maybe actively relearning: coaching six, seven, and eight-year-old sports. My son played baseball for the first time this year, and I loved it. This is what I do every day for work.
Coaching was an awesome experience, but I left the very first practice being like, “Wow, it’s been a really long time since I’ve coached.” I have one kid, but man, trying to do this with ten kids is a lot harder. I found myself all spring reacclimating and thinking, “I can’t believe I do this every day with what we do at Diamond Kinetics.” Then I go out and realize that I’m back at the building blocks trying to corral a group of ten kids and keep them engaged.
It’s been really good for me for day-in and day-out at Diamond Kinetics; they’re kids with this perspective on how hard baseball is. What we’re doing is something that has a chance, even for six and seven-year-old kids, to really impact them.
Whether they knew it or not, they became guinea pigs for a lot of different Diamond Kinetics related things. “Why don’t we take a few swings with the sensor or why don’t we play around with this?” It’s given me a really good perspective, but there’s been a learning curve that I did not expect.
I talk about Diamond Kinetics like it’s my third kid. Every free moment I have where I am not mentally or physically involved in something Diamond Kinetics I’m pretty immersed in my family. This is the time window where you soak in every moment, so the opportunity to do something like coach has been awesome for me.
Coming soon: Part 2 of 2: C.J. Handron on the fundamentals of running a productive startup
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