Several years ago, an advertisement in a baseball magazine for a device to measure bat speed caught my eye. Before I decided to purchase this unique product, I did some research. I ultimately found a phone number and called the company manufacturing the product. The person I connected with turned out to be the founder of Sports Sensors, Inc. and the inventor of the Swing Speed Radar (SSR). After a delightful conversation with Albert (Al) Dilz, I was convinced this product would be an invaluable tool for baseball and softball hitting instruction.
I recently sent Al an email to let him know how much I appreciate his invention and how effective it has been for my hitters. Al immediately responded with a thoughtful email that reminded me of our first phone conversation. He graciously agreed to allow me to write about him, his invention, and his thoughts on bat speed.
Al Dilz is a trained electrical engineer who designed proximity sensors and related electronics for defense applications for over 14 years. He spent 38 years in the defense business, primarily managing R & D, new product development, sales and marketing, and eventually became the CEO of a $50 million defense company before retiring in 1993.
Al is a self-proclaimed “sports nut” who coached sports, including baseball for over 20 years. Al told me applying the sensor technology he learned in his defense work to sports to create affordable radar systems, was a burning desire of his. It was the “immediate feedback” provided by radar technology that convinced him to offer sensor products to the mass sports markets. In 1998, he started Sports Sensors, Inc. based on a patent granted for his first product, which was the Glove Radar. He then engaged several highly skilled defense product engineers to become partners in his company. Al conceived the product applications and his team contributed the expertise in microwave and digital design. Together, they solved the tough problems to design and produce practical, state-of-the art radar products for consumers.
Sports Sensors, Inc. now has 8 radars for sports, made in the USA, and are planning additional applications in the near future. A recent innovation is a Radar Data Link that uses Bluetooth technology to transmit data from their radars to a smart phone, tablet, or computer. It is Android compatible now, but they will soon be submitting their app to Apple for review and approval. If you are interested in affordable radar technology for sports, check out their website www.sportssensors.com.
As far as Al’s thoughts on bat speed, he and I are definitely on the same page. On the Sports Sensors website, you will find the following description of the Swing Speed Radar…”The Swing Speed Radar® is a small, affordable microwave Doppler radar velocity sensor that measures the swing speed of baseball players. It assists players in developing/optimizing their swing by providing a convenient measure of their swing velocity as they strive to improve their performance.”
I highlighted the second sentence because “developing and optimizing” the swing of hitters is the ongoing goal for all of my hitters. Other than visually observing the positive changes in a swing, the best way I have found to determine a hitter’s progress is to measure bat speed using my SSR. My hitters can actually see how their improved hitting mechanics translate directly into more power by simply reading the display on the radar. As the number on the display increases over time, so does the confidence of my hitters. When my softball hitters see bat speed over 70 mph and my baseball hitters see bat speed over 80 mph, they become convinced that no pitcher can throw the ball by them consistently. They also know when they hit the ball, it will go a long way.
So, thanks Al Dilz! The Swing Speed Radar has made me a better hitting instructor, because it forces me to focus on mechanics that will increase bat speed, which leads to more power and more consistency. I will continue to use my SSR to help hitters optimize their performance, and I look forward to continued enhancements to this already great product.