Softball Notebook

The Softball Channel’s Fastpitch Blog

13  03 2008

Pitching Revolution

The RevFire

The RevFire pitching training device.After hearing all about this new gadget “The RevFire” I thought I had to test it out on my pitchers and see what all the hype was about. I have been a private fastpitch instructor for the past 12 years. I pride myself on teaching the best biomechanics and I am always willing to try something new to help the girls work towards their goals of being the best pitchers they can be.

When I first starting using the RevFire, I was not quite sure of what to make of it, or how it really differentiated itself from a typical speed gun that I had already been using. The system uses special balls with a built-in chip that mimics the exact size and weight of a regulated softball, and there is a built-in speed gun that also measures spin rate. But unlike a typical radar gun, pitchers do not tense up when using it, and trainers can show breaking ball movement to students and parents. And when one isn’t around to hold the unit, the monitor can be placed next to the catcher and set to automatic ground operation to record speed and spin—nice!

A few more features include:
- Displays speed and spin rate after each toss of the ball
- Logs speed and spin rate after each session
- Counts number of pitches
- Measures spin rate from 4 to 50 revolutions per minute

I liked that the unit was lightweight and easy to handle. It was not as bulky as the radar guns you see many scouts using at the ball fields. I loved the idea of RPS (rotations per second), in addition to the speed that is displayed on the RevFire unit. I get the point of wanting to know how fast you are throwing—I too was a Division I pitcher, and wanted to know my speed. But for young girls starting to develop into pitchers, the emphasis should not be placed on how fast the ball is thrown, but rather on how fast it spins.

The correlation between RPS and movement is that the more rotation you put on your pitch, the faster the ball will move and cut. So these pitchers should start to work on the grip of the ball, snap of the ball, and strengthening of their forearm musculature. As the focus switches to RPS rather than throwing speed, I believe you will start to see pitchers with correct biomechanics and less injuries, because their focus is off of pitching to a radar gun and placed on rotation and movement of the ball. (If you would like to know more about the physics of spin rotation, you can check this out at www.revfire.com. They do a great job of explaining this thoroughly.)

I once saw a segment on the ABC television show “20/20” featuring a renowned orthopedic surgeon who was talking about his disdain for the use of radar guns by young athletes, because it was causing them to throw for speed rather than for the proper form. The surgeon stated that he was starting to perform “Tommy-John” surgeries on young baseball pitchers because of the pressure to throw faster and faster—their ligaments and tendons were not equipped to handle this at such a young age, and the radar guns were feeding into this problem. He also recounted that he would travel around to little league all-star games and see nothing but radar guns behind the backstop of the 10-14 year old pitchers on the mound, knowing that these kids were wrecking their future by constantly pitching for speed only. I have to believe that the Rev Fire has helped salvage that a bit by placing the RPS component into the unit. Now trainers like myself can work with young pitchers on their ball rotation with the various pitches they are throwing.

Now I am not claiming that I will never again utilize a speed gun, but I have really taken to this new concept of RPS that is built into the RevFire, and to assigning a number to the rotation of the ball rather than just how fast it is traveling. I firmly believe in the value of rotation and location of a pitch. If you can place the ball where you want it, and put just the right amount of rotation on it, that might be better than hurling it at 60-65 mph.

The only thing that I have found wrong with the RevFire thus far is that at times it fails to register the speed or RPS. I don’t know why this happens, but I get frustrated, because there are pitches that I wanted to measure and it simply didn’t clock them. This happens about every few pitches. I then try to adjust my position or the angle that I am holding the unit, but that doesn’t always fix the problem. I also now have a ball that will not register. I don’t know if it is because the ball took a few hard hits against a wall, but it simply will not record for me. So now I have to contact the company, and hopefully they will send me another one. I’ll let you know how that goes…

Overall, I have had much success working with the RevFire. I know of a few other coaches that are currently using it with their pitchers, and they have really tied into the concept of measuring spin rotation on the pitch rather than simply looking at the speed of the ball. Technology marches on!

Kristi Spielman
Fastpitch Softball Instructor


One Response to “Pitching Revolution”

  1. I have a RevFire. It’s great! I use it all the time. Like Kristi, I thought I had a non-working ball, but a rep told me the handheld monitor locks onto the first RevFire ball thrown and ignores all other balls. To change RevFire balls you must press STATS then ON just before the second ball is thrown. This lets you have multiple pitchers throwing RevFire balls simultaneously. Also, if you are not registering every pitch, bring the handheld unit closer to the CATCHER. You should be within 40 feet of the catcher. No need to point it!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

« Sell it to the Umpire! Return to Judson »