Diamond Kinetics Coach's Perspective: Rob Crews

Frank Cinicola
October 25, 2021

Rob Crews is a hitting expert in both softball and baseball. Crews is the founder and CEO of Complete Game, a player development company in New York, and has consulted for numerous big-time college softball programs including Auburn University, Stanford, UCLA, LSU, the University of Florida, and Central Florida, among others. In baseball, Crews has consulted in player development for the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners. He has also authored two books on mental game strategies. Coach Crews uses Diamond Kinetics Technology to make his players better in both sports.

Diamond Kinetics: How has using Diamond Kinetics technology helped you become a better coach when working with hitters?

Rob Crews: It has helped me improve a lot. It’s always good to “know that you know.” I’ve been doing this long enough that I usually know what is going on with a player’s swing, but Diamond Kinetics technology helps me see the little things going on with a swing that would be impossible to know by just watching a player hit. Sometimes those little things become big things in the spectrum of what a hitter is doing or even not doing in their swing. Being able to pinpoint those metrics and measurements helps me to see the movement patterns, sequencing, efficiency, and things like that to improve in the swing. As hitters move up in the game and pitching keeps getting better, hitters are going to need to focus on those little things even more and Diamond Kinetics helps them do that.

DK: What in particular stands out to you about DK tech?

Crews: Something I like about Diamond Kinetics technology is that it doesn’t tell a coach how to teach. You use the technology in a way that is best for you as a player, a team, or a coach. It gives the data but it’s up to you to get the most out of the technology by applying the information it gives in different ways. I’ve learned so much just from using the SwingTracker and the more I use it the better I think I get at using it.

For example, I work with a girl that got her barrel speed up to 74 MPH, something I have never seen from a female athlete, let alone a 14-year-old like this particular girl is. I was curious how she was able to generate this barrel speed since I had never seen a number that high before. I looked at all the softball hitters I had worked with that had barrel speeds over 65 MPH, including a lot of girls that play at major Division I schools. I went into the 3D swing feature in the app and saw that this girl’s max acceleration and peak hand speed happened at the perfect time in the swing. Comparing the best of the best players helped me see what makes this hitter as good as she is. And the numbers don’t lie, there is a lot of information like this that I can find by looking at the metrics. I think that is what I love most about Diamond Kinetics.

DK: How do you use Diamond Kinetics technology differently when working with softball players and baseball players?

Crews: There are some distinct differences in what I look for in a softball player compared to what I look for as a baseball player. In softball, you can’t have a really high or steep attack angle because you would be underneath the rise ball. In baseball, there is no rise ball, everything pitch is on its way down when the pitcher releases it. A lot of people try to apply hitting principles of baseball to softball and it usually doesn’t work because they are different.

I use exit velocity in conjunction with the bat data the Diamond Kinetics SwingTracker gives. In baseball, if exit velocity is over 100 MPH, the hitter can have a higher attack angle because they have the power to hit the ball over the fence. If a hitter with an exit velocity below 100 MPH swings with that attack angle, they are going to fly out. In softball, there is more variability. Hitters need to adjust their approach at-bat to at-bat based on the strengths of the pitchers they are facing. For example, a hitter will want a flatter attack angle when facing a pitcher that lives at the top of the zone. If the pitcher lives at the knees you will want a higher attack angle to get the ball in the air. Another big difference is how short most softball fields are. Most people don’t realize that UCLA’s field is only 190 feet down the line. So in softball, if a player gets the ball in the air it’s going to go over the fence a good amount of the time so that can change a player or team’s strategy based on the field they are playing at.

DK: Do you find yourself using Diamond Kinetics technology more to diagnose issues with swings or to track progress over time? Or both?

Crews: The first time a hitter swings with me they will have a SwingTracker on their bat. I am very religious about knowing what I know and seeing the metrics in a swing. I use it as an assessment tool to get baseline measurements of a hitter’s swing. Every hitter that works with me will have their swing measured every time we hit, we never randomly hit for no reason, we are always measuring something. So we track progression, regression in addition to baseline measurements. So to answer the question I use it for both. What I like about the SwingTracker is if I don’t have any other tools with me, I can still see what the body is doing and what the ball did. If the swing is a sandwich, the SwingTracker is the meat. It measures the key part of the swing. Diamond Kinetics has been a great tool that has helped me help my players.