A radar gun is used in baseball to measure velocity of a pitch, a thrown ball and even other things.
In any event, the common remark that I hear that’s associated with using a radar gun is the phrase … “ to measure progress…”
I hear this a lot in the amateur ranks, when a youngster is either going through some sort of training, or is leaving one competitive group for another, and even placing some sort of benchmark to be compared against later.
In the amateur ranks it’s kind of difficult to use a radar gun for any worthwhile purpose because of three influences that enter into the picture. They are – (1) the growth cycle, (2) the lack of serious devotion to athletic professional training, and last but not least, (3) sustainability.
(1) The growth cycle of a youngster can influence readings from season to season, simply because the youngster is growing stronger and developing. A reasonably healthy youngster who’s eleven (11) should be stronger and throw harder when he’s twelve (12), without a radar gun actually saying so. And even at that, the tempo of growth and strength from youngster to youngster - eleven (11) to twelve (12), will vary based on so many things.
(2) Youngsters grow with a wide range of attention spans, wants and desires. Serious athletic training can be a really a hard sell for many. Besides, the agendas floating around with mom and dad can complicate the expectations of many coaches and add nothing but background issues from reading to reading. Add to the fact that a serious training itinerary for a sixteen (16) year, specifically tailored, is both time consuming and expensive. Serious athletic training for a prospect is around $5,000 to $7,500, for nine (9) months at today’s going rate, and that includes meals, regular physicals, extensive conditioning and so forth. Flipping truck tires, clean-n-jerk dead weights, tossing weighted balls IS NOT, of itself, serious athletic training for pitchers. It’s a five (5) season…. yes five (5) season, training itinerary. Add to the fact that this is a very narrow view on one’s future.
(3) Sustainability is one of the biggest drawbacks for using a radar gun at the amateur level – even in the college. So many things interact with an amateur that are totally out of the control of the coaching staff, or anyone else for that matter, that uses a radar gun to chart and evaluate …. progress.
If progress is going to be a statement or qualification that a radar gun either supports or not, in any way, then there has to be graduations of that progress that the person reading the scales understands and understands intelligently. This understanding is usually foregone in the amateur ranks only because there is not control in the heretofore mentioned (1) through (3).
On the other hand, sign an amateur’s parents or legal guardian to a binding contract that says if so-n-so is not attained based on a radar gun’s measures of this so called …. Progress…, then they’ll have to fork over $ 5,000 to $ 7,500. Now watch the shoe be on the other foot, the coach’s foot that is, and turn the tables around that he will have to fork over $5,000 to $7,500 if this so called … progress…, isn’t reached using the radar gun as a measuring tool.
I’m sure there are all kinds of supporters in one way or the other that support the use of radar guns in the amateur ranks. If I were in the amateur ranks I’d rather focus on things that I know are within my reach to evaluate with reasonable certainty, and leave the other measuring tools to the professionals.