Long gone are the days of an athlete’s offseason consisting of occasional weight room workouts, light conditioning and plenty of time on the couch. Today’s players have an insatiable appetite to get ahead of the competition, and at the most basic level that means getting the most out of your ability while keeping yourself healthy – especially with pitchers.
That involves integrating personal, mental, fundamental and physical programs to develop the ideal performance model to optimize players’ workouts and manage their workloads. And Motus Global, a company that has been around for just seven years, has quickly established itself as a leader in the area, with more than 20 major league teams and two dozen college baseball programs on its list of clients.
“At the highest level, we’re using the gold standard motion capture to benchmark biomechanics,” said Ben Hansen, Motus vice president and chief technology officer.
Motus uses biomechanics to analyze and maximize performance and prevent injuries. The company is growing quickly and adding talent to its roster, including vice president of product development Carlo Alvarez.
For Alvarez, who has extensive experience at the high school level, college level (with Notre Dame and Cincinnati), and professional level (with the Indians, Reds and Pirates) overseeing performance development, the chance to bring high-level performance data to players at all levels drew him to Motus.
“The exciting thing about joining Motus Global is the opportunity to work with a forward thinking team that has taken the time and resources to validate their ideas on motion analysis, stress and workload. From a product perspective, we see value in 3D motion capture data and how we are able to share that information using our single and multi-sensor wearables. Bringing human movement data and technology together allows us to empower coaches and athletes as they strive to maximize their performance on the field,” said Alvarez.
Staying on the cutting edge means reaching down all the way to youth baseball, with designs on creating clean movement patterns from a young age and ultimately preventing injury in the future. Motus has partnered with Baseball Factory, one of the top developmental youth and high school player programs in the country, to reach young players.
“Our partnership with Baseball Factory allows us to support coaches, players and parents through player development education and programming. How you prepare, how you perform and how you recover are all important to us. We plan to continue to integrate into an athlete’s lifestyle and build products and programs that fit seamlessly into an athlete’s training and game time experiences,” said Alvarez
Motus Global began with one mission
While the future of Motus Global is at the forefront, the idea that gave birth to the company and drove its growth in a short amount of time is just as important. In 2010, Motus Global was founded in a mobile motion capture biomechanics lab with one mission. “The goal was to bring biomechanics to the masses,” Hansen said. “We know human movement and motion capture, so we asked ourselves, how do we take that to the living room and field of the everyday athlete, every worker in an office and every person in a PT clinic during rehab? How do we bring biomechanics to that point?
“Our first step was to establish models of elite movements. What do proper movements in any sport look like?”
To do that, Motus needed to collect data from elite athletes. While the main focus was on pitchers and batters in baseball, the company collected data on athletes in various sports after partnering with IMG Academy and the American Sports Medicine Institute.
The partnership with IMG Academy gave Motus a 400-square-foot lab on campus to work with top-tier high school athletes, along with college and professionals that use the facilities to train in the off-season.
“When we formed a partnership with IMG and with ASMI, we started collecting data on elite athletes in all kind of sports motions: quarterback passing, golf swings, tennis swings, and our most heavily rooted focus was baseball pitching and baseball batting,”
For many years, baseball teams have looked for ways to both predict and prevent injuries, particularly with pitchers. Motus began by heading out to see major league teams in the spring of 2012, measuring biomechanics of elite pitchers in the major and minor leagues.
Taking the information to the field
The biomechanics lab can extract hundreds of measurements during a pitcher’s delivery. Some are straightforward, such as stride length, but it’s the complex measurement of torque on the elbow that factors into the strain on the ulnar collateral ligament that has been the topic of great discussion with pitching injuries.
Motus hopes to play a prominent role in cutting down UCL injuries. In order to do so, Motus had to help players make use of all this data, leading to the motusTHROW wearable technology.
“Our next step was to take this valuable information we are getting in the lab, and bring it to the field,” Hansen said. “In order to bring accurate biomechanics to the masses, we evaluated a variety of wearable technologies. Our vision was to get these wearable sensors, see what we can do with them, evolve them and push the envelope.
So in 2014 Motus launched a beta program with nine major league teams.
“It went really well and was a great test of the market for us. We actually hand-soldered them in our office in New York,” Hansen said. “The beta versions could store 12 throws and measured one thing – valgus torque on the elbow. Teams loved it.”
Teams loved it so much that Motus Global decided to manufacture an improved version of it at scale.
The first wearable sensor Motus developed has now been surpassed, with further technological advances now providing Motus the ability to measure the physics of all kinds of human movements.
“We are now on our third generation sensor technology that allows us to measure about 90-percent of what we can measure in our lab,” Hansen said. “We do so by networking batches of sensors together on the body, not just the forearm and the elbow. We then take these analytics and workload insights and bring them to the lives of athletes to help them prescribe training load in a smart and effective manner.”
Motus has quickly become a world leader in advanced biomechanical analysis of many types, with innovative wearable technology with 3D performance analysis. The goal is to keep pushing the envelope.