Jonathan Shehan, head baseball coach at Millersville University, recently developed an app to help coaches and players improve their batting skills. The app, named Hitting Approach, records data of each players’ at-bats, and records pitches that the players can look back on at the end of each game.
Hitting Approach collects data on the location of pitches and hits and can help players see when they make good decisions at the plate on whether to swing. Coaches can also input where the hit goes through a scatter plot built into the app.
“One of the problems with hitting is that you can do everything right: make a good decision to swing at good pitches, put a good swing on a pitch, hit it hard and still make an out,” Shehan explains, “Helping our hitters understand when they are having success, even though the box score would say otherwise, is a huge battle for hitting coaches.”
Shehan says they started recording pitch types, locations and results on paper years ago, but it was tedious to transfer the information to a spreadsheet. Additionally, it was difficult for players to quickly read the information relevant to them.
“I wanted to build on the postgame cards we were using by helping our hitters understand whether or not they were making good decisions at the plate. My wife said, ‘You should build an app for that,’” Shehan says. “My neighbor growing up happened to be a software engineer and a former college baseball player at Slippery Rock. I called him, we setup a meeting, discussed the problem and solution, and agreed to work on the project together.”
The user of the app sits behind home plate to record the data. While the app also records scoring, the focus of the app is to record the approach the players take when it comes to swinging and hitting.
“One of the main reasons we built the app was because the only programs that were able to quantify pitch type, locations, results and all of the trends that go with it, were power-five conferences and professional teams who could afford radar technology mounted on their stadiums,” Shehan continues, “Until now, there hasn’t been a key to unlock this information for small budget D1, D2 and D3 college programs and high schools.”
Shehan says the process has been interesting and exciting for him and his partner, Josh Lapp.
“To see a problem, build a solution, and now to have others see value in it, there is real satisfaction there,” Shehan says, “Josh and I have learned a ton about start-ups, entrepreneurship, product design, even graphic design. We’ve learned to work as a team, providing each other feedback and getting feedback from others.”
“As Hitting Approach has just recently hit the App Store, we feel as though we have gotten a decent amount of interest and it has been a lot of fun to see it become real,” he continues, “Hopefully, as we add updates and see the product and business grow, the best will be yet to come.”
Hitting Approach is available for iPhone and iPad on the app store. An Android version of the app will be available in January.